Noah posted a quick news hit yesterday about Awful Announcing's rankings for all 30 MLB TV Crews. I can't be the only one that was surprised the Brewers group was ranked so high.
Then I realized we all tend to focus more on the negative than the positive - so while we do pretty much despise Augie and Davey (or maybe that's just me) and roll our eyes every time Rock starts talking about the no-hitter - those are just the things we complain about in game threads and on Twitter and aren't necessarily indicative of our overall feelings towards the crew. So instead of just taking Awful Announcing's overall grades I thought we could break down the broadcast a bit more and then vote on each member of the team below.
Bill Schroeder often gets called out as being a homer, but it's unclear why that's considered a negative for his role. He's basically an employee of the team, a former player for the team and he spends all of his time around the players. His entire worth comes from his being so ensconced in the team. He isn't meant to be objective nor should anyone reasonably expect him to be. He's there to share his expertise and while a lot of that is minutiae related to his years as a catcher, most of that comes from his closeness to the club and the players.
One of Schroeder's most under-rated talents has been his adaptability. He's shown himself amazingly adept at putting on a good broadcast regardless of who's handling the play-by-play responsibilities alongside him. The someone fluid PBP role next to him the past few years could have meant for a lot of awkward airtime, but if that existed, it was never Rock's fault. He seems to find chemistry with whomever is sharing the mic with him and that's a talent in and of itself. Even when the viewers have been subjected to three hours of Davey Nelson or Craig Coshun, Schroeder manages to keep the air from being too staid or dead. He's got a slight self-deprectiation that he's clearly learned at the knee of Bob Uecker.
The biggest thing you can ding Schroeder for is his seeming ham-handed handling of advanced stats and new media. He treats both as fads and seems to revel in the fact that he's "old school" and "out of touch." He clearly doesn't understand Sabermetrics and he has no desire to learn. He's a good 'ole boy who tends to make jokes to cover for his lack of knowledge or understanding when Anderson tries to incorporate advanced metrics into the broadcast.
The addition of Matt Lepay this season makes it more glaringly obvious that Brian Anderson is not long for this market. Anderson used to just get pulled to do national baseball broadcasts. You could also hear him doing Saturday football calls for Fox Sports, usually before a night time home Brewers game. Now he's been pulled to do NBA Finals. We already knew BA is one of the best play-by-play guys in the business, but now that he's apparently a three-sport threat, it can't be long before he's on a major network payroll.
Anderson is the straight man to Schroeder's buffoon. It almost feels like he's trying to slip in knowledge and get one past both Rock and some old school guard when he drops a pitchers WHIP or gives an explanation of WAR in trying to determine Carlos Gomez' true value.
If that is indeed the case, Lepay seems to be doing an admirable job of stepping into the role. He's had some slip ups early on where he's stumbled on the score or the inning, but one would imagine that will continue to ebb as he becomes more comfortable in the roll. He's got a great voice for the call, Schroeder ensures the chemistry and Lepay is a voice we're all comfortable having in our living rooms. Our most recent change was Joe Block coming to the radio call and the most frequent criticism I hear about him is that his voice is too monotonous - that it puts people to sleep. Lepay doesn't fall prey to that.
Anderson likes to talk about easing into the season - he talks about how you can't give a "10" call in April, regardless of the play, because that leaves no room for more excitement to build and where do you go from there for the rest of the season? It seemed early on that Lepay was in danger of not understanding this axiom of broadcast - he was getting very excited very quickly, but he seems to have dialed that back.
But is Lepay the best option for replacing BA, should Anderson depart FSWI? Is Lepay even available for that role once we get into the late season? When football season resumes in mid-August, how much does Lepay need to be back in Madison (or wherever the football team is traveling)? Presumably Saturdays are out, but if it's an early morning game (as Big Ten games tend to be), his Friday evening availability is likely somewhat compromised as well. If Lepay will himself need a stand in for two to three months of the season, is he a good candidate? Would Craig Coshun be that fill in? He was not great in the role last season. Is this where Craig Counsell steps in again?
Of the recent "sideline" reporters, Sophia Minnaert feels above average. Her Spanish-speaking abilities lend an additional layer, though also lead to head-scratching when she pronounces things in a very "gringo" sort of way (Joe-haan Santana was recent eye-brow raising pronunciation). She certainly brings more interest to the game than Craig Coshun did, but I'm not sure she shows more personality than Telly. She's young and this appears to be her first regular gig, so she may just be settling into a comfort level.
I personally have yet to understand what exactly either Davey Nelson or Jerry Augustine add to the broadcast, but maybe someone who likes them could enlighten me in the comments. I'm usually so distracted by their disjointed, stuttering and often rambling delivery that I don't ever hear the words they are saying. They may have incredibly insightful things to share, but they are so lost in the presentation that I would have no idea.
Aside from the grades you'll be giving below, what are your thoughts on the current team? Who's your favorite sideline reporter of recent memory? Do you have a favorite call or moment? Share a link in the comments. There's always Sophia getting hit by the baseball last season....