The State of the ROOT Sports, Colorado Rockies broadcast address

Harry How

How do the Rockies ROOT broadcasters rank among the others in MLB? Have they gotten better since last year?

Today, the good folks over at Awful Announcing released a ranking of local MLB broadcasts across the country.

The Rockies broadcast featuring Drew Goodman, George Frazier, and Jeff Huson came in just one spot away from dead last, ranking 29th, just ahead of the abysmal stylings of Hawk Harrelson and the Chicago White Sox crew.

I've made my feelings on the broadcast clear on several occasions. Here are a few excerpts I wrote here at Purple Row about a year ago.

"Too often the Rockies announcers (especially George Frazier and, to a lesser extent, Jeff Huson) will get into modes where they feel it is necessary to comment on everything. Not every moment of play-by-play needs analysis, and George often finds himself tumbling down sentences to nowhere, when really we could have just been listening to the sounds of the park.

Bats cracking, umpires roaring, crowds murmuring and the unmistakable sound of a a baseball meeting a glove are all more pleasant listening experiences than listening to someone talk who just feels like they are supposed to be talking."

To Speak or Not to Speak: C+

This is something I actually feel has switched a bit. I've noticed Frazier has been better this year (much to my surprise) and actually seems more on his game than at any time I can remember. His analysis seems to only come when analysis is needed and (maybe because the Rockies are a better team) seems to be more plugged into the game on the field rather than the tertiary stuff that often sends him spiraling off course.

Jeff Huson, on the other hand, has gotten worse in this area in my opinion. He seems to have a Pavlovian response to Drew Goodman finishing a sentence that screams, "Say something! Say something! Even is you just have to use a few more words to say EXACTLY what Goodman just said...for the love of God say something!!!"

When he does provide analysis, it's actually pretty decent. Huson knows the game well; when it comes to infield defense and base running, he can provide good insight and has been at a better rate this year, but as a smaller percentage of what he says because he feels the need to be constantly speaking.

In my initial article I ran a poll asking how the broadcast could improve and the overwhelming favorite response was "more silence."

I give the Rockies a C+ in dealing with this issue since last year. It has gotten better, but mostly in mild, barely noticeable ways.

Homerism: D-

"Our announcers have a tendency to be dismissive of the talents and abilities of other teams and players. With the obvious exception of the Ryan Brauns of the world, they oftentimes find themselves saying something like, "this guy can't hit Pomeranz's fastball!" Only to watch the next heater Drew throws go 400 feet.

It's kind of like that kid on your little-league team who wouldn't stop talking smack from the dugout, leaving everyone on the field to actually deliver. There is a fine line between rooting and being a PR (that's public relations in this context) guy like a press secretary spinning everything rather than searching for facts."

This is problematic for two reasons and has actually gotten worse.

1. It leads to inaccurate, sometimes blatantly false, information being disseminated to a wide audience.

2. It is positively infuriating when things don't go the Rockies way

On that first point, the single most important job of any broadcaster of any event should be getting all the facts straight and reporting them accurately to their audience. Now, I understand in this particular arena a certain dosage of homerism is to be expected and that this can even be a good thing.

However, I will not discount the role the ROOT broadcast has played in overselling this team over the last few seasons, which has led to the current overflow of vitriol often articulated as, "Yeah, you guys tell us they are gonna be awesome every year!"

Not just every year, but every at-bat of every game. The broadcast gets so wrapped up in ROOTing for the Rockies to make the next play that they often forget to acknowledge the accomplishments of the other team leaving Rockies fans listening who trust them constantly wondering, "Why do we lose to horrible teams/players all the time?"

I think much of the inferiority complex of the Rockies fan comes from the broadcast consonantly overselling its own guys and underselling the other team.

On the second point, whether you believe in jinxing, baseball is a game of unwritten rules, like it or not. Anyone who is against pimping home runs, talking smack, or generally playing with an in-your-face attitude should despise this aspect of the Rockies broadcast.

My least favorite version of this happens inevitably when the other guys have runners on first and third with one out in an inning we really need to get out of and the pitcher induces a hard groundball and Drew yells out, "double play ball!" Does our fielder punt the ball every time? Of course not. Is it a thousand times more frustrating when he does? Easily. I believe it's called counting your chickens before they hatch

It's also called tempting fate.

During the game the Rockies lost at home to the Giants, Michael Morse came to bat having already hit a home run in the game and with two runners on he represented the trying run. During his stroll to the plate Drew Goodman went on and on about how terrible the Giants had been in these situations.

Giving massive inflection on the bad numbers to the point of laughter (even bringing up the graph) provided the soundtrack like a Rob Zombie film to the game tying home run that I turned to my roommate and predicted as the guys in the booth laughed on.

I don't believe in jinxing, but I do believe in karma. There were literally dozens of other opportunities to discuss that stat earlier or later in the game, and there is a demeanor of respect that should be shown to any opponent, even one who has already proven an ability to hit you where it hurts.

Beyond anything else, it is disrespectful of a game that can be so fickle and so filled with failure, to ever be filled with such a modicum of certainty.

Presentation/Dap for Diehards: B

I almost gave them an B+/A- here because of how impressed I've been with the higher levels of discussion around the minor league system, having to do with some of the more in-depth technicalities of the game, and even a few...semi...advanced stats.

Okay, so they've talked about OPS a few times.

They still harp on pitcher Wins and I wouldn't expect to see a breakdown of Charlie Blackmon's BABIP vs. batting average any time soon, but the quality of the questions and answers in Toyota Talk has been exponentially better, if not still mostly annoying.

Still, the fact that you can count on at least one really good question and interesting discussion that follows per broadcast is a huge step in the right direction for the concept of including the audience in the broadcast.

I've noticed a much more liberal use of the K-zone graphic as well. Maybe this is just because the Rockies seem to have had some strange, floating zones early on, but they go to it more evenly than before and sometimes even leave it up for an AB, which I like.

The main camera angle is still absolutely terrible though.

New Additions:

I've seen only a little bit of Ryan Spilborghs and Jason Hirsh so far but I like what I see. I think both have the potential to be guys that can bring a lot of inside knowledge while also being entertaining. Jason Hirsh telling the story of the time he broke his leg on the Purple Dino Podcast allowed him to show off great story telling abilities and astonishing recognizance of events, which should definitely come in handy more and more.

That's it, that's all I got peeps.

What do you think?

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