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Matt Lepay Making it Hard to Miss Brian Anderson (Even Though I Like Brian Anderson)

There’s a saying about how you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  I don’t believe there’s a saying (in my native language at least) about how you don’t know what you can do without until it’s gone.  Now that Brewers fans have had nearly two weeks of Badgers play-by-play man Matt Lepay filling in for Brian “BA” Anderson, it’s fair to say we didn’t know what we were missing—and that we now know what we’re not missing.

After the first few broadcasts without BA, one of my coworkers remarked that he was impressed with Lepay – so much so he wouldn’t mind if Lepay became the permanent play-by-play man should BA move on to greener pastures.   During last night’s game in St. Louis, noted Brewers blogger/commentator Kyle Lobner expressed similar thoughts via tweet.

@AndyTarnoff I feel bad for saying it, but I haven’t missed him a single time. Lepay has done an excellent job in his place.

— Kyle Lobner (@BrewFrostyMug) April 29, 2014

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsI agree with the sentiment, including the mild guilt.  It’s funny that we feel we’re kinda sorta betraying BA by being swept off our feet by Lepay.  It’s almost as if our wife is out of town for a week, and her unmarried sister comes over to help with the kids.  Once the children are in bed, it suddenly dawns on us what a sweet, attractive lady our sister-in-law is.  We hope she doesn’t have to leave right away.  I mean, we would never do anything inappropriate with her…it would just be nice if she stayed a while.

What’s behind these mixed feelings?  Part of it surely is novelty – after six-plus seasons of BA, it’s nice to have a little variety.  Another factor must be that Lepay is a flat-out natural.  I remember it taking most of the 2007 season before I adjusted to BA (same goes for Joe Block on the radio).  Since I don’t follow the Badgers closely, Lepay just waltzed in and rocked my world.

Lepay also far exceeded expectations that had been set by BA’s previous fill-in, Craig Coshun.  I’m sure Craig’s a lovely guy and all that, but I’ve always found his play-by-play strictly serviceable.  Additionally, I have this pet peeve about Coshun that may be completely in my own head: sometimes a batter will be in a one-strike count, foul off a pitch, and Coshun will say, “[name] stays alive.”  He didn’t stay alive, he went to a two-strike count.  That drives me crazy and it happens every time Coshun fills in (it probably never happens).

If all that wasn’t enough, it turns out Lepay is humble to a fault:

Matt Lepay has been awful.

At least that is his take on his first week of doing television play-by-play of Milwaukee Brewers baseball games for Fox Sports Wisconsin. […]

“My co-workers have been trying to get me to forget [his first Brewers broadcast] and move on,” said Lepay, who clearly has yet to do so. “I felt like that was the worst broadcast I’ve ever done, at any level, in my life.”

“He really feels that way,” [Lepay’s wife] Linda said. “He’s his own worst critic. He feels he’s improved since that game, but he was pretty down in the dumps with some stuff probably most of us didn’t notice. He’s a perfectionist.”

Does anyone doubt that Lepay is a genuinely nice, probably funny guy?  He seems like a swell fellow to hang out with.  I bet he’s a good listener, too.

Whenever I hear BA during the MLB playoffs, NBA playoffs, or March Madness, it’s nice to hear a familiar voice.  It helps me care about a contest I might otherwise have no emotional investment in.  On the home front, his chemistry with Bill Schroeder has become an enjoyable feature of Brewers broadcasts.  I’m as surprised as anyone to discover it’s not an indispensable feature.

When BA comes back, I’m sure I’ll be happy to have him…but I think I’ll miss Lepay more than I miss BA right now.  We’ll see.  I will say this much – the fact that fans like me and Lobner feel a little guilty about liking Lepay so much is a testament to how much respect we have for BA.  I sure as hell don’t have the same qualms when Sophia Minnaert fills in for Telly Hughes.  So BA’s got that going for him.

(Image: MLB.com)