Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Indians fans lucky to have these two calling the games

I have often observed that I don’t need announcers to enjoy a baseball game, a football game or a track meet on television.

I can figure out what’s happening simply by watching carefully and paying attention as the action unfolds.

But good announcers, and I mean really good announcers, measurably add a lot to the proceedings.

And of course, really bad announcers can make viewing painful.

For Exhibit A of bad announcers, I give you the two guys on ESPN who were doing commentary a week ago on an Indians game.

Our regular announcers, Rick Manning and Matt Underwood, had been set aside for the day so the ESPN team could do the talking on national TV. What a mistake!

I was already familiar with one of the ESPN guys. He was a former ballplayer. Throughout the game, the two of them told me nothing I didn’t already know. When they divulged that Masterson and Cabrera no longer played for Cleveland, the volume of useless information began to rise.

Virtually everything they said was already household information for an Indians fan – and I presume for anyone who has even a scintilla of knowledge of baseball.

What they achieved was to underscore my appreciation for Manning and Underwood, who have developed into two of the finest sportscasters to ever grace a microphone on the Cleveland scene.

Also underscored was my long-standing disappointment that Gavi’s Restaurant in Willoughby is no longer open. The lady of the house and I went there virtually every Tuesday for dinner, and on many occasions Rick Manning was there with his wife.

Quite often we sat and talked. Rick could talk baseball 24 hours a day. And the conversation never got dull or boring. I looked forward to seeing him and challenging him on baseball trivia, which was not really a challenge because he knew his subject matter so well. Alas, those days are gone. But I digress.

I don’t know if people around here are aware of what a treasure Rick and Matt are, but I have been listening to the Tribe on radio and later on TV since about 1936, and they are at the top of the electronic heap.

They can make a good game exciting, and even a dull game interesting. That is because they pull no punches.

If a player messes up, they don’t hesitate to point it out. And they give plenty of credit when our heroes do themselves proud.

I would hesitate to list all the Indians’ announcers who have helped shape my understanding of the game. I can’t recall all of them and I would surely leave some out.

But who could forget Jack Graney and Pinkey Hunter of the old, old days? Or, as they sometimes referred to each other, John Gladstone Graney and Cartwright Maxwell Hunter.

They were simply great. If I close my eyes, I can still hear Jack Graney saying, “It’s a hot shot, through the box, out over second base for a single.”

Or: “And it’s a fast double play, Boudreau to Mack to Troskey.”

I liked Mike Hegan a lot, and I still miss Herb Score. Many others were superb at the mike.

But on the subject of announcers, let me get this off my chest. It’s about football.

I was extremely annoyed, and still am, that Bernie Kosar was taken off the air during the Browns’ pre-season, or as they used to call them, “exhibition” games.

Jim Donovan is OK as the play-by-play guy, but replacing Bernie with Soloman Wilcots is like replacing fresh creamery butter with day-old lard.

If two quarterbacks as talented as Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel are fighting for the starting job, does any football fan in his right mind think there is an analyst in the booth who can come as close to assessing their capabilities as Bernie?

That is a self-answering question, but I will answer it anyway. Nobody could match Bernie’s skill in pointing out the abilities of a quarterback.

Taking Bernie off the broadcasts was a terrible loss that was inflicted on the fans.

We will never know what he might have had to say this past pre-season, unless there is some magical medium I don’t know about. Lacking that, it is just one more example of the disdain the team has for the fans, and one more reason why I think the owners deserve nothing quite so much as another 4-12 season.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Jim, you are obviously not listening to the same 2 guys I am listening to.

September 6, 2014 at 9:25 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Rick Manning, but Matt Underwood just talks too much about things that have nothing to do with the game, on the field!

September 6, 2014 at 12:16 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Jim for such a great editorial. I also felt this way and emailed a complaint to ESPN the day after this game aired. Matt and Rick are true gems!

September 8, 2014 at 5:28 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the article about the two announcers for the Cleveland Indians. Have to say your right on the spot with your comments. My husband started grousing when he heard it was going to be on ESPN. The announcers didn't know squat about the players or the game. there has bee no one who is more knowledgeable abut baseball that Rick Manning and Matt Underwood. Their comments about the game and the little asides they tell you, is so enjoyable and sometimes amusing. We enjoy every evening with them.

Also think Bernie should be with the Browns. He is also so knowledgeable about ever aspect of the game. You were right on with your article. Thanks. C. Reimers

September 8, 2014 at 10:41 AM 

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