M’s broadcast crew rated “awesome”

DMZ · July 28, 2005 at 2:42 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

USA Today has an article with ratings that puts them at 3rd in the AL. Interestingly, they list the four as “Dave Niehaus, Ron Fairly, Rick Rizzs, Kevin Callabro [sic]” though that’s not the season crew. They might as well have had Marzano in there.

Remember, commenters: Rizzs has an ‘s’ on the end. And I humbly suggest that the “(announcer name) is lame/stupid/frustrating” comments are a little worn out. I’m more curious about the relative ranking: the M’s crew gets an 8 for “technical” when M’s fans frequently complain (about Rizzs’s fake calls on the way back in from a commercial, for instance, but also the pitch description and fly ball gauging) and a 9.5 for “fan” — how exciting they are and how well they connect with fans, when it certainly seems like most USSM readers love Niehaus would prefer who do both sides of the broadcast with something silent, like a potted plant, providing color, rather than listen to the rest.

If that’s what they pull in, are the other crews… really that bad?


71 Responses to “M’s broadcast crew rated “awesome””

  1. Colm on July 28th, 2005 5:21 pm

    I suspect Rizzs is really, really evil. There’s a deep dark, Silence of the Lambs side to that man that he hides with his nightly unctious sycophancy.

    He is Uriah Heep. I’d prefer if we could locate Evil Rick Rizzs and put him in the booth, off-message at all times.

  2. Marty Lighthizer on July 28th, 2005 5:46 pm

    Yes, Al Kaline was not quick on his feet, but George Kell generally was, and his southern drawl was comforting and never irritating. (That “He gone!” stuff by the White Sox announcers is more than just irritating…) Also, I had the fortune to listen to Ernie Harwell almost every night during the summers of my youth, so I’m spoiled.

    Niehaus is very good. Rizzs is just OK (good voice, not much else). Fairly needs to be put out to pasture.

    One of the few ballplayer announcers I really liked was Al Leiter — I found his comments during the playoffs (last year?) highly interesting and educational. Too bad he’s not available…

  3. G-Man on July 28th, 2005 5:50 pm

    I throw my support behing The Zumsteg Plan (post #10).

    Yeah, I used to call Rizzs the “Home, Home on the Range” broadcaster – “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word”. However, I nearly drove off the road earlier this season when he criticized a Seattle player, and I’ve heard him do it a couple more times since. Maybe he’s gotten tenure, so he doesn’t worry about kissing rear ends any more.

  4. Gabriel on July 28th, 2005 6:03 pm

    and a 9.5 for “fan” — how exciting they are and how well they connect with fans, when it certainly seems like most USSM readers love Niehaus would prefer who do both sides of the broadcast with something silent, like a potted plant, providing color, rather than listen to the rest.

    This seems really strangely written and hard to parse.

  5. LB on July 28th, 2005 6:06 pm

    I, for one, despise the “expert commentary” we get from Dave Valle when a relief pitcher comes into the game: he reads a few of the stats that are already displayed on my TV screen. No insight into how this guy goes about getting guys out, not even a note that this guy rarely walks batters and strikes out more than one batter per innings pitched, just “blah and blah record with a blah dot blah-blah ERA.” Jeez, are M’s fans supposed to be too stupid to read, or what?

  6. Sulli on July 28th, 2005 6:16 pm

    I dont know how Oakland got higher then the M’s. I can not stand their broadcasts, which until MLB.com I had to deal with when the M’s played the A’s. They are just boreing. One thing that I love and respect about Niehaus and the guys is that they call the game in a fairly unbiased fashion, at least what is happening in the field. Dave gets excited when a homer is hit no matter who hits it. Obviously there is a little bias because they are the M’s comentators, but its not as bad as others. Thats what drives me nuts about the A’s comentators. They are really biased. I am sure that if Dave did the entire game on the radio the M’s would be on the top of the list.

  7. zzyzx on July 28th, 2005 6:38 pm

    This reminds me of the time in 2000 when I was driving from Seattle to Philadelphia. That’s a long drive, especially if you’re doing it straight through, so I was excited when I got a baseball game – Twins/Indians. The Twins announcer not only was stuck trying to get people excited about the race with the Tigers to stay out of last (how times change, eh?), but he was about 10 second behind the play. The ball would be hit, the fans would cheer, and then he’d announce what happened. That got old fast.

