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And the award for MLB’s most biased announcer goes to …

Sep 25, 2012, 1:50 PM EDT

hawk harrelson

Some studies have unexpected results that change the way people think about a subject. This is not one of them.

Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal watched a local broadcast of all 30 teams to track the announcers’ level of bias and concluded that longtime White Sox play-by-play man Hawk Harrelson is indeed the biggest homer around.

“Credit” was given when an announcer used we/us/our as their pronoun of choice or referred to a player as some sort of pet name and according to Diamond “additional penalties were given for things like excessive moping after miscues or unrestrained glee after big moments.”

Harrelson is the king of all those things, so not surprisingly he (and partner Steve Stone) blew away the competition by making what Diamond determined to be 104 “biased statements” during a single game. Next-closest was the Indians’ crew of Matt Underwood and Rick Manning with 23 biased statements.

And of course Harrelson being Harrelson, he was thrilled to find out he lapped the field:

You just made my day. That’s the biggest compliment you could give me, to call me the biggest homer in baseball.

For the full results of Diamond’s study, click here.

  1. Gordon - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    That is Hawk’s schtick. He makes no attempt at objectivity & he’s up front about that. I respect that he doesn’t pretend to be objective. You know what you’re getting with Hawk (for better or worse).

    • hardballtalkusername - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      For worse

    • stex52 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      Hey, I would hate it in my announcers. But I’m not sure that it’s a problem for an awful lot of fans.

  2. bsbiz - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    If you don’t set your expectations very high, you’ll rarely be disappointed. It’s hard to trip over a pencil.

  3. darthicarus - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I would’ve been disappointed if this wasn’t Harrelson, I almost quit playing MLB The Show one year because his HR call was in the intro.

  4. southpaw2k - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    John Sterling and his home run calls for the Yankees still annoy me to the point of wanting to put my fist through the wall. He may not be as big a homer as Harrelson, but my God does Sterling ever make my blood boil.

    • temporarilyexiled - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • Brian Donohue - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      Agree, Hawk and Sterling are neck and neck in the BS tank. What’s unfortunate about Hawk is that he played the game — well — and every so often has an insight that cuts through his fanaticism. Just the other day in LA, a part-time Angels hitter mashed a hanging curve ball 20 feet foul down the LF line, way into the stands. Hawk said: “if he’d been playing all year as a regular he would have waited on that pitch and put that one on the board in fair territory.” Spoken like a guy who’s played the game and understands. But again it’s rare.

      All who do this stuff are homers, of course — they are paid to be. But some — Scully in LA, Martinez/Talbert in Toronto, Brown/Deshaies in Houston come to mind as refreshingly prominent — do homework on the opposition, show knowledge/appreciation of the game, and generally avoid open rooting for their employing team in the pressbox. What does seem to happen is that traditionally bad teams that turn good make the homerism worse from the broadcasters: the Nats duo are basically intolerable all of a sudden in their gushing root-root-root shit now, and I don’t remember them being this bad until this season.

      • danaking - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:49 PM

        I’ve come to look forward to Pirates games in Houston on mlb.tv. Brown and Deshaies areas good a local tandem as I’ve heard. A little goofy sometimes, but informative and entertaining.

    • bigharold - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      “John Sterling and his home run calls for the Yankees still annoy me…”

      I think the survey was only for TV/cable announcers.

      Radio announcers are notoriously homers but I’m OK with that. As for Sterling’s calls, .. I’m a bit conflicted. Sure he’s over the top and cheesy but like Harrison that’s part of the act. I remember back in the 60s-70s and 80s how a lot of people hated Phil Rizzuto’s persona but now he’s universally appreciated.

      I think in 10-20 years people will look back at Stearling and have a greater appreciation. Perhaps not by you, .. but in general.

      • southpaw2k - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        After looking over the full list, I think you’re right that the survey was meant for TV announcers, considering the Yankees’ announcers included were for Michael Kay and company. I still think that Sterlings’ schtick is beyond aggravating, considering we get stuff like this…

        “It’s an Aaaaaaaaa-bomb, from Aaaaaaaaaa-Rod!”

        “Robbie Cano! Don’t ya know!”

        “You’re on the Mark, Teixeira!”

        “Russell’s got muscle!”

        “Oh the Grandie-man can, theeeeeee Grandie-man can!”

        I rest my case.

