Since DirecTV and MLB Extra Innings entered my home, my opportunities to listen to Marty Brennaman on the radio have been more rare. Marty and Joe Nuxhall provided the soundtrack to my childhood, and I remain a loyal fan of Marty’s. Yes, he has grown a little more bitter about the Reds over the years (who hasn’t?), but he’s still the best in the business (Non-Vin Scully Division), as far as I’m concerned.

Thursday and Friday provided an opportunity to catch a few innings on the radio, and I came away with some impressions. First, I listened to the last 2-3 innings of the Thursday afternoon game as I was driving. Marty and Thom Brennaman were doing the game, and I loved it. Those two are my favorite on the radio, and the interplay between them is fun.

Friday, driving home from my daughter’s softball game, I caught a couple of innings with Marty and Jim Kelch, who has been announcing Louisville Bats games for years. Let me tell you: Kelch is very good. The way he described the action was simply fantastic, and it reminded me of … a young Marty Brennaman. Until recently, Marty could draw a picture with words unlike anyone I’ve ever heard (again, Non-Vin Scully Division).

Lately, Marty describes the action less and talks about other nonsense more. I still love the old guy, but he often gets away from what made him special in the first place.

Either way, I enjoyed listening to both games tremendously. Next time there is an opening in the broadcast booth, I hope Kelch is given a serious look. He’s so much better than everyone else Marty is paired with, it’s a joke (and I say that as a fan of Thom, who I think is quite underrated).

More Marty and Thom and Jim, please.

22 Responses

  1. Steve

    I heard Vin Scully recently and still find him the gold standard by which radio announcers are compared.

    Jeff Brantley is the super-star announcer in the Reds organization now. When he began a year ago, he was a tolerable color commentator and a brutally bad play-by-play guy. He has developed, however, into an outstanding color commentator and is well-above-average at play-by-play for the three innings when Marty takes a break. I love how he analyzes the pitcher’s strategies and I’ve learned a tremendous amount about pitching from his comments.

    At first I liked Thom, but now his style has grown very tiresome to me. In every single sentence he has to find a word to emphasize beyond proportion. “Jay Bruce is BATTING THIRD in this inning.” To me, he is the exact opposite of Vin Scully, who paints a picture without having to exaggerate his voice to create drama.

    Marty, hmm. I agree with your criticism that he doesn’t focus enough on the baseball any more. In general I think his negativity toward the Reds is reasonably balanced, and preferable to the cheer-leading we get from George Grande. I’ve noticed that Marty has started to make quite a few mistakes – especially when I listen to the radio broadcast while watching the game on TV.

    I love Brantley so much that if he’s calling the game on TV I listen there, and if he’s on the radio I listen there.

    More Brantley, please.

  2. nick in va

    Joe was always my favorite, but I still like Marty a lot. Growing up we would be outside a lot and the neighbor or my dad would always have the game on. Good times. I actually kind of like the non-baseball talk to a degree. There was a fair amount on Thursday, but the Reds were getting beat like a drum towards the end, so I can’t blame them.

  3. brublejr

    I still like Marty a lot (when he is focused on the game). Jim has been a great pairing with him. Thom gets on my nerves a little, and I don’t really care that much for him. Brantley is different, he is not good with the play by play at all but brings a different element to the broadcast. He is growing on me a little bit, but I really don’t like it when Brantley and Marty are together at all. They seem to get off track too much and then it will eventually become a bitch session.

    BTW, When Welsh did a few games a while back, he and Marty were excellent. They were my favorite pairing by far on the radio this season, followed by Marty and Jim. When Marty retires I REALLY hope Jim gets a chance to do the games on radio because he has been very good.

    All in all though Joe will forever be my favorite…I can still hear him screaming “get out” on a long fly ball for time to time 😀 .

