Why Can’t TBS/FOX Have One Local Voice?

I was getting excited today thinking about the start of the playoffs tomorrow night – planning my game menu, making sure my lucky clothes were clean, vowing not going to panic if things don’t go perfectly (fat chance). And then I remembered that YES wouldn’t be doing the broadcasts for any of the games and I’d be listening to “strangers” for the duration of the postseason. And it bothered me. Why do these generic announcers for networks that don’t cover us on a regular basis have to parachute in every year? OK, I know why. They have contracts. But couldn’t they at the very least include one local guy from each playoff team? Would that really be so difficult? It would certainly improve the quality of my fan experience. And apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way. No sooner did I rant about this to my husband than I read Raissman’s column in today’s Daily News. Seriously, Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling and John Smoltz doing my team’s games? When Bud Selig asks his committee for suggestions about improving baseball, how about somebody mentioning a mistake that’s so easy to correct? Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that the Yanks are even in the playoffs; Dr. Phil could be calling the games and I’d be fine with it. (Not really, but you know what I’m saying.) I just wish we didn’t have to listen to stories we’ve heard a million times and “analysis” from people who don’t especially care. 


New York Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay is relegated to pre- and postgame duties as a national broadcast team takes control o
f the play-by-play for the Bombers.

Near the end of the Yankees‘ loss toBoston Sunday in the regular-season finale, Michael Kay, in a funereal tone, said the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network would be turning postseason coverage of the team over to “the network.”

This was not the first time a YES voice has lamented the fact he would be turned into nothing more than a hood ornament on the Bombers’ playoff sedan. You cannot blame Kay, or any other mouth, for feeling blue.

It’s cold being turned away at the door when the party is about to start.

YES‘ cast of thousands does six months of heavy lifting, then another broadcast team parachutes in, landing on prime playoff real estate. It’s even worse for Yankee voices. Don’t ever forget the regular season is relatively meaningless for the Bombers. The “mission statement,” often repeated on YES (it’s written in blood and locked in a safe), is that anything short of World Series victory is failure.

In April, year after year, it’s presented as a given that the Yankees are guaranteed a postseason berth. Making 15 trips in the last 16 seasons validates the mantra. These cats mean what they say. So now after regular season hors d’oeuvres have been served by YES voices, TBS’ crew comes in to work the banquet. YES mouths do get to sweep up. They are working pre- and postgame shows.

There use to be a time, many moons ago, when a network with postseason TV rights would add a local voice to its broadcast team. Not only would this lend some educated insight, it also would be of great appeal to fans in the market.

That all changed when the money got big. Fox (NLCS/World Series and TBS (LDS/ALCS) are paying Seligula & Co. a combined $3 billion in baseball’s current TV deal that runs through 2013. Both outlets also air regular-season packages but the bulk of the dough is spent on acquiring postseason inventory.

For that kind of cash, TBS and Fox suits (besides praying each series goes the distance) do their own thing. They want their baseball brand to be “pure.” That means using theirvoices, the guys they are totally invested in. Under this philosophy, there is no room for one of the participating team’s voices, even if it might rid the booth of a perception problem.

Not only do fans believe these national crews don’t have intimate knowledge of their squad, they swear they are rooting against them. Of course, this is nonsense. No matter. It happens every year without fail.

As they did last fall, some Yankee fans will be pointing fingers at TBS’ booth. Ron Darling, the Mets‘ SNY analyst and a regular on TBS’ Sunday afternoon baseball cablecasts, will be working Yankees-Twins along with John Smoltz and Ernie Johnson.


  1. zkonedog

    I hear you on this one. I will miss my local broadcasters as well. You invest an entire season listening to their witty banter and (hopefully!) pleasing voices, and then they are yanked away when the games count the most.

    Well, here we go again with our two teams! I’m not going to be the cocky Minnesotan who says that this is finally “our year”, because I know how good of a team your boys have. I’m really nervous about the CC-Pettitte (both notorious Twins killers) combo to start things off, but at least we finally have some big bats (Young, Thome, this kid named Valencia who is basically unstoppable right now) to counteract them.

    Should be a great series!


