Radio: Philadelphia Phillies

Flagship: WPHT

PxP: Scott Franzke (debut in 2006 and main PxP in 2007)

Color: Larry Anderson (since 1998)

Reviewer: Howie Siegel

Category: Play by Play
Grade: 55

Franzke is relaxed and spritely, speaks in a professional voice that has a nice human edge to it, and is quite listenable and intelligible. He has good command over the action on the field and makes it clear and alive for his audience. His voice rises noticeably for the hometown Phils and you know where his heart is without asking. He has a crisp and rhythmic delivery.

Franzke reacts quickly to what’s occurred on the field by supplying relevant statistical commentary once the excitement has died down. He typically focuses on the game without extraneous comments, unless he’s engaged by his broadcast partner. Franzke introduces each game with a concise summary of the Phils situation and proceeds to personal details that make the game identifiable from all others.

Category: Color Commentary
Grade: 45

Larry Anderson, an ex-ballplayer, had a reputation for a lively sense of humor that no doubt helped him get the job. While his legendary humor is not overly represented on the broadcast, ho does makes light of many aspects of the game. He also has a reputation for belittling the umpires and even commented on it in a recent broadcast. Anderson concentrates on the game and has little to say concerning the overall politics and sport of baseball.

Anderson speaks in a deep and resonant voice, , supplying constant insight into the action. Unfortunately, much of it is ordinary commentary and while it does the job of filling airspace, it does not do much to enhance the game, at least to a sophisticated listener. Other times he can add to the average fan’s appreciation and understanding of the game.

Anderson can become unfocussed when the game situation gets out of hand, and at times it seems he has lost sight of the audience. You never feel like he is a professional announcer addressing a specific audience in a journalistic manner. Instead, the listener feels like he is overhearing a conversation within his head, although this is not without its charm.

Category: Broadcast Team Commentary
Grade: 55

There is a 60/40 quality to the Phils broadcast. Franzke describes the action and Anderson is right on top of his report with his own response. It’s more like a running chat than a traditional broadcast in which the PxP provides a solid bed of reporting with appropriate and occasional interjections of meaningful insight from the color analyst.

When the game is a blowout both announcers can lose their focus, and in an attempt to hold their audience’s attention (and perhaps their own), they sometimes spin off into extraneous chitchat detailing, for example, the exploits of a foul ball into the stands. Sometimes blowouts produce desperate men.

The biggest problem the game report has is an almost total lack of recapitulation. A listener tuning in late will likely never learn the dramatic arc of the game. Earlier action is rarely summarized in order to bring a new listener up to date. Continuing listeners better have steel trap memories because the past, contrary to Shakespeare’s assertion, is truly past.

Category: Charisma and Chemistry
Grade: 55

There is an obvious camaraderie between Franzke and Anderson. Franzke acts as Anderson’s foil and there’s an edge to their rapport that includes gentle ribbing. It’s sophisticated and enjoyable. They don’t mind asking each other mindless questions, as we fans are prone to do. Franzke defers to Anderson, and the overall effort is very enjoyable. We discover an informality and congeniality between these gentlemen that is charming.

besting its better moments, it’s an insightful and humorous chat between two knowledgeable baseball fans that we are privileged to be overhearing. At worst, it’s like eavesdropping on two self-indulgent friends at a bar.

You never feel hammered by the Phillies radio broadcast. It’s calm and agreeable and serene, with a veneer of humor and some concern for the Phillies perils, although not enough to interfere with our basic enjoyment of the game.

Category: Analysis
Grade: 45

Franzke and Anderson utilize a fair amount of statistics to help illustrate the game on the field. The stats are well blended into the game narrative and never feel overwhelming or confusing. Anderson, as you might expect from an ex-hurler, concentrates on pitch and pitcher analysis. Anderson can also leave you hanging, “A pretty good pitch,” Leading you to ask, “How so?”

There isn’t anything like a blizzard of insight in the way they report how the game is played or managed, and you don’t hear a great deal of criticism directed toward the Phillies, toward the players, the manager or the front office. But Anderson will occasionally surprise us with a trenchant remark, such as: “That’s why I disagree with Charlie (Manuel), giving everybody the green light. Only a select few can hit 3 and 0.”

Category: Production Values
Grade: 45

The production is unremarkable. Professional, but nothing that stands out in a negative or a positive sense. You would think a use of the tape library, extolling the Phillies great history, could be used to great advantage. How about, once again, hearing the voices of Kalas and Ashburn as a way to unite and inspire Phillies fans? Otherwise, it’s just another radio broadcast that boasts no distinctions.

There are extensive pre and post-game shows hosted by Jim Jackson (7th season in Philadelphia) and featuring Gary Mathews (since 2007), among others. They are well done although noteworthy in one negative way: the guest is never identified after the initial introduction, so a late arriving listener will never learn who it was he heard interviewed.

Category: Commercialism and Cutaways
Grade: 50

There’s nothing remarkable to be noted here. Drop ins and ads are done in a relaxed manner without undue emphasis, unless one of the guys is making a comic point. The balance in the broadcast feels average and similar to every other.

Category: Overall
Grade: 50

Scott Franzke is the stronger half of this production, and even though Larry Anderson’s individual contributions may depress the overall score, their ability to harmonize with each other makes the Phillies a listenable and enjoyable experience. They play well off each other, and provide enough focus on the game to keep you tuned in and feel informed, although they could improve their recapping skills during the game.

 

About the author:

Howie Siegel. Member 1986. Convention report 1990, “Why Bill Veeck Isn’t in the Hall of Fame”. Veeck was inducted in 1991, his legacy outlived his enemies. Canadian Best New Play, 2007; “Before Play’’, with Janet Rothman.

 

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.

 

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