  4. daedalus

    jeff brantley’s play by play is atrocious. you never know what’s going on in the game.

    i’ll listen to marty from time to time. mlb.tv advertises in the premium package that you can listen to the radio feed while watching the television broadcast, but that’s a lie. i’m not sure i could listen to marty every day like in the past. but you’re right, chad, marty and thom are great together. brantley lets marty walk all over him, but thom will speak back to his father. that’s what makes it work. plus i get the impression that thom hates all of the extra nonsense.

  5. Tom Diesman

    I agree with brublejr, Marty and Welsh is by far the best combination. Brantley is absolutely horrendous at play by play, and that is the case after improving quite a bit. I absoulutely hate the radio broadcasts when Brantley is a part of it. Marty and Kelch is a close second to Marty and Welch. Thom Brennaman is passable but nothing special. It’s a sad day when I’d rather hear Grande than than Brantley.

  6. Tom

    Grande and Welsh talk too much about the opposing team for my tastes. They don’t have to be homers, but just call the game and easy on the extraneous info. Jim Kelch and Sean Casey would be good replacements in the TV booth.
    I don’t listen to the radio much since I get the games on MLB.com I could never understand how John Sterling, a former radio DJ, become the Yankees radio voice. But over the years, he’s become pretty smooth. Maybe the same will happen to Thom and Jeff.

  7. AnnapolisRed

    I think Marty has gotten away a little bit from the PXP because the Reds have been so dreadful. IMO Marty is still the best (non-Vin Scully division of course).

  8. AnnapolisRed

    Steve-I couldn’t agree with you less. Brantley is horrible. I don’t mind Thom at all. The only person I like less than Brantley is Grande. I would love to hear Marty and Chris all the time.

  9. Y-City Jim

    I do like Kelch. He is that missing element of someone who understands that what is happening on the field is of the utmost importance. Thom sounds like the video baseball game announcer. Brantley is too full of himself for my taste. He’s almost like a Bob Uecker wannabe.

  10. Chad Dotson

    There is a reason I didn’t mention Brantley in the post. I loved him as a pitcher, but he is the worst broadcaster I’ve ever heard for the Reds. Obviously just my opinion, but I can’t listen to him. He grates on me terribly.

  11. Bill Lack

    Put me in the anti-Brantley crowd also, I think he’s awful. He talks so much nonsense that it’s more trouble than it’s worth to try find any nugget of intelligence in the stream of crap he expells. My favorite team are Thom and Chris. I think Marty has gotten so bitter it’s tough to get past that, he’s just become an unforgiving old man who thinks that 22 year old kids should be as wise at 10 year veterans (he gave up Johny Cueto last year after about 10 starts in the big leagues). I haven’t had the chance to listen lately, so I haven’t hear Mr. Ketch. George Grande can’t tell when a ball is going to stay in the ball park (every fly ball goes to the warning track) and has never seen an average major leaguer, they’re all great according to George.

  12. Mark in CC

    I like Brantley on TV where I don’t need for him to tell me what is going on. His homestyle spin is entertaining on TV. The critics word on Brantley’s play-by-play are the same that Joe got his first couple of years. Of course I was in Junior High then. Joe turned out OK.

    I enjoyed the Kelch/Marty broadcast last night as much as any Reds radio since Joe left the booth.

  13. per14

    You know, this will sound like heresy….

    But I don’t find much different at all between Brantley and Joe Nuxhall in their play by play. I always thought Joe was about as spare as one could possibly be but still tell you what’s going on. And I liked that. Now…Joe was very unassuming, humble. Brantly’s not. So that’s a big difference.

  14. JerBear

    I think Marty is actually a little better than Vin Scully but everyone has a different opinion. I honestly find Scully kind of boring and a little to calculated with his broadcasts. In a way, that is part of his genius. Scully is so prepared with facts and stories about every player, and has such a great memory that he keeps the listener engaged. But Marty brings more passion, and just more of a rooting interest in the home team then Scully. Marty is a Reds fan, and I like my announcers to be homers. Scully…I don’t know. He could be doing the national broadcast or a Dodgers game and you’d notice no difference in his passion. I think Marty could do the national broadcasts too because he’s a pro, but in the end he still would be a little more loose when letting his emotions show with the Reds.