      • indaburg - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:06 PM

        Listening to Sterling is like listening to nails on a chalkboard. In Tampa, we have the “pleasure” of getting all the Yankees game on 1040 am. He doesn’t even pretend to have any knowledge of the opposing team, and he is beyond corny. Every I hear “the Grandie-man can”, I want to punch a puppy. And I love puppies.

        As for Rizzuto, you can partially blame him from turning me off the Yankees as a kid in the 1980s on WPIX. I felt like I was listening to my senile old grandfather calling a game.

      • hokiegajanisgod - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        John Sterling will NEVER be appreciated in any year. He’s an embarrassment…

      • bigharold - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:52 PM

        “Sterlings’ schtick is beyond aggravating, considering we get stuff like this…”

        You missed my favorites;

        “Raul be seeing you in the right field seats” Ibanez likely cringes when he that.

        And, .. one I actually use from time to time;

        “He’s Swish-a-licious”

        Can’t take this stuff too seriously.

    • hokiegajanisgod - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      John Sterling and his wench sidekick = Easily the worst, if not biased announcers, in baseball today.

      They’re awful…just terrible.

    • imbetterthanyou - Sep 26, 2012 at 8:32 AM

      He is entertaining in how flawed he is. I cannot stand to listen to his HR calls. But it is also funny to see how wrong he is on so many normal play calls in the field. It is great to hear him made fun of on the radio…

    • 4cornersfan - Sep 27, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      Sterling and Susyn drove me to buy mlb.tv.

  5. dsimp724 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Congrats……. Sincerely, tommy heinson

    • hokiegajanisgod - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      tommy heinson = a green god!!!!

      If sure some Celtic fan has already issued a fatwa…no one disrespects Tommy!

  6. lessick - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    There was this line from the sourced WSJ article:

    —————————————————————————————————————–
    This may not be a coincidence: Curt Gowdy Jr., the senior vice president of production for Mets broadcasts on SNY, said that in a “highly opinionated” market like New York, the fans wouldn’t take well to their announcers being blatant homers. “The ‘we’ and ‘our’ cannot be in the vocabulary,” he said.
    —————————————————————————————————————–

    I know this study covered TV and not radio, but fans wouldn’t take well to homerism in NY??? John Sterling, anyone??

    • bigharold - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      I think radio is different which os why radio wasn’t covered.

  7. thefalcon123 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Actual thoughts from my stupid brain:

    “Holy shit, Jared Diamond wrote an article on the bias of announcers!”

    (goes to article, clicks Jared Diamond’s name).

    “Holy shit, he’s written a bunch of sports articles! That’s so weird!”

    (Google searches Jared Diamond WSJ to see when the author of “Guns, Germs and Steel” stopped studying the history of civilizations and instead began writing about sports. Slowly realizes that they are in fact not the same Jared Diamond. Is terribly disappointed).

    • stex52 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:22 PM

      I knew that, but I admit it’s not a name you see everyday.

    • Brian Donohue - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      Heh, the real Diamond is writing important stuff; I think he recently came out with a new book. GG&S is one of the modern classics of its genre, magnificent book.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:33 PM

        The real Diamond is Neil Diamond.

      • nightman13 - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:12 PM

        @koufax

        Best comment ever

    • cur68 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      I made the exact same mistake. I thought it was the same author of GG&S. I too am a bit disappointed to discover its not the same guy. Pfooie! I wish it was. GG&S should be required reading at the Jr. High level. Curb a lot of the casual ignorance you come across. I would love it, LOVE IT if the Jared Diamond who wrote that book also wrote about baseball. I’m certain he would conclude that the reason baseball is so wonderful is that it prepares you for life after the Zombie Apocalypse in every way and that the Tools Of Ignorance are little more than Infected Bite Prevention Gear. He would also likely conclude that the Beaver is a far superior animal to any raptor you care to name.

    • paperlions - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      Oh….so it isn’t the guy that owns all those jewelry stores?

      • natstowngreg - Sep 25, 2012 at 6:55 PM

        Or does the Subway commercials?

  8. temporarilyexiled - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    He does get carried away with his love for his team.

    “It’s as stiff as a boooooooooaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrd…YES! YES! YES!”

  9. gogigantos - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Just love me some Kruk, Kuip, Miller, and a bit of Fleming. I will listen to The Man Scully anytime. Long in the Bay Area broadcast has been good, Lon Simmons to Bill King to Greenwald to today. Learning to listen is part of learning the game.

