Steve Bitker: When Adequate Ain't Good Enough

(crossposted at my blog, sorry about the blog-pimping)

I miss Bill King.  I seriously love the way he does the play-by-play for the Oakland A's.

In his place Steve Bitker, sports editor of KCBS 710AM and husband of Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker has taken his place as part of the Oakland A's radio play-by-play duo on away series.

Bitker's not bad, he's...well, adequate, but he sure ain't Bill King.

Before I continue I should say the one problem with this medium is you really don't hear the person's voice and how they put different nuances in their speech.  I could italicise, embolden or even SHOUT WITH ALL CAPS all I want, but there's a disconnect between the writer and his words.  There's a disconnect because you the reader do not actually hear the voice of me, the writer.

Being back on topic, I can put Bill King quotes on this post ad infinitum but it won't do Bill any justice, because I can't truly notate how he stresses and un-stresses the different syllables in every phrase he utters.

Bitker's delivery is clear and calm.  His diction is clean and crisp.  He describes the game in detail and that's good.  But the way he says everything is just a bit off.  It feels like he's reading story a half-heartedly without truly going into the plot.  His delivery, while fully appropriate for the sports updates on the :15 and :45 at KCBS, is just not right for a play-by-play.

When doing a play-by-play you have to feel some kind of emotional attachment to the game, not necessarily the team (like being a homer), but you must invest some of your energy into the energy of the game.  Your voice must rise and fall with the ebbs and flows of the game.  Bitker doesn't do this.  He just describes the game.

There a difference between this:

"Breaking ball strike three on the outside corner and so and so is retired on strikes."

and this (and I'll try my best to notate this and make it "sound" like speech):

"(crescendo)Ring him up STRIKE THREE CALLED! (decrescendo)Breaking ball, outside corner (crescendo) and that was just NAS-ty, big pitch by so-and-so to end the inning."

The difference is, one has feeling, the other is just an apt descrpition.  It's like comparing a melody to true music that moves people.

Bill King can express the emotions of the game over the radio, so does Ken Korach, that's why I believe they're one of the best radio tandems in baseball.  Through them I can feel like I'm right there with the A's even though they're halfway across the country.

Bitker, while nothing really against him, describes the game well but describing the game is only adequate and is not enough.

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