Most readers of this blog know that I closely follow the Los Angeles Angels and I watch several Angels’ games on television each week. Recently Angels’ play by play announcer Steve Physioc has come under fire from posters on message boards and bloggers. Some of those posts are full of ignorant venom. Sadly, the individuals responsible have no understanding of the role of the local MLB play-by-play announcer.
One of the common criticisms of the Angels Steve Physioc and his partner Rex Hudler is they are "homers" who do not highlight mistakes and struggles by the players or point out the team’s shortcomings. In one respect the critics have it right, both Physioc and Hudler are cheerleaders for the Angels, that is what they should be. The role of the local play-by-play announcer is not to be an objective journalist but to be part of the team’s public relations department. I like the positive tone Physioc and Hudler have when announcing a game. They have the same high energy from first pitch to last and their positive approach makes the game enjoyable to watch. In many ways a baseball telecast is a 3-hour infomercial designed to attract fans to the ballpark, encourage people to buy the team’s caps and jersey’s, and to watch more of the games on television. This means the broadcast is geared toward the causal, and not the hardcore, fan. The hardcore fan is going to watch the majority of the telecasts and attend several games a year regardless of who the announcers are. But the casual fan is going to enjoy baseball for the entertainment value. Having the local announcer constantly pointing out what is wrong with the team is not going to give the casual viewer a reason to follow the team.
I understand when Steve Physioc uses CERA to show that Jeff Mathis has value to the Angels that he is spouting nonsense. And, like most hardcore fans, I cringe a little when he goes on about productive outs and clutch hitting. But it is wrong to expect Physioc to point out Mathis is an automatic out at the plate and Mike Napoli would provide the team with more offense. The casual fan could care less about any of that. This fan wants to know that if they buy a ticket to a game they will be seeing a good product and it is Physioc and Hudler’s job to sell him on that idea. Physioc and Hudler are a part of Angels baseball to me and I miss them when they are not on the television broadcast. If the hardcore fan does not like their positive approach to the Angels and wants objective commentary, they need to look at other sites and in newspapers.