As first reported yesterday by Neil Best at Watchdog, Steve Phillips is joining ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team. For all 19 years it has been on the air, only two men have been in that booth: Jon Miller and, as he's always introduced by Miller, "Hall of Famer Joe Morgan."
And now, change has come to America.
Now I normally couldn't care less who's broadcasting a game. Unless it's someone truly outstanding like Bob Costas, or someone annoying like Tony Siragusa, I only care about who's playing, not who's talking about who's playing. (Side note: I feel like Siragusa should have one of those small electrical shock things attached to his fingers like Bill Murray gave to the volunteers in Ghostbusters. And every time Siragusa veers off topic or into an annoying caricature of himself, he gets a small jolt to get him back in line. Which reminds me of one of the best scenes in that movie: The patient gets angry at being shocked all the time and Murray says "We're paying you aren't we?" And the kid goes, "You can keep the five bucks!" and storms out while Murray says "I will, Mister." Love it.)
But I think this hiring deserves comment.
In fact (/putting on helmet), let me just say (/adding chest protector)
I like Steve Phillips (/ducks bottle)
There, I said it.
Phillips may not have been the world's best GM -- aren't the Mets still paying Mo Vaughn and Roger Cedeno? -- but as a broadcaster I find his insights interesting and from a different perspective than the traditional pairing of journalist and former player. But he could be as annoying as Siragusa and as unengaged in the game as Dick Vitale and still be an improvement for this simple reason: Every time he's talking, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are not.
Now, Jon Miller: Clearly, he's an outstanding broadcaster. But we all have those guys who just bug us, who we just don't like listening to. Jon Miller, for me, has always been that guy. I'm not even sure I could explain it, that's just the way it goes.
As for Morgan, enough has been said on web sites over the years about his mediocre-at-best commentary, so I don't need to pile on here. All I'll say that if Phillips can limit Morgan's references to his own playing days and, especially, to how no team can compare to the Big Red Machine, than this move will be entirely justified for that reason alone.