Vince Cotroneo never really had a chance. Brought in to replace Bill King and sit along side Ken Korach, Vince was always going to be judged in the context of King, Korach, Lon Simmons, Jon Miller, Duane Kuiper...We are nothing if not spoiled, in the Bay Area, to have a plethora of legendary talent in the broadcast booth.
Measured only against the greats, a solid play-by-play announcer will not look very good. Vince also proved to have his quirks, such as a seemingly unique ability to delay the essential piece of information longer than it takes Billy Butler to leg out a triple. "A slicing drive down the LF line, sending Fuld into the corner, racing but he can't get it as it veers away from him banging on one hop against the wall back to Fuld, who picks it up and lobs it to the ball boy...1 aaand 1 the count on the foul ball."
Even with the imperfections, I have always maintained that if you don't think Vince is a solid play-by-play announcer just listen around the league and you will develop a new-found appreciation for him. If Vince is, like the rest of humanity, a notch or two below the Bay Area greats, he is as many notches above so many of the embarrassments who somehow have been given a microphone despite their grating personality, bored delivery, unprofessional conduct -- or in some cases all of the above.
2015 hasn't gone the way it was supposed to for the Oakland A's. Well it hasn't gone that way in the booth either. 72 games in, Ken Korach has been able to broadcast exactly 2 more innings than Sean Doolittle has pitched and Vince Cotroneo has been thrust into the #1 role all season so far.
Being "the lead" (dare I say "the Captain") doesn't just mean calling 6 of the game's 9 innings. It also means being the main voice associated with each broadcast, and in this case it has also meant partnering with a variety of fill-ins (Roxy Bernstein, Guy Haberman, Glen Kuiper) in patchwork style.
What has this meant for Vince? To my ears, it has meant the best broadcasting year of his career. If Korach, Miller, King and Simmons are/were the rare "grade A" talents and the chaff around MLB the "grade C" monstrosities, then Vince has always been, in my book, a "solid B" -- and I mean that as a compliment in the same way any prospect should be proud to earn a solid B grade from John Sickels.
This year you can add a "+" to that, not for pity but rather for performance. Plenty of Vince's quirks had already grown on me as "signature Vince-isms," such as his inimitable cadence on "1 aaaaand...1 the count" and "...it's over but low," which I now officially refer to as "an overbut".
Thrust into the captain's chair, Vince has stepped up the play-by-play too. Fewer calls in which you wonder, "Yes, but what actually happened?" and more calls that legitimately capture both the action and the moment. A case in point was the last play of Sunday's game, in which Vince perfectly conveyed both the urgency, potential devastation, and ultimately thrill of Johnny Giavotella's high drive to LF that went, in 5 interminable seconds, from a gut-wrenching go-ahead HR to the game's final out.
It was a great call and more importantly it represented not the exception, but rather the norm. Vince has had a lot of great calls this year, his relaxed personality and good humor come through to make the broadcasts an smooth and enjoyable listen, he has meshed well with each of his patchwork partners -- which in and of itself is no easy feat.
Remember that Vince came into the 2015 season expecting to serve as the #2 guy behind Ken, as always. On the fly, the 2015 broadcast season has had to be reinvented and reconceived, and essentially that reliable second baseman who usually bats 7th has been asked to hit cleanup and to field his position along side a few different backup shortstops.
Hats off to you, Vince, for what I think has been a "breakout season" -- or at least has been a season where your true talent level has been evidenced and your ceiling has proven to be higher than A's fans may have thought. Perhaps the best way I can think of to issue the kudos is to say that to my ears, you haven't been "very good considering the circumstances". You've just flat out been very good.