This week at Awful Announcing, we’re going to start a series where we’ll let you, the loyal AA readers, grade each and every local MLB broadcast team in the league. As an appetizer to the main course that will begin on Monday, I decided it would be a good idea to brainstorm my ten favorite MLB broadcasters on television, both color and play-by-play. This list is in alphabetical order, and the listed order has nothing to do with preference.
Gary Cohen. I actually think Cohen’s stock has dropped a bit over the past couple of years after his trio with Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling got constant accolades over the years. But Cohen is still pretty damn good at his job, even if his voice sounds like it’s cracking every time someone hits a home run. I’m wondering if there will eventually end up being widespread changes with Mets broadcasts on SNY soon, with Darling getting more of a featured role on TBS and Kevin Burkhardt seemingly destined to move full-time to Fox.
Hawk Harrelson. Let’s get something straight – this isn’t a ranking of the “best” announcers, it’s a ranking of my “favorite” announcers. And man, Hawk Harrelson is a *riot* – especially when the White Sox are playing terribly. While Hawk is a blatant homer, he is also brutally honest about the White Sox when they’re having a rough go of things, and it’s almost endearing in the year 2014 to hear a broadcaster make no qualms about what he is and where his interests lie.
Orel Hershiser. I completely forgot that Hershiser is a local announcer after years with ESPN. He actually hasn’t made his regular season debut with the Dodgers broadcast crew yet, but his work with ESPN was one of the highlights of their baseball coverage in recent seasons. No one can break down a pitcher like Hershiser, and hopefully the chemistry he had with Dan Shulman can carry over to his new partner, Charley Steiner.
Len Kasper. Kasper is awesome, and has been a bright spot for the woeful Cubs over the last few seasons. His chemistry with Jim Deshaies is still growing, but the two do a great job at blending humor with both traditional and more modern analysis. The two Chicago teams have vastly different broadcasting teams, but both can be enjoyable for completely different reasons.
Glen Kuiper. I prefer the younger Kuiper over his brother Duane, a long-time commentator with the Giants that gets plenty of accolades nationally along with partner Mike Krukow. Glen Kuiper has a similar voice to his brother, but I prefer his work because of the lack of silly gimmicks and extreme focus on calling the game at hand.
Victor Rojas. I think Rojas has the most energy out of everyone on my list – he really gets into calling the games, and does a damn good job of it. I don’t get around to watching many Angels games, but I always come away impressed with Rojas’ knowledge, passion, and polish.
Vin Scully. Well, duh. Scully is the best announcer in baseball, and he can make anything sound interesting. I know some people have issues with his storytelling that has nothing to do with the game, but I would rather hear that Uggla means “owl” in Swedish for the 800th time or the story about Torii Hunter and his dad’s crackpipe than dead air or ignorant banter, which too many broadcast teams are guilty of.
Dewayne Staats. Staats has been the voice of the Rays since their inception in 1998, and he can take as much pride in their recent success as anyone in the organization. His voice is an acquired taste, but Staats’ commentary is sharp and on-point, helped by the solid chemistry he has with color commentator Brian Anderson and reporter Todd Kalas.
Gary Thorne. Thorne is a veteran broadcaster of multiple sports, and he’s in his element with the Orioles. He’s not afraid to dip his toe into unfamiliar waters, is a straight shooter, and is far and away the best broadcaster on the entirety of MASN.
Rich Waltz. The Marlins duo of Waltz and Tommy Hutton is an acquired taste, and I have a feeling they won’t fare too well in our polling this week. However, I’ve grown to really enjoy the duo. When the good ship Miami began to sink like the Titanic over the last two years, Waltz and Hutton began to care less and less about pumping the company line, and were brutally honest about the team on the field. Waltz is quite a good play-by-play man once you look past his exuberance, and I think greener pastures are in his future.