Catch this, Bucko

The baseball season’s only a month old and already I’m sick of Sportsnet announcers Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler. All Martinez does is read potted bios and say “And you can forget about this one” when there’s a home run. Tabler musters little more than repeating what Martinez said earlier in the broadcast or reads stats about pitchers that appear on the screen so hardly need to be read.

Where are the anecdotes, the insights, the sense of the locker room? I know, I know, ball players notoriously have little to say, a fact made hilarious in Bull Durham when Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) teaches Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) the three cliches he needs to answer any questions reporters will ever ask. Example: “We gotta play it one day at a time.”

Sportsnet analyst Greg Zaun is far better, but he gets about one minute for every boring hour of Bucko. Zaun’s comment yesterday about keeping Dalton Pompey in Toronto rather than sending him down to Buffalo was spot on. Zaun said it was a mistake like the Jays made with Travis Snider – and look how that turned out for us. As a former catcher, Martinez should have an opinion why pitcher Mark Buehrle blew up in his last two outings but all we get are banalities like, “He’s not hitting his spots.”

Far better at the game is Jerry Howarth on 590 Sportsnet The Fan. Howarth not only has a great voice, but also can set the scene and knows good stories. Moreover, he has a sense of humour, something that Martinez sorely lacks. A few days ago, rain began falling and the wind was driving some of the moisture into the press box. Quipped Howarth, “It’s making the ink run on my ad-libs.”

Here’s my solution. The radio broadcast runs about eight seconds ahead of the television version, so I mute the TV, listen to Howarth, and turn to watch when something interesting happens. It’s the best of both worlds and could only be made better if the Jays won more often or Martinez got fired like happened in 2002 when he was manager. Then we could forget about that one.

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