Congratulations are in order for Joe Siddall, as he’ll be moving out of the radio booth this year, and onto your TV sets, as Sportsnet announced on Wednesday that the former big league catcher will take the spot of that other former big league catcher, beating out such other possibilities for the job as that other other big league catcher (you know, the one who lobbied for Zaun’s job long before the disgraced “manalyst” was even turfed — that Aaron Cibia guy).
I’ll miss Siddall’s on the radio, but am glad to see him move over to TV (even though it means I’ll hear him less, as his segments get cut out of MLB.tv broadcasts), where he’ll do the nuts-and-bolts analysis that I always thought Zaun did quite well, minus the ridiculous Zaun Cherry personality.
The announcement adds that Kevin Barker and Cliff Floyd (!) will also take turns sitting alongside Jamie Campbell this season.
What the press release makes no mention of, however, is what this means for the radio booth. There are now two pretty big holes to fill there, with Siddall’s departure and, of course, the sudden retirement of Jerry Howarth earlier this month.
Mike Wilner had been working for the past week with Scott Richmond, the former Blue Jays right-hander from North Vancouver, and this week will share the booth with Buffalo Bisons play-by-play man Ben Wagner, and Rob Fai, who calls games for the Vancouver Canadians. I don’t know that any of those auditions mean anything, or whether Sportsnet is aiming to continue with a three-man booth, or if only two will come north with the club. But I don’t think anybody should be drawing any conclusions about this just yet.
My guess is that Wilner will still be there — and I hope so, and not just because the guy’s been Jerry’s heir apparent for years and deserves the chance, but because he does a great job calling the game. What anyone may or may not think of the way he handles callers on Jays Talk doesn’t really matter here, because lead play-by-play announcer is a very different role. And it’s undeniable that Wilner knows the Jays and their history inside and out. That said, Rob Fai gets rave reviews for the work that he does in Vancouver, and Ben Wagner calls a great game for the Bisons as well. I must admit that I haven’t listened to either of them quite enough to say a whole lot here, but I know they’re both extremely talented and knowledgeable, so fans will be in good hands no matter how Sportsnet chooses to configure the booth.
None of this is to ignore Richmond, who was a little bit green during his initial run in the booth, but was affable, knows his stuff, and I think would be a great addition as well, especially with a little more time and comfort behind the mic.
Plus, Kevin Barker is obviously still around, and has spent time calling games over the past few seasons as well (though the release says he’s still due to cohost Baseball Central with Jeff Blair). Rob Wong and Josh Goldberg have done a great job hosting Jays Talk on the weekends so far. And there’s always the spectre of Dan Shulman, who has cut down his duties for ESPN to spend more time with his family in Toronto — though I wouldn’t expect much radio work from him (more TV time, though, please!). Would have loved to see friend of the blog Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, who calls games for the Lansing Lugnuts, get a shot too.
We’ll see how it goes, I guess. Looking forward to hearing Ben and Rob this week — it’s just a shame that there likely isn’t going to be room for everybody.