As Cincinnati baseball fans, many of us grew up listening to Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall on the radio waves. I know I did. It was baseball radio at its finest, two guys who genuinely liked being in the booth together talking about a team they both genuinely loved for 3 hours a night. Everyone was happy, once.
As the years wore on, the demeanor in the booth took a turn. Joe passed in 2007, and it was like every Cincinnati home lost a family member. That loss was felt nowhere more than the Reds radio booth, as Marty soldiered on with the likes of Steve Stewart, and now the rotating cast of Jim Kelch, Jeff Brantley, and even Marty's son Thom. As things have progressed, Marty's outlook has turned and it's not the same as it was before.
It's hard to explain. There will come a day when Marty will not be in the Reds booth anymore, and it won't be the same. I'll listen to the Reds on the radio and it'll feel different. Marty still has the gift of gab, sure, and understands the ins and outs of the game like few else. His anecdotes from years past are still legendary, and if you're lucky enough to hear one, it's still a real treat, just like it ever was. But there's something different.
Even when the Reds are playing well, Marty now feels the need to nitpick. I think that's natural, especially when you're subjected to watching the team play every night. I know I've watched games and formed snap opinions based on how guys are playing at the time, and been totally wrong when the proof was shown to me. That's a beauty of the modern game to me, actually having access to proof to either confirm or deny the biases we form in our own minds.
The thing that got me thinking about this was a tweet from Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra, commenting about AC Slider's article about the unusual state of the media here.
Ain't no haters like Cincinnati haters. Griffey and Dunn nod in acknowledgment. http://t.co/5bk4Ea7e0I— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) July 3, 2013
Calcaterra brings up Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn as prime examples, and I couldn't agree more. Despite both of them being perfectly serviceable players (especially Dunn, who was great in Cincinnati), the media soured on them and drove the point home through its most prominent mouthpiece. By the time they left, both of them were reviled figures, despite being arguably the two best players on the team at the time.
Don't believe me? Here's the commercial that 700 WLW ran on the day Adam Dunn got traded.
Lackadaisical? If you were the Reds, and you heard this ad, is this the station you'd choose as your flagship station for your broadcasts? I can't imagine how sick this must make them feel.
This is especially true when you consider that this is still going on. Remember Drew Stubbs? Former first round pick Drew Stubbs? Now, the man isn't Willie Mays or anything, but I'd never make the argument that he's a bad player. He's perfectly average. Not a contact hitter, a little pop in his bat, and blazing speed and fantastic defense. If you'd have listened to how he was portrayed in Cincinnati in the past few years, you'd think he was Willy Taveras.
We're still seeing that. Players like Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips have had their ups and downs, but they're both All-Star candidates who aren't appreciated as much as they should be here because a certain broadcaster doesn't like them. Of course, the big story here is that it happened with Homer Bailey after his no-hitter, he snubbed them, and the station that spends their time lambasting him and turning fans against him is sad because he didn't give them an interview.
I think it's different from the angle we see this as fans. I genuinely don't think there are any conspiracies or anything like that biased against certain players (although the Dunn commercial makes me wonder), but the radio team here needs to realize that what they say has an effect on how the fans view the team, and how the fans view the team reflects the bottom line for the Reds as an organization. How afraid do you think the Reds front office is to promote a prospect with a high strikeout rate, knowing there's a chance that in the future they could be hearing "I'm not going to pay my good money to watch Yorman Rodriguez strike out anymore" at the ballpark? The radio people might not hear that in their internal bubble behind the mic, but we sure as hell hear it as fans. I have to hear Jay Bruce get booed every time I go to the ballpark by Joe Moron who takes Marty Brennaman's words as gospel. Do the Reds like that? I know I don't.
Either way, it's best for both parties for WLW to lighten up a little bit. Stop making it about politics and who snubbed who and tell us what's going on in the game in an unbiased and objective manner. Honestly, there are times where I feel that FSOhio is a better product. Whether or not you liked Mr. Sunshines and Rainbows (and I largely didn't), he told me what was going on in the game and didn't try to make me hate the players of my favorite team. Even now, the guys are critical at times when it's warranted, but they (usually) don't hold those grudges like the radio guys do. Objectivity is why I don't mute the TV and turn the radio on anymore. I'd hope 700 gets the memo and strives to do the same.