Friday, July 27, 2007

Polishing a turd

About three weeks ago, I started to prepare myself for a rough summer. Our team had just been swept three games in Bakersfield, who brought a 10-game losing streak into the series. Our record was 3-7, and I feared the prospect of broadcasting another 60 games with lots of losing, and lots of bad baseball.

To my relief, the team has taken off. Going into tonight's game in Bakersfield, the Nuts have won 18 of 24 games. We're in first place, and the playoffs are looking like a foregone conclusion.

No doubt, I got lucky. I just don't know how you broadcast games nine innings every day for a losing team. For instance, my new friend John Rosen is the High Desert announcer, and his team has lost eight in a row entering tonight, 26 of 34 in the second half, after being in last place in the first half ... and, he has to broadcast 70 home games in the middle of nowhere (aka. Adelanto).

Another new friend, Zack Bayrouty of the Stockton Ports, is forced to call games for a team that has lost 22 of 34 games in the second half. In Zack's case, his team is really tough to watch because all the good players have been promoted to Double-A. All that remains is journeyman, castoffs from independent leagues, and non-prospects.

You can't be super critical of your team. I mean, most of your audience is the friends and family of the players on the internet, season ticket holders listening on the radio, or a handful of other diehard baseball fans who stumble upon the game while driving down the freeway. In the cases of High Desert and Stockton, they just don't have the talent the other teams in the league do.

Once again, this really makes me appreciate a guy like Ernie Harwell, the legendary announcer of the Detroit Tigers. Harwell did a lot of games between the 1984 World Series and the 2006 World Series, a lot of really dreadful games where the Tigers rarely won, and did it with dignity and class. As a result, he's probably the most beloved employee of the Tigers. That's the ultimate pro.

It takes a special pro to strike the right balance of "being positive vs. being honest" as you broadcast games for a team that's really bad. At some point, if I stay in broadcasting long enough, I'm destined to eventually have to do that.

Sure hope that I could do that, if I had to do that, but I'm very happy that I don't have to find out right now.

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