I come to defend Scott Garceau.
Well, at least I come in part to defend Scott Garceau. There’s a bigger point to be made, but let me start here. Much ire has been directed the way of the legendary Baltimore sports media figure for his performance in his return to the role as Orioles play-by-play voice since the start of last year. After a tough call of a Maikel Franco home run April 17, Orioles Twitter went after Garceau like they were Pete Davidson discussing the sport of boxing.
Allow me to say a few things here.
1.) Bias is not actually a significant issue here. While I am inclined to like Scott Garceau, I am not nearly as close with him as I am a number of media figures in our community.
2.) I would not attempt to compare Garceau to former MASN play-by-play voice Gary Thorne. That’s a nearly impossible standard. Thorne is one of the finest play-by-play voices in all of American sports throughout the last few decades, and having him here for as long as we did is a greater upset than “hon, can you go with the kids to a 6-year-old birthday party where you won’t know anyone” turning into “getting to see the best band in Baltimore after not seeing live music for more than a year.” I’m as disappointed as you are that Thorne is no longer a part of our lives.
3.) I too think Kevin Brown has proven to be quite good in his radio and television roles since joining the broadcast team, and I am inclined to want to see and or hear more of him moving forward.
NOW … back to Garceau.
I’m not going to attempt to tell you that Scott has secretly been the best broadcaster in the sport and that you just don’t understand because you’ve never done play-by-play before. (And to be fair, I’ve never done it at the level that Scott is currently.) Yet I STILL want to defend him. Because I don’t think we’ve been even remotely willing to consider just how difficult it is to call baseball games right now.
Calling a professional sporting event from one location while the game is happening in another is unfathomably difficult to do well. It is brutally tough to have the same feel for the game without being there. (This I can speak to from experience.) Combine that with truly awful camera angles at the new stadium in Arlington, Texas, and it can be understandable that a call might be flubbed a bit.
Broadcasters are doing absolutely as well as could possibly be expected. (Hell, Geoff Arnold had to call a few pitches of a game this season by monitoring the “MLB Gameday” app on his phone after monitors and internet all went out and did so admirably.) But this is so far less than ideal.
Which brings me to the bigger point. I’m starting to get extraordinarily nervous about that whole “toothpaste and the tube” thing. While raising kids who are currently 6 and 3, we’ve found ourselves with a fair amount of toothpaste loose on a bathroom counter and despite all of our efforts, we’ve been unable to shove it back in that tube.
ESPN chose not to use on-site broadcasters in the early round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The NCAA Tournament! Thankfully, everything else about the women’s tournament went off smoothly and showed that the NCAA truly cares about women’s sports just as much as the men’s game. But huge second-round matchups were being described by announcers in their living rooms. Network NBA broadcasts are still happening the same way.
I understand the pandemic is not yet “over.” I do want us to act responsibly and get vaccinated and not do what the Texas Rangers are doing (other than actually scoring a run in the 10th inning). But broadcasting games on location CAN be done safely at this point. It just costs slightly more money to do and teams aren’t too keen on spending money at the moment.
But as we progress more towards normalcy, we have to get back to work on that toothpaste. We MUST get it back in the tube. We cannot allow networks and teams to decide this is an expense they can do away with forever. Particularly considering the price paid via cable subscriptions or over-the-top alternatives for everyone but the Orioles, fans deserve to have games called by broadcasters who are actually AT THE GAME.
And in the meantime, if anyone on the planet has earned the benefit of the doubt among local sportscasters, it seems as though the man who truly cares about our community and has made it his home and has been incredibly active in the community and befriended Mo Gaba might be at the top of the list.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox