The MASN split broadcast booths come around every baseball season during inter-league play, and every baseball season fans both Nats and Orioles fans seem unamused.
Now, this isn’t a matter of life and death, national security, or raised blood pressures. It’s just that fans are accustomed to their regional sports networks presenting a mostly sympathetic broadcast, geared toward the network’s “home” team, hosted by familiar announcers. And that’s hard to do when you’re mixing two broadcast crews, which are simultaneously covering two “home” teams.
“It’s your Nats, it’s your Orioles, going head-to-head on your network,” Jim Hunter said to start Wednesday’s broadcast, which was just weird.
My sense is the awkwardness has increased this season, since both teams are coming off playoff berths, and both teams are attracting large audiences, and both teams are contenders who really need to win these games. It’s easier to mess around with a broadcast when the results don’t particularly matter.
Anyhow, perhaps the most cogent criticism of this arrangement came from Caps radio voice John Walton, a man who knows a thing or two about broadcasting games for a particular audience interested in a particular team. Here’s Walton on Twitter Wednesday night.
Curious for opinions on this: How do we like the mixed broadcast teams for Nats/O’s on MASN? Change of pace is good? Or not? #BOTBeltways
— John Walton (@WaltonCaps) May 29, 2013
My two cents: I enjoy the work of all involved, but think I prefer individual crews. Seems really strange to me to mix both crews together. — John Walton (@WaltonCaps) May 29, 2013
I don’t expect O’s broadcasters to treat WSH runs as exciting. And vice versa. Puts pressure on all of them IMO. Believe fans want that too. — John Walton (@WaltonCaps) May 29, 2013
First 31 responses, not one likes the mixed crew. Guess I’m not the only one. Didn’t think anything on Twitter was ever unanimous :) — John Walton (@WaltonCaps) May 29, 2013
Last thought: Does this happen anywhere else? Cubs and Sox? Yanks and Mets? NYR and NYI? Team loyalty runs deep for fans. Not easy to adjust — John Walton (@WaltonCaps) May 29, 2013
In case you’re curious, here are a few of the responses Walton received.
@waltoncaps I’m not a fan. I’m a Nats fan so I don’t like hearing the Orioles guys get excited about an Orioles play.
— Mac Cassells (@M_Cassells8) May 29, 2013
@waltoncaps incredibly awkward. Just have home team call the games at their park
— Curtis Atkinson (@CurtisAtkinson) May 29, 2013
@waltoncaps Its terrible.Nats fans dont care about the Os, and Os fans dont care about the Nats
— Andrew Walker (@awalker138) May 29, 2013
Indeed, I believe I’ve heard of exactly one person who likes the mixed crews: Jason Bishop of the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan. He’s a Red Sox fan, though. He told MASN’s Bob Carpenter this week how much he enjoys hearing the mixed booths.
“Well, I’m gonna reserve most of my comments on that one,” Carpenter replied. “The impression I get is the Orioles fans don’t like F.P. and me, and our fans don’t like Jim and Mike Bordick or Jim Palmer, and that’s up to the fans to decide….I would say it gets mixed reviews from the fans. People have told me that it’s a comfort thing; you get used to your own guys. I enjoy Mike Bordick — he’s kind of low-key, he’s not up there trying to do too much. He was a very good player, great shortstop and does a good job of explaining the game. But the feedback I get from fans is they want their guys in Baltimore, we want our guys in Washington, we don’t want to hear the other guys. So I think everybody has their own opinions on the thing.”
And seriously, what reaction should the Orioles play-by-play voice have when Ryan Zimmerman hits a first-inning home run? A typical RSN Nats voice would be excited. A typical RSN Orioles voice would be disappointed. Here’s how Jim Hunter handled it on Wednesday.