SBD/April 2, 2013/MLB Season Preview

MLB Announcers Take Different Approaches To Incorporating New Age Statistical Analysis

As MLB players, managers and front office execs "embrace esoteric statistics, teams increasingly want their radio announcers just as fluent in the language of WAR, VORP and BABIP," according to a front-page piece by Steve Eder of the N.Y. TIMES. Astros broadcaster Robert Ford said the team “wanted a broadcaster who is at least comfortable with exploring the idea of discussing advanced statistics and what they mean.” Eder notes announcers “face a balancing act.” He asks, “How much do listeners want to know about these advanced numbers? How much is informative? And how much would prompt the audience, a group that spans all generations, to tune out?” Listeners and announcers “alike say that striking the right balance will be a challenge.” Astros President & CEO George Postolos said, “We need them to tell the story of how we are making decisions and putting the organization together.” Eder notes some “old-guard broadcasters have resisted adding obscure percentages and acronyms to their banter and game descriptions.” Indians radio announcer Tom Hamilton said that he “believed listeners would rather hear stories from the clubhouse than statistics from spreadsheets.” Hamilton said, “Nobody after a game is going to remember numbers you throw at them, but they might remember a story about a player.” Yankees radio announcer John Sterling has “shied away from the new metrics.” Sterling said, “The more numbers you keep giving to the fans, the more people don’t know what you’re talking about.” The Mets’ TV crew last season “used statistics from Bloomberg Sports.” SportsNet N.Y. Senior VP/Production & Exec Producer Curt Gowdy Jr. said, “Our philosophy on the game broadcast is to educate, enlighten and entertain” (N.Y. TIMES, 4/2).
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