PxP: Terry Smith (since 2002)
Color: Mark Langston (since 2013)
Reviewer: Bryan Soderholm-Difatte
Category: Play by Play
Smith’s call of the game is straight-forward and descriptive. During at bats, Smith offers appropriate commentary on defensive alignments, pitch selection, and how the plate umpire is calling the game. On difficult plays and errors, Smith is quick to explain extenuating factors that might have influenced the outcome, such as the field in Oakland having been run over by NFL players a few days before or an Angels’ infielder not playing a slowly-hit grounder with the urgency he should have. Smith’s signature call for Angels’ home runs is, “It is outta here,” and he wraps up Angels victories on the last play with, “You can put a halo over this one.” Smith informs listeners when the official scorer changed the scoring on an earlier play. There was one instance, however, where Smith neither named the defensive players involved nor stated the numerical scoring when an Angels runner was caught in a runway trying to advance from second to third on a sacrifice fly.
Category: Color Commentary
In his first year, Langston is still finding his comfort level in the radio booth. At the start of each game, Langston—as the former major league player on the broadcast team—presents “keys to the game,” which typically consists of only one key and usually focuses on what the Angels’ starting pitcher needs to do to have a successful outing, or how Angels’ batters can get to the opposing starter. His color commentary is serviceable but not especially enlightening in explaining the action. Langston’s strength as a commentator is clearly in discussing pitching, such as diagnosing early in the game the reasons an Oakland starting pitcher had command problems; discussing the pitching strategy of Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey; or explaining the best way for a pitcher to maintain necessary concentration on the batter when there is a runner on first base who is an established base-stealing threat and skilled at drawing the pitcher’s attention away from the hitter.
Category: Broadcast Team Commentary
Smith and Langston keep their audience abreast of the game and possible ways a situation might play out (with runners on base, for example). Rather than contextual either with regard to something that happened earlier in the game or earlier in the season, their commentary is generally linear, from beginning to end of the game, play-by-play.
Category: Charisma and Chemistry
This being their first year together, Smith and Langston sound as though they are still working towards an easy, seamless repartee and trade-off of play-by-play with color commentary between them. They are not as adept and insightful in playing off each other’s comments as some broadcast teams with more experience together, but are competent and professional and do not get in each other’s way.
The Angels’ radio broadcast team takes a minimalist approach to analysis when discussing a specific play or how the game is developing. Smith relies almost exclusively on the traditional statistics when a player comes to bat or takes the mound for the first time. Advanced stats do not figure prominently, or at all in their broadcasts, although Smith and Langston do make valuable use of a player’s or a team’s splits when the situation calls for such insight. While explaining how and why something happened, Smith provides little in the way of in-depth inside-baseball type of analysis. In his role as color commentator and as a former major league pitcher, Langston provides more insight on particularly situations—primarily from a pitcher’s, or sometimes a catcher’s, perspective.
Category: Production Values
This is a neutral grade because there is not much to comment on one way or the other. The mic sound is good. Fan reactions to the action can be clearly heard but never overwhelms what the broadcasters are saying.
Category: Commercialism and Cutaways
In-game commercial pitching by Smith at the beginning and end of innings and during the play-by-play does not interfere with the broadcast calls, and therefore is relatively unobtrusive. The one exception is when Smith makes repeated mention of the sponsor during the inning when a listener can win money if the designated Angels’ batter hits a home run.
Smith and Langston provide a serviceable radio broadcast that keeps the listener fully informed about the game, including timely up-dates on how the game got to where it is at the moment and the current situation. They are not, however, especially illuminating about strategy or explaining specific plays or developments.
About the author:
Bryan Soderholm-Difatte has published five articles in SABR publications, writes the Baseball Historical Insight blog, has an on-line manuscript, www.thebestbaseballteams.com, and is a contributor to Seamheads.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this evaluation are solely those of the author. As such, the views expressed by the author should not be interpreted as representing the opinions of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), its board, or anyone otherwise affiliated with SABR. Likewise, the conclusions included in these evaluations are not to be viewed or interpreted as official endorsements (or lack thereof) by SABR, or of anyone affiliated with SABR, of any particular broadcasters or broadcast organizations.