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Radio Days

Sunday is the day I ordinarily plant myself in the recliner and let the rest of the world do whatever it does, but today I got up and dressed and out the door in time to see the last half of Eric's baseball game. Fresh air, good. Sun, a little too much. Baseball, kind of sketchy. But I got to spend some time with Alex, and his mom and both of his grandmas, so it was a good couple of hours.

Then I came home and planted myself. I caught up with the last day of the Little League World Series and watched a little soccer and some football, until the Giants game started tonight. Yes, that's what this Sunday was all about. Next Sunday will be football and NASCAR. Next Sunday, and the next ten or so Sundays after that. I expect to be planted plenty on my favorite day of the week.

Whenever the Giants are on national television (as they were yesterday on FOX and tonight on ESPN), I have a hard time with the network announcers. It's not that the Giants announcers favor the home team, but more that their familiar voices make me feel that I'm part of a small circle of friends enjoying the same game together. The more famous guys explain things I already know and can't convey the nuances and inner dynamics of the team that I get from the local guys.

So I mute the TV and listen to the game on the radio, as I did tonight. Yesterday I didn't even bother with the TV. I just listened, and enjoyed the game as much as I did when I was 13 and listening to Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons describe the heroics of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal. Not to mention non-Hall of Famers like Felipe Alou and Chuck Hiller.

No other sport seems so natural and immediate on the radio as baseball. Football and basketball are necessarily visual experiences, but with good announcers you can feel involved in every moment of a baseball game. Maybe that's because baseball goes back to the days before television. Maybe it's because it's an everyday sport, and you can't always be in front of a TV set. I know one thing: When I listen to a game on the radio, I never feel as if I'm missing anything.

Fans of the Giants have been lucky over the years to have had some great radio personalities. I learned to love baseball in my childhood mostly because of Russ and Lon. Their voices represented the team to me. I listened to them on my transistor radio while I was riding my bike around the neighborhood. Yeah, things have changed in fifty years.

The access I have to radio and television broadcasts from all over the country through satellite radio and the TV package I get has told me what I already knew, that the current Giants announcers are the best around. There are other good ones, but there are also some so bad that the sounds of their voices make me cringe. I wonder how fans of their teams can stand to listen to them, but that's their problem. Not everyone can be as lucky as we are in the Bay Area.


We have a close-knit Giants fan community on Twitter, and that's one reason I stick with the games to the end even when they're one-sided and depressingly bad, like tonight. In front of a national audience, the team managed to look lifeless and uninterested, but at least they never quit. It's a long season and a daily grind, and there will be games like this. There is no downtime on Twitter, though. What I would have missed if I had turned off tonight's game early would have been the lively sniping and carping of the hashtag crew.

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