Thursday, April 05, 2007

Jeff Brantley is a Bad Announcer

Jeff Brantley was one of the worst ESPN commentators; now he’s apparently moved on to Fox Sports Ohio and the Reds radio network, which is just lovely, because now I have to hear him more often. Those of you not in the lower 2/3 of Ohio, Kentucky, southern Indiana, etc. are probably rejoicing with this news.

My first exposure to Brantley as a Reds announcer was for a game against the Blue Jays late in spring training. It was on the radio, and he was just as bad of a analyst as usual. What was terrible, though, was the exaggerated southern drawl he was speaking. I never heard anything remotely close to it when he was ESPN; I guess he decided that he needed to appeal to the Kentucky portion of his audience, and with a bullet. Or is that a mullet?

Anyway, last night, the Reds brought in their rookie reliever Jared Burton in the ninth innings. He proceeded to quickly walk the first three batters of his career, although fortunately for Cincinnati the first was caught stealing. Brantley then launched into a story about how he was so nervous in his major league debut that he couldn’t even swallow. He claimed that he was pitching for San Francisco against the Braves in Atlanta, and that he walked the bases loaded and then wriggled out of it.

This immediately set off my BS detector, and so I went to Baseball-Reference, which through the wonders of Retrosheet, has quick access to info on Brantley or anyone else’s big league debut. Jeff Brantley’s major league debut was on August 5, 1988. He was indeed pitching for San Francisco, in Atlanta. Retrosheet is a wonderful organization that has provided a treasure trove of data, but thankfully there is a limit to how much detail they have, and we cannot confirm that Brantley’s mouth was dry and he was unable to swallow.

What we can confirm is that he did not walk the bases loaded; in fact, he didn’t walk anybody, and he didn’t seem to have much trouble throwing strikes. Brantley came on in the bottom of the 5th with the Giants down 8-2. He pitched 2 innings, allowing one hit, and nothing else across his line. He threw 25 pitches, and 15 of them were strikes.

What would his motivation be for telling a fib like that? The easiest answer is that he wanted to be a little bit of a homer and make an excuse for Burton. Another possibility is that he just doesn’t remember, which given what I have heard about what a rush it is to make your debut I have a hard time believing. But either way, Jeff, next time, look it up.

10 comments:

  1. Obviously he was thinking of his first major league start, which was also against Atlanta, on September 7th. In the first inning he walked Gant (in 5 pitches,) then balked, and then, followed up that inauspicious start by beaning Jeff Blauser.

    So he didn't "walk the bases loaded," but the data certainly supports that he was nervous. After the HBP, he coaxed a GiDP out of Perry and K'd Dale Murphy, so that's him "wriggling out of it."

    So I don't think he was lying, exactly, but this is an excellent example of how flawed the human memory usually is.

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  2. Thanks for that. Your point about the tendency of memory to be flawed is well-taken. The difference between us and ballplayers is that every detail of their professional lives is recorded and available on the internet, while nobody cares waht I did my first day on the job.

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  3. I agree...Brantley is one of the guys that immediately causes me to switch from broadcast audio to iPod when watching a game.

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  4. As a Reds fan, I can't say that I particularly like or dislike Jeff Brantley as an announcer, but I will say that he's probably a better sports commentator than you are a blog writer.

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  5. Thanks!

    Make sure you read tomorrow's post. Reds fans will LOVE it.

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  6. Quite possibly the worst blog name in history!

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  7. Personally, I find the Cowboy thoroughly enjoyable; his comment on Encarnacion earlier this season getting more "viewage" as he backed up a step to take a hot smash at 3rd was a classic Dizzy Dean-ism in my book. I'd rather listen to the Cowboy than to other cardboard standups. Give me more of the Cowboy, Scully, Brenly and Uecker. If Tim McCarver could find another line of work, I'd be thrilled.

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  8. I agree, cowboy is great. Your blog name is frigging awful!

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  9. Brantley is awful as an announcer. He comes across as phoney with his falsetto drawl.

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  10. I agree that Brantley is a terrible announcer. His voice and his drawl rub me the wrong way. I only listen to the innings when Marty Brennaman is broadcasting. How do we get rid of Jeff???

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