Sunday, September 23, 2007

Please, Just Watch the Game

As a fan of many sports I've spent countless hours taking in the sights and sounds of everything from the Final Four in March to the World Series in October (and sometimes November). And while the sights always find a way to thrill and excite me, the sounds have become - how do I say this - annoyingly inconsistent.

What is he talking about, you ask?

I'm talking about the play-by-play announcers who muddle through their assignments week after week, blowing calls and leaning so heavily on their ex-professional athlete/coach color guys they might as well be doing the broadcast blindfolded. Who knows, they might actually luck into a correct call once in a while.

OK, so I'm being a little dramatic about the state of play-by-play commentators, but take a closer listen to some of these guys over the next few weeks and you'll hear what I'm talking about.

I can't be the only one who is sick of hearing these guys blabber away, more intent on gushing with hyperbole than actually accurately calling the action on the field. These guys have high-definition monitors three feet in front of their faces, they're in the stadium with the game going on in front of them and still they can't tell a pass to the sidelines from a slant in the middle of the field.

It is their job to describe the action as it happens on the field, and while I understand that things move very quickly, I suppose I just expect my play-by-play guys to be able to digest what they're seeing and tell me about it. They're paid professionals and I shouldn't have to listen to guys correct themselves every few minutes because they made an over-the-top call on a game-changing fumble that never actually happened.

Also it's their job to know how to correctly pronounce player names, and while I'll grant that Jones is easier than Ta'ufo'ou, that's something that professional broadcasters who are making good money should take the time to make sure they're going to get right on-air.

Mistakes are going to happen, I know that, but it's getting out of control. More and more guys are getting jobs despite the fact they can't seem to get through a single broadcast without botching things that people who are actually watching the games would never miss. I can see it clear as day on my non-plasma or LCD television, why can't they?

This is not to say that there aren't some really good play-by-play guys out there, because there are. Sunday Night Football is graced with the talents of an all-time great in Al Michaels, while ESPN should be proud of the job Mike Tirico does every week on Monday Night Football.

At the risk of sounding like a total homer, the best in the business for my money is the team of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow who broadcast San Francisco Giants games for Fox Sports Net. They're entertaining and knowledgeable and they actually pay attention to what's going on. Maybe it's because both of them are ex-players, but when a guy throws a straight change-up I never hear Kuiper refer to it as a curveball.

And this mini-epidemic knows no age/experience limit. In fact one of the oldest play-by-play men, Dodgers mainstay Vin Scully, consistently calls the game right with rarely a misstep. He's 79 years old for crying out loud and he does it without the crutch of a color guy.

Maybe I'm just too particular and perhaps I just know too much (thanks Dad), but I still think some of these guys have to go. Is it asking too much for a little accuracy from professional announcers who are supposed to know what it is they are seeing? I think not.

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