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.