  2. Jane Heller

    Exactly, zkonedog. We get used to our local guys all year long and them – bam – they’re gone when it counts. Oh well. Can’t beat the system. I don’t know if it’s “your year” but the Twins are an excellent team and anything can happen in a short series. Good luck!

  3. levelboss

    Jane, last year before every series in the playoffs i went to your blog on the series eve and typed a battle cry.. and so this year..

    LET’S GO YANKEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Jane Heller

    If you did it last year, levelboss, it must be a lucky charm. I’m so glad you did it again! Thanks on behalf of Yankee fans everywhere!

  5. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Amen to that Jane! I miss all the little stories about the players. They could have a YES person in for 3 innings and a Twins person in for another 3. Remember the old days when Frank Messer, Bill White and the Scooter would work the radio and TV? Every three innings, you got a different pair, while the other person went to the radio side. It really added a lot of interest because you got different insights.

    What really, really, really, really annoyed me last year was at the end of the World Series, the broadcast left the field and switched to the talking heads. WHO CARES WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY! Part of the experience is watching the players celebrate. Could you imagine if they’d done that and we’d missed Wade Boggs riding the police horse? Or the giant group hug and Paul O’Neill sobbing after his dad died? To keep fans, you have to keep this game personal.

    PS I had to use all those reallys because they’ll bleep the word that is passed with an I instead of an a.

  6. peggy3

    Good Morning Jane & Fellow Baseball Fans….

    Here we go again and I’m happy I can type that… :o). I’m so excited for the start of the playoffs tonight. I’ll be at Mickey Mantle’s with my Meet Up Group to watch ..next best thing to being at the game. We cheer and whoop it up with each great play by the Yankees…we eat, drink, cheer our team on and hopefully leave with a great BIG smile at the end of the game. I’ll be at game 3 at the Stadium on Saturday and dare I hope it’s the clincher …

    Jane …I have said the same thing for years …why oh why doesn’t each team have a local broadcaster along with a national one. I think it would definitely be interesting and fun having reps from each team in the booth with insights to their teams. It makes such sense to everyone but the networks. How much more would it cost them??? I can’t believe it couldn’t be worked out. God forbid they make the fans of the playoff teams happy ….

    Good luck to your team Ray …you are a good BASEBALL fan as well as a Rays fan. It’s always a pleasure to read what you have to say.

    Here’s to Championship 28….SOOOOOOOOO……Let’s GOOOOOOOOOOOO YANKEES !!!!

    Go Yankees 2010 !!!

  7. raysrenegade

    I am totally with you on this.
    In our series we have Buck Martinez. Not a bad choice, but the Rays regular season broadcaster Brian Anderson is doing the Cincy/Phillies series.
    Why not let him do the Rays/Rangers, where he has some knowledge of both teams from the regular season instead of throwing him to the Phillie wolves.
    Maybe someday the TBS/Fox leadership will get it that familiar voices and past players make for better corwd recognition than someone who is not involved or active in watching or broadcasting for that team all season long.

    Rays Renegade


  8. ooaooa

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ rule in the playoffs. At least no Flarharty during games! There is always the radio feed from WCBS you can get on MLB. Sold my tickets for Saturday today to a client. I’m on DL for this series. Got my Yankee tie on today. I have an appointment at a place full of Sox fans this afternoon. I Live For This!

  9. ooaooa

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ rule in the playoffs. At least no Flarharty during games! There is always the radio feed from WCBS you can get on MLB. Sold my tickets for Saturday today to a client. I’m on DL for this series. Got my Yankee tie on today. I have an appointment at a place full of Sox fans this afternoon. I Live For This!

  10. Jane Heller

    Emma, I know that you of all people understand my rant. You’d want Vin in the booth if the Dodgers were in it, right? Of course you would.

    OMG, Melissa. I do remember last year when they went straight to the talking heads instead of letting us see the players celebrate! I’d forgotten all about that until you reminded me. That was just plain cruel! You said it perfectly: this game is about personal stories, human interest stories, making the game about more than the score. And the networks don’t get that. It would be such an easy thing to change too.

