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Friday, June 28, 2013

Royal: Where Have You Gone Milo Hamilton? A Fanbase Turns Its Bleeding Ears to You

Mindbender here…a true Catch-22.

But there is a Milo Hamilton-sized problem with the broadcast. It’s a problem that Ford’s powerless to solve, and that problem is color analyst Steve Sparks.

Sparks is a former major league pitcher. He’s been a pre and post-game analyst for Fox Sports Houston the past several seasons, but was mainly kind of a “meh” presence—Art Howe was the best of that revolving group used by FSN. Sparks did a game with Bill Brown last season when Jim Deshaies took a day off, but otherwise, he doesn’t have much broadcast experience. So it was kind of a surprise when he was thrust into a prime broadcasting job this off-season.

...There was absolutely no need for new broadcasters. When they were unbridled from Milo Hamilton, Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond formed a fan-friendly team that made a nice use of stats, social media interaction and accurate game descriptions with strong, sometimes critical analysis of the team when it was called for. They patiently bided their time, built a rapport with listeners, and did their jobs they best they could, especially since they had the whole Milo Hamilton thing with which to contend. But instead of being rewarded, the Astros punished them. And now the Astros are punishing the listeners with a broadcast that, hard to believe, makes one long for the days of Milo Hamilton drooling over attractive women, talking about how much better it was in the days of Hank Aaron and discussing anything but the actual game on the field.

The Astros are a bad team. Bad, but improving from game to game. The radio broadcast shouldn’t be bad, especially with most of the city still unable to watch on television. Yet the radio broadcast is so bad it’s almost unlistenable, as if Astros brass made a conscious decision during the off-season to drive away any people who might want to follow the team on the radio.

The team deserves better. The fans deserve better. So here’s hoping that Reid Ryan’s listening in from time to time and planning a few changes for next season.

Repoz Posted: June 28, 2013 at 08:24 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, media

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 28, 2013 at 09:20 AM (#4479999)
The Astros are a bad team. Bad, but improving from game to game.


Can't comment on the announcing but I think this bears mention. The Astros aren't world beaters but at 30-49 they are on a 62-100 pace. Considering some of the dire forecasts (and I was in agreement) at the start of the season they are playing perfectly ordinary "worst team" baseball (and in fact have a better record than the Marlins). They aren't good but they aren't some travesty so far. I'm not sure what the future holds but Altuve is a player (despite the down year) and Jason Castro looks to be establishing himself as a very solid catcher. Baby steps to be sure but they are steps in the right direction.
   2. base ball chick Posted: June 28, 2013 at 10:14 AM (#4480027)
dolan and raymond were AWFUL - and they didn't NEVAH shut up and often talked right over the game about stupid stuff that didn't have nothin to do with the game

it doesn't mean that ford and sparks are better - they are just dry and dull but at least they aren't talking about their kid's golf game

milo hamilton was already getting intolerable, and the only thing that made him tolerable was alan ashby and bringing him back, if he even COULD do it, which i doubt, would be beyond stupid

fanbase

WHAT fanbase? you mean the few people who can actually pick up the radio station, which is 1/10th the strength of KTRH?
   3. TomH Posted: June 28, 2013 at 10:22 AM (#4480034)
The Stros are even worse than their record. They've hit well with runners on, leading to a few more runs scored than expected, and they haven't done poorly in close games, despite a crappy bullpen. They could just as easily be on pace to lose 110 as their currently projected 100.
   4. Worrierking Posted: June 28, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4480046)
I thought Dolan and Raymond were fine, not great, certainly, but anything was better than Milo. Ford is pretty good, but Sparks is really bad. The whole way the Astros broadcast situation has been handled the last few years has been ridiculous.

Just get Ashby to replace Sparks and they will be pretty darn good.

   5. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 28, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4480081)
Put a Milo on him.
   6. eddieot Posted: June 28, 2013 at 11:24 AM (#4480096)
Art Howe was the best of that revolving group used by FSN


head explodes
   7. Tricky Dick Posted: June 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4480116)
I suppose everyone has their own subjective opinions of radio broadcasters, but I couldn't disagree more with Royal. Ford and Sparks are a distinct improvement over Dolan and Raymond. And, maybe Milo was a great broadcaster at one time, but he was tough to listen to over the last couple of years. I like Sparks' commentary quite a bit. He's not perfect, and he probably doesn't have an ideal radio voice. But he is good at discussing some of the finer points of playing the game at the major league level, like talking about the pitchers' delivery, pitch selection, thought process, and the batters' mechanics, etc. That's one of the advantages of putting a former major league player in the broadcast booth. And he is comfortable enough with sabermetric concepts that it's not like listening to a Brennaman type broadcaster.


