NEW YORK — You have already no doubt heard the news from The New York Times: Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are out after two decades of calling ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
If you’ve had an Internet connection at any point starting at about 1995, you also know that Morgan famously became a favorite target for his work on the broadcasts. Among the grievances, Morgan often came off as arrogant, condescending and ill prepared, often repeating himself while showing his lack of preparation by butchering facts.
We could go on. But that’s not the point.
When it comes to broadcasters inspiring feelings of anger, Morgan hardly seems to be alone. I can’t count how many Tweets and emails I’ve received in my time on the beat from readers crushing Joe Buck or Tim McCarver or Ernie Johnson.
It is reinforces my theory that modern-day sports broadcasters must have a special talent for firing up the Internet media critics.
What gets lost, however, is that broadcasters have a tough job, arguably tougher than ever when you think about it. Their jobs are public by nature so every mistake is out there for all to see and hear. They must appeal to a broad audience, no small point considering that we are perhaps the most splintered media consumers in the history of mass communication.
For all the time spent taking shots taken at broadcasters, it has always struck me as unfair that the ones who warrant praise get ignored. Sure, we can pick out a bad broadcaster. Morgan was in fact so bad at his job that he spawned one of the decade’s most popular websites.
But can we pick out the good ones?
Let’s assume — as many of you would — that Joe Morgan is indeed a terrible broadcaster. Who then sits at the other end of the spectrum?* Who are the best broadcasters in baseball? What makes them so great?
For discussion’s sake, I’ll throw out a tandem: Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper have been terrific for years on the Giants. They have fun and it’s easy for listeners to get caught up in it, an admirable quality. Gary Thorne of the Orioles is also fantastic. He’s a smart guy and I think his intelligence comes over well on the air.
So, what do you say? If you were make the call at ESPN, which two or three people would you put in the booth for Sunday Night Baseball? You make the call.
* The answer, of course, is the peerless Vin Scully. But because it’s as easy to praise him as it is to take cheap shots at the folks above, let’s take him out of he discussion and simply agree that the longtime voice of the Dodgers is in a league of his own.
— 30 —