He will call homers, but he won't be one.
That's part of the message from Gary Thorne as he moves into his new television assignment with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, becoming the principal Orioles play-by-play man.
"I'm not a homer," he said this week from his Florida home. "It's never 'we.' It's 'the Orioles.' I'll always be honest about what's going on."
Thorne, whose varied sportscasting resume includes 13 years calling New York Mets games, said his approach won't be altered by how the team is performing.
"Any broadcaster wants the team to win," he said. "The obligations you have as a major league broadcaster don't change. ... My ups and downs aren't going to be based on how the team does."
And how does he think the team will do?
"It's no different for Baltimore than it is for everyone else: How's your pitching?" he said.
Thorne cited what looks like a strong lineup, but "you're also playing in the toughest division in baseball."
Though he said he hadn't seen the Orioles play a lot in recent years, he'll be immediately familiar with his analyst partners. Thorne has been broadcasting games on ESPN with Buck Martinez and has known Jim Palmer since they worked together at ABC in the 1980s.
"Jimmy and I have become friends over the years. ... I love talking baseball with him, and we stay in touch," Thorne said.
Both bring a lot to a telecast, he said. Palmer "sees the game three or four innings ahead.
"Obviously, when it comes to the pitching game ... he has a tremendous understanding of what it takes to be successful."
Martinez "has a tremendous passion for the game. He sees the game as a manager sees the game. ... His extension of the game goes beyond [that day] to the next day, next week."
Though Thorne is most identified with hockey and baseball, he has called a great range of sports over his 30-year career. So the obvious question - which is why I thought to ask it, because it was so obvious - is: Which sport is his favorite to announce?
"I always say if I had an answer to that, I wouldn't be doing so many games," Thorne said.
You can remind yourself of what Thorne sounds like calling baseball on ESPN today at 1 p.m., when he does the Pittsburgh Pirates-Atlanta Braves exhibition game with John Kruk and Steve Phillips. ... MASN's first spring training game - Orioles vs. Washington Nationals - is tomorrow at 1. ...
Two more cable systems - Millenium in Anne Arundel County and Clearview in Harford County - will add MASN before the Orioles start the regular season. (If you're unsure where MASN is in your channel lineup, check its Web site, masn.tv.) Still no deal for Dish Network. ...
It's too bad MASN is simulcasting only 25 games on an over-the-air station (WJZ/Channel 13). According to Nielsen, about 14 percent of the Baltimore market does not receive cable or satellite TV, and those who don't subscribe - whether for financial or other reasons - will be able to see less than half of the games that were available in 2006, when 65 were scheduled on Channel 13 and WNUV/Channel 54.
How many curmudgeonly ex-coaches does a network need? When it comes to ESPN, one more, apparently.
Bill Parcells will join the network, mainly as a studio presence for Monday Night Countdown, ESPN announced yesterday. He joins a roster of NFL experts that includes the incumbent curmudgeon, Mike Ditka.
Unlike his previous gig at ESPN, as part of Sunday NFL Countdown in 2002, this time Parcells apparently won't be idling his engine before his next coaching job.
"I am definitely done with coaching," Parcells, a 19-year head coach with the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, said in a conference call. " ... I feel like I'm at an age now where it's time to move on."
In addition to appearing on SportsCenter, Parcells, 65, will write for ESPN.com and co-host a Friday evening ESPN radio show with Chris Mortensen during football season.
The winner is ...
Michael Popovec, a Calvert Hall graduate who has been working at a Salisbury-area radio station, won the competition to become the new evening talk host at all-sports WNST (1570 AM), starting in April.