Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Also underway is the National Baseball Hall of Fame's election -- no, I didn't know fans could vote, either -- for this year's winners of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters.

I mention this because I live here in Seattle, where Seattle announcer Dave Niehaus is an institution. And when I say institution, I'm reminded of broadcasters like Jerry Coleman, Ralph Kiner, Phil Rizzuto, and Harry Caray, most of whom seemed to lose focus very easily when transmitting pictures and accounts of the game.

Niehaus is no Red Barber. Barber, in addition to being a founding giant of baseball broadcasting, was a man who actually told the story. He was fired from his duties when, during the horrible seasons the Yankees played in the mid-1960s, he directed the cameras to pan Yankee Stadium, thereby showing the attendance of a few hundred patrons only two or three years removed from five straight pennants. CBS didn't find that amusing.

Niehaus is an incredible lap dog for his employer, the Seattle Mariners. He tries to make any move made by the club seem as if it's the latest manifestation of brilliance from baseball Einsteins. He avoids mentioning any boneheaded plays made on the field, and he was a blind apologist for the Mariners rightly departed manager, Bob Melvin. (Worse, he hung the dopey nickname "Bo Mel" on Melvin, which gave me one more reason to wish one or the other or both would be asked to leave the premises.)

And he has no clue where a batted ball is headed.

Fans may vote, as I said. I urge you to vote. There are a lot of names on the ballot, many of which you may not recognize. Others will make your flesh crawl. For instance, John Sterling. I'm no good. I'm n-o-o-o-o-o-o good!

Me, I voted for Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer, and Tim McCarver. Okay, fine, I like blind, baseball-ignorant hometown announcers. Just the ones I grew up with, anyway.

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