Kenny, come home!
This was briefly discussed in the comments of a gamethread a few days ago, but it seems like a good Friday topic on the day after the off day. The Orioles are going to need to find a new color commentator for the 2012 season. I don't begrudge them using Rick Dempsey of late because of the circumstances, but there is absolutely no way he can be given the job next year. Uncle Rick is a nice enough fellow, but listening to him talk about baseball makes my ears cry.
The way I see it, there are only a few qualifications needed to be a passable color commentator. He or she needs to have a voice that doesn't make a person cringe, enough experience and knowledge about the game to keep up the conversation over the course of three hours, and a personality that falls somewhere on the good side of wet dishrag. A connection to the Orioles is a bonus, but for me not required.
Short candidate list:
Brady Anderson - Not only is Brady a callback to happier time for O's fans, he did some guest broadcasting in 2010 and was well received. I was particularly impressed with Brady's attention to detail, and the insights he provided seemed more practical and less filled with baseball platitudes than we get from many former players. Brady has also worked with a number of the Orioles on their hitting (Nolan Reimold and Mark Reynolds, at least) and he seems to really enjoy being around the game and the team. He lives in California but is in Baltimore quite a bit. One mark against Brady is that he's a bit soft spoken, and listening to his voice all season long might not sit well with everyone.
Ben McDonald - Another guest broadcaster in 2010, Big Ben was, in my opinion, a hoot. From his deep southern drawl to his pitching experiences to stories about back home in Louisiana, Ben was thoroughly entertaining in his time in the booth. The catch, though, is that other than his guest appearances, Big Ben hasn't been seen much in the baseball world. My hunch (although it's just a hunch) is that he is happy to be around periodically, but enjoys his life wrestling alligators and such too much to make it a full time job.
Ken Singleton - Singleton has been in the broadcasting biz a long time, and since 1997 he has been doing Yankees games. I don't know what his contract status with YES is (or why he'd ever want to leave them), but his history as a great Orioles hitter would be a nice contrast to Jim Palmer. He also still lives in the Baltimore area in the off-season, so that might be incentive to him to come work for the Orioles.
Rob Dibble - AHAHAHAAHA imagine? Just kidding.
Don Sutton - I got the chance to listen to Don Sutton when he was working for the Nationals, and I liked him a lot. He's currently in Atlanta, and I can't imagine he'd want to leave since he has spent most of his broadcasting career with the Braves, but I'd like him in the booth.
Kevin Millar - Ok, so we all know that Millar is a doofus, and I know some of you don't like him at all. He doesn't have any broadcasting experience, though he has been working as an "analyst" on MLB Network this season. He's a Red Sock at heart, but he did seem to enjoy his time with the Orioles. And he certainly wasn't a great Oriole (or even a great player) but he does have enough personality for the entire broadcast team.
I also considered Steve Stone for this list, the former Oriole who has been broadcasting in Chicago for the Cubs and White Sox for about a million years. I thought he might like getting away from Hawk Harrelson, but research shows that he just signed a six-year contract with the White Sox in 2009, so I guess he doesn't mind him too much.
Also, as an aside, I really hope they give Amber Theoharis a chance to do some play-by-play next season. She has the knowledge and experience, and the fact that the Orioles have put Roch Kubatko in the booth over her makes me think the only thing that has kept her from getting the chance so far is her gender. Back when she was the sideline reporter I always thought her rapport with the guys in the booth was very good, so it'd be interesting to see what she could do.
So what do you think? Any names you'd like to add to the list? We have to watch this miserable team for six months, it'd be nice if we could have some good broadcasters to make the season a little easier.