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Orioles announce 2021 broadcast team, making reported shakeup official

Gary Thorne and a number of other longtime Orioles broadcast stalwarts are officially out.

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MLB: SEP 06 Yankees at Orioles Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Orioles announced their 2021 TV and radio broadcast team on Monday afternoon, confirming the substance of the weekend’s reporting from Brittany Ghiroli at The Athletic about a number of longtime Orioles broadcasters who aren’t being brought back for the 2021 season.

The announcement from the team focused only on the pared down group retained for 2021. In alphabetical order by last name: Geoff Arnold, Kevin Brown, Scott Garceau, Brett Hollander, Rob Long, Ben McDonald, Melanie Newman, and Jim Palmer.

This is a significantly smaller group than the one that was optimistically announced in the middle of February last year, before anyone knew that the pandemic was going to completely upend the season. Gary Thorne and Jim Hunter are out, as well as longtime Baltimore sports guy Tom Davis, and former Orioles Mike Bordick, Rick Dempsey, Gregg Olson, and Brian Roberts.

The team’s announcement does not address any of the departures except for Dempsey and Roberts, which it notes “will continue to serve as Community Ambassadors.” I would be less than pleased with the role shift if I was either one of those guys. I’ve enjoyed Roberts’s commentary since he started doing games, so for him to be out in this way is a bummer as well. It stinks for everyone who was unceremoniously dumped in this way, but especially so for all of the people who never got to take up a mic in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Thorne and Orioles fans both deserved better than to have him gone from the airwaves without any more notice than this. Even Hunter, who I was less a fan of, deserves better than to be shuffled off in favor of Garceau, who was not a positive addition to the broadcasts when he joined in 2020 after a nearly three decade layoff from calling baseball games.

In a separate announcement, the Orioles-owned TV network MASN said on Monday that it will be launching an app for in-market streaming for the 2021 season. This is not as significant of a development as it may sound at first because the app will still require login information for a cable subscriber that has the MASN package, so anyone hoping to just subscribe to MLB’s streaming service and avoid blackouts in the Orioles TV radius will continue to be disappointed.

It is, at least, something. The Orioles are, if not the last team, one of the last teams to take the step to allow in-market streaming for subscribers. If you find yourself at the MVA on a Wednesday afternoon in June where the O’s are playing a getaway day game, you will be able to watch on your phone. Other similar situations where you might be near your phone or tablet but not near a TV turned to MASN will now be open for Orioles broadcasts as well.

MASN’s announcement includes a quote from the network’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and General Sales Manager, John McGuinness, in which he says that the network will “broadcast more than 300 baseball games and 600 30-minute pre- and post-game shows.”

That’s an interesting thing for him to say because The Athletic’s reporting indicated that the network would no longer be providing the pre- and post-game shows in the same format as always, with the same game broadcast crew providing shorter pre- and post-game content rather than having a separate show with different broadcasters.

Someone could disingenuously promise 600 pre- and post-game shows, implying it’ll be the same as ever while shaking it up to a new, shorter format, but the specific marker of 30-minute shows is a promise conflicting with the weekend’s reporting. I guess we’ll see what comes along when the regular season rolls around.

The MASN announcement only highlights by name Brown, Garceau, McDonald, and Palmer out of the eight who were in the Orioles announcement. That seems to suggest the other four will mainly be doing radio broadcasts. The O’s announcement does promise “select appearances on MASN” from Arnold, Hollander, and Newman. My experience with this language over the years is “select appearances” is not a large number, so don’t expect to see much of that trio on MASN.