Saturday, April 30, 2011

Baseball and Radio

Right at the moment, I’m listening to the Jays play the Yankees, and José Bautista has just parked a long bomb in the left field seats. At least, I think it was the left field seats. Since I’m listening on radio, unless they tell me “seats”, I have to use my imagination.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I enjoy listening to a ball game rather than watching it on TV: I get to imagine the game.

You may ask why that’s a good thing. It’s easy to explain. When you watch a game, you can only see what the director allows you to see, even with the number of cameras they use these days. That does make some things more immediate, like when you can see exactly where the ball is going from over the pitcher’s shoulder or just how close that play was at first because they show it in slow motion. That’s cool. But for me the nuances of baseball are the really interesting parts. For instance, a hot grounder goes through the right side of the diamond. Quite often, I will want to see what the shortstop is doing, even third baseman, to set up for something to happen on their side of the diamond as the play develops. On TV, you often don’t get to see that.

Even if I’m watching a game on TV, I usually listen to the radio play-by-play rather than the TV guys. That’s only for Toronto games, I might add. We’re blessed with the two best guys in the business: long-time broadcaster Jerry Howarth and former catcher Alan Ashby. Before Alan, we had the incomparable Tom Cheek. These guys no how to make a game come alive with just their words and the ballpark sounds. I’ve listened to most of the other radio broadcasters and there is just no comparison. The Jays’ broadcasters seldom get caught up in side conversations, and they know just the words needed to make the game come alive. They’re also not shameless homers as many broadcasters are. Oh, and they do their homework on the opposing teams.

But back to my preference to baseball on the radio. I think the strongest reason I feel this way is because that’s the first way I became aware of The Game. I had built a crystal radio and one of the strongest stations I got broadcast Giants games. (Does that date me?) The next season the “Jints” jumped ship for Frisco, so I switched my youthful allegiance to the Yankees, and thus the deal was sealed. I was a lifelong baseball fan.

Listening on the radio brings those early memories right back to the surface.

How about you?

Photo courtesy of Chris Creamer


Addie said...

Hi Rick, I agree that listening to a game is great, and I often do it in the backyard in the summer. As great as Jerry Howarth is, and Tom Cheek was, you're comment that no one is comparable ,I disagree with. I'm not sure they are all available on radio, but Michael Kay (Yanks) and Joe Buck and Dan Shulman are truly on top of their game. I agree that the imagination is diminished when viewing the game on the idiot box, but there's no substitude for angle, replay, and overall view. Sorry, I guess ball on TV is in the cards for me. Cheers.

Rick Blechta said...

I really dislike the Yankee broadcasts, so I have to disagree. Michael is good, but he's surrounded by people of far less quality. Quite often something in the game is ignored because of an ongoing conversation. I was talking about the broadcast team as a whole, not as a breakdown of the various individuals. I felt the sameway when The Sarge was part of the Jays' broadcast team. The Yankee broadcast team are major "homers" and that bugs me. They also don't do much homework on the opposing teams.

You are correct, though, about Buck and Shulman. I somehow didn't think of them, probably because they're not affiliated with any particular team.

Thanks for writing in.

N. J. Lindquist said...

Um, Rick, who is Juan Bautista?

I always listen to the radio and mute the TV. I look up to watch if something exciting happens - like a Johnny Mac pretty well anything, or Jose Bautista trying to steal a base - but I watch the replay.

Loved Tom and Jerry. Love Jerry and Alan. I also like Rance Mulliniks when he does some analysis.

I also have enjoyed Tony Kubeck, and way back in the day, I remember listening to people like Joe Garagiola, Curt Gowdy and Jerry Coleman who were all voices of the Yankee. Yes, I was a Yankee fan for years before the Blue Jays existed. :)

Rick Blechta said...

Oops! Very big oops, as a matter of fact!

Or how about this: Jose has a twin brother Juan who is equally talented and spells off his brother whenever he needs it. Only the two brothers and I know about this.

Which explanation do you like better?

N. J. Lindquist said...

And he's missing a few tattoos, right? :)

Seriously - hate to see him missing games, which he's currently doing. And hated the TB walk-off run to spoil Jo-Jo's decent start.