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awful announcing

Ken Hoffman on why Houston Astros fans deserve a better broadcast team

Ken Hoffman on why Houston Astros fans deserve a better broadcast team

Houston Astros
Do Astros fans deserve a better playoff announcing team? Ken Hoffman thinks so.  Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

David Barron, TV-sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle, explained it to me. “The national networks pay a lot of money for broadcast rights, and they want a telecast that appeals to the largest possible audience. Partisan broadcasters aren’t paid to appeal to the largest possible audience.

They’re paid to telecast a game from the standpoint of the team that pays them and of the viewers watching them. Why would a Rays fan want to hear a broadcast from the standpoint of an announcer paid by the Astros, and vice-versa?”

That’s why we’re stuck with the Fox broadcast team of Kenny Albert, Joe Girardi, A.J. Pierzynski, and J.P. Morosi for the Astros' American League Divisional Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. I’m not saying the Fox team is biased against Houston, or unfair in any way. I don't like when Houston fans constantly scream that. I am saying the Fox team is lame. And Houston fans, also Tampa Bay fans, deserve better.

Also not saying that Fox should have hired the Astros broadcast team of Todd Kalas, Geoff Blum, and Julia Morales to do the ALDS nationally. But technology exists for Fox to have a separate audio channel just for Kalas and Co. in the Houston market. And vice-versa for the Rays announcers in Tampa.

The Fox announce team comes up short for interest, analysis, entertainment, and just plain fun. They're making the games boring. Definitely for Houston fans, probably for the rest of the country.  

Kenny Albert is so singularly focused on the Astros-Rays series that he did play-by-play for the Texans-Falcons NFL game on Sunday. Girardi is so focused on the Astros-Rays series that more than once his partners made him swear he’d be around for Game 3 and 4 and 5 if necessary.

Girardi is rumored to be a candidate for several baseball managers jobs. Pierzynski is a lightweight. Earlier this season, Fox did an Astros-Yankees game where Aaron Judge was awarded first base due to catcher’s interference. Pierzynski, thinking that Judge would be charged an at bat, said he hoped Judge didn’t wind up with a .299 batting average, which would be .300 if not for the catcher’s interference.

Uh, anybody who ever flipped a baseball card into a trash can knows that players don’t get charged an at bat due to catcher’s interference. Pierzynski was a catcher for 19 years in the big leagues … and didn’t know the rule about catcher’s interference.

J.P. Morosi interviewed Alex Bregman after he hit a critical home run in Game 2 of the ALDS and asked Bregman what advice he had for young players. Nine innings to think that up? What is this, high school career day? Flyweight. 

Meanwhile, Astros fans grooved to Kalas, Blum, and Morales this whole incredible, greatest-ever 2019 season. Just me, but this is the best Astros broadcast team since Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies broke up the band. Kalas is steady like a rock and confident enough to let Blum shine with his humor and inside baseball knowledge. Morales has a special relationship with the team, especially manager A.J. Hinch. The players trust Morales and open up with personal insights.

Having Kalas and Co. replaced for post-season is like dating a girl the whole senior year and then she goes to the prom with the running back from the football team. It hurts. (It still hurts, darn it. I can’t believe she did that.)

Fox could order a separate audio channel for Houston. Easy. Everybody and their cousin in Miami has a podcast. Technology is cheap, and would spare us Kenny Albert wondering if his sidekick is going to be around for Game 3 or being introduced as the New York Mets new manager.