Saturday, June 1, 2024

Praise the messenger

"Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel."

With the twisted economics of baseball, big-market teams, like the Yankees and Mets, spend major money on players while teams like my Cleveland Guardians work with shoestring budgets. So when our budget-strapped teams actually are winning, it feels so awesome!

For the third consecutive season, the Cleveland Guardians have the youngest team in Major League Baseball. Their payroll ranks 27th out of 30 teams, yet they stand with the third best record in the league, only behind the Phillies and U.S. Steel.

The start of this Guardians season has been an utter blast, and there are reasons to think this is not a fluke. But this blog entry isn't about the awesome Guards' start. It's about the Cleveland media and our main man, Tom. Why not praise the Cleveland media during this wonderful stretch?

When we witness political mudslinging, economic inequality and social injustice, we sometimes forget about the actual issues and blame the media. But then it seems rare to praise the media when things are going well. Let's do that for a brief moment.

Honestly, we couldn't cheer for these scrappy, young underdog Guardians if the Cleveland sports media didn't exist. Our love of the team has a lot to do with the thoughtful, entertaining product the team presents.

The voice of the Guardians — Tom Hamilton — with his radio buddy Jim Rosenhaus along with the TV team of Rick Manning, Matt Underwood and Andre Knott truly make the Guardians experience worthwhile and deserve major credit for the joy Guardians fan experience. And, of course, stalwart beat writer Paul Hoynes and's coverage is excellent, too.

But of all the exceptional Cleveland sports journalists out there, I must single out Tom Hamilton as the top of the top, the best of the best. He's our Vin Scully. I cannot say he is better than Vin Scully (which he is) because I once said that to a Dodger Fan and nearly was punched in the face — gotta be careful.

Now, you might say that I am totally biased (which I am), but I challenge you to listen to Tom Hamilton and compare his broadcast with any other's on the MLB app. While I have run across a few respectable announcers, most are borderline, incompetent or flat-out dull. Do they even want to be there?

Tom is vivid and clear, insightful, and has a love of the game that is contagious. I love his emotion, especially on the details of the game, such as getting excited over a ball the dirt that is blocked by the catcher that prevents a runner from moving to second base.

On the TV side, Manning and Underwood with Knott offer insights that we mere fans might not have considered. While they are an excellent broadcast team, I do not see as big of a gap between their broadcasts and other markets. However, Hamilton and Rosenhaus' radio broadcasts are major steps beyond other markets. And of course, let's give major credit to the teams behind these front men because we all know that the producers and crew make or break broadcasts.

Earlier this year, longtime Yankees announcer John Sterling retired. He was excellent and deserves his accolades, but many markets just don't have a respectable, day-in-day-out broadcast wizard like him or Scully or Jon Miller in San Francisco. They might think they do because of the regularity of listening, but sadly, their guys aren't really talented or insightful.

In Cleveland, we have maestros in radio, broadcast and print (or, if you will). Both Hamilton and Manning have been a part of the Cleveland broadcast side since 1990, so that's 34 years. That is a darn long time, and strangely, they don't feel as if they've been there that long because they keep things so fresh. Hamilton actually has been at it longer than Cleveland icon Herb Score, who was on the radio for 29 years.

Every night, Hamilton creates a stirring narrative, puts a vivid picture of what's happening on the field through words alone and then punctuates it with appropriate emotion. I mean, fuhgeddaboudit, Tom's da best!

Oh, and good news, Tom Hamilton also has explained what I need to get in case I have rust to bust or what type of sausage to try. He also put in my mind the mathematical odds of scoring four runs in any of the first four innings and the value of a free car wash in weather-erratic Cleveland. Let's praise Tom and the Cleveland media. ... Ballgame!