If the Cubs team is a 5th grade schoolboy, the Cardinals have been playing the role of class bully. The Reds have been that sneaky kid who tapes “kick me” signs on people’s backs, the Astros have been the smart kid who everybody kind of ignores because he (his ballpark, actually) is freaky, the Pirates have been the skinny runt, and the Brewers have been the humorous fat kid. This weekend, the humorous fat kid walked right up to our little fifth grader and kicked him in his groin and peed all over him while he rolled around, groaning in agony and humiliation.
In the aftermath of that attack, the bully still picks on the Cubs and the fat kid is still just the fat kid, but during the whole episode nobody looked at the Cub/child because it was too embarrassing for everyone involved.
Now that it’s over and the kid’s had a chance to take a shower, it’s up to us, the other kids in school who like that child, to make sure he doesn’t turn into Ted Kacszynski and we can’t like him anymore.
This week’s Friday Five presents a pantheon of the best current (or very recent) major league baseball announcers.
#5: Joe Buck
Probably the least popular of my picks, Buck’s voice is indistinguishable from a few others (like Thom “the H is for hammy” Brennaman), and at the beginning I wasn’t even considering him. However, as I went through all the guys I’ve heard recently (either side of the Miller/Morgan debacle, Kalas, Steiner on Yanks’ radio, and so on), Buck’s stock rose. Is it really possible that he’s the fifth best baseball announcer around? And does that make me overly picky or have I passed out of baseball’s target market?
#4: DeWayne Staats
Staats was a standout broadcaster with the Cubs from ’85 to ’89 and I still wish he were doing Cubs games. Though it’s been a while since I’ve listened to him, I’d still rather listen to ghosts of Staats doing Cubs games than even the best of Skip Caray’s lifetime achievements.
#3: Vin Scully
Vin is smooth as silk, not rushed, not forced, and takes time and effort to describe what’s going on. There’s character to his artistic style of broadcasting which makes his voice unmistakable, but there’s no ESPN SportsCenter-style gimmicking, like Chris Berman.
There are a lot of Scully supporters around baseball, which says a lot for the guy, but what says even more is how few Vin Scully HATERS there are in the world. Even if you’re doing TV, being able to describe what’s happening makes a big difference, just for the fact that you’re doing less scrambling to fill air time.
#2: Bob Costas
He’s not doing games now, but he’s funny, smart (though a little pompous), observant, and classy. I don’t buy into “Costas for Commissioner,” but I wish they’d pick World Series broadcasters the way they do (or at least claim to) umpires, because then we’d get to listen to Costas no matter which network outbid the others.
Costas has done a lot of different sports in his day and has stepped out of sports to do things (don’t mention Baseketball, please), but he’s a wonderful baseball announcer.
#1: Pat Hughes
Pat is the saving grace of the otherwise wretched collection of media packages the Cubs currently present to their fans. Together with Santo (who’s a joy to listen to, but is not a great announcer), he makes listening to the Cubs radio broadcasts via the internet BETTER than actually seeing it on TV.
Next week it’s the worst five. Want a preview?