I knew the Trail Blazers were opening the door to a lot of criticism when they let go of television broadcasters Mike Barrett and Mike Rice last summer. They were at it a long time here and very popular among the local fan base.
I've seen and heard comments on social media and in the concourse of Moda Center that have surprised me and I think it's time to set the record straight -- at least my conception of the record. Some random thoughts about the situation:
- I cannot believe how many people say that Calabro isn't enough of a homer for them. What I've heard more than once is, "He doesn't even say 'we' or 'us' when he's talking about the Trail Blazers." This is usually spoken as if Barrett constantly used those words. He didn't. And I never considered Mike a homer. Did he lean toward the home team? Of course -- as does Calabro. But please, don't paint Barrett as an out-and-out homer. He wasn't. He called games pretty straight by today's standards.
- Mike Rice? That's a different story. He was very comfortable in his role as the hometown analyst, going as far as making fun of opposing coaches or players and making snide remarks about players who were once Blazers -- things he'd never have said while they were playing here. And the sniping at the referees -- wow. All of that is part of what made him such a fan favorite here -- he was saying things a lot of fans would have said. It worked for him.
- For me, I have no problem with announcers being more excited about the home team. What grates on me the most is when they say things about the competition that they'd never say about the home team. You should treat both teams the same when it comes to criticism. Even if you're a homer. Don't make light of an opposing coach for doing something and then ignore it or praise it when your coach does the same thing. That's the very essence of a homer.
- I think most of the time, the analyst naturally ends up being more of a homer than the play-by-play man. By nature, the one doing play-by-play is delivering facts while the analyst is analyzing -- which is subjective and often leads to commentary.
- For all those fans who want a homer, I'd ask simply, "How do you trust that?" If there's a bias there, aren't you worried that you're going to get things sugar coated? Do you care if you get truth? Apparently not.
- Kevin Calabro is one of the very best in the business. If you don't enjoy listening to him, I'd suggest you just give it time. With all announcers, there is a getting-acquainted time. The longer you listen to them, for the most part, the better you like them. It's a matter of familiarity.
- Mike Barrett is also one of the best. I have no doubt that if he was willing to relocate, he'd already be working for another team, either in the NBA or another sport. He's that good. I also believe he'll eventually end up with a great gig around here somewhere, if that's what he wants.
- Just throwing this out there: I grew up in a time when broadcasters most often worked for the radio or TV stations, rather than the teams. They still were partial to the teams they broadcast, but weren't under their thumb. They could reasonably say what was appropriate and obvious. I miss that system.
- You have no idea how much pressure many franchises in various sports put on their broadcasters to basically sell tickets rather than broadcast games. They want the best spin on everything that happens during a game, no matter how ridiculous that can be sometimes. I feel for those people who often end up trying to paint a happy face on a sports disaster.
- Franchises need to understand the value of allowing their broadcasters to call games down the middle. It gives the fan base confidence in them -- so when they do praise the home team, people actually believe it, rather than think it's just another spoonful of sugar.
- Two words in that regard: Vin Scully.
- You have no idea how difficult it is to do what great play-by-play broadcasters do. Or maybe you do. People like Calabro and Barrett work extremely hard to make their job sound easy. I have nothing but admiration for their talent.