    Yup, here we go, Peggy. I figured you’d be at Mickey’s tonight with your group. I hope you’ll all be wearing smiles when it’s over. As for the TV networks, it wouldn’t cost them any more than what they’re doing now. They don’t need three “strangers” in the booth as it is. Use two plus a local guy from each team to add pertinent info. They can be former players or not. I don’t care as long as they’re familiar with the teams that are playing!

    I’m fully prepared to start a revolution, Jeff. If only Bud had appointed me to his committee for the betterment of baseball, but alas. He picked GMS and managers. I guess it didn’t make sense to have fans tell him what other fans want.

    Renegade, why on earth is Brian Anderson doing the Phillies series when he could be doing yours? That makes absolutely no sense! Sigh. Good luck to you today. I know you’ll be enjoying every minute.

    I know money rules, John, but maybe they’d make even more if they improved the broadcasts. It’s all about ratings, and people wouldn’t switch to the radio if the TV teams were better. So sorry you’re on the DL right now and had to sell your tix. But I’m glad you’re wearing the tie. I’ll be putting on my lucky t-shirt later.

  11. ladyjane303

    Totally agree. While Ron Darling is a very good announcer, he’s not one of our guys. I would love to have Leiter in the booth – he does work for MLB Network, so why can’t they have him on TBS? Of course here in NY we can always listen to Sterling and Suzyn on the radio. Sadly the ESPN Radio broadcast is going to have one of the Sunday night guys – don’t remember if Miller or Morgan, but I don’t want to listen to either of them.
    Go Yankees – Go CC!

  12. Jane Heller

    Leiter would be a great choice, ladyjane, and I don’t see why MLB Network couldn’t “lend” him out. I could listen to Sterling/Suzyn here in CA on my phone, but I want to be able to watch the playoffs and the delay between audio and video is very distracting. Bottom line: I’m very grateful our Yanks are in the playoffs, period. I just wish MLB could enhance the experience by giving us our own guys in the booth.

  13. peggy3

    Oh ..for what it’s worth ….I CAN’T STAND BOB RAISSMAN !!!! His writing or that stupid ‘stache…ugh. He HATES the YES network and anything associated with it. I guess they turned him down his application for a janitor job or something in the past….hahaha.

    Go Yankees 2010 !!!

  14. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Take a deep breath…bend your knees…get some good lift…and up, and out we gooo…!
    I’d love to say that I’m relaxed and confident; but since I never am, then saying that I am neither is no revelation. The Wife (an Anti-Yank Fan) hears this every year, and mocks me, which is, admittedly, well-deserved. But it REALLY seems this time that there is tons and tons riding on CC’s b-r-o-a-d shoulders for Game #1.
    It’s that time of year when every casual fan/fruitcake drops opinions like overripe fruit. For example: ESPN weighed in today with “100 Reasons to Love the Baseball Postseason.” Reasons #1-4 were Halladay, Lee, Price, and Lincecum. Where’s CC? How about Reason #7…no respect…and now I quote: “Right now, he looks like a one-man rotation, with the uncertainty of Pettitte, the late fade of Hughes, and the inconsistency of Burnett. No pitcher this postseason may be facing more pressure.” Oh GREAT…just what I didn’t need to read…but there’s more to annoy…
    Of course, they add some smarmy stuff, like Reason #20-something being to watch AJ & Javy sittin’ in the bullpen, ten$ of millon$ of $teinbrenner money wasted…and Reason #30-something, “seeing Yankee fans sporting their new ‘Wild Card 2010’ gear”…well, ha ha…so funny…no, we don’t hang up banners for mini-achievements…THERE’S NO ROOM…and Mr. Smarmy, your team is who?…where…?
    Enough of all that…just wanted to get you fired up and help myownself look beyond all the gloomy doomy jive. It’s just Game 1…this ain’t single-elimination…let’s get it started…!!

  15. Jane Heller

    I hear you on Raissman, Peggy. He does spend a lot of time ragging on the YES people. But on this point I do agree with him.

    Dave, you’re a glutton for punishment. Why do you think I don’t read all that stuff? Who needs to hear it? Just avoid the naysayers and haters in the media!!!! I can panic well enough all by myself. Besides, CC doesn’t listen to it and neither do the other players, so why should we? Forget the doom and gloom and remember this: We are the reigning World Champion Yankees.

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