Call up Curto
(oh, you knew this was coming)
Two unrelated facts:
– Many people don’t like half of the Mariner play-by-play announcers (three if you include Ron Fairly’s occasional time filling in)
– Mike Curto does the Tacoma Rainiers broadcasts, and he’s awesome
You can improve the quality of the broadcasts you watch and complain about (fans of other teams: you too, though frankly if you get him, I’m going to be tiiiicked).
We’ve given Curto much respect in this space before, so I’ll be brief. Curto calls a straight game. There’s not a lot of embellishment, no false suspense, no insincere excitement. And I don’t mean that it’s boring — it’s exciting when the play is exciting. But you’re not going to hear Curto putting a lot of mustard on the call for a routine pop-up to second.
Curto’s game feels a lot like having someone smart describe the game over a cell phone to you, which is why it’s almost jarring sometimes when he does the Geico ads. It’s like if my mom called me and said “by the way, Derek, after you talk to Grandma, give your local Farmer’s agent a call…”
One of his strengths is part of the problem: appreciation of Curto’s broadcasts comes on the second game. He’s a preperation freak, and his between-pitch isn’t repeating the last play, it’s more information in the service of making the game more interesting, providing history and context. His game is deep. It means that a tape of Curto’s call might not blow away a major league team because the work is not flashy. But you will be smarter for having listened to it. He’s stat-saavy without being obnoxious about it, and he understands the scouting and can argue intelligently about playing the hot hand (Curto says “yes”). He does the team-marketing part of the job (don’t thrash players) without being obnoxious about it, and even there the depth of knowledge can make the point without it having to be called out directly that a player’s got no idea what he’s doing up there at the plate.
I’ve been trying to think about a good baseball player analogy, and here it is — Curto’s like a Todd Helton, who isn’t out being exciting and stealing bases, but knocks out at a hit or two a day, and by the end of the year, there’s no question you’d want Helton over that guy who had a hot start and stole 30 (and got caught 20 times).
Here’s what you can do if you agree and want to hear better broadcasts:
– Write the Mariners. Email or snail (Seattle Mariners, Safeco Field, 1250 First Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98134) . Tell them you’ve listened to Curto (please, listen to Curto first) and you were impressed. Be specific. I’d suggest that you not flame current announcers, but instead focus on why you’d like to hear Curto up here. You may want to mention that the mid-year break, when Niehaus traditionally takes a vacation around the All-Star Game, would be a great opportunity to try this.
– Talk to KOMO, same deal. Email, post (KOMO RADIO & TV, 140 Fourth Ave. North, Seattle, Washington 98109)
– Attempt to move the Fox monolith. Only contact info I’ve found is this uninspiring web form, which likely goes to /dev/null
– Spread the word. I try to post the Rainiers broadcast info here in game thread posts. But listen, and when other people complain about M’s broadcast quality, mention it. The more people that are aware that the Rainiers get a consistently better 1-9 broadcast than we do, the better. Feel free to ask local media figures and outlets why this is.
– You might even Talk to the Rainiers(contact page). I have no idea if this, particularly, would do any good.
I’d also say — this is unlikely to happen soon. But if you do this now, and do it again the next time you’re appalled at the broadcast quality, that starts to pile up.
The worst thing to consider is that if Rizzs takes a job elsewhere or is run over by a bus, there’s a great chance that with no action by the fans, we would get a replacement Rizzs.
If you’re like me, you spend a great deal of your season listening to these games, watching the broadcasts, tracking the progress of your team. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was a pleasant, almost educational experience, instead of one of tolerance and occasional frustration? It can be done.