I tune into the game yesterday through an online feed, and who do I hear doing play-by-play? Mike Wilner. I have only heard him do one inning before -Ė the first inning on the day of Tom Cheekís tribute. I believe Reed Johnson hit a homerun.
Mike Wilner, or Wiener Milk, is clearly a Box favourite. So why is this important?
I love Tom and Jerry as much as anyone, but I canít describe how good Mr. Milk was, especially in bottom of the fifth inning in. It's 1-0 Reds. Frank Menechino hits a homerun. Wilner goes nuts. Then Alex Rios hits a homerun. Well, you can imagine what came next. I was sitting there, grinning like a fool. Never before have March HRs been so much fun.
Now, heís not a complete homer like others on the radio around the American League. On his postgame show last year, there were many instances of him showing unbiased judgement towards the Blue Jays for something, be it Rios and his sunglasses adventure or him directly asking Carlos Delgado about his situation last July.
On the other hand, he could act different when the Jaysí opponent does something good; like Charlie Steiner during his guest innings last year on the FAN. You know, unenthusiastic and bored. And I should point out something bad about him, just to be somewhat impartial. He gets too excited over strikeouts and minor plays. There. Thatís it. "STRIKE THREE LOOKING!" was a bit loud for my tastes, especially within the nature of a baseball game, and Wilner is usually a calm and steady radio voice, so you donít expect a scream. Vernon Wells beat out an infield grounder and Wilner got too worked up again, but this doesnít take anything away from his ability.
Tom Cheek...well, we all know who he is. Jerry Howarth is another good announcer, and a fine gentleman in his own right. So I hope Iím not advocating broadcast mutiny when I suggest Mike Wilner is not only the Play-By-Play Announcer of the Future, but the best option for the FAN radio network right now. In this fanís opinion, heís that good. I just hope he doesn't end up like Josh Phelps, the former First Baseman of the Future, because I'm sure Mike Wilner does not want to fall apart in his third year and get traded, then go to St. Petersburg and the ugliest stadium in the majors. (Olympic Stadium was the previous worst, but that's another story.)
Jamie Campbell stopped by with Jerry at the end of the game, and gv27 immediately reminded us why he was a great choice for the play-by-play job. He sounds like an intelligent fan, as one would expect from his interview with our own Thomas Ayers, and I can't wait for this season. I know it will be better than 2004, to say the least.
Oh, the game? Well, Josh Towers was very good yesterday. Wilner said he was pitching differently than usual. He was knocking batters off the plate, and his pitches were dancing, not looking like the Towers of old, the "here-it-is-now-hit-it" mentality of the bulldog we know and love (or love to hate). But you can read Towers' quotes -- and there will be good quotes, it is Josh Towers after all -- elsewhere, so I won't go on about him anymore.
Back to Wilner. Some of us remember Frank Catalanotto's stint in the booth last year, and dare I say that we might have a pretty good prospective broadcasting duo here in Toronto? Obviously, Cat has some years left in his career, but I can't help but think how cool it would be when he retires and you could have Mike & Frank set to take over the Tom & Jerry job. If this happens, which is based on nothing but fun to speculate about nonetheless, the former two will have to go a long way to match the terrific career of Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth. Also, Tom's health problems might put an end to his work soon, but who's to say Jerry won't continue his fine work for many more years?
It's a nice problem to have, you know. Many teams don't have one decent broadcaster on television or the radio, and here we have no less than four.
And, as always, if you find a good baseball article out there, share it with us. Don't just link to it though -- tell everyone why they should read it. Is there a funny quote from someone? Did someone get traded? Is Rickey back at age 56? If there's something worth reading, let's hear about it.