Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reds Broadcast Team = Unmatched Talent

For reasons impossible to justify I haven't made fun of Cincinnati Reds announcers this season.

(Note: "Cincinnati Reds announcers" means people not named Marty Brennaman.)

How I've neglected to bang on George Grande thus far, I have no idea. For that, I sincerely apologize. My favorite running gimmick in '08 was my "Hi, Hello and Welcome" series and I promise to revisit it once the NBA season concludes.

And Jeff Brantley -- aka "The Mississippi Wordsmith" -- has been just as lucky. There's no excuse for why I haven't taken him to task. Consider: His grasp of the English language remains laughable (remember, it's his job to speak for a living)...he recently referred to a Latin American player as a "Spanish dude," which is inexcusable on about a four million different levels (and he wasn't trying to be funny; he just didn't know the difference)...and in so many words Brantley mentioned how he thought Memorial Day simply honored all dead people.

Most of all, Brantley's consistent criticism of Edinson Volquez this season has been so unfair and hypocritical that I'm getting upset just thinking about it.

But that's not why we're here, boys and girls. I promise to bring the thunder to Jeff Brantley before too long. Just not today. I gots me some other fish to fry.

Today's target can be seen throughout every televised Reds game. He co-hosts the pre-game show! He helps wrap up the game! And a few times during each telecast he can be seen in the stands, not only chatting back and forth with George Grande and Chris Welsh (or whoever's calling the game), but also giving us a feel of the ballpark experience (which often includes playful banter with the fans)!

That is his job, and he's had it for several years.

His name is Jim Day, and he might be the luckiest man in all of broadcasting.

Is he handsome? No. Does he know anything about baseball? Not that I can tell? Is he funny? Of course not. Is he even mildly entertaining when he mixes it up with the fans, as he's so often asked to do? If awkward and uncomfortable = mildly entertaining, then yes. Does he possess an ounce of improvisational skill? Hardly. What about an indefinable likability. Sorry.

Let's see...no charm, no charisma, no wit, no discernible talent...I must be missing something. Let me ask it another way:

Does he bring a single positive element to the broadcast? Not even close, bud.

And think, Jim Day has a highly coveted job in broadcasting.

(Note: He also has a similar role on Columbus Blue Jackets broadcasts)

Look, I'm not asking the guy to be Kenny Mayne, but the job should require some talent, and it clearly doesn't. Thousands of people throughout the tri-state area are more than capable of providing a boost to the broadcast, and yet Fox Sports settles on a guy who brings nothing to the table.

But why, Brad? Why is Jim Day's job secure?

Unless he's having unprotected intercourse with the daughter of the man who hired him, it comes down to laziness.

Viewers aren't necessarily avoiding the Reds games just because Day is on for ninety seconds every few innings. Sure, fans might mute their Samsung television when Day's on the screen, but ratings aren't taking a hit as a result. And therein lies the problem: Since Day doesn't take away from the Reds TV ratings, his job is safe. In other words, the folks who sign his paychecks are pleased with the overall numbers and don't see the need of bringing in new blood. They're lazy.

But what the dopes at Fox Sports are overlooking is that a supreme talent (again, someone like Kenny Mayne) might attract more eyes to their product. And more eyes equal more dollars.

Think about it: It's late August, the Reds are sixteen games back of the Cardinals, and the starting pitcher is a 28-year-old vagabond who just got called up from AAA Louisville...are you watching? Hell no. Not for the whole game. Sure, you might tune in to watch Jay Bruce or Joey Votto hit, but you're certainly not going to waste your time watching pitch after pitch of a meaningless game played by insignificant players. What's the point?

But if you knew every other inning (or twice a game, or whatever) the FSN broadcast would feature a truly creative wacko up in the stands, mixing it up with the drunks, well, wouldn't you watch? I would.

Gimmicky segments generally drive me crazy -- I mostly just want to watch the game -- but they're here to stay. That being the case, isn't it unfathomable that a talentless dullard like Jim Day has a stranglehold on such a plum job?

Is it possible I care too much about this stuff? Maybe. Is it somewhat embarrassing? Yes. Yes it is.

But anyway, one day in the near future -- I'm thinking sixty years from now -- Jim Day will retire from his post as pre-game host/wacky guy in the stands. And his replacement will undoubtedly provide an upgrade.

It would be impossible to be any worse.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)


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