Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The End of the Bumbling Joe Morgan & Jon Miller Era

Image via the now-defunct Awful Announcing (with my own artistic touches).

Yahoo Sports Big League Stew might have said it best, "Celebrate, lovers of broadcasts free of ego-driven inanity, celebrate!"

Jon Miiller and Joe Buck (Freudian Slip?), I mean Morgan are no more. As reported by just about every major sports outlet, the faces of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN for the last 21 years are no more. There is no word on their replacement but that probably depends on who's around after the upcoming baseball hiring season. Openings since after the World Series including a bunch of teams including the Mets, the Pirates,

Sorry, I don't remember the beginning of the Morgan/Miller era but I will never forget despising their awful play by play ramblings. Miller's old school booming announcer's voice rubs me the wrong way. Morgan's old time leanings and gushing of praise on the select players that he was in love with (Barry Bonds comes to mind) wore out it's welcome every Sunday night.

My least favorite moment every week of the baseball season was when Jon Miller's wrinkly bald face would arrive on the screen and then he would "introduce" his Hall of Fame colleague Joe Morgan. Inane and uninformative banter would ensue for a short while as Morgan spoon-fed information about the game to come as if someone had chosen, on this lovely summer evening, to make their first foray into watching baseball.

Morgan might have been a great player (I am not old enough to have seen his heyday) and have a great understanding of baseball but he had no understanding of what most people wanted to hear. He wanted to harp on the way the game used to be as if he played a century ago, and not a few decades prior. (Although I do give him credit for pointing out modern ballplayers bonehead plays and lack of fundamentals more than most but in the most slackjawed, repetitive and obvious ways imaginable.)

Comfortability and contracts appear to be the lone reasons that bad announcing teams stay in tact. Someone must connect to these boring analysts spewing about the days of yore and mispronouncing names, missing full plays, and just generally fucking up on a moment by moment basis.

In this modern world where things change at lightning speed, these guys should have been jettisoned years ago. No matter who they put in their place, the watching public will be informed and enjoy the game exponentially as long as they don't continually plus their twitter and Facebook pages, one thing I can credit these broadcasting stalwarts from not doing.

Even if they had claimed on air that Joe Morgan had a Twitter account, you know it wasn't him doing it but rather it was whoever would handle "the social media" aspects of the program. But baseball is a beautiful game that can be watched silently, without the constant flashing animations introducing questions of the week (I'm talking to you AFLAC duck) or the minute by minute dissection of inconsequential minutiae, which was one of Morgan's specialties (as well as his Fox equivalent Tim McCarver).

The comparisons to excellence in baseball related reporting comes into further view when I proceeded to watch The Tenth Inning Part I, the recent addition to Ken Burns authoritative, engrossing, and almost encyclopedic (in a limited TV sort of way) retelling of the history of baseball. Humorously enough, the most tainted event in the episode, the McGwire record-tying 61st and breaking 62nd home run calls were made by Jon Miller and Joe Buck respectively. As a bookend for that segment,  analysis by the best baseball broadcaster alive, the uppity but amazingly observant Bob Costas made for a unique comparative juxtaposition. A man who makes pointed commentary with a highly-informed base of knowledge while not spoon

Then George Will made a comment regarding the post-1994 MLB strike era that made me laugh aloud at its astuteness, "Baseball went through a period of get two runners on base, get Godzilla to the plate, have him hit it into Tokyo bay." It was more the way he said it, in an Ivy League manner that made me chuckle but it is so true (and it is still true for the Yankees).

One last thing ESPN. Don't fuck this up! You've made the right move but if I hear Eduardo Perez, I'm turning the game off.

More baseball articles worth reading:

Here's an article I don't have to read - Source: Yanks will overpay Derek Jeter. Top flight reporting form Mr. Wallace Matthews on ESPN New York although I did enjoy the opening line "Derek Jeter is going to be paid Ryan Howard money for putting up Marco Scutaro numbers."

Shin-Soo Choo's Future - Choo has big pressure on him. He has not received a waiver for mandatory South Korean military service and would likely only receive it if his team wins the Asian Baseball Championships. Good luck Shin-Soo, it would be sad for the Indians to lose their lone talented player. Cleveland deserves a little bit of happiness.

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