Summer has finally arrived (for the time being at least).Â With the sun blazing down, most people want to just sit back and relax.Â Maybe that’s why I’ve been listening to the Gameday Audio broadcasts more frequently over the past week or so?Â
Despite the allure of HD pictures and flashy internet devices, radio is still the preferred medium for many when it comes to sports coverage (even if that means listening toÂ the ‘radio’ on the Internet).Â Whether you’re sitting in the garden listening to Aggers and the Test Match Special team chortling away about someone in the crowd dressed as a nun, or driving along with Alan ‘I’m more important than the game’ Green driving you nuts, there’s an intimacy that draws you in and keeps you hooked.
Baseball and the radio are a match made in heaven.Â Just like cricket, America’s National pastime lends itself to gentle conversation and off-beat observations.Â The best announcers are able to paint vivid pictures of the action whilst retaining an informal air.Â They don’t just tell you what’s happening on the field, they make you feel part of the occasion by bringing you the sounds from the ballpark and allowing you to visualise the action in your mind’s eye.Â
I think it’s the anticipation that I like the best.Â With TV pictures, you basically get to see everything as it happens.Â With the radio, the crowd begins to tell the story before the commentator provides confirmation and explanation.Â It’s almost as if you are in the stands: the murmur of the expectant crowd, the crack of the ball flying off the bat, the surge in crowd noise as the outfielder backtracks to the wall, followed by an explosion of cheers as the ball goes into the seats.Â Or the deafening silence if it’s the opposing team that has just gone deep.
Listening to the game between the A’s and the Rays on Wednesday evening, it struck me how radio broadcasts are able to transmit the ebb and flow of a ballgame better than any other medium.Â Even a relatively insignificant play can leave you running a gamut of emotions.Â I sat up in my chair as Jack Cust hit the ball into the outfield.Â The news that he was “turning for second” brought me back down again, head in my hands and bracing myself for the inevitable news that he had been thrown out.Â I could see him belly-flopping straight into the tag.Â Wait for it, wait for it … and he’s “safe”.Â Maybe he was comfortably going to make it all the way?Â I couldn’t tell though and the extra suspense added to the play for me.
Whereas ten years ago you might have been left trying to pick up vague crackling traces of baseball commentary via a powerful radio aerial, nowadays we can simply log on to MLB.com and listen to either the home or away radio feed for each game (and the Spanish feed if you wish) thanks to the Gameday Audio service.Â On top of the general radio experience, listening to the local networks makes you feel a part of the baseball community in a way that watching ESPN or FOX games never could hope to achieve.Â In particular, becoming a regular listener of your chosen team’s radio feeds makes you feel like a true fan.
From the regular commentators, to the insider gossip, and to the local network adverts (generally relating to insurance, car dealerships or fast food outlets), the five thousand odd miles between you and the fan in Oakland, Anaheim, San Diego (etc) fade into insignificance.
Sitting in an English garden during the summer listening to a baseball game from the States sounds like perfection to me.Â