Where Have You Gone Milo Hamilton? A Fanbase Turns Its Bleeding Ears to You
The Astros are soon to hit the halfway point of the season. And while the baseball team is playing somewhat better baseball, when it comes to the radio broadcast, they still come off as one of the laughingstocks of baseball.
Come back Milo, come back. Please come back
A review of the new booth tandem, Robert Ford and Steve Sparks, could have been done a lot sooner, but that would not have been fair. The two were thrust into the jobs on the eve of spring training, and they've had to learn the team, and each other, on the fly.
But that was February. It's now the end of June and the duo's been calling games for five months. So the amateur-hour quality of the broadcast can no longer be excused by their being new to the job.
To be fair, Robert Ford, the new play-by-play voice does a serviceable job. He gets the facts out. His descriptive detail is adequate. The listener's not lost on what's actually happening as was often the case when Milo Hamilton was blathering away about his lunch, hitting on female guests and talking about the good old days.
Ford's got a good voice, one of those voices you hear and know that the guy must speak on the radio for a living. He's knowledgeable about the sport, though he's understandably still a bit iffy when it comes to Astros history. But he's a guy one can see growing into the job and becoming a longtime mainstay.
But there is a Milo Hamilton-sized problem with the broadcast. It's a problem that Ford's powerless to solve, and that problem is color analyst Steve Sparks.
Sparks is a former major league pitcher. He's been a pre and post-game analyst for Fox Sports Houston the past several seasons, but was mainly kind of a "meh" presence -- Art Howe was the best of that revolving group used by FSN. Sparks did a game with Bill Brown last season when Jim Deshaies took a day off, but otherwise, he doesn't have much broadcast experience. So it was kind of a surprise when he was thrust into a prime broadcasting job this off-season.
Sparks sounds as if he's a really nice guy, but he's got that bland quality of the really nice guy with a voice made for television. At times it's almost like you can hear Ford smacking himself in the head when he sets Sparks up for a perfect jewel of wisdom to only get a "yeah" in response. And his extended analysis is generally nothing more than empty cliches which are so worthless that it would have probably been better had he uttered just the "yeah," though, to be fair once again, he can offer up some decent discussion when talking about pitching.