On January 13, the A's announced that they were adding Vince Cotroneo to the A's radio team. What radio station that team will be broadcasting on is still up in the air. Sort of.
In the meantime while the details are being decided, the former Astros and Rangers broadcaster took the time to talk with me so ANers could get a sense as to who will be behind the mic for our Athletics this year.
Without further ado, get to know Vince Cotroneo.
Blez: First of all, welcome to Oakland. How would you describe your announcing style?
Vince Cotroneo: I would say that I am conversational. I enjoy the camaraderie of the booth and the ability to discuss that game, baseball in general, and some things off the field. I make a strong attempt to relay the score consistently. While I am not a "homer," over time fans will be able to tell who I am working for by the sound and inflection of my voice.
There aren't any signature home run calls. Maybe an occasional phrase that I use, but the broadcast isn't filled with one "catchy" phrase after another.
Blez: What can fans expect from you on the radio this year?
Cotroneo: Hopefully, there will a comfort between myself, Ken and Ray. There won't be any attempt to make some kind of "statement," or set myself apart from the broadcast. It's my job to blend in, provide timely information, have a good time and make things as smooth as possible for Ken.
Blez: What made Oakland appealing to you?
Cotroneo: At the top of the list is Ken Korach. I've known Ken since our days together in the PCL. I have long considered him a friend and thankful that this opportunity, while under the most difficult of circumstances, gives us a chance to work together. This is an organization that I have admired from afar while with the Rangers. I was always impressed that the A's were able to move forward despite losing important pieces year after year. They have always been a cooperative bunch for someone like me from the other side. Now, given an opportunity to be with this team day in and day out will be fun. It is my job to earn their respect and trust--and that will only happen with a complete effort on my part.
Blez: Is it tough to switch from team to team?
Cotroneo: Transition is tough for anyone involved in the sport, whether it's a broadcaster, or player, coach, manager or front office personnel. What makes this sport so great is the long relationships you develop with others in the "baseball family." I have already begun to recreate the past two seasons of A's baseball and will use spring training as a time to begin the process of knowing the players beyond what the boxscores said.
Blez: Is it challenging to develop a rapport with your radio teammates? Is there a way to expedite the process? Have you already been around Ken Korach and Ray Fosse?
Cotroneo: Like I mentioned earlier, I go back a long way with Ken. As for Ray, my transition couldn't be easier with a true professional like Ray, full of enthusiasm and information. Over the six years with Texas, I would interact with Ray on a daily basis when the two teams got together. I am fortunate to be able to lean on his experience.
I know there were several qualified candidates for the position. Hopefully, one of my strengths was Ken's familiarity with me as a person and broadcaster. That should speed up the entire process.
Blez: Why did you leave the Rangers and will it be strange to return there?
Cotroneo: I left the Rangers because they did not want to renew my contract after the 2003 season. Then-team president Michael Cramer made that decision. The business is a subjective one and I was disappointed with the decision. I was blessed to receive considerable support in the community through the media and hundreds of emails to me personally, as well as the ballclub. I got along very well with my previous partner, Eric Nadel (who contacted the A's on my behalf--and whose mother from New York sent me a congratulatory card), GM John Hart (whom I've known since he was a HS baseball coach in Orlando, Florida), manager Buck Showalter and all the players.
Yes, it will be a bit different looking through the glass at my former partner in the broadcast booth. But I am very thankful for this opportunity and I will be in town representing the Oakland A's.
Blez: Have you read Moneyball and do you buy into the, for lack of a better term, the new-school analysis way of looking at the sport?
Cotroneo: Yes I have, and I will probably go through it again before spring training. The ideas brought forth in the book have strong merit, and those who support the A's understand that better than anyone. Looking at the changing landscape around the sport tells you that those principles can lead to success.
Blez: Obviously, Bill King is a legend and in many A's fans eyes, including my own, he was the best ever. Is there an added level of pressure for the radio team because of Bill's stature in the Bay Area?
Cotroneo: Absolutely. A generation of fans have come to expect to hear that distinctive voice as spring approaches that carried you through summer and fall. I want the fans to know that I knew Bill King, respected his energy and work ethic. He had a style all his own. In no way shape or form, will I be replacing Bill King. That doesn't happen--especially when you're talking about a future Hall of Fame inductee. I feel for the A's fans who didn't get an opportunity to say goodbye and show their outpouring of love and respect for him. We will not sound like Bill and Ken, but hopefully, in time, fans will come to accept and enjoy our style of broadcast. It is my responsibility to carry on that tradition.
When I joined the Rangers, I followed Brad Sham--who is a broadcast icon in the DFW market, especially for his work with the Cowboys. Prior to him, Rangers radio meant Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel. For a decade, they partnered together through some of the toughest days in Rangers baseball--but the fans listened because of their incredible chemistry. Mark moved to TV in 1994, and passed away from leukemia in the fall of 1997. I respected then, as I do now, what has been the benchmark for excellence on the air. I do believe that in my six years with Texas, Eric and I at the very least rekindled some of those thoughts of years gone by because of the way we enjoyed the game, each other's company and our collective passion for this great game.
Blez: I know many broadcasters try and remain objective (like Ken Korach) while some choose to openly root for the team that employs them (like Steve Physioc). Where would you say you sit on this issue, are you objective or will you openly root for the A's?
Cotroneo: As I said earlier, I am not a homer, but I do want the A's to be successful. I haven't met a player yet who, if having a tough night on the mound, at the plate or in the field, wouldn't want the truth to be told. However, there is a way to do that and not make an issue of it throughout the broadcast. I have the utmost respect for the ability of a major league baseball player and will treat those issues accordingly. I have always been fair. Also, by being around the team on a daily basis, hopefully I will get a feel for the heartbeat of the team at that time of the season. It is my goal to develop positive relationships with them.
Blez: What teams are the powerhouses in the AL this year, in your opinion?
Cotroneo: Well, first of all, let me say that I am very fortunate to be a part of this organization at this time. With the ownership guided by Lewis Wolff and Michael Crowley, this organization has already shown long time A's fans that better things are on the horizon. Billy's record speaks for itself and the fact that he wants to stay in the Bay Area tells you all you need to know about that direction.
The White Sox have improved with keeping Paul Konerko and adding some pitching, like Javier Vazquez. I am curious, like many others, about the Toronto Blue Jays and if their spending will pay off. Our division will be very competitive. It should be a great year and I am very happy to be along for the ride.
Blez: Thanks so much for your time, Vince. AN looks forward to getting to know you.