2016 Broadcaster Rankings (Radio): #30 – #21

Roughly four years ago now, the present author facilitated a crowdsourcing project designed to place a “grade” on each of the league’s television and radio broadcast teams. The results weren’t intended to represent the objective quality or skill of the relevant announcers, but rather to provide a clue as to which broadcast teams are likely to appeal most (or least) to the readers of this site.

The results of that original exercise have been useful as a complement to the dumb NERD scores published by the author in these pages. Four years later, however, they’ve become much less useful. In the meantime, a number of the broadcast teams cited in that original effort have changed personnel. It’s possible that the tastes of this site’s readers have changed, also.

Recently, the author published an updated version of the television rankings according to the site’s readership. This week: the results of that same exercise, but for radio broadcasts.

Below are the 30th- through 21st-ranked radio-broadcast teams, per the FanGraphs readership.

But first, three notes:

  • Teams are ranked in ascending order of Overall rating. Overall ratings are not merely averages of Charisma and Analysis.
  • The author has attempted to choose reader comments that are either (a) illustrative of the team’s place in the rankings or (b) conspicuously amusing.
  • A complete table of ratings will appear in these pages on Thursday, unless they appear later than that.

***

30. New York Yankees
Main Broadcasters: John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.5, 1.7, 2.0

Representative Reader Comment
“As a Yankee fan, I am thankful for MLB At Bat.”

Notes
It’s difficult to find any feedback among the readers’ comments that doesn’t merely resort, at some point, to an ad hominen attack on the Yankees’ radio team. Which, that’s unfortunate. But also: probably indicative of the sort of frustration a FanGraphs reader might have attempting to comsume a Yankees game by way of the radio feed.

***

29. Chicago White Sox
Main Broadcasters: Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.4, 2.3, 2.4

Representative Reader Comment
“They can both get kind of weird in their attempts to play off each other.”

Notes
A number of comments regarding the White Sox’ away television broadcast suggested that, whatever their merits as individuals, that Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone gave the impression — on air, at least — of never having become bosom friends. Multiple respondents suggest that the club’s radio broadcast team suffers from a similar lack of compatibility.

***

28. Los Angeles Angels
Main Broadcasters: Terry Smith and Mark Langston
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 2.4, 2.7, 2.8

Representative Reader Comment
“They never truly replaced Rory Markus, who was terrific.”

Notes
Most of the television teams over the course of this excerise receives somewhere between 100 and 500 ballots from readers; most radio teams, between about 50 and 200. The Angels receives nine total ballots. This score, as a result, likely features the largest margin of error. This paragraph, for a number of reasons, is an experiment in futility.

***

27. Cincinnati Reds
Main Broadcasters: Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.1, 2.7, 2.8

Representative Reader Comment
“Marty is a curmudgeon and his negativity and criticism of players tends to overshadow the fact that he is one of the very best in the business at the act of calling a ballgame.”

Notes
Many of the sentiments expressed by readers regarding Thom Brennaman appear relevant, as well, to his father Marty. Both Brennamans receive praise for their vocal timbre and narrative skills. Both also seem to exhibit a sort of antagonism with life itself, however, that doesn’t lend itself to the long-distance race that is a baseball season.

***

26. Colorado Rockies
Main Broadcasters: Jack Corrigan and Jerry Schemmel
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.2, 3.0, 3.2

Representative Reader Comment
“[W]orth mentioning the Rockies became the first NL team to have a woman on the radio crew last year when Jenny Cavnar filled in for a few games at Jack’s suggestion while Jerry was absent.”

Notes
The Rockies’ radio score (3.2) is actually about even with the median score produced collectively by the league’s television broadcasts. Responses regarding Corrigan and Schemmel reflect, perhaps, the difference in the medium. Because, despite their ranking, the pair receives little actual negative criticism.

***

25. Minnesota Twins
Main Broadcasters: Cory Provus and Dan Gladden
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.2, 3.2, 3.3

Representative Reader Comment
“The Twins radio crew is laudable for its inoffensiveness. Provus has a great voice, and, together with Gladden, the two of them never really manage to tick me off… In modern announcing, that’s a major plus.”

Notes
Provus is an alumnus of the Brewers’ radio team alongside Bob Uecker — which group also includes Joe Block (now in Pittsburgh on radio and TV) and Jim Powell in Atlanta (also on radio) and Pat Hughes (on Cubs radio). All four are generally praised by FanGraphs readers, which may or may not be a coincidence. Like how everything in life may or may not be a coincidence, as well.

***

24. Miami Marlins
Main Broadcasters: Dave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.4, 3.3, 3.4

Representative Reader Comment
“I would venture a guess that most stumbling on a game by Van Horne would be hard-pressed to confidently state which team employs him.”

Notes
Comments regarding Dave Van Horne suggest that, if anything, he is phlegmatic to a fault. In a nearly related development, here’s a very brief story by Lydia Davis from her collection Varieties of Disturbance:

Davis

***

23. Pittsburgh Pirates
Main Broadcasters: Like, five different guys
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.7, 3.1, 3.5

Representative Reader Comment
“Pirates fans will mostly enjoy these pairings but fans of other teams should be warned, and should steer towards Block when possible.”

Notes
Whatever comments apply to the Pirates’ television side mostly apply here, too, on account of it’s all the same people, basically. Curiously, while Pittsburgh’s television crew ranks 15th according to FanGraphs readers, that same collection of personnel appear 23rd among radio broadcasters. Again, this is very likely due to the different demands of the two media.

***

22. Kansas City Royals
Main Broadcasters: Denny Matthews and Steve Physioc/Steve Stewart
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.5, 3.4, 3.5

Representative Reader Comment
“Denny Matthews is basically Vin Scully to us Royals Fans. He’s been with the Royals since the teams first year in 1969, so it’s really hard to hear a Royals game and not have Denny on the call.”

Notes
As the reader comment here suggests, most respondents exhibit a certain reverence with regard to Denny Matthews. The comparison to Vin Scully is apt for that reason. And for this one, too: as with Scully, the few dissenting views regarding Matthews all cite age as the primary reason.

***

21. Houston Astros
Main Broadcasters: Robert Ford and Steve Sparks
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.4, 3.5, 3.6

Representative Reader Comment
“Robert Ford is very good… Sparks [tries] to generate the enthusiasm by talking louder.”

Notes
When this broadcaster-rankings exercise was conducted four years ago, Milo Hamilton — and not Robert Ford — served as the primary voice for Astros’ radio. Though well respected, Hamilton was also regarded as perhaps having lost some precision with age. The combination of Ford and Sparks appears two slots higher than that previous iteration.





Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Dooduh
6 years ago

OK, never saw this crowd-sourcing…

wildcard09
6 years ago
Reply to  Dooduh

IIRC he had the TV and Radio votes going on at the same time.