Pat and Ron: Shafted

USA Today has come out with a special section on "Baseball Announcers Yesterday & Today." Overall, it's a really entertaining package. It includes a ranking of all current radio announcing teams, and for the most part I think they get things right. Except. They rank Pat Hughes & Ron Santo a ridiculous 13th in the NL and 26th in the majors! Come on! They score along three axes, two of which are "fan rating" (the excitement and uniqueness the announcers bring to the broadcast, as well as their ability to connect with their audience) and "entertainment rating" (how well the announcers interact, the fun they have in the booth and the stories they tell, among other things) and I don't see any possible way that Pat & Ron (and especially Ron) could be rated lower than a "9" in either of these categories. They offer a feedback link, and I hope the members of the TCR community will take a few seconds to drop them an email in defense of one of the most entertaining radio teams in baseball.


Deja vu.

I understand why a national publication ranked them so low. If you're a Cubs fan, they're great. (I love Pat & Ron). If you're not a Cubs fan, Ron is almost unlistenable. Or so I've been told by non-Cubs fans.

(I posted this a couple months ago...)

But it IS an outrage, and deserves further attention.

Oops, sorry Trans, looks like you posted it when I was in the middle of my move.

Well, I'm just now getting outraged about it, so there you go!

Great post. Ron nationally is not liked and he is unbearable to listen to. I am a Cubs fan and almost get a rash if I have to be in a car while the game is going on. Pat is really good, great voice smooth transitions, always on top of the game, but Ron is just out of it and brings nothing to the broadcast unless the game is a blowout and then his "style" can then bring something to "entertain" the broadcast.

I'm a Cubs fan, and I find Ron Santo almost unlistenable. He talks when he shouldn't, yells at the players instead of telling me the game, etc... No doubt he's a great part of Cubs legacy, but that doesn't mean I have to like his broadcasting.

The key with Santo is that you have to view him as a mascot, not an analyst or even as a color commentator. When I made that change in my own mind, he got a lot more tolerable.

Occasionally, he actually offers some insight and it's almost like when your small child learns to spell his name. "Wow! Look what came out of Ron!"

Pat Hughes is a saint.

Those rankings are a bunch of crap. They are nothing more than a publicity grab -- a weak attempt to generate controversy and sell papers. USA Today just wants fans to go to internet bulletin boards and post their reactions, and I for one won't let that happen!

>>>The key with Santo is that you have to view him as a mascot, not an analyst or even as a color commentator. When I made that change in my own mind, he got a lot more tolerable.

Occasionally, he actually offers some insight and it's almost like when your small child learns to spell his name. "Wow! Look what came out of Ron!"


Pat Hughes is the Master of Inflection.

I said it last time - I'm surprised they aren't lower. I can't even bring myself to listen anymore. Ron rambles like a senile old man, takes two innings to read a fax, then makes fun of Pat for being cheap and having an ugly sweater. Then he says "Oh boy" and we're supposed to call that analysis.

Pat sounds like Ted Baxter and often commits the greatest sin, missing pitches, to indulge Ron. They're banter is often painful to listen to, the interviews worse.

I find the Sox radio duo to be dull, but competent.

Pat Hughes and Steve Stone would be the ultimate broadcast duo. I'll bet if Stoney hung with Hughes for a few monthe, Stoney's inflection would improve. Everything else is already perfect with those two.

Are you serious, you think they should be higher? I think the rating is generous. While I feel bad for Santo for his health, he is the worst announcer EVER!!! Pat Hughes is a great announcer, unfortunately he is brought down by Santo.

"The key with Santo is that you have to view him as a mascot, not an analyst or even as a color commentator. When I made that change in my own mind, he got a lot more tolerable."

Might as well make Ronnie Woo Woo the color commentator then.

Wow. I love Ron Santo as a broadcaster and I know many non Cub fans who love his enthusiasm. The problem with these ratings are they are based on quick hits and the way Pat and Ron work together can work on many levels if you listen long enough.

I love Ron Santo for all he has overcome and the great years he gave as a Cub player, but he should be no where near a microphone.
If Chicago wants to live up to the image of a hick town with skyscrapers, keep Ron in the booth.
Pat Hughes is the most entertaining and descriptive play by play guys in the business. He is awesome, I was suprised he was not offered the TV play by play, but I've grown to like Ken Lasper.

Ramirez to the DL, Cedeno recalled.

I just have to say that I love Ron and Pat. Ron can be very fun to listen is like sitting next to an older friend who really shares my enthusiasm for the game and love of the Cubs. In that light...all the flaws really don't amount to much. Ron cares...and that trumps most everything else.

I would much rather have Ron than some generic, corporate sounding Guy Smiley figure who is just gaming for a network gig.

And Pat...Saint Pat...not only is he one of the best in the business...he treats Ron with exactly the right sense of respect and friendship every true Cub fan would want.

DeJesusFreak, I admire your open-mindedness regarding Santo. Several years ago, a buddy explained to me, "Dave Otto's not stupid, he's just drunk. Look at that perma-grin." I went from hating Otto to being completely amused by him.

I'll never, however, find a redeeming quality in Chip Caray.

