Last night I was listening to the Red Sox radio broadcast while walking home from work. The Red Sox have been awful this year, mostly due to a pitching staff that is truly terrible. But it doesn’t help that several of their best hitters have been in a major slump. They have not been fun to watch or listen to, but they are my team and I suppose that it’s good for us Red Sox fans to experience a little bit of terrible baseball so as to not become horrifically annoying (you know, like Yankees fans).
What surprised me, however, was the disgust the radio announcers (Will Flemming, in particular) had for the on-field product during the broadcast last night. At one point, Ji-Man Choi (the Red Sox were playing the Rays) shot an absolute rocket down the right field line (106 MPH according to Statcast) for a double, and Flemming described it without raising the timbre of his voice one iota. The monotone call was quickly followed by a more impassioned recounting of the horrible numbers produced by the Rewd Sox pitching staff this year.
Such a display of ennui during the call, coupled with disgust when describing the home team is not something I am used to hearing from team broadcasters. Flemming, who is in my estimation a very good play-by-play voice, is clearly annoyed with the on-field product. You can hear it in his voice, both in its tone and also in its content.
It has made me wonder how, if EFL teams had broadcast booths, our team employees would be described by those listening…
|Flint Hill Tornadoes||10||8||.558||1||100.2||91.7|
|Old Detroit Wolverines||3||15||.169||8||55.7||125.5|
Kaline: “W,” 4-6 (52PA; 1.6IP)
|AVG: 0.217||OBP: 0.288||SLG: 0.413||OPS: 0.702|
|ERA: 0.00||WHIP: 3.750|
Drive ownership has been humble through their current streak of success. In my imagination their broadcast booth is stocked with individuals similarly humble, yet able to draw on historical facts and stories that create a listening experience the audience is keen to tune into, no matter how the team is performing. At this time in Drive history, I believe the booth is beginning to tell stories of underdogs who have emerged as favorites – led by the heart-warming stories of guys who don’t often get the limelight (Jesse Winker going 2 for 3 with a HR, or Kevin Pillar going 4 for 5) – to raise the expectations of the Drive fanbase to a place it hasn’t been before.
Flint Hill: W, 8-7 (45PA; 5.3IP)
|AVG: 0.263||OBP: 0.356||SLG: 0.553||OPS: 0.908|
|ERA: 5.09||WHIP: 1.887|
The Tornado broadcast booth is getting antsy. The announcers are excited by the offensive output this season, led by various players – last night by Austin Meadows (2 for 4 with a HR) and Mike Trout (1 for 2 with a HR and 2 BBs). But they are perplexed by the pitching staff, particularly the use of the staff by the manager. Last night, moments before he was set to start, Wade LeBlanc was pulled from the bullpen due to what the manager later called, “Being too friendly to Phillie hitters.” What does that even mean? The manager refused to elaborate further on whether it had to do with off-field fraternization during a pandemic or pitches that are too likely to be blasted into the Philadelphia skyline at dusk. This seemingly reactive managing style has helped the Tornadoes remain close to the top in the standings, but it has potentially kept it from experiencing the glory of first place for more than 1 day this season.
DC: W2, L(-1) 14-2 (49PA; 11IP)
|AVG: 0.400||OBP: 0.449||SLG: 0.822||OPS: 1.271|
|ERA: 4.09||WHIP: 1.636|
The Balk booth is along for the ride this season, reveling in the undulating nature of its team’s record. As broadcasters, they can see the good in everything that occurs on the field, helping their listeners to also do the same. Last night, it was easy to see the good. Pete Alonso and Tim Anderson combined to go 7 for 9, each hitting a HR. Dylan Cease threw 6 IP and gave up 1 ER. The Balk broadcasters are savvy with stats, using them to paint the larger picture of a team who is built to compete all season long, even through the ups and downs it has experienced early on.
Cottage: L, 0-1 (49PA; 14IP)
|AVG: 0.178||OBP: 0.224||SLG: 0.200||OPS: 0.424|
|ERA: 2.57||WHIP: 1.643|
The Cheese booth, known to its listeners as the “Cheese Curds,” (their tagline is, “I heard the Curd!”), is prone to waxing poetically about its team. Where other broadcast teams use numbers and statistics to help listeners know what is happening, the Curds are exceptional with words (they often say, “Now, a Curd word,” before beginning an often-times beautiful monologue). Last night their monologue was filled with agony over their inability to score any runs, especially on a night when Taijuan Walker and Tony Gonsolin were masterful. Tonight listeners (known as the Curd Herd) will tune in once again hoping for a win, so they can hear the Cheese Curds famous line every time they win, “Another victorcheese!” (Yes, it’s cheesy, but they are called the Cheese, so…)
Peshastin: W, 12-10 (45PA; 9IP)
|AVG: 0.368||OBP: 0.467||SLG: 0.737||OPS: 1.204|
|ERA: 9.00||WHIP: 2.111|
The Pear booth is known, not unsurprisingly, for its philosophical approach to calling a baseball game. The broadcast team actually employs a philosopher (a logician, to be exact) as its color analyst to wax philosophically about the logic behind certain managerial decisions, player actions, and possible game outcomes. Yesterday she provided logic to explain why Clint Frazier, who had been relegated to the alternate site all season, was able to return to the Pears and go 3 for 4 with a 2B and a HR, or how it was metaphysically possible for Juan Soto to hit a baseball 466 feet. Their audience tends to be more intelligent than the average baseball fan, and so listeners are encouraged to have a dictionary nearby. Some call it pretentious, but it’s just Pear for the course.
