With Fox making the smart move to regionally broadcast multiple games on Saturdays instead of just airing one and blocking out countless others, the cavalier network not exactly associated for high quality production and commentary of sporting events was forced to broaden their stable of announcers for baseball games. With that in mind, they've rolled the dice with Eric Byrnes, who has up until now been mostly doing spot work on the radio and MLB Network with some former gigs at ESPN and FSN.
While I'm sure many have found themselves bewildered with Byrnes in the booth, this past weekend was my first exposure to the phenomena. Announcing a game between his childhood rooting interest versus the MLB team he's most notably connected to was probably a surreal experience for him, but potentially even more memorable for viewers.
The enjoyable thing about Byrnes is that he does know the game and a lot of the players very well and he's totally unfiltered and genuine to who he is. That's also the biggest drawback as he is extremely raw and doesn't make any attempt to temper his personality and style.
For Fox or any media company he's Mountain Dew, The X Games, and Michelangelo of the Ninja Turtles all in one. To his credit, it's not a shtick. I went to the same high school as Byrnes and grew up in the same area. There are tons of Brynes-like personalities in the area although the realities of the real world often dilute the unfettered nature of these zealous dudes by their mid 30's.
On the radio and various segments on television, the unique personality of Byrnes is an acquired taste that can usually be blended down in such small doses. However three hours in the booth doing color for a sport that skews to an older audience is certainly a sports media experiment for the ages.
I took to Twitter to see how he went over after the game. I thought given Twitter's snarky nature, he wouldmaybe find himself with a 75% unfavorable to 25% favorable ratio of tweets. Looking over 300+ tweets, I was quite taken to only find about a dozen of so tweets that had a positive mention of Byrnes. Below is a look at what maybe one of the more out there ideas in sports media on par with Playmakers, Dennis Miller in the booth, and the glowing puck. As always, these are Real Tweets from Real People...
He Sounds Like
His Voice Is Just Terrible
He's Just Terrible
Did He Really Just Say That?
Run Of The Mill Twitter Snark
Call Me Crazy But I Like It! I Really Do!
I actually kind of liked Byrnes, but I'd probably chop some of that up to just how ridiculous of a fit it was. It was like Zach Morris going to Yale, George deciding he wanted to marry Susan, or Richard Simmons dressing conservatively. I ate it up because not a moment went by where there wasn't something insanely out of place during a Fox broadcast of a baseball game. I laughed, I cried (because the A's blew it,) I face-palmed, and I was tempted to hit mute multiple times.
Given just how bad of a talent pool Fox has, at least they're failing doing something different than their normal path to failure. So for now until someone actually serviceable joins the fold, I'd stick with Byrnes for entertainment purposes.