I should point out that I don’t know the man personally, so let’s just get that out of the way. He could be a cool dude, or he could be a total prick, I would have no idea. I’m sure, as a human being, he’s fine. Seems to get along with people, seems to have some stories of conversations he’s had with various people in the sports world. You probably don’t get to do what he does for a living by being a complete asshole.
So, this is strictly a critique of Dave Sims, Broadcaster. And, more specifically: Dave Sims, Broadcaster of Mariners Games on Root Sports.
On the radio, I actually don’t mind his work. I’ve heard him call Sunday Night Football on the radio and he’s actually pretty good. I’ve heard him give interviews on the radio and found him engaging and forthright. Whereas on Root Sports, he’s an employee of the Seattle Mariners, and as such has to give a Glass Half Full spin on any analysis he’s giving; but on the radio (usually in the off-season), he’s more free to speak his mind and tell it (roughly) like it is. Surprisingly, it’s refreshing to hear Dave Sims give an interview away from the Seattle Mariners Cocoon of Sunshine.
But, on those Root Sports broadcast … ye gods!
I tend to have a real problem when it comes to sports talking heads. Game broadcasters, talk radio hosts, television analysts: once I get it in my head that someone sucks, or is annoying, or just a dumb piece of shit who constantly spouts misinformation like it’s fact, unwittingly belaboring a point based on nonsense … I can’t bring myself to listen to them without wanting to physically hurt someone or something around me.
It’s not a large list of broadcasters, but it’s definitely growing:
- Skip Bayless
- Stephen A. Smith
- Tim McCarver
- Mel Kiper
- Dick Fain
- Trent Dilfer (about half the time)
- Dave Sims
You’ll never find me watching First Take. Until he retired from the Fox broadcast, you’d never find me watching them cover a baseball game with McCarver in the booth. I can sit through the NFL draft, but any other time of year where ESPN features Mel Kiper or Trent Dilfer, I’m turning the channel. I’ve already gone over the whole problem with local sports radio ad nauseum. But, there’s a problem when it comes to the Mariners’ Root Sports broadcasts: you can’t just mute them and play the radio coverage because they don’t sync up.
So, I’m forced to sit through three hours of Dave Sims whenever I manage to sit down and watch a full Mariners broadcast. It’s brutal. He laughs uncontrollably over the dumbest shit. He talks over Mike Blowers (who is a consummate pro and a pleasure to have on the broadcast team). He has no ability whatsoever to let a scene breathe, instead opting to fill as much time as possible with inane chatter, as if society itself would crumble if we’re deprived of hearing Dave Sims’ voice for longer than three seconds. If the offense is struggling (which is always), it sounds as if Dave Sims couldn’t be more uninterested in what’s going on. He’s constantly losing his mind over fly ball outs, as if he’s either been fooled into thinking they’re home runs, or he’s trying to fool the viewer into thinking they’re home runs to generate false excitement (either way makes him equally terrible). And this year more than any other, he’s been forgetting names, calling people by the wrong names, and giving us calls like this, which are total embarrassments to the organization. I listened to that call live and heard what he was blathering about prior to the home run … and it STILL doesn’t make any sense when you know all the context!
What really brings it home isn’t his need for perfect pronunciation of obscure Latino names, or the fact that he was tasked with effectively replacing a legend in Dave Niehaus, or his dumb hats that they’re trying to make a thing with annual Safeco give-aways. It was a 4-game series down in Texas, I believe. Back in April. For whatever reason, Dave Sims was gone for those games, so they had Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith filling in for him. And they were EASILY the four best Mariners broadcasts I’ve heard in the last 8 years, since Dave Sims came to town in 2007.
I’m a huge fan of Rizzs; in my eyes, he can do no wrong. If there was a Nice Guy Award, he’d be the reigning winner for the last 30-some-odd years probably. I never really understood why he was phased out of the television side of things in the first place, but I have to admit that it’s a treat to have him on the radio. I have a hard time engaging with radio broadcasts of any sporting event, so 100/100 times I will watch the thing on TV if I have the option. But, with Mariners games, whenever I get the chance, I’ll find myself just listening to the game on the radio. Cut out the headache.
Aaron Goldsmith is a recent hire of the Mariners, who took over as the full-time partner of Rick Rizzs on the radio in 2013. He’s pretty good on the radio, and has a nice rapport with Rizzs, but he was TRULY a revelation when he was doing those two games with Mike Blowers down in Texas.
I’m sure Sims and Blowers have a fine working relationship. I’m sure, when they’re on the road, they probably have meals together, maybe go out for the occasional beer. I’m sure they’re able to swap stories and attend barbecues at one another’s homes every now and again. I can’t remember what they were like when they first started broadcasting together, but I do know that Blowers was relatively new to the profession, and I’m sure he’s done a lot of growing since then. I’d even wager he’s learned a lot by working with Dave Sims all these years. Blowers definitely strikes me as more comfortable on the air than he was at first, able to laugh and joke around more as well. As a pairing, they’re fine. I can’t point to any real glaring holes in their professional repartee.
But, I’ll tell you what, Blowers and Goldsmith? For whatever reason, they worked together like peanut butter and jelly. Peas and carrots. Hamburgers and French Fries (LAY OFF ME, I’M STARVING!!!). The point is, they seemed to fit so naturally together, I actually found myself enjoying what turned out to be mostly losing baseball games. Goldsmith had some good behind-the-scenes stories to tell. He asked interesting questions of Mike Blowers, who in turn gave interesting answers and insights we don’t normally get when he’s doing a game with Sims. Maybe it was just the fact that Blowers was working with someone new (Blowers was also particularly elegant in his commentary when he did a dual-simulcast with the Colorado Rockies announcers back in Spring Training that was broadcast on Root Sports), but to me, it felt like the wave of the future. Aaron Goldsmith and Mike Blowers should be the full time television announcers of Seattle Mariners games, and they should be given that charge sooner rather than later.
The biggest gripe I have with Dave Sims is the biggest gripe I have with flamboyant NBA referees and hard-ass MLB umpires: he makes every game all about himself. It’s The Dave Sims Show! … featuring the Seattle Mariners (and Mike Blowers sometimes). Good announcers – like good refs and umps – allow you to lose yourself in the action, forgetting they’re even a part of the game. Bad announcers keep pounding you over the head with their presence, because in their vanity they can’t help but scream out: I EXIST! PAY ATTENTION TO ME!
When Goldsmith and Blowers were at the helm, I was able to lose myself in the games they announced. With Dave Sims, I can only sit there and long for commercial breaks. The annoying EQC ads for upcoming has-beens in concert and the non-stop AT&T sleeping baby bullshit. THAT is better than Dave Sims, which really says it all.