    I agree with the comments about Marty getting a little bitter though. It’s kind of sad, because at times it’s turned me off. He can be extremely negative. Hopefully Thom can kind of calm him down a bit.

    Thom’s a little too bigtime for me. He’s solid, but just not one of my favorite. Kelch is pretty good. I agree with you guys. He’d be a worthy replacement if or when Marty retires.

    Brantley has actually grown on me a bit. He can be pretty funny, but he is not very good with the play by play. I agree with that. It’s a talent that you can’t totally teach. He doesn’t really have a play by play voice if that makes any sense. Marty is so good with inflections of his voice, and being able to convey emotion and passion in a big moment. I think that’s what separates Marty from the pack. I’ve never heard a better announcer when it comes to conveying the excitement and emotion of a certain play or certain part of the ballgame (9th inning game on the line, walk off HR, etc.)

    Marty has been making a few more mistakes lately. Maybe it is his age, or just lack of conentration from all the years of the Reds being bad and he getting a little off topic too much.

    But anyway, those are my thoughts. You’ll never be able to replace Marty and Joe…but they still have Marty, as well as pretty solid announcers all around still.

  15. Mr. Redlegs

    I find it curious and hypocritical of all the people who complain about the Reds’ eight straight losing years yet call Marty Brennaman old, tired and grumpy when all he’s doing is outlining the exact day-to-day failures of this franchise.

    You want positive spin? Listen to Sunshine George Grande, who, I swear, some year I’m going to keep count how many times he mentions the Hall of Fame or a Hall of Famer, the Big Red Machine, and labels somebody a great person or great human being.

    As for Brantley . . . yeesh. Nuxhall was inarticulate and we all gave him a pat on the back. So what does that make Brantley’s play-by-play? You know, other than abysmal.

  16. christopherstrand

    Thank you Chad, I thought for a second that Steve was going to get away with calling Brantley a “super-star announcer” – yikes.

  17. Joe

    Marty – I guess he’s a Reds fan, but he’s a fair-weather fan. I like that he will tell about a bonehead play without holding back, but he gets a little harsh sometimes. If he sticks to baseball, I like him overall. He spends way too much time talking about himself.
    Thom – Seems arrogant, in the way that he talks about the failings of players. He makes it sound like if HE was trying to put down the bunt, it would get done every time. Strange for a guy who only has a job because his daddy is famous.
    Jeff – I like his pitching analysis, but his play by play stinks. He often leaves me wondering what is happening as the play unfolds, and I only find out after the fact as he does sort of a verbal instant replay. His southern good ol’ boy schtick gets old fast. OK, you like barbecue, we get it.
    Chris – I like him, and I think I would REALLY like him if he wasn’t dealing with George all the time. Think about how hard it must be to do your job with that idiot Grande constantly bringing up the Ponderosa, making stupid comments followed by his little 2-syllable fake laugh (heh heh), name dropping, and mentioning how every SINLGE PERSON IN THE WORLD is a great baseball man, but an even better human being!
    George – Did I mention I don’t like him? “Hi, Hello everybody, and I SUCK!” I want to punch him on the smiling side of his face.
    Kelch – Haven’t heard him much, but he seems good. He talks about the game way more than the others (except Chris maybe). I think it’s too early to tell though. Once he thinks he is established, I think he’ll start talking about golf, his kids, and all that other crap that the listeners don’t care about.
    Nuxie – I liked listening to him, but he wasn’t a great baseball announcer, just a likeable old guy. So I guess he and Brantley are similar announcers, but Brantley does NOT seem likeable.

