That might explain why it has been four months since last dropping a jamiecampbell. The Blue Jays' radio voices, Jerry Howarth, Alan Ashby and Mike Wilner are among the best in the majors (speaking as a XM Radio subscriber who has access to every team's broadcast). Besides, it would be tough to top Bruce Dowbiggin's denunciation of the team's TV flagship, which puts more on the corporation than the commenter.
"The word that springs to mind when listening to play-by-play guy Jamie Campbell and his rota of analysts would be unsatisfying ... a significant part of the hollow feeling springs from the anodyne tone of the crew.
"Now in his third season, Campbell has staked no claim to the team with either a flair for language or his keen insight into baseball. The genius of Vin Scully is that he tells you from the first pitch that he is the pilot, you are the passenger, and you are to sit back while he guides the ship. Even the lugubrious Chuck Swirsky grabbed the Toronto Raptors' mike like a thirsty man throttling a pump handle."
"... After this many games, (Campbell) still has mighty trouble judging fly balls (watch the outfielders) and a propensity for reading the daily statistical notes as if it were Finnegans Wake. His monotone delivery suits the subway (“Next stop Spadina, Spadina next stop”) more than a pennant race.There is a honest reticence to comment on Campbell. He does work hard. Broadcasting baseball is a job where someone is expected to be perfect on Day 1 and then get better, although the mass of people watching really do not care too much who's doing the announcing.
"The mark of a pro such as Jon Miller is his ability to bring out more than just inside baseball from his co-workers. Campbell's patter with his analysts is painful, leaving Rance Mulliniks or Darrin Fletcher to grind along unmercifully about arcane points of strategy.
"Part of this is not Campbell's fault. Sportsnet likes to grow its own timber and has thrust several people into key announcing spots before they are ready. The results are mixed. When it doesn't work, the outcome is like a travelling company of High School Musical – you know, 'Just wait till they grow up and move to Broadway.' Except they don't grow up. Campbell still seems stranded on first base. If he's being coached it doesn't show.
" ... When Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers legend Duke Snider broke in on Montreal Expos' telecasts with Dave Van Horne, he was raw and almost impossible to listen to. But Van Horne – a pro's pro – shaped Snider's contributions, drew out the man, not the baseball player, and they soon were a perfect team."
The risk in writing this is someone will take it to as a way to act on frustrations over the Jays or what's going on in one's personal life. It isn't. Everyone knew going in this was clearly a sub-.500 team.
Dowbiggin, almost at long last, is pointing out national broadcasters have the wrong idea when it comes to picking the on-air talent for sports beyond hockey. They create their own mistakes, as previously noted:
"Please don't make this into a Jamie Campbell vs. Rod Black kvetchfest. It's tiresome, for one. It's not about them. It's on the highers-up in Canadian broadcasting who don't invest in bringing along bona fide baseball play-by-play people and just expect to get lucky ... The rest of us are just supposed to believe that there isn't a man or woman in a country of 33 million people who can commentate baseball. That's hard to believe." — March 31, 2008That post, by the way, led to an e-mail from someone who had worked at one of the national networks. It seemed worth hanging on to and releasing at an appropriate time.
"The top executives of the networks don't mind putting people in positions who will 'learn the on the job' while doing play-by-play for fringe sports such as baseball. If it were hockey, you better damn well have years and years of play-by-play experience and know your stuff before they dare put you in front of a camera or on a microphone."One can try to make do by following the Jays via radio, investing in Delay Play Radio (a device which syncs up the radio play-by-play with digital cable, which is about eight seconds behind). You can snark off that it's ironic The Score, not Sportsnet, is having a contest where the winner gets a job as a sportscaster. However, at the end of the day, just making sport of Jamie Campbell is useless.
The failure of a country of 33 million people to develop a good baseball broadcaster since Dan Shulman joined ESPN is borderline embarrassing. The Hockey Reflex does not mean it's OK to set the bar lower for other sports; look at how TSN broadcasts the CFL.
The definition of crazy is doing something the exact same way and expecting a different result, and that has happened too often with Sportsnet and baseball. One hopes it is going to change in Canada, for the sake of young broadcasters, people such as Tyler King and Mark Masters, to name a couple personal acquaintances. Jamie Campbell is not a bad guy or necessarily bad at broadcasting, he's just someone who was on the right side of a wrongheaded idea. At the end of the day, baseball fans in Canada honestly deserve better. Raptors fans got it with Swirsky and Matt Devlin; soccer fans get it with Gerry Dobson, even CIS nuts do with The Score's Tim Micallef. Why not for baseball, Sportsnet?
Something amiss from Blue Jays broadcasts?; Baseball play-by-play requires a raconteur's touch, a statistician's zeal and a sense of which plays matter most but Sportsnet yet to find right mix