I’m listening right now to the top of the 6th inning of the Phillies @ Marlins game, and I’m impressed with the simple yet straight-forward play-by-play calling of Larry Anderson. Anderson, who was somehow traded for Craig Biggio in 1990, has been known for being a jokster and down-to-earth ballplayer, coach, and now, broadcaster. In his early days as a TV color analyst, his daily "Larry Anderson’s Deep Thoughts" was a poor attempt at injecting humor into the utterly humorless and joyless Phillies of the late ’90s. With (now former) play-by-play radio man Scott Graham, inside jokes, personal stories and innuendo drowned out any decent commentary or description of the ball game.
Over the past few years Anderson has improved as a broadcaster, but largely you wouldn’t know that by listening to the Phillies mediocre, personality-driven broadcasts. However, on the rare occasion that a Phillies game was broadcast nationally by FOX, Anderson was often invited to do the color commentary – and he was excellent. In the setting of a more professional broadcast Anderson thrived. Perhaps noticing this, the Phillies juggled their broadcast line-up this year, and over the first few games of the season it seems to be working. I have heard fewer stories of broadcaster’s golf swings or their children’s little league games, and more details about players, strategy, and – God forbid – the actual game. It has been a welcome change.
As a radio listener (I rarely watch baseball on TV) I welcome Hall of Famer Harry Kalas’ absence from the radio booth (he calls only an inning or two on radio). I am one of the few Phillies fans who is underwhelmed by his game-calling and broadcasting style. He’s a good broadcaster, but a Hall of Famer? After he was elected to Cooperstown I wondered if criteria for the broadcaster’s wing of the Hall was longevity – stick around long enough with one team and they’ll put you in the Hall.
As much as the radio broadcast has improved, I still have piece of advice for these guys – give us the score and the situation – 2-0 Phillies, runners at first and third, with a 3-1 count – at least once per minute. Don’t you realize that you’re painting the picture for us who are listening on the radio?
Finally, this is one of the reasons I miss my XM Satellite Radio. I was able to listen to broadcasts from all around the country on XM, and hear many broadcast teams much better than ours (and a few that are worse). But with the improvements to the broadcast lineup this spring – and the cheaper but less versatile MLB Gameday Audio – I may not miss XM as much.