In a radical departure from historically ignoring fans, a sustained outburst of complaints about terrible telecasts of Angels games has forced Bally’s Sports to change it’s shortchanging of Angels fans enjoyment of the game.
Spearheaded by Sam Blum of The Athletic and mobilized by an enraged Angels fan constituency on Twitter and fan blogs like this one, the Orange County Register is reporting that effective Monday evening, Angels broadcasters Mark Gubicza and Patrick O’Neal will be broadcasting the game on site. Prior to this, road games have been announced by the crew watching live video feed back at home. To make matters worse, when Matt Vasgersian is doing the play by play, he is somewhere in New Jersey and his “partner” Gubi is in Southern California.
There is no word on whether Vasgersian will ever actually see the team is purportedly the “voice of” in person this season but his announcing brand, heretofore stellar, has taken a big hit in the first ten days of the season. He called a home run a foul ball, he asked for clarification about what happened on plays after they had unfolded seemingly once or more per inning. Matty V has generally embodied the buddy you bring to the game who spends the whole time searching his phone and then looking up too late – we all know this type as they then distract us from enjoying the game by asking what is going on while it is still going on.
No matter what happens to Splatty Matty, understand that Sam Blum is the hero here. We have sat by and seen a team completely ignore it’s passionate bloggers for close to two decades. Over the years we have seen Mark Whicker, Alden Gonzalez Mike DiGiovanna, Jeff Fletcher and others carry Arte Moreno’s water as if it was their primary job over basic reporting. Remember, these are alleged “pro’s” who NEVER watch the telecasts. They report on the team to the fans but they are completely removed from forty percent of the fan experience – the telecasts themselves.
Years ago I asked DiGiovanna in some online forum about how terrible then play-by-play announcer Steve Physioc was. His smug, ivory tower reply was that every fan base hated its announcers. What an out-of-touch old fuddy-dud. But Sam Blum is different, he has a nose for news and understands who his constituency is – Angels fans! Jeez, what a shocking development. You can go back over Jeff Fletcher’s entire professional output and I will bet there is not one mention of the Angels fan unhappiness with Angels telecasts. Meanwhile, Sam Blum has been on the job less than a year and he caused a revolution – he heard us complain and asked tough questions, got the usual obfuscation BUT then kept at it, noted to his substantial audience just how terrible the product Bally’s (via the John Carpino organization’s cheapskate control-freakeness) Sports West was in a way that could not be countered by anything but the surrender we got as of 5:10 PM Pacific time this afternoon.
This is a new chapter. They listen because they have to listen because someone they cannot ignore is keeping them honest. And that pro is Sam Blum. He works for The Athletic but he demonstrated over the past four games that he also works for us.