Friday, June 13, 2008



Rejoice, or curse: Roger Millions is out as the voice of the Flames on Rogers Sportsnet. My view: it's a shame. He is strong technically, his verbal quirks and pet phrases don't bother me any more than those of any other broadcaster, and I think he calls it pretty straight. Most of the Oiler fans around here find him to be a brutal homer, but I don't agree; though he called the games from the Flames' "perspective", and no doubt he wanted them to do well, he wasn't constantly bullshitting the viewer about what was happening on the ice -- very little Flames apologia. (Reinforcing my opinion: this CPuck thread is pretty balanced between posters who found him too homerish and those who found him too negative.)

The new guy is Peter Loubardias -- another guy who cut his teeth doing junior games on the radio in Saskatchewan. I have generally warm feelings about him -- you gotta like his enthusiasm ("Can you... believe... what we... just saw!!!"). And hey, maybe he'll have better luck than Millions eliciting informative and/or entertaining comments from Charlie Simmer.

That's right, Chuck's back... if there's any element of this situation that must be eating Roger Millions from the inside right now, it's that someone or some committee took a look at last season's broadcasts and concluded that the problem (such as it is) was with him, rather than the analyst-who-doesn't-analyze (or if you prefer, the colourless colour commentator).

I had one beef with Millions in previous seasons (tilting at windmills, basically), and I thought he was excellent in this regard this past season.

No word yet on who will be the relief guy on Oilers broadcasts when Kevin Quinn bugs out to Mexico, or whatever he does in the middle of winter. Also, no word on Jamie Thomas, as Millions is replacing him as host. I have slightly more than a passing interest in Mr. Thomas' career... he was two grades ahead of me all through school in Cochrane, and when I moved to Lethbridge in '98, I was more than a bit surprised to find him working as the sports reporter on our one local TV station. At any rate, best of luck to him.

And speaking of homer broadcasters... seriously, by relative standards, Roger Millions is not a homer in the slightest. I spent a couple of hours yesterday listening to the WGN broadcast of Cubs-Braves, and Ron Santo is the most appalling (yet hilarious) homer in the history of homers. Constantly refers to the Cubbies as "we" (e.g. "we really need to get the leadoff man on here"), and cheers -- I mean really cheers -- when they do something good. Yells "All Right!!!" and jumps up and down (metaphorically).

Also, a slightly red-faced update to my Wednesday post: as it turns out, I didn't know the correct identity of my favourite baseball radio guy. The outstanding Padres guy is not Jerry Coleman, who is a gravelly-voiced part-timer now, but Ted Leitner, who has a high-paced baritone delivery and is merely in his 28th year on the crew.

Finally, I've been mulling yesterday's revisitation of the 1998 draft, and I think in some instances I did a pretty crappy job of following my own criteria. Just as one example, I'm not a big Brad Stuart fan (it took until this season's playoffs for his proper niche to be widely understood), but he has been a useful player for one team or another since he was 19. You can't say that at all about (e.g.) David Legwand, even though I would rather have Legwand on my team today. So Stuart should probably be higher based on his total career contributions, as should a couple of other guys.

Congratulations to Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf on their selection as 1st Team All-Stars. Go Flames.


And hey, maybe he'll have better luck than Millions eliciting informative and/or entertaining comments from Charlie Simmer.

Ahahaha...and maybe he'll cure cancer afterwards.

Loubardias doing Flames games, eh? I sort of figured he'd be Quinn's replacement doing the Oilers games.

It will be interesting to see who gets that gig. What IS Bruce Buchannan up to these days anyways?

Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who calls the White Sox games, is by far the biggest homer (he's the "you can put it on the board...YES!" guy).

It's been a few years since I've heard him, but I remember him referring to the Sox as "we" pretty regularly, and also openly cheering for the home club. Comments like, "come on, big hit here" were not uncommon.

After the demise of "A" Channel, where he was working for a time, Bruce Buchanan apparently was in the real estate game. Not sure if that is still the case.

