Sports announcing is a profession where truly excelling can catapult you into your fans’ memories. If an announcer is lucky enough to spend years with one team, most fans memories of records or championships are imbued with the voice of the home town play by play man. In Indy, Mark Boyle and Bob Lamey are excellent and have become synonymous with the very best moments of the Pacers and Colts.
In baseball, announcing, especially on radio, is more important than in any other sport. When you have 162 games a year, all running on top of one another, you start to feel like you know the men who animate the action. As a Reds fan, I have long known how lucky I was to listen to Marty Brennaman day in and out for going on twenty years now.
Marty’s partner for the last couple of years was Steve Stewart, who while not extraordinary was fairly solid. At the very least, he didn’t annoy me. This year, he was replaced by two broadcasters of national experience. Marty’s son-Thom Brennaman and former Reds closer Jeff Brantley. Already one week into the season, I see why the change was made. While both had some first week jitters, they have collectively raised the quality level of Reds broadcast through the roof.
Color announcers are extraneous at best, and in most sports they do little more than point out the obvious. Brantley is a happy exception. Already, his insights and comments have enriched the texture of the games. He holds his own very well during innings where he has to do play by play. Thom has the same quality as Marty of being brutally honest. Great announcers are honest about when the home team sucks. Bob Lamey certainly is. Marty Brennaman is famous for his caustic wit and bititng analysis of the Reds when they play poorly. Honest, but fair, while still rooting for the Reds has been a hallmark that sent him to the HoF. His son seems to have the same capacity. It’s that kind of analysis that we hope marks 18to88.com as well.
All in all, the Reds have clearly stated to the their fans that excellence in the booth is important. It’s too bad the national networks don’t have the same respect for football fans. At least Jaws has a regular gig now…