Not everyone cared for Ken Levine's broadcasting style. But it's hard to argue that he doesn't love baseball.
How many people would give up a comfortable existence as a Los Angeles-based television script writer, moving 3,000 miles away from family to take a job that paid less and demanded constant travel?
Finally, though, Levine decided that, as wonderful as it was to be a Baltimore Orioles radio play-by-play man, it was time to look beyond the Esskay scoreboard.
On Wednesday night, Levine told WBAL Radio he was resigning, but it was far from a snap decision.
"It has been a decision that has been brewing for a couple of months," Levine said yesterday from California. "For the sake of my family, for the sake of my [writing] career, I had to give it up."
Levine had to consider whether he could continue working with his longtime writing partner, David Isaacs.
"It's one thing to do this for a year," Levine said, "but if I was to do it for a few years, it could mean the end of an 18-year association."
Levine said he wasn't prepared for the criticism that went with the job.
"There were aspects about it that were more difficult than I imagined," he said. "I imagined there was a resistance to a new voice and a new style. There was some feeling by some people that 'Who is this Hollywood guy coming out to do baseball?' "
His partner for a season, Jon Miller, said Levine did a good job.
"I think he advanced the way you would expect as time went on," Miller said. "The ultimate thing is: When the ball gets hit, do you know what happens? I think you did."
Overall, Levine said he is glad to have spent a season with the Orioles.
"Why would I make all these sacrifices if I didn't really love it? I considered it a very positive experience."
So, whether you believe Levine jumped or was pushed -- rumors abounded that people connected with the Orioles and the broadcasts weren't happy with his work -- it would be nice to think of his Baltimore summer as a labor of love.
And now we open the Hot Microphone League, that off-season pursuit of Orioles fans trying to guess who will join their favorite club's broadcast team. Ernie Harwell's name has figured prominently in early speculation, and he certainly would be a popular choice. But maybe the Orioles won't be the only ones seeking his services.
WBAL apparently won't go the minor-league route this time, andthat's good news -- as is the possibility that the decision won't take long. After all, the station just went through a search last year after Joe Angel left, so it's not like starting from scratch. But wouldn't it be nice to hear all the same voices again?
"From my selfish point of view, I'd like to have some continuity," Miller said.
From the fans' point of view, so would listeners.*
Look for (or maybe look out for) Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda as a pre-game analyst on CBS' National League playoff telecasts tomorrow and Sunday. . . . For those of you keeping score at home, Tom Davis' "Braase, Donovan and Fans" has moved to Channel 13, airing Sundays at noon. . . . Art Sinclair's "Pigskins and Point Spreads" returns to the air tomorrow night on WCBM (680 AM). The two-hour show begins at 8. For information purposes only; no wagering, please.
There was such a positive response from last week's introduction of a new feature, "Things My Boss Wants to Know," that it's returning this week. Well, there was a small but enthusiastic response. Very small, but very enthusiastic. Actually, most of the response emanated from my boss' office. But he really liked it.
Things My Boss Wants to Know: Why can't we find a way to mention Jerry Seinfeld -- who's extremely funny -- in this column, even though he has a sitcom that has nothing to do with sports? (I don't know, boss, but I'll work on it.). . . . How does CBS get away with forcing its reporter and play-by-play announcer on the American League playoffs to share a room? (Uh, boss, Lesley Visser and Dick Stockton are married.). . . . Why does Hank Stram's "hair" look so much better when he works "Monday Night Football" for CBS Radio?