Monday, March 08, 2010

Join me on MLBN for Dodger baseball

Hello from Phoenix where I’m covering spring training and doing my Dodger Talk shows on 790 KABC.

On Wednesday I’m calling the play-by-play for the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game on Prime Ticket in Los Angeles, and on MLBN nationwide if you get that cable channel. Game time: noon pacific. I’ll be doing it with Steve “Psycho” Lyons. So set your DVR or better yet, call in sick at work.

Spring Training games are always…uh, interesting to call. Especially early in the spring. Each team has a roster of 100 players and by God every one of them gets in the game. And it is not uncommon to have two or more players on the same team with the same number – usually 87. This year the Dodgers have a player with the number 0 and one with the number 00 (he is licensed to kill).

This was so much easier last spring when the Dodgers played the National Team from Korea. No joke – every player on the Korean team was named “Lee”. So you could have the wrong guy in the wrong position batting in the wrong spot and no one would ever know.

But at least the Dodgers’ new facility – Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona – is gorgeous and state-of-the-art. I’ll be calling the game from an actual booth in an actual press box behind home plate.

That has not always been the case for me.

During one spring training with the Mariners we played the Angels, who at the time were still in Palm Springs. Sinatra and Cheetah were frequent attendees. Since the Angels were also televising that game there was no room in the press box for visiting radio (us). So they set up a long table in the stands and that’s where we did the game. I’m on the air to a thirty-station radio network, sitting on the aisle, and calling a very exciting inning. Hits and double steals and rundowns. Forget that I can’t see them because the six Mo’Niques in front of me stand up, but as I’m calling a triple I feel a tap on my shoulder. I glance over to see a vendor with a two beers. He wants me to pass them down the row. I do, continue to call the play, and then feel a tapping on my other shoulder. I’m to pass the money along. I do, keep announcing, another tap, I have to send along the change. This was the big leagues!

When I was with the Orioles we played two exhibition games at Joe Robbie Stadium (or Land Shark Stadium, whatever they call it now). This was before the Marlins (who now draw maybe a thousand people a game… if it’s “free car night”), there was no baseball press box so they just put us in the football press box, a thousand miles from home plate way down the right field line. Every ball hit looked like it was going to right. You had to take your cue from the fielders. But you could be fooled. “There’s a fly ball to center field…foul.”

Later that same spring, we played two exhibition games against Boston at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Same story. No baseball press box. Just a luxury box. In this case, one box for both our broadcast and the Red Sox, separated only by a flimsy riser. I could hear Boston announcer, Bob Starr as loud as I could hear myself. And so could the Baltimore listeners. All I could do was have fun with it. I’d say, “And now for the 1-1 pitch, here’s Bob Starr” then point the mic to him in time for my listeners to hear “low, ball two.” Then I decided to mess with Bob (who was a GREAT guy by the way and a good friend). Every time he called a pitch a fast ball I called it a curve. Every time he called a slider I called it a change up. Listeners don’t believe announcers can accurately call pitches anyway. This just confirmed it. I would pull these little pranks to amuse myself, and the Orioles listeners. Is it any wonder I only lasted a year there?

So I hope you join me Wednesday at noon pacific – Prime Ticket television in Southern California, and MLBN coast-to-coast on cable. And if anyone knows anything about the Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor leaguers – HELP! To quote Butch Cassidy: Who are these guys?”

27 comments:

D. McEwan said...

Bad night to be out of Los Angeles. Tonight on KCET, 90 minutes of "The Best of Jack Benny."

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Thanks, Ken. I love baseball stories and these were great.

Mike Barer said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Niehaus for the first time last January. Since I had worked for the station that carried the Mariners in Walla Walla in the late 70s. We talked about the main guy at the station who always brought a bag of Walla Walla Sweet Onions to the broadcasting crew.

anonymous bob said...

"Forget that I can’t see them because the six Mo’Niques in front of me stand up..."

Racist much?

Eric Stephen said...

Looking forward to listening Wednesday, Ken.

Anonymous said...

Ken, you sexy beast.

cb said...

just gotta say...that's the shortest D. McEwan in history.

Jim said...

FRIDAY QUESTION

Sorry, Ken, to post in such an off-kilter place.

I have a two-piece question, and they may or may not be related: One, how did Kellye Nakahara end up being such a presence on M*A*S*H? She's a great background character, and in many of her appearances, she's just that - background. Some episodes that she's in, she doesn't have lines. Did she have blackmail material on Gelbart or something? And Two, what was the life expectancy of a member of the crew? Did any random techie or PA end up being involved with more than a couple of seasons? Was there one guy running the boom mike for every single episode?
Thanks for the blog, Ken. I always appreciate having an insight into the mind of someone who has created so much that I've enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

anonymous bob said...
"Forget that I can’t see them because the six Mo’Niques in front of me stand up..."

"Racist much?"