They could just as easily be on pace to lose 110 as their currently projected 100.


The Fangraphs' current projected standings have the Astros at 65-97.
   8. Astroenteritis (tom) Posted: June 28, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4480183)
I think Ford is pretty good, and will get better. Milo was absolutely horrible for at least the last 3-4 years. Sparks hasn't been great, but overall the team is better this year.
Of course I was spoiled by all those years of listening to Dierker; every game was an education on pitching.

Then again, this is the franchise that let Harry Kalas get away.
   9. TomH Posted: June 28, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4480359)
They could just as easily be on pace to lose 110 as their currently projected 100.

The Fangraphs' current projected standings have the Astros at 65-97.


OK, but what I meant was they could be on pace to lose 110 From how they have played Thus Far. And Fangraphs agrees with me, form their 3rd order standings. Fangraphs projects they will play better the rest of the year, which is certinaly possible. But I am not sure it's likely; does Fangraphs account for losing teams to give more PT to youngsters, and trade away decent guys by August, while the teams in the pennant races continue to play their best lineups?
   10. Ron J2 Posted: June 28, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4480382)
#9 Thing is that really bad teams will often improve by playing the kids.

And I can't see anybody who's a candidate to be moved and whose loss would hurt substantially.

They've already done some important addition by subtraction. No more Philip Humber starts.
   11. TerpNats Posted: June 28, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4480510)
Then again, this is the franchise that let Harry Kalas get away.
To be fair, Harry Kalas wasn't Harry Kalas at that time. I've heard some of his play-by-play from his first few years in Philadelphia, and while he was listenable, he really hadn't quite rounded into form. And Harry leaving Houston probably as much resulted from Bill Giles moving to the Phillies (and realizing he had a diamond in the rough in Kalas) as from any possible dissatisfaction with the Astros.
   12. Tricky Dick Posted: June 28, 2013 at 09:11 PM (#4480618)
Fangraphs projects they will play better the rest of the year, which is certinaly possible. But I am not sure it's likely; does Fangraphs account for losing teams to give more PT to youngsters, and trade away decent guys by August, while the teams in the pennant races continue to play their best lineups?

The Fangraphs projections are based on the ZIPS and Steamer updates of player projections. To the extent that Fangraphs is projecting a better win percent in the remaining part of the schedule, that probably means that the players, on balance, have underperformed their projections. I recall reading that the remaining playing time projections are developed by the Fangraphs staff and periodically adjusted. Without seeing the "rest of season" IP and AB for players, I don't know the extent that potential trades have affected the standings.

hey've hit well with runners on, leading to a few more runs scored than expected,

The Astros are ranked 26th in "clutch" hitting and have a negative clutch hitting statistic, according to Fangraphs. The clutch hitting statistic is a win value statistic, based on the difference between hitting in leveraged vs. non-leveraged situations.
   13. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: June 28, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4480698)
I'm intrigued by the idea of hiring a journeyman knuckleballer to do color. No insight into hitting, no insight into pitching in the traditional sense, no managing insight, the one thing he did do he did relatively poorly, so absolutely let's hear what he has to say about things.
   14. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 29, 2013 at 12:12 AM (#4480765)
I'm intrigued by the idea of hiring a journeyman knuckleballer to do color. No insight into hitting, no insight into pitching in the traditional sense, no managing insight, the one thing he did do he did relatively poorly, so absolutely let's hear what he has to say about things.


Knuckleballers seem to have a real understanding of pitcher mechanics. Wakefield, Hough, all those guys seem to be precisely attuned to what pitchers need to do because their mechanics were so precise.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: June 29, 2013 at 01:12 AM (#4480787)
I don't know if the Stros are better or worse than their record, but they've certainly played better ball as the season's gone along. They were just about as bad as expected through their first 40 games (10-30), and have played a game over .500 in the 39 games since then (a few games better than pyth in that time frame).

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