    • franklb - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      Fosse and the other Kuiper, across the Bay, are underrated. Very savvy and knowledgeable announcers, and very enjoyable. As an A’s fan, I have to admit that Kruk and Kuip this season are far, far less annoying than I remember. I *almost* enjoy them. As for Jon Miller – I love the guy, and did when he was with the Orioles. A propos of this article, Angelos fired Miller for not being enough of a homer. Another idiotic Angelos move. THat’s how the Giants got Miller. There is nothing better in baseball than Jon Miller imitating Vin Scully speaking Japanese. Talk about magic.

      • gogigantos - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:49 PM

        Enjoying the other Kuip and Fosse, Fosse for a loooooong time, is part of enjoying the A’s. Krukow has gotten much better, he has been at it for a looong time. He talks A LOT about pitching that is usually valuable and informative and fun without being condescending. He knows his role as color on the air and shares knowledge freely about matchups, success and failures on the mound right now as it happens. That is quality. Both crews are informative, knowledgeable, and not offensive while clearly pulling for the home team.

        I must say, I loved both D. Kuiper and M. Krukow as players back when F. Robinson was managing the Giants. I must also say that it took me a not so short while to learn to like them on the air. I am also sure that it took them some time to find the sweeeeeet groove that they have been in for a long spell now. Right now, I love those two. They are a good team, the palness and love of old friends comes through. The love and passion for the team comes through. The game, the picture, is clear when they are on the air. Good or bad, I think they are just about fully honest. When things are right, they say so. When things are wrong, they just about tell me all about what is wrong with the play, or the team. That is the kind of “homer” I want, as honest as possible and fair.

        Honestly, I love Greenwald more than Miller. I still miss the man. I grew up with Lon Simmons and Bill King, learned a lot for sure about many sports listening to the pictures of the action they conveyed.

        In ’90, Fosse was on Dave Stewart being off in the first inning of game one against the Reds on the radio, and I knew things were not going to be good. He was able to communicate that as a fan, a “homer”, and bring the game alive, so much more so than the Fox or CBS or NBC or ESPN turds.

        Quality home broadcast should be honest, fair, and passionate. When winning, it is probably easy. When the team isn’t so good, tell me why. When a play goes well, tell me why. When the pitching is working, or not, tell me why.

        shutting up
        and rooting for a Giants vs A’s rematch in the World Series, hehehe

    • gogigantos - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      Is having quality broadcast part of building good fans?

      Of course they are homers. A good broadcaster will paint the picture and let you know that the home team is not performing well, and hopefully they will learn you a bit about why. It is “our” team and I do want to feel some love and passion for the successes and failures of “my” team. It is best when I feel the guys understand and don’t too much hold back about why they fail, and succeed.

      The best bring you to the place as it happens. The best help you be a part of it, like you are there. That they are there with you, sharing the pain and joy, and the why without going all talk radio on you, is part of making them, and “your” team part of your life. The voices of the game, the good ones, are treasures and part of all the fabric that is the game, or games, that we love. Part of learning to love it, or falling in love.

      • APBA Guy - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        No question the A’s and Giants have very good-to-excellent announcing crews. My personal bias is for Miller/Krukow over Kuiper/Krukow, but I suspect that comes as much from my fondness for Miller when he was with the O’s and I was living back East and the O’s were my favorite team since I was little.

        Two little nits: listening to only one broadcast is a lot like having only 1 data point. The author really needs to listen to several broadcasts.

        Two: The A’s, with their appalling owners, could still screw this up. This year they had company hack Scott Hatteberg in the booth for 20 games. Talk about nails on a chalkboard.

    • whitlockd - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:18 PM

      I’m sure I’ll be in the minority here, but Vin Scully is boring to me. He sounds has if he’s reading out of out of a baseball program. It would never happen, but I think he’s be improved by having a parther. The back and forth and the story telling of a broadcast team is part of the beauty of listening to/watching a game.

  10. jontwinkies - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    You can put it on the boooooaaaaaarrrrdddd!!!! Yes!!! Most annoying announcer in baseball.

  11. paulydefense - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Glad to see the Pirates announcers up there so high. They’re ridiculously obnoxious, and I can’t stand listening to them.

  12. Gobias Industries - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Not the first time I’ve seen the Mets finish dead last. But the first time I’m happy about it.

  13. blzr409 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Since when are Houston and Miami “small markets?”

  14. historiophiliac - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Wait, local broadcasts are biased? Shocking. I can’t believe anyone cares about the objectivity of an announcer. This is such a parochial problem; if you can complain about this, you live in an ocean of baseball and yours is a rich life.

