September 27, 2017

A Rant About Joe Castiglione And Announcers In General

Longtime Red Sox radio play-by-play man Joe Castiglione has an on-going problem calling pitches from the booth above home plate.

In the top of the first on Wednesday night, Rick Porcello threw a called strike right down the middle to Justin Smoak of the Blue Jays. Castiglione said it "was low for a ball", getting both the location and the umpire's call wrong.

In the bottom of the second, Marco Estrada's first pitch to Xander Bogaerts was on the outside corner for a strike. Castiglione said it was "right down the middle". Estrada's first pitch to the next batter (Dustin Pedroia) was in the exact same spot. This time, Castiglione got the location correct.

I've always assumed that Castiglione and Tim Neverett have at least one monitor, because they talk about seeing replays on TV and they frequently quote factoids that NESN puts on the screen as if they came up with them themselves. So how hard would it be to also look at the monitor to see where the pitch was actually thrown? Isn't giving an accurate description of the game supposed to be a priority? Castiglione routinely calls high pitches low, and low pitches high. Inside pitches are sometimes deemed to be outside, and vice versa.

This is far from an isolated problem. I have noticed it throughout this season.

I noted numerous mistakes that Castiglione made on August 28, including claiming that an outfield catch on Rafael Devers's line drive "saved a run" even though Devers was leading off the inning.

Three days later, against the Yankees, Devers struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to end the first inning. Castiglione told listeners that Devers had swung at ball four, but that was completely untrue. The pitch was in the strike zone; after the game, I posted a picture from Brooks Baseball. When Castiglione came back from commercial in the bottom of the first, he repeated the incorrect information. And when Devers walked later in the game, he brought it up again, misinforming fans a third time.

On September 9, Eduardo Nunez injured his right knee when it slammed into the ground during a headfirst slide into second base. For several innings (at least), Castiglione and Neverett were convinced that Nunez was hurt (and later left the game) because he had been spiked in the chest by the Tampa Bay infielder covering the bag.

(Note: NESN's Dave O'Brien also gives incorrect information. There was one instance earlier this year where he kept repeating the wrong information for three days in a row. Part of my brain still can't believe that happened.)

I also cannot stand when Castiglione (or Neverett or O'Brien) references a company's name when calling a pitch or a hit. It's bad enough that every aspect of the game, from the national anthem to the first pitch to every call to the bullpen to out-of-town scores and everyfuckingthing else, is sponsored by someone. (A pizza company is being touted as "the official pizza of the Red Sox radio network". Seriously.) In addition to all of that (and the ads (and other shit) on the screen), we also have to endure hearing that the ball "hits up against the CVS sign" or it hits the wall "over by the W.B. Mason sign". Later, a ball is fouled "over by the State Street Pavilion" or "into the Coca-Cola seats". Other foul balls sometimes land "in the direction of the Cumberland Farms sign".

This is a serious question: Are Castiglione and Neverett contractually obligated to mention these companies? Is it part of the advertising package the corporations pay for? If it is, then that is really disgusting. If not, then knock it off and stop giving these corporations free advertising.

Radio announcers are supposed to paint a picture with their words, so the listener at home can imagine, somewhat, what is going on at the park. But if a Red Sox fan follows the team only by radio, those descriptions are completely worthless. They tell the fan absolutely nothing about where the ball was hit. If you only listen to the radio, how would you know where the "Coca-Cola seats" are? (Of course, many announcers do this. Years ago, I would get pissed at the Yankees announcers for saying a pitch was fouled off "down the line". WHICH LINE? How hard could it be to add that vital bit of information?)

It is obvious that many radio announcers call the game with the assumption that everyone is watching the game on TV. Castiglione and Neverett are certainly among them. There are many times during every game where they do not call every pitch, so the count will suddenly jump from 1-0 to 2-1 with only one pitch being mentioned. They also describe things on replays as though we are all watching the same thing. They even say things like "you can see his hand touching the bag". NO! We can't! It's fucking radio!

