As you watch the Orioles on Home Team Sports and channels 13 and 54 this season, please keep this in mind: This year's lead analyst, Mike Flanagan, is not last year's commentator, John Lowenstein.
Never has been and never will be.
"We are inherently different. John was always a different breed of cat, especially as a player, and I enjoyed that part of it and he brought that to the booth," said Flanagan before his first regular-season telecast Tuesday.
"I don't think anyone could imitate what he brought to the booth. He was always a little against the grain. He's a former teammate and friend and he's still a friend. I hope I just bring a different insight."
Flanagan will bring a quieter, more analytical approach to Orioles telecasts than the more flamboyant Lowenstein. But as writers who have covered the team over the past 20 years will tell you, the former Cy Young winner will be no less funny than "Brother Lo," just different.
Beyond getting past comparisons with Lowenstein, the hardest part of Flanagan's new gig is going to be forgetting where he's been and what he's done.
For most of the past 20 years, Flanagan has been a part of the Orioles' organization, and spent last season as the team's pitching coach, gathering contacts that are, of course, invaluable to a commentator who needs to deliver the inside stuff to a hungry audience.
On the flip side, too much familiarity can reduce an announcer to being less than candid at best to a homer at worst, something that Flanagan pledges to work hard not to be.
"Just because that job [pitching coach] ended didn't mean the emotional attachment stopped. Now, I just get to take some of the things that endeared them to me, and I get to express that, which is probably a plus," said Flanagan.
"The other side is am I going to be open enough to criticize. I'm a little bit concerned with that. But I think once the games start, you know what it takes to win, and we'll judge that accordingly."
More baseball hires at Fox
Fox announced this week that it has secured the services of producer Michael Weisman and director Bill Webb for its baseball telecasts, scheduled to start in June.
Webb, a two-time sports Emmy winner, was lead director at ABC last season, and was in the production truck for the combined ABC/Baseball Network's coverage of the All-Star Game, playoffs and World Series. Webb will work alongside producer John Filippelli to form the lead production team, working with announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
Weisman, a 15-time sports Emmy winner, was executive producer at NBC Sports from 1983 to 1989, and headed up the network's coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics, as well as a number of World Series, Super Bowl, Wimbledon and French Open telecasts.
During Weisman's reign, NBC came up with split-screen baseball coverage that allowed for the simultaneous telecast of two games, the "Ten-Minute Ticker," and the silent minute during the Super Bowl.
Among Fox's other baseball hires is the addition of producer Carol Langley, who will become the first woman to produce major-league games on a network basis, though she did head up Cleveland Indians broadcasts on the Baseball Network last year.
What a Top 10, baby!
We couldn't let the curtain go down on the college basketball season without sharing a Top Ten list about our favorite peripatetic hoops guru, Dick Vitale, that aired during Monday's David Letterman program and was delivered by the man himself.
Among the ones that can be repeated here from the "Top Ten Signs that Dick Vitale Is Nuts: "
"I like to run through a locker room wearing nothing but a referee's whistle and yelling, "Baby!"
"Five seconds after my first child was born, I dumped Gatorade on my wife."
"My pet project: ESPN3, a new channel devoted to the coverage of my Rogaine treatment."
And finally, "I've referred to everything as baby, except an actual baby."
Pub Date: 4/04/96