Really, that bad? Actually, if you’ve heard many Astros games on KBME this season, the team’s futility on the field is being matched stride for stride by the analysis of Steve Sparks. With Houston new ownership pair Sparks with play by play voice Robert Ford, Houston Press’ John Royal accuses the club of “punishing the listeners with a broadcast that, hard to believe, makes one long for the days of Milo Hamilton drooling over attractive women, talking about how much better it was in the days of Hank Aaron and discussing anything but the actual game on the field.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
Sparks sounds as if he’s a really nice guy, but he’s got that bland quality of the really nice guy with a voice made for television. At times it’s almost like you can hear Ford smacking himself in the head when he sets Sparks up for a perfect jewel of wisdom to only get a “yeah” in response. And his extended analysis is generally nothing more than empty cliches which are so worthless that it would have probably been better had he uttered just the “yeah,” though, to be fair once again, he can offer up some decent discussion when talking about pitching.
But then there are the fourth and seventh innings which tend to wipe out any of Sparks’s positives. This is when Ford generally steps back and lets Sparks handle the play-by-play while Ford throws out some thoughtful analysis. This is an often painful experience as Sparks stumbles through the play-by-play, attempting to describe the game action. It is unlistenable radio, and only the most dedicated of fans can power through it. It’s not all Sparks’s fault. He’s clearly trying, but there’s no improvement.