If you look on the USA today site, they already posted the feedback that people have given to those rankings.

I looked for it today and couldn't find it. I read it yesterday, because the author of the rankings (Steve Gardner) called me earlier this week to verify that it was OK to use my comments about how Pat and Ron are better than they ranked them.

Manny - Nothing would make Ronnie Woo Woo even close to tolerable excect disappearing from this earth. He's a scumbag, sideshow act and I have no trouble in stating that I'd wish he'd just go away so I never have to hear his ridiculous chant (or any other dope mimicking him).

I'm weighing in on this.

I don't friggin' care what national people think or rank broadcasts. I'm sure if they rated TV broadcasts Joe Morgan would be their top pick and he sucks bigtime as an announcer.

I want someone who bleeds Cub blue, who is a fan, who dies every time they screw up and blow a game. Insight is fine but with all the sports talk options I get enough critical insight. I don't want corporate density/sterility like we got with Joe Carter either. At least Ron's density is more related to him just getting a bit senile. We've had that before with Harry and Vince & Lou (stumbles and mumbles).

We have a person who personifies his emotions worn on his sleeve. I don't think a broadcast could have ever said more about a single play the Brant Brown call Ronnie did. The play by play stuff is done so beautifully by Pat Hughes. So in a city like Chicago, that's an earthy broadcast. I'm listening to them over our current TV side for most games.

Steve Stone in the TV booth? We had it all with Harry/Steve to complement Pat & Ron. Those days are gone courtesy of Dusty/Hendry/McFail's lack of backing Stoney up when Dusty's players went out of control last year.

I can't believe people actually like Steve Stone. Since Harry passed, he has been acting like he knows EVERYTHING about the game. He also thinks that we are all idiots that watch the game. I don't need him to tell me "the next pitch should be a slider, and if it is--we'll be out of the inning...."

I don't need a color commentator anymore. We all know what is going on. The main purpose Santo serves is to have the connection with the fan. He feels like we feel.

Speaking of shafted, did anyone notice this Tom Verducci gem in the August 8th SI? "Sandberg's entry opens the door for Roberto Alomar, Jeff Kent and Craig Biggio, all of whom have more prolific credentials than Sandberg and reflect
the offensive emphasis at the position in the past 20 years."

Firstly, how can credentials be "prolific"? Verducci is a hack.

Secondly, I won't argue the merits of one versus another, but Alomar, Biggio, Kent, and Sandberg rank on roughly equal footing in terms of the all-time greats. None is Eddie Collins or (gag) Joe Morgan, but all are terrific. Yet Verducci can't resist a shot at Sandberg. My theory is that he's bitter over the two division titles Ryno cost his beloved Mets in the '80s.

Question: Do you think Verducci and Little Joe were hanging out together on induction weekend, perhaps sticking pins into Ryno's baseball cards?

The nice back story and history on Ron makes for an emotional connection like in 2003 where you could tell it meant as much to him as it did to the players on the field.

BUT, I live in Los Angeles so only listen to his broadcasts a few days a season...I too would have trouble listening to him daily. Pat hughes is great, but the chemistry is just off because their personalities are so different.

Ron is a nice story, and certainly the people who grew up watching him play feel a connection that some of us younger folk may not feel....he is a nice story...but his marketability overshadows his deficiant broadcast talents

i agree with Cubster. Ron is our fan representative in the booth. He's one of us, not one of them.

I'm from the camp that if I wanted to listen to a fan, why not just put a mike on a drunk fan in the stands...I like commentary...while on occassion I may know what is going on, it's still nice to hear from an analyst and get their perspective.

You can say that Stone thinks he knows everything...but we fans tend to think we know everything too...despite strong evidence to the contrary.

I haven't been impressed with some of Stone's egotistical antics of this year and a little bit last year...but as a color commentator, I think he was excellent

Adam, Ron is hardly a drunk fan with a mike. I am not old enough to have ever watched Ron play, but I look at him as a grandfather-type. Sure, he isn't the best at describing plays, but when something good happens, I know I can celebrate along with him. I love listening to Ron, even when he mispronounces peoples names, forgets parts of stories, etc. I also love how sometimes Pat corrects/helps him, and sometimes you can tell Pat just lets it go. I enjoy what Ron brings to the game.

Dave Otto reminded me of the big puppet band on stage at Chuck-E-Cheese's when I was a kid. Every time he would say something he thought was important, he'd close his eyes and turn his head back and forth, then continue on with what he was saying, just like those mechanical animals.

"Adam, Ron is hardly a drunk fan with a mike. I am not old enough to have ever watched Ron play, but I look at him as a grandfather-type"

I was going off the statement that others wanted a "fan like us" and "one of us" was more of a rebutal against the general statement...I agree, Ron is not close to the same level as drunk fan with a mike.

>Pat . . . often commits the greatest sin, missing pitches, to indulge Ron.


Listening to WGN radio, I often suspected this was the case (you'd hear the bat make contact with the ball while Ron was meandering through one of his stories where he could never quite gets the facts straight or remember the names of all the principals--and many seconds later, Pat would interject something like, "A grounder foul").

