The prospects for the 2016 season improved this week, no matter which team you’re rooting for. Fox Sports benched Harold Reynolds.
It would be crass and unfeeling to celebrate someone losing their job Christmas week, so it’s good to see Fox saying they’re going to reassign Reynolds. Hopefully they have an affiliate in Korea.
Reynolds was one of the three broadcasters Fox has used on national games over the last two years, and he had only one flaw: he never shut up. Reynolds talked so much it was probably news to some viewers that Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci was also reassigned, because they couldn’t ever remembering hearing him.
Bobby Murcer suggested in the 1970s the upper deck at Candlestick Park would be a good place for fugitive Patty Hearst to hide, since the crowds were so sparse there. Today the best place in baseball to hide out would be in a broadcast booth next to Reynolds. No one would ever hear from you.
Baseball is a sport whose company, like a good friend, can often be enhanced by silence. But Reynolds didn’t see the time between pitches as an opportunity to build anticipation and excitement as one for verbiage.
If silence is golden, Reynolds talked as if noise is platinum.
After two years of nonstop chatter, Reynolds was as annoying as the freshman at college who is so eager to fit in his new surroundings he never stops talking, but never fits in because he never stops talking.
Reynolds didn’t provide analysis so much as a filibuster.
There was a lot of cheering when Tim McCarver left the broadcast booth two years ago, his familiarity unfairly breeding distaste. McCarver told anecdotes, studied, provided analysis — his call before Luis Gonzalez’s game-winning Series hit in 2001 was prescient — and his biggest flaw, like an 18-inning game, was perhaps being there too long.
But changing broadcasters is like changing dictators — the unknown can be worse. You have to wonder how many fans who cheered McCarver’s departure are sorry they did.
Reynolds and Verducci will be replaced by Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who hopefully can learn a lesson from Reynolds’ noise pollution: temper your monolgoues.
The national broadcast is no longer relevant — despite what NBC thought when it gave it up — during the regular season. Every day but Saturday every game is nationally broadcast, and usually twice, by home and away teams, and can be viewed on devices as small as Reynolds’ pockets of silence.
But in the postseason there are no other options, and it meant last October you had to endure Reynolds or turn the sound down. Suffice to say, Reynolds handled the postseason stage about as well as Daniel Murphy did routine ground balls.
Too bad Murphy couldn’t talk his way out of it.