  8. Gary on July 28th, 2005 6:39 pm

    When I was a kid I used to watch the Dizzy Dean, Pee Wee Reese broadcasts. Dizzy’s use of the language was at times unintentionally hilarious, but he could tell almost immediately (or so my memory suggests) what a hitter’s weaknesses were and would share them with the audience.

    He would also not sugar coat a game. Once, in some kind of 15-0 blowout, after about the third time he said “let’s get this one over with and go home,” he actually started to ignore the game entirely and, as I recollect, he sang some country tune in an extremely off-tunely for about a third of an inning.

    I’ll take him over Rizz and his ilk anytime.

    As for “Hawk” of the Sox, it’s only his homerism I don’t like. He actually has some interesting takes if you can get past the occasional eruption of glee when somebody from the Sox does something good. Rizz is much more of a homer, almost 100% of what he says is unadulterated homerism, it’s just that his genetic tendency toward blandness tends to mute the impact.

  9. BobandRuth on July 28th, 2005 6:49 pm

    Chicago White Sox John Rooney, Ed Farmer number #1? OH MY GOD they are so irritating. I transfered to Indiana from Washington and still follow the Mariners and watch them live in Chicago. I’d rather turn the sound off then listen to those guys.

  10. John D. on July 28th, 2005 7:29 pm

    Before DAVE NIEHAUS had his heart attack, he was (IMO) the best broadcaster the game hs ever seen. Since then, he’s a shadow of that broadcaster.
    He doesn’t seem to realize this, and neither do many of you.

    RON FAIRLY, though. Kirk (# 24) seems to have hit the nail on the head. Ron may seem boring to those with a deep knowledge of the game but, for the average fan, he’s quite instructive.
    I think he should be judged accordingly.

  11. John D. on July 28th, 2005 7:50 pm

    Re: DIZZY DEAN (# 58) – I remember the fans of St. Louis being up-in-arms over Dizzy’s use of the English language (late ’40s ?), and I fondly remember those “Game of the Week” TV broadcasts. When things got slow, Dizzy would lapse into song (“The Wabash Cannonball”).
    Dave Niehaus used to sing that song whenever the Ms fell behind by 10 runs. I usually don’t approve of that type of “stealing,” but I wouldn’t mind hearing it again. *
    *I was in St. Louis in ’64, when the Cards won the pennant. Listening to HARRY CARAY mouth “The Cardinals win the pennant [three times] was something of a downer.

  12. Manzell on July 28th, 2005 8:05 pm

    If i’m ranking my Mariner announcers, it goes:

    1) Dave Neihous
    2) Kenn Levine
    3) Dave Valle
    4) Kevin Callabro
    5) Rick Rizzs
    6) Dave Henderson…
    Last) Jay Buhner

    Buhner is probably the worst announcer I’ve heard for any major professional sport, ever… well, with the exception of the D-Team for the NFL carrying networks. However bland they are, they’re solid technically, especially considering the HAVEN’T been following the teams involved 9 times out of 10.

    For those who remember Ken Levine, I think he was with the team two years, leaving when the Cheers series (on which he was a writer) was winding down.. so… 92? My favorite line of his was “The leadoff walk always comes around to score…. unless it doesn’t”

    Personally, I love Dave Valle. He’s smart enough and keen enough to play the “I’m a former player” announcer while knowing how marginal a player he was himself. I approve of Dave Valle.

    Kevin Callabro gets points just for his skills as a Basketball announcer – it’s a shame he wasn’t announcing during the ‘Showtime’ era.

    Rick Rizzs can be took or shook… I seem to remember him leaving for the Tigers team in ’95 or so, getting sacked after a few years and then back to the M’s.

  13. Bela Txadux on July 28th, 2005 8:14 pm

    Calabro can talk to me any time; I’d be happy to see him hired, today, for Mariners broadcasting at twice what anybody else in the booth is making, and take over play-by-play. He’s good. Kevin has that great pacing, and completely conversational tenor, just like your buddy sitting next to you only far more knowlegeable. His voice peaks at natural peaks; it’s never ‘forced fun’ like Rick Rizzs always is which grates after an hour let alone a year. His preparation seems very good as well, and his conversation isn’t limited to truisms and wireservice tidbits.

