Perhaps there’s someone out there — members of their families? their agents? — who enjoys the baseball play-by-play announcing of Joe Buck or John Sterling. Prior to this moment, I’d not have made a similar guess regarding White Sox mouthpiece / umpire-baiter Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, but he’s apparently got a big friend in Chicago Side’s Jeff Polman, who declares, “when I have a ballgame on at home, there are only two announcers that entertain me every time: Vin Scully and Harrelson.” (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
Like literature, music, film, and art, baseball broadcasting is a matter of personal taste. This goes for the broadcaster’s voice, style, and level of class, but also for whether or not he/she satisfies the listener’s needs. Mine are simple and decidedly old school. If given no other choice I’ll listen to practically anybody, but to make me happy I ask for: 1.) A broadcaster who is engaged in every pitch, and 2.) A broadcaster with a voice that allows me to kick back with a cold one on a hot night and sink into the rhythm of the game.
Homerism? Shmomerism. WGN may be nationally syndicated, but there’s nothing in the rules that says a broadcaster for a local team needs to be objective. I’ve heard White Sox radio guy Ed Farmer (only occasionally, because I don’t care for his delivery), who is also a shameless homer. Harry Caray was a complete homer yet was totally beloved. Jack Brickhouse was even less objective than Harry and would yell like a banshee whenever a Cub went yard. So Hawk jokingly refers to the players on his field as “good guys” and “bad guys”, gets morose when the other team scores and this is somehow unforgivable? I don’t get it.
I want something different from a TV broadcaster. I want a good tour guide to entertain and educate me while I sit back and relax and enjoy the action.