Monday, July 23, 2007

Pleasant Surprise

The Cincinnati Enquirer heaps a bunch of love on Jeff Brantley for his performance as color man on Reds radio broadcasts this year:

When the Reds revamped their radio lineup for this season, the addition of Brennaman - a pro's pro reunited with his father, Marty - dominated headlines. He certainly hasn't disappointed. But it's Brantley, 43, a former Reds reliever and "Baseball Tonight" analyst, who has been a revelation . . .

. . . Brantley's deep voice, Alabama-born and Mississippi-cured, goes down as sweet and smooth as barbecue and beer on a summer night. Great plays earn an "Oh, mah goodness!" Fastballs travel "raght down Broahdway." A pitcher works "as slow as Christmahs."

Road trips and clear night have enabled me to catch a handful of random Reds broadcasts this year, and I have to admit he isn't half bad in his new gig. Yes, Brantley was closer to execrable than exquisite while he was at ESPN, but his down-homey stuff seems to play much better on a relaxed radio broadcast than it does on a fast-paced show like Baseball Tonight. Less forced, even if it still seems a bit phony. Plus, now that he's no longer required to squeeze that fine mullet into a suit and isn't flanked by two other guys doing the same job he is, he no longer seems to be straining to make observations.

Excellent? Far from it, but he is passable and improving as the season wears on, and that's far more than anyone could have expected from Jeff Brantley when they heard about his new gig.

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