Many of you have asked me what the Mariners are going to do with their broadcast team in 2012 — the second season since Dave Niehaus’s death.
Now I can give you an answer: They’re not going to do anything different. No formal announcement has been made, but Randy Adamack, the Mariners’ vice president of communications, confirms that they will keep the same format as last year. That is, they will have three core announcers — Rick Rizzs, Dave Sims and Mike Blowers — supplemented by a revolving cast of voices who worked with Niehaus in the past. That cast, I’m told, will again consist of Ron Fairly, Ken Wilson, Ken Levine, Dave Valle, Dave Henderson, Dan Wilson and Jay Buhner. Rainiers announcer Mike Curto, who subbed a few times last year, is not part of that rotation but may again be used as a fill-in.
“We had good feedback from our fans on the concept of having a rotating fourth announcer,” Adamack said. “Last year we were operating mostly in the shadow of Mr. Niehaus’s passing. We weren’t prepared to make any long-term decision at this point. Based on what we heard last year, we decided to continue doing what we’re doing.”
Last year, we were told that this plan would “most likely” be for just one season,” but that thinking obviously changed. The working plan, however, is for this to be the final season of a revolving group before a permanent voice is added to the crew.
“We’ll do this for one more year,” Adamack said. “I highly doubt we would continue the same format beyond this year.”
Once again, Sims and Blowers will work on the television side, while Rizzs will anchor the radio broadcast as the primary play-by-play man, teaming with the revolving committee of announcers.
“We haven’t set up a schedule or anything like that,” Adamack said. “How the schedule flows or how many games each person does, we’re not even close to a conclusion. But conceptually, everyone is on board.”
The original intent last year was to avoid putting pressure on a newcomer to fill the void left by the death of the legendary Niehaus. Furthermore, it was felt that by bringing back announcers who worked with Niehaus, it would be a perfect way to pay homage to Dave.
When the new format was announced last January, Rizzs said, “I think it’s a great idea to bring the old guys back. We worked with Dave the longest and knew him the best. I think we’re the best ones to protect his legacy and carry it forward.”
I was at the ballpark a lot, obviously, so I didn’t always get to listen to the broadcasts. But I enjoyed hearing the different voices and styles. The feedback I got from fans was mostly positive. It’s amazing how strong the aura of Niehaus remains, and how powerfully his absence is still felt. Eventually, the Mariners will have to bring in a replacement, but for one more year, this is a sensible solution.