This spring the Dodgers have been auditioning candidates to be the secondary play-by-play announcer, for the games Vin Scully doesn't broadcast. Generally, Scully doesn't travel east of Colorado except for special occasions. By my count, there are
42 41 such games this season:
- April 21-23: 3 games in Houston
- May 12-17: 3 games in Philadelphia, 3 games in Florida
- May 28-31: 4 games at Wrigley Field (final game is ESPN Sunday Night game)
- June 12-14: 3 games in Texas
- June 23-25: 3 games at Comiskey Park
- July 7-12: 3 games in New York, 3 games in Milwaukee
- July 27-August 2: 4 games in St. Louis, 3 games in Atlanta
- August 28-30: 3 games in Cincinnati
- September 22-28: 3 games in Washington, 4 games in Pittsburgh
In the last few years, Charley Steiner served as the secondary television play-by-play man in addition to working the radio broadcasts with Rick Monday in the other games. However, the Dodgers announced in December that Steiner and Monday would broadcast all games on radio this season, creating the opening for the new TV play-by-play job. Steve Lyons will serve as the television analyst for these non-Scully games.
Here is a look at the six candidates for this position:
Joe Block: Currently works for Comcast as a football, basketball, and baseball announcer, and also serves as radio studio host for the New Orleans Hornets. Block also worked radio play-by-play for the Montreal Expos, and was the announcer for former Dodger minor league affiliate Jacksonville Suns from 2003-2006 (hat tip to Eric Enders for this tidbit).
Eric Collins: Has worked for ESPN and ABC Sports, primarily announcing college football, but also has college baseball experience as well. He also announced baseball and basketball in the Beijing Olympics for NBC last summer.
Tom Hart: Currently works for CBS College Sports, primarily announcing football and basketball. According to his bio, "Hart also spent nine summers calling minor league baseball for the farm clubs of the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Blue Jays, White Sox, and Mets and is a two-time winner of the Southern League Broadcaster of the Year Award."
Ken Levine: He is the co-host of DodgerTalk on KABC 790, as well as an accomplished television comedy writer. Levine has worked TV and radio play-by-play for the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and San Diego Padres.
Josh Suchon: He is also a co-host of DodgerTalk, and in addition to working as play-by-play man for the Modesto Nuts for a year, Suchon was a beat writer for the Giants, then the A's, for seven years. Please don't hold it against him that he once wrote a book about Barry Bonds, entitled "This Gracious Season: Barry Bonds & The Greatest Year in Baseball."
Ben Wagner: For the last two years, he served as play-by-play man for the AAA Buffalo Bisons. He announced for the single-A Lakewood BlueClaws, then a Phillies affiliate, three years before that. At 28 years old, Wagner is the youngest of the six candidates.
I really like Levine; I think he is hilarious. He and Suchon have a good chemistry and rapport on DodgerTalk, though, and in this case that works against him since I don't want to break them up. My favorite of the six candidates is Joe Block. I like his voice and his announcing style. Plus, I like the fact that he was there for the "Jacksonville Five." Of the current 40-man roster of the Dodgers, 14 played in Jacksonville during Block's tenure there. I like the potential perspective he might bring to the Dodgers' announcing booth.