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Volume 21 No. 23
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In the booth: Matt Vasgersian’s ballpark faves

Baseball broadcasters regularly describe the broadcast booth at Nationals Park as one of the league’s worst. Situated on the fifth floor of the 41,000-seat ballpark, the sightlines are so far above the field that announcers lose a sense of perspective.

Lazy fly balls to the outfield look like crushed home runs. In-field pop-ups can resemble roped hits to the outfield. Announcers are resigned to the fact that they will make mistakes calling games in Washington that they will not make anywhere else.

“I guarantee you I will kick a few of them in this game,” ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” play-by-play voice Matt Vasgersian said a few hours before an early season Mets-Nationals game. “I will botch a couple of pop-ups in this one. It’s just what happens.”

Speaking on the SBJ/SBD media podcast, Vasgersian referenced the Nationals-Giants 2014 NLDS series that he called with John Smoltz for Fox from a hastily built broadcast booth constructed much closer to the field.

“It should tell you a lot when the postseason begins … and Fox builds a broadcast booth three decks down behind the first level of stands for broadcasters in a postseason series to get a better view,” he said. “Why not just start over with this? They don’t care, though. Those are just inside baseball things for announcers only.”

Vasgersian referenced Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Angel Stadium in Anaheim and Camden Yards in Baltimore as MLB’s most broadcast-friendly ballparks.

“You’re behind the plate,” he said. “You kind of feel like you’re in the game a little bit more.”

Vasgersian’s other favorites include San Diego’s Petco Park and Seattle’s Safeco Field. He also cited the “vanguards” — Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Boston’s Fenway Park and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium.

“There are more good ones than bad ones,” he said. “If we were having this conversation in the late ’80s when Three Rivers and Riverfront and The Vet and other blights on society like that were still around, it would be a whole different discussion.”