Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Sunday, August 15, 2004

BASEBALL NATION: Rating the Baseball Tonight Analysts

My favorite TV show of all-time? You got it. Baseball Tonight. The scores, updates, highlights, analysis, webgems, I love the show. And they've got different guys on different nights. I really like the fact that they mix it up like that. Sure, they've added features that bug me like "Triple play," but it's still an awesome watch. And I believe that any genuine baseball fan is incomplete without watching this show at least a few times a week.

On to the analysts. I'd like to split them up into three groups: the nerds, the cool ex-players, and everyone else. And by the way, I'll be rating them report-card style.

The nerds:

Peter Gammons: Yeah, c'mon, he knows too much. That's why I call him a nerd. Whether he's telling over some exclusive news he heard from one GM or going through all the "ifs" that need to happen for the Padres to make the playoffs, he knows his stuff better than anyone else out there. Without a question, the best of the bunch.

Tim Kurkjian: This guy's a nerd through and through. From the nasal, shrill-esque voice down to the totally useless info ("That's the first Giant pitcher to get a triple since Brian Hickerson in '95"). But he's a great analyst. Always got something intelligent to say.

The cool ex-players:

John Kruk: It took him till May to realize he was no longer on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period," but he still hasn't improved much. He isn't that funny. And he doesn't really add anything to the show. I could make the same points he makes ("that was a long home run!"). Maybe they've got him just to take up space, in which case he's doing an excellent job.

Rob Dibble: He's got the goatee. He had the tinted glasses. He's the coolest, toughest guy ("If I were Estes, I would've nailed Rocket in the head!") on BBT. But unlike Kruk, he makes a substantial contribution to the show. Does a good job keeping the analysis clear and simple, unlike the nerds. But as a cool guy, can occasionaly get a little too shticky for my tastes.

Everyone else:

Jeff Brantley:
When he first got on, I hated the guy. He was sorta mumbling; sounded like he was eating pretzels while he was talking. But after getting used to it, I realized that he had plenty of smart things to play. Probably the most intelligent ex-player of the bunch.

Harold Reynolds:
Tries to be everything: analytical and super-funny. Personally, I don't think he's that humorous, and his analysis doesn't do much for me. On a 3-game Monday night, you can see him demonstrating how to do a feet-first slide, just in case you were dying to know. I like it better when he's doing the Little League World Series.

As for the lead guys, Karl Ravech is far and away the best. Unlike Brian Kenny, he does the highlights without any annoying shtick. And he knows his baseball better than the other guys. Some of the others have no right putting in their two cents when it comes to the discussions. But I don't mind Ravech at all. Rece Davis, Steve Berthiaume, and Trey Wingo are nice but no effect.

But overall, a great watch. Like I said, a must-watch for anybody who considers themselves a genuine baseball fan.


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