break down the Mets trade of Jae Seo for Duaner Sanchez,
but that would be too desperate, even for the Office, though I wouldn't have minded Sanchez in our bullpen, and would've dealt Horacio Ramirez to get him.
Instead, we resort to that staple of year-end journalism --- albeit a week late --- a best and worst list. This time, we cover baseball broadcasters, and we're sticking to our lifetime, and only announcers with which we're familiar; as a commenter points out, Ernie Harwell belongs on this list, but unfortunately I've never had the pleasure of listening to the voice of the Tigers ... and onetime voice of the Atlanta Crackers. So pardon the snubs of Red Barber and Mel Allen, though the latter was a weekly fixture on my TV narrating "This Week in Baseball." Now that's a Southern accent worth envying. Play-by-play
The best: Harry Caray
. Whether it's the young, smooth version (if you can find it, check out Harry's call of Stan Musial's last at-bat in 1963. It should be required listening for young announcers) or the older, less nuanced Harry ("Steve, why do we keep bringing in George Frazier? Everyone knows the guy can't pitch"), no one seemed to enjoy baseball as much as Skip's dad. He combined knowledge of the game with enthusiasm for it in a way that'll never be duplicated.
Very honorable mention: Vin Scully
. Living in L.A. for six years, I had the privilege of listening to Scully call games, and no one is more skillful at presenting the action on the field. He is the master, never too high, never too low and never unprepared. And Scully does all the games solo, a feat in of itself. Jack Buck
. I interviewed him years back, and we ended up chatting about baseball for a good 30 minutes (he was very high on a young John Mabry, for some reason). A true class act, and the author of my two favorite calls: "I don't believe ... what I just saw" and "Go crazy folks. Go crazy!" And, for what it's worth, I like Joe Buck, too. Skip and Pete
. Obviously. They started calling Braves game shortly before I became a fan, and I can't fathom watching or listening to the home team without them. They compliment each other tremendously, and it's a treat on those rare occasions when they're paired with each other in the booth. And, for what it's worth, I like Chip Caray, too, though he can sometimes be a bit overly enthused. Jon Miller
. The best of the modern announcers. Great voice, good-humored and knowledgeable, plus he doesn't get in the way of his analysts, though sometimes, in the case of Joe Morgan, I wish he would. Howie C
. Sure, he badmouthed baseball at every turn, though he could be quite rhapsodic recalling his days as a youth in Brooklyn, peering under the fence at Ebbets Field to watch Jackie Robinson play. He, "Alfalfa" Michaels and the "Double D" (Drysdale) made for a pretty entertaining announcing team, back in the days of "Monday Night Baseball." Alfalfa
. Better on baseball than football.
The worst: John Sterling
. He offered nothing but annoyance, and still does. He was a little bit better on basketball: "Bullsye! Rory Sparrow."
Dishonorable mention: Bob Rathbun
(Wednesday nights are my least favorite of the baseball year), Steve Physioc
(covers the Angles ... dreadful) and, of course, Chris Berman
(although I will give him some credit for John "Tonight, Let it Be" Lowenstein). Analysis
The best: Jimmy Piersall
. I vaguely remember watching him and Harry do White Sox games on WGN in the late 1970s. There's never been a more blunt analyst, and who doesn't enjoy candor in their broadcasters? Some examples ...
*Umpires threatened to forfeit a game against the White Sox in 1981, saying Piersall's taunts in the broadcasting booth were inciting the crowd.
*When Piersall criticized White Sox slugger Greg Luzinski for failing to run out a grounder, Luzinski threatened not to re-sign with the club if Piersall remained on the job.
*Anthony Perkins, who played Piersall in the 1957 movie "Fear Strikes Out," got a thumbs down in a review by the player. "He threw a baseball like a girl and danced around in the outfield like a ballerina," Piersall said.
Piersall was ultimately fired for making derogatory comments about White Sox owner Bill Veeck's wife.
Honorable mention: This is a much tougher category to fill, riddled with "jockocracy." Sutton
remains a favorite of mine, consistently providing a baseball education. Jim Palmer
was similar, and I've come to appreciate Steve Stone of late. I used to enjoy Reggie Jackson
, mainly because I was always a big Reggie fan. Of the newer guys, Rick Sutcliffe
The worst: So many to choose to from, and so hard to choose just one. The Braves have given us plenty of candidates, from Darrel Chaney
to Billy Sample
to Wimpy Paciorek
. ESPN has also contributed greatly to this category, both in the booth and in the studio. Remember Mike "Frankenstein" MacFarlane
, who always appeared as if his head was about to explode? Or the shrill Norm Hitzges
, baseball's answer to Fred Edelstein? I'm tempted to put Tim McCarver in this category, but he has some good moments, unlike the ultimate winner ...
. The "Wonderdog" does Angels games (forming, with Physioc, the worst modern-day team). He oughta be covering the X-Games, if anything at all. Duuu-uuude, you suck!