The Oakland Athletics mixed things up a bit the last two years by bringing in Scott "Honey Hole" Hatteberg to serve as the color commentator for 20 broadcasts each season. Hattie did a perfectly adequate job, though I personally would take Ray Fosse over just about any other voice in baseball because the human brain is a weird, irrational place and nostalgia is a hell of a drug. This season, the A's are doing the same thing, but the sub is post-game personality and former Athletics infielder Shooty Babbit.
Shooty has now done five broadcasts this year, including the first three games of this week's Tigers series. To be honest, I miss every single Tuesday game because I work that particular night and the A's always play a night game that conflicts with my schedule. Same things goes for Wednesday nights, which is why I love Wednesday day games. Of Shooty's five games, three have been on Tues. or Wed. nights, so I've only actually gotten to listen to him a couple of times.
To be honest for a second time, I don't like Shooty on the post-game show. Don't have a lot to say about that, but he comes off as one of those old-school "the will to win" guys whose analysis I find annoying in its simplicity and subjectivity.
However, he hasn't seemed bad so far as Glen Kuiper's partner. He generally knows what he's talking about, and his old-school-ness works better when he's explaining fast-paced in-game topics than when he's trying to analyze things after the fact. He never stops talking, which can be nice sometimes when he's filling the space with interesting words but can also get annoying when it goes too far. His WAR (Words Above Replacement) is off the charts. I think he's told some weird stories (sometimes of tenuous relevance to the game situation), but I might be thinking about someone else, and frankly that has the potential to become a hilarious quirk if it develops just right (like Ray's ridiculous interview questions).
Then there are the intangibles. Shooty was born in Oakland and went to Berkeley High, so he's a local guy. He was drafted by the A's in 1977 and played his entire Major League career (all 54 games of it) in the green and gold (and all of it as a 22-year-old in 1981). Don't feel too bad for him, though; among the list of 5'8 gentlemen to try to play the game in the last 50 years, he had a relatively decent career. Also, when the Donald Sterling story was dominating the news, Shooty came on 95.7 and gave an absolutely incredible talk about his opinions on the issue. That is irrelevant to his skills as a broadcaster, but it did show me something about him as an orator, a thinker, and a general media personality.
So there we have it, Shooty Babbit the Color Commentator. He's a straight shooter, and I've already seen him hit the bullseye with some of his analysis. He rattles on like a machine gun sometimes, but perhaps with time he'll learn to strap on his muzzle and use the game's action as a silencer for his words. It's unclear what the A's aim is here, whether Babbit will be part of a revolvering door of Fosse subs or whether they're searching to replace my beloved Ray and just want to test people out before they pull the trigger. But now that you've rifled through this post, let's take a shot at gauging the public opinion regarding the caliber of Babbit's performance so far. What's your opinion of Shooty as a color commentator? Fire away in the comments!
Shooty Babbit's next broadcast will be Thu, July 3. Check here for his full schedule.