After years of entertaining minor league baseball fans with bizarrely unique metaphors and commentary, Joey Zanaboni finally got the call up to the majors this week.
If you’re a baseball fan who has not heard of Zanaboni prior to reading this or watching his MLB debut earlier this week, you may have at least unknowingly caught one of his viral minor league calls. Zanaboni has repeatedly garnered attention on social media for the very distinctive sound he brings behind the mic, chock-full of head-scratching metaphors that are impossible to overlook.
“Shave me,” Zanaboni screamed when Johnson City clinched the 2019 Appalachian League championship. “Shave my body hair like a domesticated sea bass. Give me a pair of sewing scissors and a half a bottle of dish soap. Let me go to town, baby.”
“Freezin ’em like pay raises at a poorly run cryogenics laboratory,” Zanaboni said in a weirdly specific analogy to a Stephen Strasburg curveball when the Nationals starting pitcher made a rehab appearance with Single-A Fredericksburg earlier this year.
Zanaboni still aptly describes the game when he’s on the call, but he replaces the cliché catchphrases and crutch words used by conventional broadcasters with commentary like the quotes seen above.
Despite having bolstered his resume as a broadcaster, there’s been doubt as to whether MLB traditionalists would ever be willing to let someone with Zanaboni’s ingenuity call a game in the majors. That question was answered this week, as Zanaboni got the call up to take part in MLB Network’s alternate broadcast of the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners on YouTube Wednesday night.
Prior to the game, Zanaboni told the Johnson City Press that he wouldn’t change his approach for the MLB Network broadcast, recognizing that his style is more than just a minor league gimmick.
“At this point, if I was any other way, I think they would be shocked and disappointed,” Zanaboni said. “That’s why they’re reaching out. They want to see the crazy stuff.”
Zanaboni delivered on his promise from the start, offering fans quite possibly the craziest lineup introductions ever heard on MLB Network.
Here’s the craziest player intros in @MLB all season @Mariners @Angels pic.twitter.com/zt6wMjlx2w
— Joey Zanaboni (@joey_zana) August 18, 2022
“Julio Rodriguez, unbelievable centerfielder,” Zanaboni said before bringing his own flair to the broadcast. “Best in the business in terms of rookies. Melting faces like a dumpster fire full of Jonas Brothers masks.”
Far from traditional and certainly not what you expect out from the Major League Baseball fraternity of broadcasters, which is littered with announcers from the old guard. And while baseball fans enjoy their tradition, and the legendary broadcasters certainly deserve to stick around for as long as they still have their fastball, Zanaboni proved MLB should always be willing to make room for someone different.