Negative Backlash Against Reynolds, Buck Rages On

Mandatory Credit: awfulannouncing.com

Mandatory Credit: awfulannouncing.com

Harold Reynolds had a successful major league career as a two-time all-star and three-time gold-glove winner at second base for the Seattle Mariners.

But Reynolds’ reputation in baseball circles these days has nothing to do with his impressive playing career. A simple Google or Twitter search shows Reynolds’ announcing chops, which are universally reviled, define his public image.

Here’s a sampling of things Twitter users said about Reynolds around the start of Game Five of the World Series:

  • @wxfreak2689 said, “I’d rather listen to a baby than Harold Reynolds be a color analyst”
  • @Nolann_Wattss said, “Harold Reynolds is on the same level (sic) Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless when it comes to quality of analysis lmao”
  • @VBirminghamJr said, “Was so hype…until Harold Reynolds started talking. Buzz kill”
  • @AJCaragine13 said, “Petition to replace Harold Reynolds in the booth with Alex Rodriguez in the FOX booth”

Reynolds isn’t the only national broadcaster to have Twitter petition against him to stop calling the MLB playoffs. His colleague Joe Buck, who first called a World Series in 1996, has dealt with criticism his entire broadcast career. But when people tweet negatively about him, Buck tends to fire back, like when he confronted a Twitter user earlier this postseason by mocking the number of retweets his petition had.

All of this begs the question, do Reynolds, Buck and other national baseball commentators deserve the fiery criticism they receive from all corners of the internet?

Joe Lucia, associate editor for sports broadcasting website Awful Announcing, thinks the negative backlash is “a bit over the top.”

“It has a lot to do with how social media gives everyone a voice,” he said. “A lot of the climate with sports in general is negative…It’s just so much easier to be negative without offering any solutions.”

What irks Lucia the most is how critical viewers overlook just how difficult Buck and Reynolds’ jobs are.

“Joe Buck, he’s a fine play by play guy,” Lucia said. “He’s had some really great calls over the years. Everything Reynolds says gets overly scrutinized without people realizing that there aren’t that many good color commentators out there. There’s lots of dead air to fill.”

That said, Lucia thinks the system hurts national broadcast teams, especially Buck and Reynolds, because they don’t develop the same chemistry as local broadcasters that work together all season.

“If they want to keep Buck at the top job, they need to have him call baseball more regularly with a consistent partner,” he said.

Local broadcasters have an inherent advantage over national ones, since fans are so used to the same voices animating their viewing for six months out of the year. Lucia doesn’t think national announcers can overcome that disadvantage.

“I don’t think it’s possible if only because you have these announcers calling teams 150 games a year,” he said. “Fans build up a loyalty, fans build up a connection with them that national announcers simply can’t.”

It’s not all bad news for national baseball announcers in Lucia’s mind. He was effusive in his praise for Brian Anderson and the team of Matt Vasgersian, A.J. Pierzynski and John Smoltz. He also suggested a return to a two-man booth for the World Series and nominated Smoltz as a possible replacement for Reynolds, who he feels does better analysis in the studio.

Ultimately, there’s no magical way to fix national announce teams and stem the tide of negativity. Networks like Fox and Turner have too much invested in their talent of varying quality. But with so much good talent out there, it might be time for networks to at least take the backlash and petitions into account.

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8 thoughts on “Negative Backlash Against Reynolds, Buck Rages On

  1. Harold Reynolds does manage to say a couple of intelligent things for every seven things that he says. His tangent during the Toronto/K.C. series about the Blue Jays fans being radically different from the early ’90s ones—more informed, armed with social media, and louder—was very astute. His problem, an identical one that Tim McCarver has, is that he DOESN’T SHUT HIS MOUTH. Three guys in a booth is nearly always headache-inducing, and I would rather have one person or nobody in a booth at all than three blabbermouths. For that reason, I vehemently disagree with Lucia’s claim that there’s “lots of dead air to fill.” Wrong. Let occasional wonderful silence reign.

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  2. I played and taught the game professionally for 40 years, I know the game, I’m a professional journalist and grew up listening to Vince Scully and Jerry Doggett. I have absolutely no problem with the Buck/Reynolds team…none. I enjoyed A-Rod’s insight but come on, the guy sounds like a mouse…no projection at all. Maybe he can go to some voice classes. I think the fans that had all the trouble with those two announcers were frustrated Mets fans and wanted to shoot the messenger.

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  3. The fact: Baseball is a wonderful game, one that is easy to understand but complicated enough to ensure that you will keep learning something new each game. For some reason the announcers on Fox think that they need to fill every moment of air time. Not so…let the picture tell the story. Let the fans watch the game and then comment when clarification is called for. If the game on the field is a good one, you don’t need a lot of useless chatter. It is really annoying when the announcers are quick to tell you what college a player went to but are slow to tell you that the left fielder was changed during a double switch. It is all about what happens on the field.

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  4. Enjoyed Reynold’s view of “framing the pitch upside down”, when Perez turned his glove palm up to receive a low sinking change-up or sinker, just below the zone. A great opportunity to discuss the issues of framing and merits of palm-up, forearm supinated or thumb-fingers-up, pronated method of receiving the low pitch breaking out of the strike zone (change, sinker, curve, slurve). Acknowledging and recognizing the rationale for the currently-favored latter method, the former has biomechanics on its side. I see it used a couple times each season.

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  5. Frankly, I think Reynolds has much better insight into the game for the fielders(not so much pitchers) than most others on the air. I think he is interesting and I never tire of him especially on MLB network.

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  6. I think my old buddy, Arizona Wildcat head baseball coach, Jerry Stitt put it best when he said, “the problem with fans is that everyone of them know a little bit about the game”. For these contributors to single these two guys out surprises me and proves how right on the money Jerry is.

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  7. I’m just glad McCarver is gone. I thought Harold did a lot of interesting analysis especially on pitching strategies during these playoffs.

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