Clash of the Talking Heads Rd. 9: BALTIMORE ORIOLES

First of all, let's welcome the Twins back to Minnesota. It's not quite time to play: "Hail the Conquering Heroes" yet, but honestly, it would probably feel better to see them start winning at home, than to feel like they were better off with out us. Now, facing the division leading Cleveland Indians, the last place Twins desperately need a win. [I want to pause for a second to let our friends in Cleveland pop their collars, toss their hair and feel genuine pride at that last sentence...got it done? Good...now we must destroy you.]

Second, I've got to apologize for the fact that I may not be posting much this weekend...in addition to the final push for my final finals week, I'm still confined to Ohio broadcast restrictions which means, if the Indians are playing, I can't be watching. (I'll try to keep up either via radio or twitter, but we'll hope the ingenious Stinky can be our woman on the spot)

Third, let us now turn our attention to the greatest question of all: "Can any broadcast team in baseball compete with Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven?"

Tonight's Contestants: Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer of MASN [Note Palmer and Thorne are just two of the 11 people listed as analysts and commentators for Orioles games, but since they are the premier duo AND called all 3 games I watched, they get the attention here]

Credentials: Gary Thorne is one of the preeminent broadcasters in the Major Leagues today. He's covered baseball on ESPN for 18 years, and done games specifically for the Orioles over the last 2. He's also the voice of hockey in America and has covered both Stanley Cup Finals, and the World Series. [He also has a Georgetown Law Degree, and was a JAG corps officer...kind of a career shift but...still...] Meanwhile Palmer is...well, Jim freakin' Palmer. The Orioles all-time winningest pitcher, a three time Cy Young winner and first ballot Hall-of-Famer. He also has a history in the broadcast booth, having been with the Orioles for 16 years and having worked the World Series a few times back in the 90's. All in all, a pretty well-credentialed pair.

Analysis: Sometimes credentials don't translate into talent, but for Thorne and Palmer, they most definitely do. They do their homework, using a plethora of well-researched, germane statistics to explain why teams are succeeding or failing in given situations. Thorne has a solid baseball IQ but mostly points out big picture storylines to the season and works in a quirky sense of humor, so Palmer does most of the explaining. Palmer is pretty solid in his insights, but occasionally fails to connect two topics and has a few problems finding adequate verbiage to describe things. The two men have an excellent rapport with one another and seem to balance each other out, with Palmer pointing out the baseball if Thorne gets too deep into news of the day, and Thorne bringing up action on the field if Palmer gets too deep into nuts and bolts. Best of all, after the dreadful hometown sycophants in Tampa; both men are happy to point out calls that go against the Twins and laud good plays no matter who makes them. (Palmer's umbrage on behalf of both pitching staffs was nice to hear.)

Sample Quote: Thorne: "Gardenhire has said that he wants Liriano to pitch more to contact, but you still see him thinking about strike outs."
Palmer: "Absolutely, Liriano's stuff has been.........Liriano-like"

Rating: 4.5 Blylevens. Seriously, these guys were fun to listen to, maybe that's why so few people actually went to the games, they'd rather just stay in and listen to Palmer & Thorne.

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