Flagship: Prime Ticket (Fox Sports)
PxP: Vin Scully (1950-present)
Eric Collins (part-time since 2009)
Color: Steve Lyons (part-time since 2005)
Reviewer: Ross Carey
Category: Play by Play
Scully is the primary play-by-play man for the Dodgers; Collins handles road games that aren’t in California or Arizona.
Collins is above average and professional, but it’s Scully who steals the show. You wouldn’t expect an 85-year-old man calling a baseball game without a color guy to be one of the best things baseball has going for it, but that’s exactly what Scully is.
“It’s time for Dodgers baseball” is how the legendary Scully welcomes viewers to a broadcast. Scully broadcasts games by himself and arguably does it better than anyone else ever has. Scully is warm, welcoming, and immediately engaging. He is able to paint the picture of the entire game without overreacting or blatantly cheering for the Dodgers, an organization he has been a part of since 1950.
Category: Color Commentary
Lyons is in some respects a prototypical modern day color guy, a former player who plays the part of the fool on occasion. Lyons can come across like a Dodgers homer and tends to overreact when the team does something positive.
Category: Broadcast Team Commentary
Collins has a classic, trained TV voice, and Lyons plays the part of the goofy former player. However, as a team, they come across as generic. They are both knowledgeable about the game but can also get too “schticky” and waste opportunities to provide valuable insight.
Scully, on the other hand, is nothing short of brilliant. He is a master of avoiding the mistake of making himself part of the story. When he offers up memories from the past, they are not from the tone of “back in my day…”. They are genuinely insightful and relevant to the game or teams at hand.
Scully keeps himself impressively well-informed on current players and can compare them to players of the past without it coming across as forced or uninformed.
Category: Charisma and Chemistry
Collins and Lyons seem comfortable with each other, but don’t particularly stand out among broadcast duos. Neither is bland, but sometimes their energy comes off as feeling manufactured.
Scully doesn’t have a broadcast partner, but then, he doesn’t need one. He effortlessly shifts between calling the game at hand and telling stories about players and teams from the past. This reviewer listened to him talk about Babe Ruth in the 1912 World Series, and Ted Williams hitting .400 without either coming across as a forced bit of trivia handed down from the producers.
The main statistics presented on the screen are AVG/HR/RBI. Collins and Lyons tend to focus on traditional counting numbers and each harped on batting average constantly. In the games that were reviewed, there was no mention of any advanced metrics, although they occasionally focused on on-base percentage.
Scully doesn’t focus much attention on advanced metrics, either. In one game, however, he did make reference to John Lackey’s ground ball rate, and during another game he mentioned a pitcher’s swing and miss percentage, both relatively new metrics, so Scully does show an appreciation of statistics that are new if he believes they are useful to illustrating his point.
The graphics on-screen also focus on traditional counting numbers (wins, hits, RBI), and basic rate stats (AVG and ERA).
Category: Production Values
The overall production quality of the games is very good. There are few if any awkward transitions into commercials or incidences of them coming back from a break late and missing game action. The broadcasts are in high definition and use standard camera angles.
Unlike some, this broadcast does not use a PITCHf/x graphics box giving viewers a better look at the strike zone, and on movement of pitches. They do have a pitch count display.
The broadcasts are not overly crowded with advertisements, and sponsors don’t join the broadcast booth with either Scully, or Collins and Lyons.
Category: Commercialism and Cutaways
Collins has a tendency to put on “The Announcer Voice” when transitioning in and out of breaks. Lyons, to his credit, lets Collins go in and out of breaks without interrupting him. Scully goes in and out of breaks smoothly, which is realistically easier when working a game solo.
Technical errors, such as music playing for too long coming back from a break, or not at all when throwing to a break, are few and far between. Neither are there mysteriously disappearing graphics, or over-modulation of audio within commercial transitions.
Advertising is part of a sports broadcast, but Prime Ticket doesn’t seem to overdo it. A viewer won’t miss any relevant game action because a spot is being read over it.
If this review were on Scully and Scully alone, the grades would be much higher, but the overall score gets marked down because of Collins and Lyons. This is less a knock on Collins and Lyons than it is a comment of the sustained excellence of Scully. That said, neither Collins nor Lyons provided much insider information and at times their banter seemed forced.
The broadcasts could probably use more analytical insight, a sprucing up of on-screen graphics, and more replays, but that’s a relatively minor criticism. The fact of the matter is, Dodger fans are lucky they get to listen to Vin Scully call the majority of their games. Even after sixty-plus seasons, it’s fair to conclude that Vin is still in his prime.
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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.