It came as surprising and welcome news that Joe Angel is returning to WBAL Radio's Baltimore Orioles broadcasts.
In just three seasons, Angel became quite popular and was the best fit of any radio partner Jon Miller has had in nine seasons. WBAL had talked about hiring a seasoned professional to replace Ken Levine, who has joined Jack Wiers in the one-year-and-out Orioles announcers club.
Another name connected to the Orioles job was Ernie Harwell, about as seasoned and professional as one could want. But there were factors working against Harwell, including the possibility that he was too expensive. In addition, Harwell's age, 72, would have precluded the chance of a long stay in Baltimore.
Not that Angel's age, 43, guarantees he will be back to stay. To start with, his contract with WBAL is for only two years, the remainder of the station's deal with the Orioles.
The Orioles could change stations. Angel, though he may find DTC Baltimore to be heaven on Earth, could seek a better job in a bigger market for more money. (His experience with a season for the New York Yankees might have soured him on at least one big market.)
Still, there is a chance for some stability. Fans like hearing the same voices each night when they tune in an Orioles game. Beyond their talents, one of the things that endeared the team of Chuck Thompson and Bill O'Donnell to Baltimoreans was their presence, game after game, for all those years. In sportscasting, rarely does familiarity breed contempt; familiarity breeds familiarity.
At the end of 1993, Angel will have been an Orioles announcer for five of the past six seasons. Perhaps Thompson still will be filling in when Miller is on television, but Thompson's commitment remains a year-to-year proposition. As for Miller, whose ESPN exposure has led many critics -- this one included -- to call him the country's top baseball play-by-play man, who knows if Baltimore can continue to hold him?
Angel has put himself in a strong position by returning -- for his career and with the fans.
Who's one of Angel's big fans? Thompson. "I have a hell of a lot of respect for Joe," Thompson said this
week. I think he's a fine young broadcaster."
CBS has taken lots of mud in the eye for its coverage of baseball -- actually, for its non-coverage of baseball more than anything else. But there was little to find fault with in the telecast of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
Take the bottom of the ninth, for instance. This was high drama, and CBS only enhanced it. There were no disruptive camera angles. The picture focused on the confrontation between pitcher and batter, particularly the final one between the Atlanta Braves' Alejandro Pena and the Pittsburgh Pirates' Andy Van Slyke.
Jack Buck probably has called such situations hundreds of times before, but that didn't dull his play-by-play. And Tim McCarver still talked more than necessary, but even he let the game play itself out.
Just one complaint, though: When Andrea Joyce had a post-game interview with Braves catcher Greg Olson, why didn't she ask him about calling Pena's strike-three pitch, a change-up that froze Van Slyke, who had seen nothing but fastballs from Pena?
The seven-game NLCS finally was a good break for CBS, whose $1.06 billion investment in baseball has produced enough red ink to dye a muumuu for William Conrad. Overnight ratings for Wednesday night's NL Game 6 were the highest for a playoff game in three years -- 18.3 with a 31 share. In 1988, Game 7 between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers drew a 22.2 rating.
A rating measures the percentage of all television households watching a program. A share measures the percentage among households where television is in use.
Conflict of Interest 101: When Stan White mounted the sports talk podium Monday night on WBAL, his guest was Will McDonough of The Boston Globe and NBC. The conversation turned to labor relations and the NFL, touching on a pending lawsuit by several players against the league. One of those players just happens to be represented by White. . . . Last Sunday on "The NFL Today," Terry Bradshaw offered some suggestions to make the NFL more fun. Some of the less serious ones included not allowing kickers to wear face masks and eliminating team meetings. . . . PBS' "Frontline" plans a Nov. 5 show on boxing promoter Don King. According to a news release, "The report examines how King exploits and intimidates his fighters." Whew, what a scoop.
My boss has been very busy, so maybe we can get by this week without the new feature that has taken his family by storm, Things My Boss Wants to Know. Yeah, we just can put a little ending on this column, slip right out of the office and . . . oh, hi, Boss. I was just kidding, really. The new feature? Love it. Doesn't everyone? You got some more questions for this week? Great.
Things My Boss Wants to Know (Clarence Thomas hearings edition): If CBS wants a cheap half-hour World Series pre-game show, why not just hire Joseph Biden to introduce the lineups? . . . Why can't ESPN get Alan Simpson and Nina Totenberg to debate the Monday night football matchup instead of Ron Jaworski and Allie Sherman? . . . Is it true Fred Edelstein had an exclusive: Thomas losing the nomination by a 40-vote margin? . . . Can we get Jon Miller to read Strom Thurmond's lines next time around?