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M's rookie announcer Goldsmith has what it takes

But how far does describing the game go in a city where the franchise itself is the real story?
Mariners' radio broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith

Mariners' radio broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith Photo: Courtesy of Seattle Mariners

It was something of a coincidence the other day when, not long after I’d heard for the first time in years a refrain from Terry Cashman’s sentimental “(Play-by-Play) I Saw It on the Radio,” a friend asked me what I think of Aaron Goldsmith so far.

Goldsmith, as many Seattle Mariners followers know, is this season’s key add-on to the team’s broadcast corps. The new guy is putting in his initial time as a Major League behind-the-mike man having, in the vernacular, been brought up from Triple-A after calling the action for fans of the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Much has been said since the Goldsmith hire about his being a mere 29 when the announcement was made in January. Lost in the discussion was that his partner in the radio booth, Rick Rizzs, was precisely the same age when he started in Seattle in 1983.

What struck me almost immediately upon hearing Goldsmith narrate some preseason games is that he obviously believes in the advantage of telling listeners precisely what the field action and other visual details look like. In this way, he seems to believe in the romantic impossibility of the Cashman lyric. Listeners definitely benefit from his deliberate effort to let them “see it on the radio.”

Beyond that, there’s little reason so far to suppose that there weren’t hundreds of other available sports announcers who could’ve done as well or better than Goldsmith (five of his recent PawSox broadcasting predecessors ascended to big-league booth jobs). The work, possibly too monotonous for many, requires knowing the flow of a game and being aware at all times what’s going on and what may happen next. It also means trying to find new ways to say a guy just popped one up to left field or avoid braying about a .180 “hitter” breaking out of an 0-for-18 skein.

Unfortunately, that’s about all it requires. What is absent from a lot of local-sports broadcasting is more scrutiny of team officials and players. This is made difficult given that broadcasters are beholden to the sports organizations for which they perform. Even those hired for their analytical expertise (Mike Blowers, Bill Krueger, eg.) are reluctant to come down on local players and other team personnel.

Fans are only too aware of this. Consequently, many are savvy about the understanding that announcing-booth boosters — those in Seattle, anyway — would never be so bold as to suggest that, for example, Dustin Ackley may have been a bad ack-quisition or that you don’t fix a significant nickname on a player until he proves that he’s earned it.

To the latter point: Anybody but me wondering what TV-side M’s guy Dave Sims is saying to himself in light of the demotion to Tacoma of Tom Wilhelmsen? The latter is now the former as closer. He’s a pitcher Sims prematurely (and annoyingly) anointed as “The Bartender,” arriving to serve at “last-call” time.

As for Goldsmith, his affable manner, perhaps fashioned (as many have done) from that of the mythic Vin Scully, ought to have a fine career. What some of us would like even more than a pleasant bedside-radio manner would be a willingness to criticize a team that has amassed just two winning seasons since 2003.

Would that any in this market ever live to “see” such scrutiny on the radio or, for that matter, hear it on TV.


Enjoyed this story? You might also like:

"Beyond Crackerjacks: 10 ways to fix Safeco Field"by Peter Lewis.

Since 1994 Senior Lecturer Mike Henderson, a veteran writer and editor for The Times, Post-Intelligencer, (Everett) Herald, Seattle Weekly and Crosscut, has been a member of the faculty of the University of Washington Department of Communication. He considers himself to be the only journalist ever to interview actor Gene Hackman inside San Quentin prison while wearing a pair of Hackman's pants. He can be reached at mikh48@hotmail.com.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Aug 16, 7:46 a.m. Inappropriate

My worst fear is that Goldsmith will pick up his broadcast partner's bad traits. Rick "What a Great Bunch of Guys" Rizz is simply terrible. He speaks in adjectives and adverbs, while Dave Niehaus used to use nouns and verbs. Rizz is cloying and annoying. He got kicked out of Detroit, and it's high time he retires.

Posted Fri, Aug 16, 7:49 a.m. Inappropriate

The worst thing that Goldsmith can do is to "learn" from the obsequious Rick Rizz, whose only insight into the game is "What a great bunch of guys." Aaron: Don't use adjectives and adverbs; use nouns and verbs. Ignore your broadcast partner; he got kicked out of Detroit for good cause.

Posted Fri, Aug 16, 8 a.m. Inappropriate

Goldsmith is a cut above Sims (which is not saying a ton) in terms of knowing what's going on on the field, but my quibble is that though it's the sport far more than any other that focuses on statistics to provide context, Aaron uses WAY TOO MANY stats, and repeats same over and over and over again. It's like a crutch used to filled virtually every otherwise soundless second.

Who cares when the M's are in Baltimore that the O's have a losing record (with precise numbers) on the road. Or that some O's player is now in his 500th ML at-bat, or hits left-handed pitchers better on Tuesdays and Thursdays in months that have an "r" in their names. Sometimes this stuff is important, but too many time its just filler

The good ones like Niehaus and Scully are/were story tellers, and Aaron needs to work on that sans some of the incessant repetition of stats. And Sims needs to pay attention to what's happening on the field and not try to hype EVERYTHING.

Posted Sat, Aug 17, 10:19 a.m. Inappropriate

Mike Henderson is right that the Mariner radio crew takes "homer" to another level. Rizzs is an affable guy and has certainly put in the time with the club but the folksy chatter is over the top. The "Pick to Click" pregame feature is so dreadful that it's regularly mocked by the guys making the picks. Goldsmith seems fine -- I was rooting for Ken Levine, nothwithstanding his annoying habit of calling Rizzs "Ricky". A small shoutout to Shannon Drayer for her dugout reporting.

Between the TV and radio team, I much prefer Sims and Blowers. The Roots TV production is surprisingly good.

Between USS Mariner, Art Thiel's Sports Press Northwest, the Seattle Times' Larry Stone, the Tacoma News Tribune sports page, and KJR's engaging Elise Woodward and Jerry Brewer, there's a lot of good Mariners coverage. Too bad the team's radio broadcast crew itself is at the bottom of the list.

Posted Sat, Aug 17, 2:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Goldsmith is a welcome addition. I too hope he does not "learn" from Rizz -- is that really possible?. It's time to put us out of our misery and ditch Rizz. I assume Dave liked Rizz and the M's keep him on as some link back to Dave - but a real honor to Dave would be to get a decent announcer on board. We all know it can be painful to listen to the play of the M's - Dave and his stories helped you feel okay. With Rizz and his dopy, trite, homer prattle, the games are doubly painful.

Posted Sun, Aug 18, 8:50 a.m. Inappropriate

HAHAHAHA. I'd like to see the author of this silly piece start writing articles critical of Crosscut and see how long he lasts. If you listen to other MLB broadcasts you will realize we've got it pretty good here, except for the smug, insufferable Dave Sims.

Cloey

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