    The rest . . . I grew up listening to Ernie Harwell for years. Jerry Coleman and Vince Scully would pop up for the playoffs. I was one of those who would turn off the ABC Monday Night Football bozos and put on Jack Buck and Hank Stram who knew how to call a game . . . Nobody in the present Ms booth is even second rate, most especially Neihaus. He loves his job and the game, and that comes through, as it does with Rizzs, but if you actually listen to a first rate radio pro, you know where Niehaus’ level _was_, and he’s slipped far, far from that in the last 3-4 years.

    My dream combo: Calabro for play-by-play, Steve Stone for color.

    . . . Never happen.

  14. Bela Txadux on July 28th, 2005 8:20 pm

    George Kell was a pretty good announcer as well, especially on the TV side, rather like Ron Fairly on the half dozen days a year Ron is really into it, only smoother, having more fun, and on every game.

  15. Kirk on July 28th, 2005 8:51 pm

    Niehaus is slipping, but he’s still got the great voice, still tells great stories and still has the best rapport with the rest of the crew. Yes, he gets fooled a lot more often now, but he’s simply gone from one of the best in the game to very good. I’ll take Niehaus and his occasional mistakes over Rizzs any day. Listening to a Niehaus broadcast is still a great way to spend an evening.

  16. John Hawkins on July 29th, 2005 1:16 am

    I have XM in my truck, so I can listen to every game broadcast. Most of the rest of the league has awful broadcasters compared to Niehaus, Rizzs, et al. No pacing, no tone, no sense of the game transmitted through the speakers. Makes me appreciate the M’s crew.

    Rizzs is a bit on the saccharine side, but one thing he does (Niehaus does too) that few other broadcasters do is he uses the pitch of his voice to convey the same sense of anticipation you get whatching a play. When someone hit’s a line drive towards the outfield, there’s a moment where you don’t know if it’s going to be a home run, a double into the gap, or a flyout. Rizzs tries to convey that moment of anticipation with his voice, and it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than the KC annoucers I heard the other day who went on blabbering about what somebody did in batting practice while you could hear the fans yelling about something going on in the background. The noise died down and a few seconds later the pbp guy finishing his story and noted that a double play had ended the inning.


    Blowers – I really like him on the post game show. Maybe a bit too sedate for pbp, but I love the attitude that he projects over the radio: a guy who has been around the block enough to take everything with a grain of salt, but who still loves the game. He’s also perfectly comfortable seeing the game from the business side as well. I think he’s the perfect guy to explain something like the Boone trade to the average fan.

  17. Jim W on July 29th, 2005 8:07 am

    I grew up listening to Jack Brickhouse w/ the Cubbies. Santo…Kessinger…Beckert…Banks your infield third to first.

  18. chico ruiz on July 29th, 2005 8:57 am

    Classic Rizzs/Valle exchange last night about the fact that Betancourt moved from shortstop to second base upon being called up—Valle opines that it’s easier to move from short to second than the other way around, but gives zero explanation of why that is. Rizzs concurs. Then a few minutes later, Valle repeats himself, and Rizzs says something about the longer throw, as if that’s the only difference. Absolutely no mention of turning double plays, responsibility for covering the bag on steals, bunt situations, etc.—nothing. Rizzs constantly amazes me with his complete lack of knowledge about how the game is actually played, and Valle is semi-illiterate, yet those guys are on more than anybody else. They even make Captain Obvious Ron Fairly look relatively good. Help!!!!!!!!!

  19. Rob Salkowitz on July 29th, 2005 9:08 am

    I’m surprised the Phillies are ranked so low in the NL. Harry Kalas is truly one of the greats, HOF caliber for sure. His sidekick Chris Wheeler is in the Rizzs mold (insubstantial) but not as annoying. Sadly, the great color man Richie Ashburn died a few years ago and apparently has not been adequately replaced.

  20. Adam M on July 29th, 2005 4:35 pm

    Good to see some Ken Levine love, baseball could use more mild-mannered, erudite people in the booth. An interesting piece of trivia: Ken Levine was also the voice of the Springfield Isotopes in the Simpsons episode where Homer became their mascot. James L. Brooks was a director/producer on both Cheers and the Simpsons, so I suspect he had something to do with it.

  21. Tommy Hansen on August 10th, 2005 9:19 pm

    Man, I’m so glad Calabro is mentioned as a great announcer and a great No. 1 for the M’s. Niehaus is the greatest. But, when he is done, I hope Calabro steps in. He is one of the most overall talented sportscasters in the country. He is by FAR the best b-ball announcer and does it with a ton of swagger. But to step in and do M’s games just like that and do them so WELL. He’s got freakin’ “ism.”