Chris Berman is on color commentary for tonight’s Home Run Derby, which means that hordes of fans and sports media members will gripe about him on Twitter. That hyperlink may differ slightly depending on when you click on it, but I just scrolled through several screens and caught universal negativity. I guess I understand why people seem to be tired of Berman’s shtick, but I disagree.
When ESPN trots Berman out for the U.S. Open, I suppose I can sympathize with die hard golf enthusiasts who want the major called straight, but I’m honestly unsure as to how a play-by-play guy should approach the Home Run Derby differently. It’s not an especially compelling event, and the broadcast needs a good deal of color.
Berman will say “back” perhaps over 100 times, and he’ll quip that especially deep dingers reached distant Minnesota locales like Mankato or Duluth, and lost in everybody’s annoyance about that will be that he’s genuinely enthusiastic for the duration of several hours of televised batting practice. It would be torture if Berman were replaced with an announcer who takes the event, and himself, way too seriously for the role. It’s rare for someone to criticize Boomer, and concurrently name a replacement who would actually be better.
I’ve also always enjoyed the way Berman narrates football highlights. Before the Red Zone Channel, GIFs, and general NFL omnipresence, ESPN’s Primetime with Boomer and Tom Jackson (and epic background music) was appointment viewing on Sunday nights. Even though, at this point, I’ve seen all the plays exhaustively throughout the day and could probably write up the script with scary accuracy, I still try to catch Berman and T.J. on SportsCenter at night to digest NFL Sundays.
Chris Berman has been on ESPN for my entire life as a devout sports fan, and there’s comfort for me in that constancy.