In 2017, everyone has devices and can follow all kinds of stuff during a game, no matter what they are doing or where they are. However, I maintain that a radio announcer should do his job with the assumption that he is broadcasting to people listening to the radio. That sounds both simple and obvious, but it's so rare as to be non-existent these days.

Back in 2009, I posted some complaints about Castiglione and Dave O'Brien (when he used to do radio). I concluded: "Some listeners may not care that much or listen that carefully. But [accuracy is] a reasonable expectation from someone whose job is describing an event that others cannot see."


Unknown said...

Good rant. I've been muting the games since the beginning of September. When the merry-go-round with the Remy subs started I'd listen to the radio feed but soon got sick of Neverett's never-ending quest to impress listeners of his knowledge of the National League. While O'Brien's little anecdotes scream "fact check!" to me, I find Neverett simply boring. And yes, the radio should be describing the game to some guy driving on a back road in Western Mass., not someone watching on T.V.
As far as the ads go, I haven't listened to Yankee radio this year, but they used to have a sponsor for the "15th out". At the start of the bottom of the 3rd, the estimable John Sterling would intone that the 15th out was brought to us by whoever the fuck it was. I always figured that if that caught on, ie, selling every out to somebody, Armageddon would soon follow. Hasn't happened yet, but then Trump got elected so there's still time.

bamatrout said...

I hear you, it can be frustrating when the game is not called 100% accurately ... but the guy is 70 years old, and I'm sure his eyesight isn't what it used to be. So why is he in the booth? Because, at least to me anyway, Castiglione is the voice of Red Sox baseball. You hear him on the radio and it takes you right to everything you remember about the game and about Fenway. As far as the billboard and other call-outs, unfortunately, I think the younger generations relate to the ballpark by those locations. Those kids know exactly where the W.B. Mason sign and the Cumberland Farms sign and the Coca-Cola seats are. I agree that the game (and all sports in general) are far too commercialized, and I wish the Monster only had the scoreboard on it, like "back in the day", but that's another era. While Castiglione and other announcers can drive me nuts also, I realize they're not perfect either. And I'd rather listen to that familiar voice that I grew up with and as iconic to the team (albeit with some annoying human errors), than a hyper-technical perfectionist that has no real connection to the team.

allan said...

Castiglione is the voice of Red Sox baseball. You hear him on the radio and it takes you right to everything you remember about the game and about Fenway.

Many (many!!) fans would agree with you, but I am not one of them. I am too old and I lived outside of Boston. Growing up, it was Ned Martin and Jim Woods (I would LOVE to hear a tape of them now to see if they were as good as I recall as a teenager in the mid-to-late 70s). I never heard Castig until I was able to get the audio portion of MLBTV in the early 2000s, so he has no romantic value for me. (Many people felt that way about Orsillo and TV, also.)

they used to have a sponsor for the "15th out"

That's similar to the radio's 99th pitch sponsor. A grand slam on the 99th pitch and someone wins $$$? ... Talk about a contest that is virtually impossible to win!

Clem said...

I think it's if a player with a 9 in their jersey number hits their ninth career grand slam on the 99th pitch of any game, a random Cumberland Farms customer gets a free refill on their 99 cent coffee the next morning. I almost won once.

Jared said...

Have you tried the spanish language broadcast?

Jere said...

My favorite Tim Never-Right moment was when he did that thing radio announcers do where they describe a team's uniform...and he STILL got it wrong! He said the Padres had "Padres" across their chests. But it was an "SD" on the left side.

Mort said...

Sorry to say, but Castiglione's voice has always been a hard listen. His voice is nasal, and whiny, and sounds as if he's ready to cough up some phlegm.
Just don't think he has the "pipes" for broadcasting, although it's a little to late to complain, and not that it would make any difference. Now Martin and Coleman were a different story. Sometimes their voices were almost indistinguishable, but nevertheless a joy to hear.
I would rank Dave O'Brien in the upper echelons and actually Remy and Eck's voices are inoffensive.ESPN is the dregs. Constant yapping, and Jessica giggling at the most inane comments. I keep on asking myself: "What is so funny?" Incredible distraction-all of them.