The joke is clearly in reference to her proportions, not the color of her skin. Lighten up...

l.a.guy said...

I'd love to see a chart of where all the baseball announcers have worked over the years.

I never knew Bob Starr worked for the evil Red Sox. I grew up listening the Angels and Bob Starr did the Angels (and Rams) for years-- he had a perfect voice for sports. Back in those days the best thing about the Angels were their announcers; Dick Enberg, Don Drysdale and Bob Starr. I miss hearing all of them.

Good luck to the Dodgers this year.

DJ said...

It's now known as "Sun Life Stadium."

Anonymous said...

hi ken,

have you ever seen anyone fall asleep in the broadcast booth?

just wonderin...

Joyce said...

"I would pull these little pranks to amuse myself, and the Orioles listeners. Is it any wonder I only lasted a year there?"

I still miss ya here in Baltimore, Ken! Love the baseball stories!

Sebastian said...

I know you told us these stories a couple of times before but you still had me laughing real hard, real loud while reading this. I still love it, keep these stories (and the travelogues!) coming! :-)

wv: uncipper - well that's a real word isn't it?

Michael said...

I took the six Mo'niques reference to mean heavy-set women. By contrast, I was at a game with my wife and her 4'10" mother, who naturally wound up behind tow guys who were each about 7'10". She finally leaned forward, tapped them on the shoulder, and asked them to move so she could see. They did. I wouldn't mess with her, either, and I don't mean that as a cheap mother-in-law joke!

If it makes Ken feel any better, Red Barber did the first telecast in 1939 from the stands at Ebbets Field, and for the commercial for Wheaties, sitting there, poured cereal into a bowl, poured in milk, sliced a banana, took a bite, swallowed, smiled, and said, "Now, THAT's a breakfast of champions." Good thing no one tried to get him to pass along beers in the middle.

To change the subject, I also was curious about Kellye. Remember that Alan Alda wrote one about her that made me wonder if she had commented on not getting attention. It was, I thought, one of the better "late" MASH episodes.

mcp said...

I saw Mo’Niques on Barbara Walters who asked Mo’Niques about her unshaven legs. The camera zoomed in on said legs. I will never be able to unsee this.

Kevin B said...

I watched the Dodgers Spring Training game on Saturday with Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday broadcasting. About the two worst people to ever sit behind a microphone.

Not to mention the audio was all messed up (Charlie sounded like he was literally phoning it in) and the cameramen and director seemed to be made up of Camelback Community College students.

So, I'll check out tomorrow because it can only be an improvement!

bevo said...

Are you sad to see the Dodgers leave Vero Beach? The Dodgers in Arizona seems wrong. Sort of like the Cubs in Florida.

wv: lowpperp - the sixth or seventh possible suspect in any crime.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken...

Don't forget the cookouts!

Jim Henneman

Mary Stella said...

Love the baseball stories, Ken. Keep 'em coming!

And for the first time in what is sure to be a long, exciting season, let me say, "GO PHILLIES!"

Scott said...

Ken,

I know it is blasphemy to even mention this, but when Vin Scully- who, I know I am required by law to acknowledge is a broadcast legend- does finally retire, I hope that you will take over. In addition to Dodger Talk being my favorite radio show, I remember listening to you and Jon Miller on occasion when I lived on the east coast as a kid in NY/Philadelphia. You guys were way better than the Yankee broadcasts, and I can only imagine the fun you'd have at Charlie Steiner's expense! :)

-Scott from Marina Del Rey

KEN LEVINE said...

Thanks Scott. Let the Dodgers know.

Ken

RA said...

How GREAT hearing you on the telecast this afternoon! A real baseball announcer!!

Seriously, a HUGE upgrade over their regular fill-in guy and his "plate," "bags," "Redbirds" and other terms.

Chalmers said...

This interview with Kellye Nakahara answers some of the questions. I get a little misty myself thinking about her crying when Alda and Karen Hall showed her the script for "Hey, Look Me Over."

http://www.kellyesart.com/biography/mashinterview.htm

Tom Quigley said...

Ken said...

"This was so much easier last spring when the Dodgers played the National Team from Korea. No joke – every player on the Korean team was named “Lee”."

Too bad they weren't all named Park, another common Korean name... At least then you could have said that the Korean national baseball team has more Parks than the Rocky Mountains...

Fiction said...

Wow, dude, you are an awful baseball announcer. That was some of the most painful commentary I've heard in a while- and it wasn't just Diamondbacks prospects! You screwed up on Diamondbacks starters and Dodgers prospects, too! Keep up the subpar work, I guess.

soco said...

Normally, I wouldn't put a lick of salt towards commenting on the Internet, but you were gd awful yesterday on the Dodgers/Diamondbacks game. It might be only Spring Training, but could you at least pretend you have a basic understanding of how the game is played, let alone who it's played by?