Source: Sherman Publications

Jim's Jottings
Second TV voice in game booth major redundancy

by Jim Sherman, Sr.

August 22, 2012

Back in 2006 I was excited about the prospects of Detroit Tiger baseball. Not so much about broadcasting commentary. The same is true to day, I believe. See what you think with the “beatu” of a column from August 16, 2006.

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Baseball was my game in my growing-up years. As a freshman in Owosso High School I pitched three, 5-inning games for the Trojans, allowing a total of five runs, but lost two games.

Next year, I was in Morrice High School where the coach-science teacher-librarian-counselor “knew” that a tall baseball player had to play first base. A short guy with a big ego pitched. I had half that requirement.

Those were the days when the umpire called pitches from behind the pitcher.

When Hazel and I moved to Gladwin, I tried out for the White Oaks Tavern baseball team, and was doing fine until the college players came home for the summer. Besides, I had to move to St. Johns. Through it all, I was a Detroit Tiger fan.

Jim Fitzgerald, the Lapeer County Press editor who became backpage columnist for the Detroit Free Press, was an equally ardent Tiger fan. He invited Hazel and me to join him and his wife Pat at what turned out to be the final game of the 1984 World Series in Detroit.

It was exciting, of course, but so was escaping the commotion leaving the parking lot afterward, especially when some guy jumped on the hood of Jim’s car.

There was the World Series victory in 1968. And, before that, were double play heroes, Rogell, Gehringer to Greenberg and pitchers Eldon Auker, Tommy Bridges, Hal Newhouser, etc.

I was so into baseball and s-o-o naive, that when they were looking for a new announcer I applied. Ty Tyson’s letter said they would probably hire someone with experience.

Then came the way too many years of .500, or less, teams, and interest waned.

Despite all the great announcing of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey, it just became too boring to hold my interest.

Now we’re into 2006 and Tiger owner Mike Ilitch has Jim Leyland managing a bunch of unknowns (at least to me) and they’re playing great baseball. I’m “into” the Tigers on radio and TV, especially when the summer repeats are stuff I wouldn’t watch in the first place.

Through those down years, the Tigers lost exposure on strong radio stations and major Detroit TV stations. I get my radio coverage of games from an Ann Arbor station.

With all this listening and watching, I’ve found the color/fill-in announcers to be just as their too-wordy counterparts in football. They can’t stand to have viewers see what’s happening, but must explain what’s happened, diagram it and add assumptions.

The absolute worst is when the sidekick talkers tell me what a runner, hitter or player is thinking. In the first place, much of what a player does is instinct, so there may have been no thinking.

And, they say it as fact, not “I think they thought, etc.”

Mr. Announcer-guy, I was watching.

I know the hitter was thinking of scratching, not about a high insider. I can make reasons on my own for faults on the field, and I know they aren’t facts. These color guys believe dead time on airwaves is a lost opportunity to impress me, and that’s not a guess, it’s a fact.

So, I go to my obvious option. I punch the mute button. That’ll show ‘em!

I also listen to more radio reports on the Tigers. Radio, where the unseeing can follow the games . . . and, you know what I found?

There is more no-talking time on radio than on viewable TV broadcasts. The announcers give us the complete picture of the games on radio, with a whole lot less elaboration.

Which means the time-fillers aren’t needed and definitely not wanted. Radio assumes listeners are semi intelligent, TV doesn’t.