    • Gobias Industries - Sep 25, 2012 at 7:47 PM

      I’d much rather be a guy that complains about the objectivity of an announcer than a pompous prick that goes out of his way to complain about guys that complain about the objectivity of an announcer.

  15. pisano - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    As soon as I saw the headline,Hawk was the first person that came to mind, and when I clicked on it, there’s his mug. In reality that’s one of those gimme’s.

    • ptfu - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:29 PM

      Agreed. What I didn’t expect is that Hawk & Stone would have more homerisms than the next SEVEN announcing teams combined.

  16. randygnyc - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I’ll take my local Yankee broadcasters any/every day over the biased national broadcasting hacks like Buck and McGarver. When tuned into local broadcasts, I think everyone expects some type of “homerism”. But I think national guys have a responsibility to be unbiased. That’s why I give a pass to guys like harrelson, because it’s expected. But guys like smoltz, McGarver, Orel can go f@ck themselves with their anti-Yankee bias. Without exception, all regular season and post season games not on the Yankees channel I sync up the radio.

  17. dadawg77 - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    These are local broadcast not national, so why really care about homerism? Watching a game Hawks does is like watching it with a fan who has played the game and loves to talk about Yaz. I don’t know but I would hate a bland announcer who doesn’t reflect whats going on with the game. And the emotions Hawk has are the same as White Sox fans have and Hawk isn’t a shill saying a bad team is good but says the team is playing like crap if it is.

    • nightman13 - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:16 PM

      Personally, I prefer objective coverage of my sports. Homerism in announcing is like the parents that brag about how smart their kids are and hang papers with C- grades on the fridge.

      • dadawg77 - Sep 26, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        Your example isn’t Hawk’s homerism. His homerism is he cheers for the Sox and like the average Sox fan happy when they are winning while down when they’re losing. The type of homerism in your example is being a team shill and Hawk doesn’t do that. If the Sox plays like bums he says it or just doesn’t talk/bleeping out.
        I like the fan approach but hate the shill.

        Now I disagree with Hawk on certain especially Oakland, but he is stating his opinion and one that’s held by a lot of old timers.

  18. geoknows - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Only 104 homerisms per game? I’ve watched plenty of Hawk and I could have sworn the count would be closer to 104 per inning.

  19. randall351 - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Well I call BS because according to the article they watched a Royals game where Jeff Montgomery was announcing instead of Rex Hudler, so you know that just throws the whole “study” out the window.

    Sexy Rexy would give Hawk a run for his money any day of the week.

  20. moogro - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    I don’t mind the homerism. The worst thing about Hawk’s Yeayes! is that he thinks it’s OK to do vocally what comic books do graphically. Somebody has got to tell him that he isn’t being translated into comics. Reminds me of the fake yell-voice that 5 year olds do when they do play-by-play as they crash their toy planes into the ground. “He’s going to craaash! Oh Nooooo!” Fingernails on the chalkboard.

  21. shaggylocks - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    I’d be interested to see a study with radio announcers as well. I was once driving through New York state and after searching the airwaves for some baseball found the Yankees game in progress on the radio. I think I had to wait an inning and a half before they finally mentioned the name of the opposing team, by which time I had figured it out on my own after they mentioned Ichiro (pre-trade game, obviously. I didn’t know many of the other position players on that team). Whenever the Yankees were up at bat they gushed about their offensive prowess, and when the Mariners were up the focus was on the Yankees inspiring and athletic defense. The Yanks are undoubtedly good, but I started wondering if I was missing accurate descriptions of the M’s defensive plays after hearing what sounded like a heads up bang-bang double play by the Mariners described only in relation to how the Yankees base runners just barely missed the bag. When the M’s hit into a double play earlier in the game it was all about Jeter and Cano’s fielding ability. I suppose if you’re a Yankees fan you might like that, but as a listener without a horse in the race I found the homerism incredibly annoying.

  22. husky2score - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Hawk the Sqwuack!!!!!!!!

  23. angrycorgi - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Everytime the Sox lose its the umps fault, according to this clown.

  24. stairwayto7 - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Have you never heard a Red sox game? Jerry Remy thinks the redsox never make an out! BIGGEST HOMER EVER!

    • petey1999 - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      Don’t confuse Remy’s comments about the RS with those plugging his restaurant and numerous other side ventures.

  25. schmedley69 - Sep 25, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    Every announce team should have a heel announcer, ala Bobby “The Brain” Heenan or Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who roots for the opposing team, just to even things out.

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