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Joe's MLB on TV Report - Mariners

Sixth in a series.

Broadcast: Seattle Mariners on FSN Northwest, Mariners at Toronto, 6/9/08; Announcers: Dave Niehaus, Dave Sims, Mike Blowers

There are a certain number of men who have been broadcasting games for a long time. They exude professionalism and class. Instead of needlessly promoting themselves with slick patter or controversy, their personality comes out naturally in the context of the game. Simply put, as broadcasters they’re gentlemen.

The Mariners have one such gentleman in Dave Niehaus, who’s been with the club since its inaugural season of 1977. He’s this year’s recipient of the Ford C. Frick award, given each year by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball.” From what I saw, it’s well deserved, though he missed out on a home run call. He was in the middle of talking about the Mariners’ firing of hitting coach Jeff Pentland, talking about how, in the end, it was the Seattle hitters’ underachieving that led to Pentland’s dismissal, when Jose Vidro suddenly smacked a two-run homer. Niehaus finished his point and then smoothly followed with, “And there’s an example of overachieving…”

Unfortunately, he’s only on television for the first three innings. I would hope he moves to the radio booth after that, and isn’t just sitting around. Dave Sims handled the play-by-play starting in the 4th. No disrespect to Sims, who is a Philadelphia native – he mentioned during the game that he grew up in the same neighborhood as new Seattle hitting coach Lee Elia – but he’s no Dave Niehaus.

He had an odd comment, saying that Toronto’s Matt Stairs has had an “outstanding” career, then running down the list of teams Stairs has played for, starting with 13 games for the Montreal Expos in 1992. Toronto is his tenth team. Stairs isn’t a bad player, but the only thing he’s been outstanding at is longevity.

Sims also seems to be a little bit rah-rah, loudly exclaiming “Yes sir!” on a couple of occasions during the Mariners’ 3-2 10-inning win. Analyst Mike Blowers, on the other hand, is low-key, perhaps too much so. When Seattle’s R.A. Dickey fired to first and picked off David Eckstein, he never even spoke during the replay to explain how Eckstein was caught. And his voice is almost a monotone at times.

Being a Fox Sports Net broadcast, we get the typical Fox graphics, along with the accompanying sound effects. In addition, in the last few days we’ve been treated to pop-up ads for the DVD of the film "Jumper," which are even more annoying than the usual promos. (And the movie was pretty lousy. Don't waste your money on the DVD.)

Furthermore, the on-screen displays (as well as the announcers) always referred to Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki as merely “Ichiro.” I know his uniform features his given name instead of his family name, but that doesn’t mean they should disregard his full name in the graphics. The broadcast shouldn’t be part of the Ichiro personal promotion machine, and let’s face it, he’s no Madonna.

Still, I'd give this broadcast a higher grade if they kept Niehaus around beyond the third inning. Grade: B. -- Joe Guckin