As for Quinn's annual sabbatical from Oilers telecasts, it was Sportsnet who installed staffer Loubardias on the broadcast chair for a number of games while telling contractee Quinn to take a temporary hike.

Off topic: Bettman must really hate Balsillie if this is the guy who gets a team instead of Jim.

I worked with both of them 100 years ago in Regina. Millions is a great guy, terrific sense of humor and a stand up fellow.

Peter is the most obsessed hockey fan I've ever met in my life. The fact that he has been able to move up the depth chart of pbp announcers despite some drawbacks tells you just how much better he must be at everything else.

They're both very fine people.

he wasn't constantly bullshitting the viewer about what was happening on the ice

That's because he didn't know what the fuck was going on. It's hard to bullshit about something that you don't understand.

So in other words, hallelujah.

Loubardias should be fine, although he really has to stop using the word "karem" 30 times a game. Look for that one, Flames fans. But it's a real shame that Sportsnet didn't find a better analyst.

Which also makes me wonder: how much longer will Oilers fans have Ray Ferraro as their colourman? He's too good not to be on CBC or TSN.

I'm hoping TSN and CBC see Ferraro's lisp as a reason not to hire him, but that probably doesn't make any sense considering those two networks employ Glen Healey and that mouth-breather Greg Millen.

I hope we get one more year of Quinn'er and Ferraro.

That particular Cubs-Braves game wasn't entirely typical. I think they were honouring WGN's 60 years of doing Cubs games (both teams wore throw-back unis)...and the announcer cheered a bit more than usual to pay homage to one of the original announcers (or something like that). In particular, when Edmonds homered in the ninth to tie it up, he yelled "Yeehaw" and then said that was for "insert name here" (can't recall). They also flashed up "HEY" on the screen as Edmonds trotted around the bases (started out as just HEY..but the letters, composed of H, E, Y letters respectively, grew to cover the screen). On-screen graphics were old-school throughout the game. Was kind of nice actually. Everything was smaller, with just text. No background behind the text to obscure the field or players.

All of that said, Santo is a homer (as is Millions least for Iginla). Neither is anywhere near the worst though.

The White Sox announcer on WGN is orders of magnitude worse. Totally agreed with alex he's the biggest homer, by far. No question about it. White Sox players never strike out (at least he never announces it). Opponents home runs are also ignored. Apparently, if he doesn't announce it, it didn't happen. Antics like that are beyond ridiculous, but I guess the White Sox want a child in the booth. You know, like the little kids that cover their own eyes to be invisible.

Yeah, I don't watch as much baseball as I used to but Brenly's the usual colour man on WGN these days. I hate that prick, too, but not because he's biased; in fact, he was recently called out for not toeing the Tribune Company line, as it were.

Anyway, I obviously didn't watch as many Flames games as you guys but I thought Millions was a terrible homer who did as much cheering as he did commentating.

But, you know what, that's how it is these days. I might not like it but teams are hiring their own announcers these days instead of working out contracts with media companies that come in with the talent already in place.

Loubardias is absolutely fucking grating. As for Ferraro, I imagine he'll take Healey's place alongside Cuthberth on TSN.

Sorry, have to jump in here.

I've been living with Loubardias for my entire life. He was the first sports broadcaster who I loathed. Back in the Vag (Regina) in the early 90s, he was the host of the late-night sports recap on what now is Global.

I remember him going apeshit about a "blown" two-line offside pass non-call (ahh, remember the offside pass? I feel old). There is nothing I hate more than broadcasters ripping the refs. I don't want to fucking hear that, I can make up my own mind.

Loubardias has toned down a bit in recent years, but I still feel he sounds completely stoned when he calls a game. His voice so smooth it's nearly slurred.

The best part about that incident is that the call was correct. Loubardias got a call from the WHL mothership and was forced to show the clip and apologize the next night. That was priceless.

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