The Option of Silence
There are times when a team is inseparable from its broadcaster. Think Jack Buck. Ernie Harwell. Phil Rizzuto. Those golden voices had the rare ability to know when to shut up and when to comment, when to add something to the game and when to let the game be the game.
The truth is: baseball doesn’t need commentary.
Sure, it’s helpful at times and yes, I would be a liar if I didn’t admit getting a kick out of the “OUTTA HERE”s, the “JIMMY JACK”s and “OPPO TACO”s. Baseball, at its root, is game of great sounds: PA announcers and bat cracks and balls slamming mitts. But more often than not, I find myself at great odds with the voices who are currently mucking up my baseball game on television watching experiences.
The White Sox, in particular, harbor the most egregious of all audio-felons. I mean, Hawk Harrelson’s commentary is almost entirely made up of stupid catchphrases that he donned eons ago. And while they may have been cute back then, they are nothing short of annoying now.
Hawk is certainly not alone. There are countless other offenders. Michael Kay. Rod Allen. Bert Blyleven. I have nothing against them, personally, but often the commentary they provide is as mindless as it is boring, and I would like the option to shut them up.
Because MUTE ain’t the answer.
I want to hear the ump’s calls. I want to hear the beer guy in section 113. I want to hear the crowd roar on a go-ahead RBI double.
Back in 2009, SNY — a station that, ironically, has one of the better broadcasting teams in baseball — experimented with something they called “The Silent Sixth”, where they did just that: they shut up. Silence. No talking. But they cranked up the sound on the field mics and I can attest: it was a true thing of beauty. Soon I found myself tuning into lots of Mets games come the sixth inning, enjoying the pure sounds of the game the way they were meant to be enjoyed before egocentric legacy hunters and no-limit-in-yer-face advertising began trashing the game (seriously, does every bullpen move have to be sponsored by Domino’s?).
In this era of technocracy, where I can watch every single baseball game on my television, my computer AND my phone, where I can choose which broadcast I want to listen to WHENEVER I want, one would think that providing the option for silence would not be asking too much.
Baseball titans (King Bud, Joe Torre, whoevs), do me a favor and git ‘er done.
And don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.