by Kevin Burton
The Royals lost their season-opening baseball game to Minnesota 2-0 Thursday. The prediction I saw last week said the team would lose 103 games this year.
So why am I newly pumped about the team?
The team has promoted Jake Eisenberg, who had been doing play-by-play for its Omaha AAA affiliate. He takes the place of Steve Physioc who retired. Physioc was not a favorite of mine.
This move was announced in the Kansas City Star Nov. 17 of last year. But I was way too busy looking for backup running backs for my fantasy football teams to notice.
I had no clue about the change until I heard the game on opening day Thursday. When they introduced Eisenberg I quickly got on my smartphone and looked up the broadcast team on the Royals website. I thought Physioc might just be doing television Thursday. What a pleasant surprise not to see his name listed at all.
Somewhere along the line I learned as a sports fan that the players come and go, but the announcers are often in place for decades. They become beloved family friends. The home team baseball announcer is in your living room six or seven days a week.
Such is the case for Denny Matthews, who has been doing Royals games since the team’s inception in 1969. As happens with certain older announcers, Matthews doesn’t travel any more, doing just home games.
My beef with Physioc was he would never refer to Matthews as “the voice of the Royals” preferring to call him “our Hall-of fame broadcaster.”
This never was aired as being an issue anywhere that I am aware of. But it’s possible Physioc felt as if he should be called the voice of the Royals, since he did road and home games, Matthews just the home games.
Physioc was nothing special as a broadcaster. He wasn’t terrible, but this voice of the Royals thing, for me, made it a drag to listen to him. And with the Royals annually fighting to stay out of last place, that was drag enough. Mostly, I tuned out.
I have told people that when I do listen I’m not really listening to the Royals, I’m listening to Denny. Especially if the score gets out of hand, He will talk about the old days, about players I knew and liked better.
If you get older University of Kansas basketball highlights on You Tube, the radio call will be by now-retired play-by-play man Bob Davis. He was fantastic.
He retired to spend more time with his grandchildren. His replacement Brian Hanni, leaves a lot to be desired.
Broadcasters have a term for people with Hanni’s un-natural delivery. They are called “pukers”
This is defined in WordSense as “A person who caricatures the manner of speech of a disc jockey or announcer, using affected, back-of-the-throat speech that is likened to puking.” It’s hard to listen to Jayhawks games now.
As for Eisenberg, he’s going to work out just fine for the Royals. Matthews is in his 55th year. I feel great about Eisenberg taking over when Matthews finally retires.
“We are excited to welcome Jake to our broadcast team and help share the Royals’ story,” Royals Senior Vice President/COO Brooks Sherman said. “Our great fans will appreciate his passion for the game and knowledge of our players.”
“It’s an honor to be part of the broadcast team that shares the stories of this new, exciting era of Royals baseball while also getting to sit next to and learn from a Hall of Famer in Denny Matthews,” Eisenberg said. “Being in Omaha the last couple of seasons was a great education on how special this organization is and how bright this team’s future is. I am thrilled and grateful for this opportunity, and eager to get started serving Royals fans in Kansas City and beyond.”
I’ve done some grumbling about baseball lately, about the new rules, about the game being fundamentally different than (and worse than) the game I grew up with.
I’ve I’m a baseball man going way back. Anything negative I have said about the game, I meant, but I’m hoping to be proven wrong.
Physioc being off Royals broadcasts is a great start.