Where Have You Gone Milo Hamilton? A Fanbase Turns Its Bleeding Ears to You

Categories: Baseball, Sports

milo.jpg
Come back Milo, come back. Please come back
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.

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.


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3 comments
FRL713
FRL713

Good review John.  I agree with most of your points.  Ford is good (noticeably better than the old guys, especially Raymond) and Sparks is showing some mild improvement, but is still pretty bad.  He can offer some insight from the pitcher's perspective (similar to Deshaies), but he sucks at play-by-play.  I don't understand the mid game role reversal, why do they do that?  A Ford/Dierker pairing would be ideal.

I've heard Bill Brown has loosened up a bit this year on the broadcasts and is bringing some added color to his TV role.  Of course this is second hand info because I'm stuck with U-verse and no CSN.

Motherscratcher
Motherscratcher

Oh...by the way...It does not matter how bad the announcers are if I cannot get a radio signal in Katy, Texas after 8PM.

Motherscratcher
Motherscratcher

I can tell you this, as I have told the Astros several times in season ticket surveys. KEVIN BASS is the man. A former Astro, Houston resident, generally beloved by those who remember him and he is fantastic on the radio. He did an Astros bit for John and Lance back in the day and he was stellar. He must either not want to do the gig or be an incredible jerk not to be sitting in that seat right now.

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