Radio Baseball: Mariners Misdirection


Jun 21, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak (17) hits a single against the Oakland Athletics during the 4th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the Mariners fell to the Oakland Athletics 6-3. Hisashi Iwakuma, a shoe-in for the All-Star game at this point, surrendered three home runs to the Athletics. He had given up two home runs at Safeco all season. Then, in the top of the 9th, tailspinning Tom Wilhelmsen was brought in from the ‘Pen after Furbush struck out the side in the 8th.

Wilhelmsen gave up a hard hit single back up the middle, then a monster 2-run blast to Cespedes the Cuban import, his second of the night.

After that it was pretty clear the game was over.

However, listening to Mariners games on the radio yields a different viewpoint, and that is exactly what I want to talk about. Because frankly I don’t want to talk about another frustrating and debilitating Mariners loss.

These past two weeks I was on a road trip from Washington to the Midwest, driving more than 4,000 with a SiriusXm radio as my only source of baseball information. (AT&T doesn’t work so well in Mitchell, Nebraska).

I listened to a lot of MLB Network talk radio. I heard them jeer on about the Diamondbacks-Dodgers brawl. They talked about A-Rod and the invincibility of the St. Louis Cardinals.

They hardly talked about the Mariners.

When the Mariners were on the road in Oakland and Los Angeles (of Anaheim?) it was a fun opportunity to hear their broadcasters on the radio.

I wasn’t exactly impressed. The Oakland guys were flat, and often tried too hard to make awkward, un-funny jokes. But they were trying. The Angels broadcasters were wholly forgetful.

But the home games were a different story. Long-timer Rick Rizz and newbie Aaron Goldsmith dole out the sights and sounds of the game on the radio.

Aaron comes across a little monotone and flat, but he always has a lot of smart things to say and I hope that, since he is only 27 years old, he can develop into a charismatic and exciting radio voice.

Then there is Rick, who makes a routine fly ball sound like a 450 foot home run and a strikeout sound like it’s winning the Mariners the World Series.

If you’re watching the game on TV it really doesn’t matter if the announcers overreact to a play, because you yourself can see it and you yourself can know what is happening even if the TV is muted. But if you are listening on the radio, your heart palpitations, cheers, and jeers are dictated by the intensity of the announcers.

Rick Rizz threw me on an emotional roller coaster. Every other fly ball was a home run to him (although last night that seemed true enough), and every strike required significant decibel and bravado.

Now that I am home, and for the time being, I will not be listening to Mariners games on the radio. It is already hard enough to watch right now without misleading shouts of the radio.

The Mariners are now 32-43. They were 5-7 while I was on my road trip (3-4 on their own road trip).

They need a team effort tonight to get back in the win column. But at least I will seeing it on ROOT Sports. Because “seeing is believing” and Rick Rizz is far too misleading.