Their voices were unmistakable, their words wove the soundtrack of our cherished sporting memories.
Vin Scully has been a reassuring constant in 67 years of Dodgers broadcasts, a unique connection from Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Bums to the era of wild-card playoff teams and Twitter tantrums. Bob Miller cheered and tormented – mostly tormented – for 44 seasons with the Kings. Chick Hearn hasn’t just played play-by-play at Lakers games — he’s been part of the show, creating a language for basketball while refrigerating Lakers victories while the eggs cool, the butter hardens and the jelly Wiggle.
“When I first started working for the Lakers in the ’80s, we had one station: Chick Hearn. He did the radio, he did the television,” said Lon Rosen, now the Dodgers’ executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “The world of broadcasting has changed and developed a lot in recent years.”
Watching or hearing about the Dodgers and Angels this season has become a guessing game. Sometimes, without a scorecard, you can’t tell the announcers or be sure who’s taking over game by game or analysis overnight.
The tradition of an announcer or a few voices being synonymous with a team go-go-go may be heralded when Hall of Famer great Jaime Jarrín retires from the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcasts after this season, his 64th season . Change is normal, although it’s difficult to let go of announcers whose voices take us back to good times and thoughts of long-gone friends and family.
More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted massive changes in broadcast schedules, sometimes at short notice. For example, Daron Sutton, who was fired without public explanation as the Angels’ backup TV voice acting last July, resurfaced as a play-by-play announcer on several Dodgers TV shows last month when Joe Davis was working for Fox and the virus was taking hold the US ran broadcast crew.
But if the revolving door to the broadcast booths can create confusion, it also makes it possible to discover new stories and insights, hear the humor of Dontrelle Willis, Jessica Mendoza’s industrious reporting, Eric Karros’ deep knowledge, and José Mota’s bilingual expertise as a presenter or analyst .
“It’s unique, there’s no question about that,” said Rick Monday, whose golden tones are well-known as a Dodgers radio analyst alongside Charley Steiner for the past 18 years and occasionally from game to game. “We need to check the schedule to see exactly. “Oh, I’m working with you today? Okay good. Let’s do this.'”
He was only half joking.
There have been questions about vaccination status from TV analyst Orel Hershiser, but he has not commented publicly on the matter. When asked about Hershiser’s absence from select games, the Dodgers responded that they hired five radio and television analysts this season to help make the decision, they said, while Hershiser tends to travel less so he can concentrate on business ventures can concentrate.
They added Karros, Mendoza and Willis as TV analysts, Adrian Gonzalez for pre- and post-match commentary, and Mota for English and Spanish radio and English TV broadcasts.
With Davis’ duties as the lead play-by-play announcer for Fox leading him to reduce his Dodgers workload to 115-120 games a season and Steiner cutting back on his travel, Tim Neverett is getting plenty of practice adapting adapt the habits of different partners. He has previously done so as one of two play-by-play announcers in Pittsburgh, teaming with a rotation of three analysts.
“If I’m working with Orel on TV one night and with Rick Monday on the radio or Eric Karros on TV another night, I’ll be with him [this] Weekend in San Francisco – I think it’s different because sometimes the way you would try to draw from it would be different. Every voice is different,” said Neverett, who grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire and listens to gravel-voiced Johnny Most at Celtics games, Joe Castiglione and Ken Coleman on Red Sox radio, and Dick Stockton and Hawk Harrelson on Red Sox television Has.
“The analysts are extremely valuable resources,” said Neverett. “I think television is more of an analyst medium. radio, the opposite. But we have such a great radio analyst here in Rick. I love chatting to him during games and getting him to talk about all kinds of baseball stuff.”
The Dodgers’ radio side has been more predictable, despite Steiner being sidelined for two weeks by COVID. He said he and Montag will call every game at the track and during the postseason game. “I can’t tell you how lucky I am and I feel like we’re a constant. It was a pretty good marriage,” Steiner said.
Mota brings to every assignment advice from Tommy Hawkins, an original LA Laker who went on to become Dodgers manager: The badge Mota carries is his entry into the world of players, and it is his job to bring that world to the fans bring to.
“There’s a lot of variety and a lot of information, which is most important – keeping the fan informed about every aspect of our coverage. Whatever we do best, offer it to the fans,” said Mota, the son of former Dodger Manny Mota, who used to run around the clubhouse as a kid. “Growing up, your announcer was your information. Where did it come from? A guy. Well, there are so many things.”
The Angels’ TV situation has also been changeable, but less fortunate.
Fox Sports West (now Bally Sports West) hired nationally known Matt Vasgersian ahead of the 2021 season to replace Victor Rojas, who left to become president of a minor league team. Sutton would be the backup when Vasgersian was working for ESPN or the MLB Network. The pandemic wreaked havoc on that plan, as it did on so many others, keeping Vasgersian out and curtailing his performances. Sutton became the lead vocal on Mota and Mark Gubicza, but Sutton was fired midseason, leaving Rich Waltz to finish the schedule.
Vasgersian hasn’t been in the dressing room as much as expected this season, despite announcing games during the Angels’ recent trip to the East Coast. Patrick O’Neal, who is pleasant as a pre- and post-game presenter but lacks timing and instinct for play-by-play, announced most of the games. A spokeswoman for Bally Sports West twice declined to comment on the Angels’ TV plans.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ revolving door will keep spinning. Rosen said fans had responded positively to the multi-announcer line-up and he was pleased with the mix. And there are benefits to different viewpoints and voices.
“We’re lucky,” Monday said. “Everyone sees it differently, so when you’re working with someone you don’t work with all the time, there’s another element that comes with it. And sometimes it’s a very fresh element. Sometimes you say, “I hadn’t thought about that,” and maybe you take it in a different way. It’s like a conversation, but we’re trying to have a conversation in and around a baseball game.”
And we can listen.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-06-08/dodgers-angels-broadcasters-joe-davis-eric-karros-jessica-mendoza-matt-vasgersian Elliott: The voice of Dodgers and Angels? Make that the voices