On Friday the Royals made their speculated radio and television broadcast moves official with this press release. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, being the Royals beat reporter, followed up with this story. These moves in the broadcast booth have received a little more attention than normal because of the firing of Frank White.
I don’t think they’re getting enough attention. From an entertainment standpoint the talent on the broadcast team is almost as important as the talent on the field. Even if you have a full-season ticket package the majority of your baseball consumption will be through a teams “Voices”. When a season is 162 games long you will see and listen to the broadcast team; television and radio, more than some of you talk to your parents. They are a part of your family. I’ve listened to enough Royals baseball games what the first time I hear Denny Matthews voice in the spring, the temperature automatically raises to 90 degrees regardless of the actual weather. From my childhood I remember Denny graveling out the play-by-play on hot and humid evenings. Denny Matthews’ voice is as much a sound of summer in Royals Nation as tornado sirens and the long buzzing of cicadas.
A few weeks ago I touched on this situation. I think we can all agree that firing Frank White was a bad public relations move. From hearing Frank White speak in radio interviews I’m not sure he’d go back even if the Royals wanted to kiss and make up. This probably means Frank White isn’t coming back. Because of that I guess we as Royals fans will have to adjust to our “new normal”
Here is what jumps out at me from reading the available public information:
Rex Hudler, Analyst, 120 TV games: As I mentioned a few weeks ago Rex Hudler is a cheerleader. I would be shocked if he ever said anything critical of the Royals on the field or off. Maybe that’s what the Royals front office wants? If you’ve played MLB The Show video game for any length of time you know what you’re in for. I think I’ll think he’s funny for the first week of the season. After that I’ll be looking for twitter handle @FakeRexHudler to get me through the season. As of this writing that account does not exist. Some one who is funny please make that happen. It’s your chance to become legend.
Jeff Montgomery, Analyst, 20 TV games: Montgomery has filled in as the analyst before. He’s capable, professional, and has ties to the city and organization. He has that going for him. He usually drops a bit of pitching knowledge on me. Which makes me wonder: Is he not the first string analyst by his own choice?
Steve Physioc, Play-by-Play, 50 TV, 112 Radio: This came out of nowhere. I knew Physioc was a Kansas City native before this was announced. I have always enjoyed his calls, mostly of Pac 10 (It was the Pac 10 then) College Football. I have not heard all that much of him calling baseball. He has a deep, booming, professional voice. I think I’ll enjoy having him as part of the broadcast team.
Ryan Lefebvre, 90 Play-by-Play TV, 72 Radio: There were a few weeks in December that I thought Ryan Lefebvre would be heading back to the Twins organization. That’s his home, and it’s not uncommon for people to return home given the right opportunity. From reading the articles Ryan wanted more of a radio role. Which is good, I think he’s better on the radio side. Nothing unique stands out to me in his broadcasts. However, I know what I’m going to get, he’s a familiar voice, and most of all he works really well with…
The Voice of the Royals, Denny Matthews, 110 Radio: 110 games seems like a reduced roll for Denny. I could be wrong, I didn’t take the time to look it up. Either way he deserves to keep his job and get some time off through out the season. Out of all the broadcast teams we see/hear with the Royals I enjoy Denny and Ryan together on the radio the most. They seem to have a good chemistry and I enjoy their dry sense of humor, probably because I have a dry sense of humor.
You’ll notice I have not talked about Bob Davis. According to the articles his roll will be reduced to pre and post game duties, and fill in when needed. To KU Fans Bob Davis is legend. However, I did not enjoy him calling baseball. He often left out key information like whether a batted ball was a line drive, a fly ball, or even which outfielder was coming in to make the catch. This will never come out in public. When Bob was calling games with Denny the chemistry seemed strained as there was no banter between the two creating a that dreaded awkward silence. Bob Davis having a reduced roll is a good thing.
Other Notes: The total television broadcast package with FS Kansas City is 140 games. I touched on this last September when I noticed that the Royals were abandoning any day they had to compete with College or NFL Football. It is the same this September. That’s one thing when you’re confident that September games will not mean anything. However, September games may mean something this year. I hope there is contract frame work to add games should the Royals be in contention. It would be very Royals of the Royals to not televise games in a divisional chase.
FS Kansas City will televise two Spring Training Games. Friday March 30th against the White Sox in Surprise. 8pm local start. Tuesday April 3rd against the Padres from Petco, 9pm local start. Note the Cardinals and Marlins open the regular season the next evening. My only complaint, can they braodcast a game earlier in Spring Training? By the time these games are televised all the prospects will be sent to minor league camps and most of the depth chart battles will be decided. I know advertising dollars is what drives these types of things, but I’m a lot more likely to watch an early Spring Training game than a later one…Who am I kidding? I’d watch baseball whenever it was on. However, it’s disapointing that once again if I want to watch the Royals in Spring Training I’ll have to do it on another teams network. Because you know, other teams get on TV more than twice during Spring Training.
Once I get passed how the Royals fumbled the Frank White situation I can see that they did improve the broadcast team. At least I think they did. I know I offered criticism of Rex Hudler earlier but something to consider. Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler worked together in the Angles booth for 11 years. That is a long time, and it’s a really long time in the broadcast industry. They must do their jobs pretty well to last that long. There is less Bob Davis and Denny Matthews, and more Ryan Lefebvre and Denny Matthews. That is a good thing. All I know is, just writing and thinking about baseball on television and radio makes it seem like that snow outside is melting faster.