Canberra: W2, L(-1) (51PA; 13.9PA)
|AVG: 0.362||OBP: 0.412||SLG: 0.660||OPS: 1.071|
|ERA: 4.53||WHIP: 1.511|
Listeners often tune in to the Canberra broadcast eager to hear an Australian accent describe the game they love. They quickly realize that though the team is located in Canberra, the best Australian broadcasters are calling cricket matches and not baseball games. The Roo announcers are, however, very good, seeing as their owner has spent time in a broadcast booth and thus knows what it takes to paint a picture for listeners. In fact, the Roo owner often joins the broadcast booth during games to say call an inning or two, just to keep his mellifluity sharp. Last night, however, he was too busy whooping and hollering as his team completed a 3 game swing in the right direction, gaining 1.3 games on the Drive. Mitch Garver and Starling Marte when 6 for 11, and even though they hit into 4 double plays (which made the broadcast team and the owner hopping mad), they were able to end the day feeling very good about themselves.
Haviland: W, 11-7 (39PA; 1IP)
|AVG: 0.382||OBP: 0.462||SLG: 0.765||OPS: 1.226|
|ERA: 0.00||WHIP: 0.000|
You won’t be surprised to learn that the Dragon broadcast isn’t known for its verbosity, instead choosing to lean into the sounds of the game (which has been challenging this year). They use few words, but when they do speak, people listen. Last night they allowed their players to once again do the talking, and the Brandons (Nimmo and Lowe) took their fans on a ride – going 6 for 10 combined with a HR apiece. Laureano, their hot-tempered center fielder, made three incredible plays to help lead the Dragons to victory. The broadcast team punctuated their win by using the Dragon’s signature victory call, “We won. Good night.”
Pittsburgh: “W,” 8-9 (42PA; 4.7IP)
|AVG: 0.350||OBP: 0.381||SLG: 0.775||OPS: 1.156|
|ERA: 11.49||WHIP: 2.128|
The Allegheny broadcast is simultaneously envied and despised by other broadcast booths. Over half of all EFL teams have been unable to win an EFL championship, the crowning moment for the team and also the broadcasters. Everyone knows how often the Alleghenys have won, and because of that others have secretly despised them for their success. But what makes it difficult to really have hard feelings towards them is that they are so nice and unassuming. It is rare to see success coupled with an invitation to learn from them (and they are also known for seeking to learn from others – how rare!), but the Allegheny announcers do just that. For instance, just last night they witnessed three hitters combine to go 10 for 16 with 2 HRs (Buxton, Hampson, and Swanson) while seeing their pitchers (Luke Weaver) spin a forgettable game (4 runs in 3IP). Instead of chiding Weaver for his performance, asking him to be more like the amazing Allegheny hitters, they instead told how this performance actually lowered Weaver’s ERA on the season. Always a silver-lining for this crew, and their fans appreciate it!
Portland: W, 7-4 (56PA; 3IP)
|AVG: 0.265||OBP: 0.357||SLG: 0.490||OPS: 0.847|
|ERA: 0.00||WHIP: 0.667|
The Rosebud booth is exactly like you would expect for a Portland team – hip, brutally honest, and hirsute. Their recent franchise success has also created a sense of pride that has made this year especially difficult for the team of announcers. In fact, just yesterday before the game began, their play-by-play guy, a Reed College alum who has been with the team since its inception, threatened to shave his beard completely off if the Rosebuds didn’t win. The teams Twitter feed filled with fans who begged him to change his mind, knowing that wins have been more difficult to come by this season and a booth without every member fully bearded would not be acceptable. However, he held his ground and after they won took partial responsibility for their victory, even though he had nothing to do with it. The players who did perform well last night – Bryce Harper, Travis Shaw, and Edwin Rios, all of them also bearded – laughed it off to the media, but rumors this morning have suggested their private team meeting with ownership was about their broadcasters hubris (a trait often found in Portland hipsters).
Bellingham: W, 16-10 (32PA; 3.2IP)
|AVG: 0.517||OBP: 0.563||SLG: 0.931||
|ERA: 11.74||WHIP: 2.174|
The Cascade booth is one of pure joy. As a newer franchise, their announcers are always eager to come to work, and always exude happiness and excitement to their listeners. It helps when their team, especially the offense, plays like it did last night. Three players combined to go 8 for 13 with 3 2Bs and 2 HRs (Bichette, Dietrich, and Tellez). Their broadcast team is literally able to see the bright side of anything, proclaiming that even as their pitchers had an ERA of 11.74, they didn’t allow ANY home runs! Their booth is a breath of fresh air, exactly like you would experience if sitting in the Bellingham stadium, with the wind blowing in off the Puget Sound.
Old Detroit: L, 4-11 (45PA; 6.7IP)
|AVG: 0.256||OBP: 0.356||SLG: 0.436||OPS: 0.791|
|ERA: 9.40||WHIP: 2.239|
The Wolverine booth is the broadcast booth deemed, “Most Fun,” by the listening community. Why? Because the broadcasters are intelligent and also animated. Combining analytical tools with their rhetorical gifts creates a nightly experience that, no matter the outcome of the game, the listeners feel their time was well spent. This season has been particularly interesting on the broadcast, due to the very unfortunate misfortunes of the Wolverines. No one anticipated this kind of start for them, and no one can look away, either. Their Nielsen Ratings are higher than they have ever been before, which has on more than one occasion tempted Wolverine management to consider the goodness of this season despite what on appearances seems nothing more than doom and gloom.