5 Best TV Broadcast Teams in Major League Baseball
To borrow from the title of Curt Smith's great book about the great baseball announcers of all-time, they are "The Voices of the Game."
Not until the advent of satellite TV could fans access as many games as they can today. Local telecasts and the Saturday "Game of the Week" have given way to virtually every game being available for a few extra bucks.
Taking a trip around the league, we see those play-by-play announcers and analysts that rate a cut above the rest for their knowledge of the game and, equally as important, the entertainment factor they bring to their telecasts.
Here then are our choices for the five best baseball broadcasting teams in the game today.
Vin Scully, Los Angeles Dodgers
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He is the standard by which all others are judged.
Vin Scully is revered by baseball fans and colleagues alike, and why not. He's been with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 62 seasons, and is the only play-by-play man to still work alone in the booth.
The Hall of Fame announcer can spin a yarn better than anyone else. Perhaps no one in the history of baseball broadcasting has made the game as up close and personal as Scully, who enters each broadcast with an encyclopedia full of information on all the players, right on down to the 25th man on the roster.
He's called some of baseball's seminal events, including Sandy Koufax's perfect game against the Cubs in 1965, the 1986 World Series comeback by the Mets over the Red Sox and Kirk Gibson's dramatic homer in the 1988 Series off Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland A's.
The Dodgers this season have suffered from a number of negative distractions off the field and poor play on it, but through it all Scully has remained a constant of professionalism and artistic brilliance.
Listening to Scully is like kicking back to a Sinatra record.
Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, New York Mets
SNY's threesome of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez are worthy successors to the original New York Mets broadcasting team comprised of the legendary Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner.
Cohen, Darling and Hernandez are as knowledgeable about the game as any announcers in the league. Only PR whiz Jay Horwitz likely knows more about the history of the team than Cohen. Hernandez and Darling were members of the 1986 Mets championship team and are not bashful about telling it like it is.
Darling had a rough season his first in the booth as a member of the Washington Nationals announce team in 2005 and he and partner Mel Proctor were not rehired. But since then, Darling has flourished and has since added national duties on TBS.
Hernandez has sometimes been called out for being too critical, but it's refreshing to have an analyst call it like he sees it—especially when the network he's on is part-owned by the team.
Cohen, Darling and Hernandez know the game and have great synergy, the primary makings of an entertaining broadcast team.
Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, San Francisco Giants
Mike Krukow, left, and Duane Kuiper
It was a marvelous ride to the World Series championship in 2010 and San Francisco Giants fans got to enjoy it with the colorful insights of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow.
It's rare in baseball that you have two announcers who were both former players. Kuiper was a slick infielder with the Indians and Giants but is perhaps best remembered for hitting only one Major League homer in a career that spanned 11 seasons.
Krukow was a starting pitcher for three teams in his career, which began in 1976 with the Cubs and ended in 1989 with the Giants. He's become known for opening post-game wraps of close games with the phrase: "Just another—ha ha ha ha—laugher!"
Great chemistry and even greater baseball knowledge. That's what makes the Comcast SportsNet Bay Area team of Kruk and Kuip a winning combination.
Dick Enberg and Mark Grant, San Diego Padres
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Any broadcast team with Dick Enberg on it is a winner from the start.
Those outside of Southern California know Enberg for his 25 years of work on NBC's telecasts of all major sports, including baseball, football, golf and tennis.
But Enberg's career took off in the late 1960s as the voice of Los Angeles Rams football, UCLA basketball and the California Angels baseball club.
So, it was an unexpected treat when in 2010 Enberg announced he was returning to local TV as the play-by-play voice for the San Diego Padres on Cox Cable's Channel 4. Alongside former Major League relief pitcher Mark Grant, Enberg hasn't missed a beat.
Grant enjoys the game as much as any analyst and his sometimes lighter approach to broadcasting makes him a perfect complement to the veteran Enberg.
There have been reports that Channel 4 may lose TV rights to the Padres to Fox SportsNet when their current contract is up. If so, we can only hope the Padres stick with Enberg and Grant when they change homes.
Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, Chicago Cubs
Len Kasper, left, and Bob Brenly
The Chicago Cubs TV job had always been considered one of the most coveted in baseball for its many nationally televised afternoon telecasts on superstation WGN-TV.
Top broadcasters like Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Milo Hamilton, Dewayne Staats and Thom Brennaman, along with colorful analysts such as Lou Boudreau, Steve Stone and Ron Santo, gave the games a local feel that still translated well outside of the market.
In recent years, most Cub games have migrated from WGN to Comcast SportsNet, but the current announcing team of Len Kasper and Bob Brenly have carried on the tradition by providing entertaining play-by-play and penetrating analysis.
Brenly, in particular, has gotten better with age since his stints as an analyst with Fox and his three-plus years as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he won the World Series in 2001.
There's still little better than watching a day game from Wrigley Field, and the team of Kasper and Brenly are one of the reasons why.
Don Orsillo, left, and Jerry Remy
Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, Boston Red Sox
Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder, Milwaukee Brewers
Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer, Baltimore Orioles
Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven, Minnesota Twins
Mario Impemba and Rod Allen, Detroit Tigers
Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays
Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh, Cincinnati Reds