Then, I started watching the games on TV while turning the TV sound down, and listening to the play-by-play on radio. Turns out, they often miss several pitches an inning while Pat's busy indulging Ron.

Unfortunately, what Ron doesn't seem to have a grasp of is the cadence, the tempo, the feel for broadcasting a game on radio. Unlike TV, where you can get a bit long-winded (because the audience SEES the action on the screen), you've got to deliver your commentary in short bursts on radio to allow the play-by-play guy to call just about every pitch. You need to be able to EDIT your thoughts and work around the normal pacing of the game. Ron doesn't do that.

I believe who you are describing would be "Hawk" Harrelson.


Show a little emotion but the moans and grunts are not the reason I'm listening to the game, I will decide for myself if that a play sucked. At least let me here it descibed by Pat.

Did you hear Hawk yell "Damn!" yesterday, when Twins tied the game? What a tool.

A good analogy for Ron's broadcasting is that he is like a laugh track for a sitcom. I will laugh is the joke is funny, I don't need to be cued.

I think Santo is great. I just don't see why people don't like him. The vast majority of color commentators don't add much insight to the game. We need Ron around for entertainment, a guy who shows some emotion and cracks a joke at Pat's expense. I love the Cubs radio announcers.

Here's what I sent to the feedback:

How can you rank Pat & Ron 26th? That's insulting!

To the 4 teams ranked lower.

I love listening to a critical moment only to have Ron read a fax, forget the number of outs, forget the score, and be unable to see the play.

Then, Pat recovers by making some pithy joke.

I'm sorry, but Ron is seldom coherent. I'll listen to Pat all day, but Ron really, really grates.

I'm mystified at Uecker being ranked only 3rd. He and Jim Powell never miss a pitch and are endlessly entertaining. You have to be to make people listen to a Brewers game.

As a fan of a team that is not the Cubs, and additionally as a person who lived in the suburbs of Chicago for 9 years -

Pat Hughes is pretty good. Well above average in fact, and I liked listening to him.

Ron Santo is, I'm sure, a nice guy, who I think deserves to be in the hall of fame as a player. As an announcer, he's hands down the worst I've ever heard in my entire life. Maybe you can take it as a Cubs fan, but hearing him yell "NO" during a bad play and "YES" during a good play drove me nuts - I wanted to know what happened beyond knowing which way it went for the Cubs.

Although, his Brant Brown dropped ball yelling was entertaining.....

Maybe this topic has been worked to death, but with the games unremarkable (or unwatchable) at this point I find myself thinking about little things like: anybody else have a problem with Hughes not saying the score enough, or sometimes saying it obliquely?

I notice that he often starts innings (or half-innings) by pointedly talking about something *other* than the score, the game, baseball, etc. Also, an example of obliqueness: I usually can only tune in here and there to day games while I'm at work. Yesterday I did so just after Hairston hit his 3-run double, and Hughes said: "...and now it's a 7-4 game!" As somebody who hadn't heard anything about the game until that point, it left me more confused than informed.


Maybe now I know why Santo comes to Baker's defense when Santo realizes the current manager doesn't live up to his billing. He hears this stuff and he has something in common with Baker and maybe he thinks Baker is getting a raw deal too (which I don't think he is getting a raw deal...Baker does suck).

I look at Ron as being a Cub that brings together all generations....current and past. He isn't there to do what Steve Stone was there to do. He isn't there to explain baseball...he isn't there to explain strategy...he's there to reflect on his feelings and experiences of being a's not a typical color-commentary job.

As for Steve Stone....the man does know it all. He has great foresight in calling a game...For those who say he doesn't know it all...he does.

I love Ron Santo, and if I ever got to meet the guy, I'd give that old cub a big hug and thank him profusely for years of entertainment, but his broadcasting leaves much to be desired. He simply is not a functional analyst. It's not even fair to call him an analyst. He's ron santo. He is the ultimate homer.
I want to learn something about the game from the analysts.
Ron will make a few insightful points each game, but for the most part, he's one of the least insightful analysts I've ever heard.
Pat Hughes is a play by play stud in my opinion.I can't imagine anyone dealing with ron better. He's witty, sharp, enthusiastic, professional, and has a tremendous voice. If I ever meet him I want to ask him to record my outgoing voicemail message.

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  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 5 hours 5 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 8 hours 3 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 8 hours 15 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 8 hours 24 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 8 hours 30 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 8 hours 48 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 9 hours 24 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 9 hours 42 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 9 hours 44 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 10 hours 2 min ago view
  • j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.

    crunch 10 hours 9 min ago view
  • so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.

    im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.

    crunch 11 hours 5 min ago view
  • That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.

    johann 11 hours 22 min ago view
  • 9 pitches in and this game already rules.

    HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).

    ...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.

    crunch 11 hours 27 min ago view
  • First time I saw Herrera was yesterday. He took like 100 pitches, fouled off a ton off Lester.

    Very nice young player and perfect leadoff guy.

    The E-Man 12 hours 37 min ago view
  • Obviously not Phil. But he mentioned this on Wednesday.

    "Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2."

    In the comments here:

    QuietMan 13 hours 16 min ago view