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GQ names the best and worst broadcast teams

Jul 12, 2010, 2:28 PM EDT

When they’re not bothering me for fashion and grooming advice, GQ writes articles about sports and culture and other things. Today they have — in annoying slideshow form, but still worth reading — a breakdown of what they feel are the five best and five worst local broadcasting teams in baseball.

You be surprised that Vin Scully is number one. You probably won’t be surprised that Hawk Harrelson drags Steve Stone down with him to the bottom.  Having on high-usage this year I’ve gotten to hear all of these guys at some point or another, and I generally agree with the groupings, even if I disagree with some of the exact ranks. There’s obviously some subjectivity to it all.

The only thing I take issue with is the Thom Brennaman and Jeff Brantley entry. Not the ranking itself — I agree that they’re probably bottom five — but the rationale, which is Jeff Brantley’s tangents on his eating habits.  Look, I watch and listen to more Reds games than I should, and I gotta tell ya: the only thing that makes Brantley and Brennaman remotely bearable is when Brantley is talking about how many barbecue ribs or scoops of ice cream he ate the night before. 

  1. Jonny5 - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    Of course I’m Partial to Gary Mattews Sr. and Chris Wheeler. Wheeler for the extensive baseball history knowledge, this guy seems to know everything there is to know about baseball from day one. The guys do trivia during every game and damn if he doesn’t know 97% of the answers, no matter what team or era. And Gary Mattews for the hitters perspective, He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to hitting and I love his take on all the players, how they stand, their swing, What they should try to help in a slump etc….. This is why I like ex players as broadcasters, some of them anyway. Broadcast school doesn’t teach baseball.

  2. Boo Hoo Florio picked on your team - GET OVER IT - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Apparently GQ hasn’t spent any time listening to Mark Grace and Daron Sutton down in Phoenix. They are almost consistently quite entertaining. Also, Vin Scully is no surprise to me. He is pretty good.

  3. Hojo - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    For the most part agree with the rankings, but on the bottom five their rationale is off. I just find Hawk’s voice any choice of catchphrases to be annoying. I have no problem with blatant homerism on a local broadcast. Their target audience is the fans of the team they are calling. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with broadcasters using terms like “good guys” and cheering for the team they broadcast for.

  4. Simon DelMonte - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    I am thrilled to see the Mets broadcast team get the accolades. They are uniformly smart and balanced, never afraid to call it as they see it. Which means, given the team, being critical of the club a good deal of the time. And even when the Mets are stinking up the joint, they never lose their enthusiasm for the game.
    Also, we still get occasional appearances by Ralph Kiner, who isn’t in their league anymore but remains quite knowledgeable. Ralph, Gary and Ron did a very nice tribute to Bob Sheppard yesterday, and Ralph noted that when he became a broadcaster, he took lessons from Sheppard. Always good to get a little something you never knew before.

  5. Infinite Wisdom - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    Hawk Harrelson is unfathomably horrible. His stupid taglines are only rivaled by his ridiculous voice. It constantly sounds like he needs to clear his throat.. Like Kermit with Swine Flu. (see what I did there?) When I watch Quick Pitch on MLB Network and they show clips from White Sox games, I seriously mute the TV. How can an announcer show favoritism in such an obvious and irritating way? The other guy isn’t that bad, meaning Harrelson is SO awful, that he can thrust them both to the top of the list. You can put THAT on the booooooaaaaaaard, YES!

  6. Infinite Wisdom - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    I do think Michael Kay should have gotten some props, however.. That dude’s voice is like puppies and angels mixed with honey.

  7. aleskel - Jul 12, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    Kay doesn’t get a lot of love, for the most part, most likely because of the team he works for and his thinly-veiled homerism. But at the very least you can say that he calls a professional game and he sets up his color guys very well.

  8. adam - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    I might be one of the few non White Sox fans who loves Hawk’s home run call. It doesn’t get old.

  9. The Ol Goaler - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    Dear Lord, this reminded me of how much I miss Jack Buck… I grew up listening to the incredible duo of Harry Caray and Buck broadcasting Cardinals baseball on the radio; when Vin retires, sure, we’ll not see their like again!

