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Dallas Braden to provide color commentary for 35 Oakland A’s games in 2018

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NBC Sports is upgrading their A’s broadcast team.

Perfect hire

The Oakland A’s will have a pair of new voices on their TV broadcasts in 2018, the team announced Wednesday. Former pitcher Dallas Braden joins the crew as the secondary color commentator, and Kara Tsuboi will work some games as the sideline reporter. The primary duo remains intact, with Glen Kuiper on play-by-play and Ray Fosse as the main color analyst.

Braden is well-known by A’s fans, having spent his entire professional playing career in Oakland’s organization. He highlighted his five-year stint in MLB by throwing a perfect game in 2010, one of only 23 times that’s been done in league history (his was the 19th). He’s also a local guy, hailing from Stockton and never shy about showing his Bay Area pride.

After retiring from the mound Braden moved to the TV studio, taking a job with ESPN in 2014. In 2017 he moved to NBC Sports, where he worked A’s pregames and postgames. Now he’ll be in the booth during 35 games, and for an additional 54 games he’ll be in a role that sounds exactly like sideline reporter but with a fancier name (“field analyst”).

Since 2012 the club has experimented with alternate personalities in the color commentary role. They’ve tried out such names as Scott Hatteberg, Shooty Babitt, Eric Chavez, and Mark Mulder, with the new guy usually working 20 games and Fosse moving to the radio on those days. Mulder was the most recent backup, but was let go prior to the Braden announcement. Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle has more details and quotes.

Meanwhile, Tsuboi has served as the A’s in-stadium host since 2009, where she can be heard between innings interacting with fans and announcing various promotions. Now she’s joining the TV broadcast team for some home games, though it’s unclear how many exactly. Angela Sun worked as the team’s sideline reporter in 2017 but will not be back this year, according to insider Jane Lee.

Hot takes: I love every part of this news. Ever since Braden moved to television, A’s fans have known that he truly belongs in our booth announcing games for his hometown team. Now he’s finally here. He’s boisterous, goofy, beardy, and absolutely perfect for Oakland. He was too good for ESPN anyway.

That said, let’s raise a glass for Mulder as well. I wasn’t a fan of the commentating done by Hatteberg, Babitt, or Chavez, but Mulder did a good job and seemed to be improving. I wanted to believe, but I’ll take this upgrade without a second thought. Here’s a fitting analogy: As a pitcher Braden showed promise in 2010, but if Prime Mulder From 2001 had walked up and asked for a spot then you would have switched out without hesitation.

This is the point in the analysis where I have to mention that I love love love Ray Fosse and hope that he continues calling A’s games for another 50 years. I think it’s a bummer to lose him from any broadcasts, but this time it’s different because I’m actively excited about his replacement. And anyway, he’ll still be doing the bulk of the games, and when he moves to radio and teams up with Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo it’s one of the best things in the entire world. Not just in sports, but in the entire world.

I also love the news about Kara. I don’t talk about this a lot, but I worked gamedays for the team in 2011 before I joined AN. Our staff worked directly with Kara at just about every home game, and she’s one of my favorite people I’ve ever met through the team. She’s friendly and outgoing as well as excellent at her work, and I couldn’t be happier to see an old buddy move up to a new opportunity. On the other hand, and with absolutely all due respect, I did not think Sun was a good fit as the sideline reporter, making this switch even more of an upgrade.

Congrats to Braden and Kara on your new gigs! And best of luck to Mulder and Sun on your next ones!