If you ever doubted the homer abilities of Ken "Hawk" Harrelson as a TV announcer, go no further than the Wall Street Journal, which ranked the White Sox team as the TV announcing team in major league baseball with the most biased comments.
What exactly constitutes biased comments? That includes the use of the word "we." (Vikings radio announcer Paul Allen, some people are looking at you.) Also, pet names for players, excessive celebrating or moping.
In this review of one game of each baseball team, Harrelson accounted for 104 comments. The next highest total? 23, from the Cleveland TV team of Matt Underwood and Rick Manning. In fact, Harrelson's total is more than all the other American League teams' announcers COMBINED. OK, the White Sox count includes partner Steve Stone, but if the split is anything less than 100-4, color me shocked.
Harrelson, as you might expect, had no qualms. His comments to Journal reporter Jared Diamond: "You just made my day. That's the biggest compliment you could give me, to call me the biggest homer in baseball."
Need more evidence? Here is Harrelson's rant against umpire Matt Wegner from earlier in the season:
Small teams made the bulk of the teams following the White Sox. After a handful of teams in the double digits, the Twins TV announcers of Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven ranked in a group with the Orioles, Nationals, Phillies and Padres with nine comments.
The WSJ review cited an example for each team, and the Minnesota example might underwhelm: "I hope there's no suspense. A nice, methodical win would be nice." Yes, Minnesotans used nice twice.
Bremer also offers as defense of homerism: "Former players have tremendous equity in the franchise they played for. From their perspective, I could imagine a strong desire to do well." Apparently, he didn't work in the words "major-league level."
Cleveland outfielder Vinny Rottino might have saved Thursday's 4-3 extra-inning win over the Twins with his catch in the ninth inning. But his spot start also had people talking about his walk-up music: The theme from "The Godfather."
Batting leadoff in front of a sparse Cleveland crowd, the 32-year-old September callup provided quite the contrast from the usual rock, pop, country and rap fare heard at ballparks these days. The trumpet blared especially loud over the Twins radio feed in the first inning, drawing comments and a chuckle from play-by-play man Cory Provus and Kris Atteberry.
The "Godfather" music is "something you rarely hear at the ballpark," Provus said later via Twitter. The music had the two talking about how the Twins radio team would fit into the storied "Godfather" cast. One thing quickly agreed to: "Danny [Gladden] would be Sonny," played by James Caan, Provus said.
The Cleveland radio team was just as taken with the musical choice Thursday, according to the Positive Tribe blog, "cracking up the radio guys every time" Rottino came to the plate. "No, we're not going to a funeral," Cleveland play-by-play man Tom Hamilton said.
"I was just reading the leadoff batter's handbook, and it says that techno-pop-dance music is mandatory. I guess Rottino didn't get the memo," Jim Rosenhaus added.
Perhaps it was a surprise that the Cleveland broadcast crew was so surprised. In 2008, David Dellucci used the music in his walk-up rotation, albeit as a secondary, back-up choice, mostly on the road. And earlier this season in Milwaukee, shortstop Cody Ransom also used the "Godfather" theme for one July game. The occasion? Italian Heritage Day.
On Thursday, Rottino's choice struck a chord on Twitter. One tweet that drew plenty of retweets was from MLB.com reporter Zack Meisel: "Ironic that Vinny Rottino walks up to the plate to The Godfather theme considering how rare it is that he produces a hit."
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