  10. Md23Rewls - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I think Kay is great, especially given that he has to work with a rotating cast of color commentators. I imagine it’s much harder to get a raport down when you have a different guy every week. For my money, Kay/Leiter or Kay/O’Neill are the best pairings for Yankee broadcasts. Very good chemistry. Singleton is far too wooden, and Flaherty, while nice and inoffensive, doesn’t really stand out.
    As for any potential hommerism, I honestly don’t see it that often. While maybe he does push a little over the top at times (whenever they’re at home and the game’s tied after the top of the ninth, he’ll ask “I guess the question is, who wants pie?” which is just annoying), I think he keeps it in check decently. Even with the nitpicks, he’s very smooth and keeps things interesting. Maybe I just like him because I’ve also been exposed to the Sterling/Waldman combo on the radio, which is horrible.

  11. TMW - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    I’m a Twins fan living in Chicago. I don’t really mind Hawk altogether. He’s often incorrect about his assessments and is a borderline conspiracy theorist when the White Sox are on the bum end of calls, sure. I’ve subscribed to Innings. To be honest considering how bland most broadcast teams are, I find Hawk to be a welcome change of pace. And even though he uses catchphrases and homerisms, catchphrases and homer calls have been a part of the game’s history since they were trying to sell the game’s popularity through radio. That’s the school of thought that Hawk comes from, he’s a saleman not a journalist. And since most broadcasters and ex-players turn broadcasters make for horrible journalists, I just don’t see a problem with it.
    Also, he’s been preaching the importance of walks decades before Moneyball. For every four dumb things he says, he’ll sneak in one good insight here and there.

  12. The Rabbit - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    I loved watching Ralph and McCarver broadcast the Mets games. McCarver was decent before he went national and became entirely unbearable.
    I will highly recommend the book “Kiner’s Korner” if you haven’t read it. A truly entertaining baseball book covering the 1962 Mets.

  13. Simon DelMonte - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    I don’t think he’s too much of a homer. Certainly when he does his show on ESPN’s NY affiliate, he seems capable of being critical (though he took the team’s side in the dispute with Torre). As a play by play man, he’s good. Not great, but certainly knowledgeable and lively enough.
    He does seem a bit weak compared to Mel Allen or Red Barber, or even the Messer-White-Scooter combo of my youth. And I miss Murcer.

  14. john pileggi - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:14 PM

    Right on with top two. Scully is still wonderful, and Cohen, Hernandez and Darling are terrific to listen to and make the game more watchable.

  15. Paper Lions - Jul 12, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    I’m sorry, I can’t listen to Grace. His combination of arrogance and ignorance about baseball are unbearable.

  16. APBA Guy - Jul 12, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    You know, I like Kuiper and Krukow, but no way are they better than Jon Miller and Krukow, when the Giants broadcasts aren’t on CSNBA. Sorry Duane. Jon Miller has “the voice.”
    And really, objectively, they aren’t better than Orsillo/Remy.
    But the bottom five is pretty on target.

  17. Infinite Wisdom - Jul 12, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    2 worst broadcasters in history: Joe Buck and Joe Theismann. I would rather hear my parents being shot than listen to them speak another word.

  18. Al - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    Matt Underwood’s “souvenir city” home run call is THE WORST. On the radio end of things, I’ve really gained a new appreciation for Tom Hamilton this year.

  19. nfieldr - Jul 13, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    “He gone!” Hawk absolutely sucks!
    I also think that the color guy for the Rockies (George somebody) is awfully bad. As for Rick Manning, I played for him (he was my coach) at a fantasy camp back in the 90’s. He was an ok guy, but pretty arrogant and not as much fun to be around as most of the other ex-pros.
    On the plus side, I actually enjoy listening to Mark Grace and Darren Sutton on the D’back broadcasts.

  20. yeeshey - Jul 15, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    I like the debates/discussion that Ron Darling poses on the mets broadcast. Cohen is just the generic, but he knows how to drive the discussion and ask Darling good question which is then where Keith chimes in..Very good method, IMO. The yanks i like when O’Neill comes on with Al Leiter LOL. I actuallly look forward to when Yanks do road games because many of those Michael Kay does not travel for. A highly underrated team is Dick Bremer, Bert Byleven, and Jack Morris on the Twins broadcast. There’s always something they talk about. For example Byleven commenting on a young catcher’s knowledge, in this case Wilson Ramos who didn’t have experience with sequencing. Saying “You need to go through a sequence after a shakeoff” Runners on base will identify the pitch comin if you shake off in a situation. He said Ramos would do it inconsistently, sometimes when men weren’t on base (which is when you don’t need to) and then forget to when a pressure situation made him get frustrated.

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