    I hope when Marty retires, Thom moves on to a BIG market that matches his ego, so we can get away from the Brenneman style (“Let’s talk about ME, and by the way, there’s a baseball game going on.”) But I won’t hold my breath, because Marty’s ego is every bit as big as Thom’s, and he’s still here.

  18. Steve Pipenger

    I find it hard to read what I’m reading. I’ve not been able to listen to Marty and now Jeff for a long time living away from near Cincinnati. I listen to him on my iPhone and sometimes on-line, and I have to say, I never realized how good I had it. Marty is, bar none, the best, the top of the heap. Sorry…but Vin Scully just grates on me. Listening to him, while good, as far as I see, can’t hold water to Marty. What I like about Marty and Jeff is this: it feels like they and I are sitting around watching a ball game. I just don’t get a lot of these comments.

  19. Chris

    Everything that can be said about Marty has been said. I am willing to give him some slack because he’s been watching the same garbage we have, but the thing Bill pointed out – about giving up on young guys – still bothers me to no end. He decided Jay Bruce “just isn’t going to get it” two weeks ago, too. It’s silly, and he should know better. That, and the incessant harping on a player’s faults (see Dunn, Adam).

  20. Deaner

    I love listening to Brantley’s commentary and stories (i.e. his tractor story the other night), not his play-by-play.

    As Steve said, Vin Scully is still the gold standard. I have XM radio and love it when the Reds go to LA, so I can listen to Scully call the game.

    If any of you get the chance, listen to Denny Matthews of the Royals. He’s a HOFer, been with the Royals since their beginning, and a lot of people just don’t know about him because he’s been in KC. He’s a lot like Scully in that he gives you a lot of personal stories about the players. During a spring training game, I learned thta a Royals minor leaguer likes to collect tropical fish.

  21. David

    I am a displaced Reds fan in Cleveland, and I listen to the Reds on MLB.com. I’ve enjoyed this discussion, and I join the others who have enjoyed Jim Kelch’s contributions to the broadcasts. He does an excellent job calling the action, has a great voice and seems to be very comfortable working with Marty, which I’m sure was a little intimidating at first. It’s great to hear another true announcer in the booth. Hope he gets more games in the future.

  22. DaveInColumbus

    I know I’m late to this party (by several months), but I found it Googling Jim Kelch, who is doing TV during the Giants-Reds series. Regarding Jim Kelch, he is fantastic behind the mic and I think I could accept him as a Marty replacement.

    Marty is the greatest baseball announcer I will ever hear. I started listening at age 13 in 1985 and he sucked me in to Reds baseball. If you wonder how great we have it, just listen to other teams’ announcers. For example, has anybody listened to Tom Hamilton in Cleveland? He’s got passion and he seems to know the game, but his delivery has a funny cadence and he’s somewhat nasaly. I don’t like him. I don’t like him when he does basketball games, and it’s even tougher to listen to him with a game as leisurely as baseball. And his color guy? Yikes.

    Now, I confess that I am about to commit heresy. Ready? I did not like Joe Nuxhall. As far as I (and my brother) were concerned, the four worst innings were the ones where Joe was announcing. Huge gaps with nothing but crowd noise. Several times I’m convinced he was soused. And God forbid he was eating ice cream while announcing. You hear those lips smacking during the long, dead air. This is to take nothing away from him in Reds history, or his legacy to Hamilton. This is only my assessment of him as an announcer. Still, I get chills when I drive past GABP and see “Rounding Third and Heading Home…” on the third base side of the stadium.

    I like Thom and I was delighted when he joined Marty. I *love* Thom on the Big Ten Network. Wanna know an announcer I *really* hate? Paul Keels at Ohio State. Smooth delivery, great voice. Knows *nothing* about football and it’s clear that he can’t see the field from Ohio Stadium’s lofty booth. I want Thom as the play-by-play voice of the Buckeyes.

    I don’t mind Brantley. I like the interplay between Marty and Jeff. I really like Chris Welch, when paired with Marty. George Grande, well… rah rah!