A couple weeks ago I wrote about how I watch the D-backs on MLB.tv. A special feature I didn’t mention then is that I can select the home or away team’s broadcast. Watching games on ESPN or Fox can be terribly boring, because the commentators are supposed to be neutral. Who wants impartial commentators?
There’s no question color man Mark Grace, longtime Cubs first baseman and member of the 2001 World Champion D-backs, and his fellow cohort, play-by-play man Daron Sutton, are biased toward the men in red. But they’re not my favorite duo. (I miss Thom Brennaman, though I can sometimes hear his voice on Reds’ broadcasts.) Because Grace misses a couple D-backs games each week due to his commitment to announce Fox’s national games on Saturdays, a few other color guys are brought in, including 2001 hero Luis Gonzalez.
My favorite guest color commentator is one I didn’t used to like, but I’ve grown to appreciate his wisdom and candor. Joe Gariagiola, Sr. is a Hall of Fame broadcaster who called games for NBC for thirty years. His last national game was at the 1988 World Series where he teamed up with none other than the incomparable Vin Scully. Garagiola became associated with Arizona’s team, because his son was the original general manager, Joe Garagiola, Jr., who was responsible for their only championship and also the debt incurred to buy such players as Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.
[pullquote] … his warm, folksy demeanor these days makes you feel like your grandpa is sitting next to you[/pullquote]Not much of a player in his nine years in the Bigs, Papa Garagiola found a home in the broadcast booth, where his warm, folksy demeanor these days makes you feel like your grandpa is sitting next to you, calling the game. Except unlike my grandfather, Garagiola shares first-hand stories of old timers like Yogi Berra and Stan Musial.
He isn’t crotchety like some baseball purists, as his enthusiasm for the game is surpassed only by his gushing over today’s young stars. He only badmouths (pun fully intended) those players who chew tobacco, and he praises those who opt for bubble gum or sunflower seeds (see my post on my addiction to the salty snack).
Garagiola reminds me that I need guys like him in my life. Older men who have been married longer than I have. Who have raised their kids well and loved their wives devotedly. Who have walked with Jesus through mountain and valley. Who have handled well the resources God has entrusted to them. Who have served others unselfishly. Who have been generous in love. Who used to listen to baseball on the radio, when that was the only way to catch the play-by-play.
The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. —Proverbs 20:29 NLT