OTC: The Sporting News Rates Royals’ Lefebvre & Hudler As Second From The Bottom In MLB

“This is some rah-rah nonsense from (Rex) Hudler…”
Jesse Spector, writer, as he evaluates the work of the Royals TV color analyst Thursday night, sportingnews.com
GH: Sporting News is critiquing the TV broadcast crews of all the MLB teams and Spector was tabbed to evaluate the Royals booth’s work Thursday night in their 11-5 10-inning loss to the Twins. It is not at all fair to randomly choose one game of the team’s 162 to evaluate any part of the organization’s work. This includes the guys broadcasting the game on Fox Sports KC. But one game is all Spector had to give and he dissected Ryan Lefebvre’s and Rex Hudler’s game in such detail he pretty much left the two mic men with their throats slashed and left to bleed out – which might improve their next broadcast. Read on.

“’He’s having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction,’ Lefebvre says, breaching one of the golden rules of baseball broadcasting: DON’T POINT OUT HOW OFTEN BALLPLAYERS (AND SOMETIMES MANAGERS) GET HANDSY IN THE CROTCHULAR AREA. It’s all the time, because in the 140-year history of jockstraps, not a single one has ever stayed in place for more than 20 minutes at a time.”
Jesse Spector, writer, sportingnews.com
GH: If this is one of the GOLDEN RULES of baseball broadcasting, I’ve somehow missed hearing about it in my 50 years of listening and watching baseball. Players and managers scratching, spitting and grabbing ass have always been fair game. What freezes broadcasters with silent fear is the shot of a buxom hottie in the stands…unless you are listening to a Brent Musburger broadcast.

“Perez singles home Gordon. ‘Alex to third, Alex to the plate,’ Lefebvre says as Gordon scores to tie the game. The first-name basis thing is grating.”
Jesse Spector, writer, sportingnews.com
GH: Maybe it’s our Midwestern chumminess but Bob Davis calling the KU players Mario, Connor and Tyshawn has never bothered me.  

“We’ve seen that Lefebvre’s basic play-by-play is lacking in quality, that Hudler’s analysis both misses the mark on the basics and wanders into off-topic nonsense at lousy times, and that the two feed into each other’s weaknesses.”
Jesse Spector, writer, sportingnews.com
GH: Spector did an excellent job fact checking comments made by Lefebvre and Hudler in an effort to refute the. He was very successful in doing so.

“Lefebvre lets the crowd noise carry Gordon around the bases, which is a good choice that a good broadcaster makes before providing some more details, like ‘Gordon takes Pressly deep, and it’s 5-5!’ Instead, Hudler bursts forth with a series of words that come into his brain, some in complete sentences, some not.”
Jesse Spector, writer, sportingnews.com
GH: For some, it only takes a few innings of Rex The Wonder Dog to get the entire bite of his commentary.

“We’ll see how Bruce navigates through this mess. But oftentimes, this is when Bruce Chen is at his best, when the other team thinks that they have him on the ropes.”
Ryan Lefebvre, as Chen loads Thursday night in a 5-5 game Thursday night in the tenth against the Twins, Fox Sports KC
GH: The overall positive tone from Lefebvre and Hudler is not unique to hometown broadcasts. The team is the broadcasters’ boss and they want a positive spin on just about everything that is discussed. Frank White learned that honest critical discussion is not welcome in the Royals booth – and likely very few other MLB booths. Paul Splittorff was the best at being able to criticize the team – sometimes harshly – and remain in the good graces of his employer.

“While Lefebvre is technically right about Chen being ‘at his best when he’s on the ropes’ this year, it’s only on a technicality, as opponents hit .333 against him with runners in scoring position, compared to .343 with the bases empty. He has a 6.46 ERA coming into this game, and it will be 7.45 in a matter of minutes. Chen is always on the ropes.”
Jesse Spector, writer, sportingnews.com
GH: How great would it be if the Royals employed a guy to correct all of Beav’s and Hud’s comments much like the guy who does the same for ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption? There wouldn’t be enough time between innings to cover the verbal boots.

“Just got to finesse a way. Find a way. Infielders at double play depth. Bruce has induced four ground ball double plays this year in his short outings. He gets a lot of pop-ups from right-handers. With that off-speed pitch, they get out in front, and get frustrated that the bat head lags behind.”
Rex Hudler, as he sent positive wishes toward Chen in the top of the tenth, Fox Sports KC
GH: Spector grabs Hud’s comments and levels them with facts. Read on…

“Now, about those four double plays that Chen has induced. That’s in 50 opponent plate appearances to this point with a runner on first base and less than two outs, including one bases loaded situation. That’s an 8% double play rate, while the major league average is 10.7%. Exactly what Hudler is talking about when it comes to right-handed hitters is a complete mystery – they have a .968 OPS against him this year, compared to .770 for lefty hitters. Jose Abreu leads the majors this year with a .969 OPS, so basically, when Chen is on the mound, every right-handed batter he faces is transformed into the best hitter in baseball.”
Jesse Spector, writer, sportingnews.com
GH: Below are TSN’s rankings of MLB’s TV crews up to this point in the season (with eight MLB teams yet to be critiqued). The Royals crew is second from the last. Well, at least the baseball has been watchable this season.

TSN RANKINGS SO FAR

1. Los Angeles-NL (Scully, Sportsnet LA) 2. San Francisco (Kuiper/Krukow, CSN Bay Area) 3. Chicago-NL (Kasper/Deshaies, CSN Chicago) 4. Oakland (Kuiper/Fosse, CSN California) 5. Arizona (Berthiaume/Brenly, FS Arizona) 6. New York-AL (Singleton/Cone, YES) 7. Tampa Bay (Staats/Anderson, Sun Sports) 8. Boston (Orsillo/Remy, NESN) 9. Los Angeles-AL (Rojas/Gubicza, FS West) 10. Seattle (Sims/Blowers, ROOT) 11. Cleveland (Underwood/Manning, SportsTime Ohio) 12. Chicago-AL (Harrelson/Stone, CSN Chicago) 13. Detroit (Impemba/Allen, FS Detroit) 14. Pittsburgh (Brown/Blass, ROOT) 15. Houston (Brown/Ashby, CSN Houston) 16. Colorado (Goodman/Huson, ROOT) 17. Atlanta (Caray/Simpson, SportSouth) 18. Toronto (Martinez/Tabler, Sportsnet) 19. New York-AL (Kay/Cone, YES) 20. St. Louis (McLaughlin/Hrabosky, FS Midwest) 21. Cincinnati (Grande/Welsh, FS Ohio) 22. Washington (Carpenter/Santangelo, MASN) 23. Kansas City (Lefebvre/Hudler, FS Kansas City) 24. Minnesota (Bremer/Morris, FS North)

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About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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18 Responses to OTC: The Sporting News Rates Royals’ Lefebvre & Hudler As Second From The Bottom In MLB

  1. Kyle Rohde says:

    Thanks for the double OTC today Greg; have an awesome holiday!

  2. Herb says:

    Greg, the reason you don’t hear about the Golden Rule is because it’s not discussed.

    I do agree, though. This tool writer complaining about the first name thing is just nit-picking.

    I feel bad for Ryan. Hudler is making him WORSE.

  3. Old Man Kissel says:

    No way is Hawk Harrelson No. 12. That guy sucks.

    810 scoops 510 once again…

  4. Phaedrus says:

    I don’t see how this is news…it’s one guy’s opinion. Anyone with a blog could do the sMe thing.

    As far as I’m concerned, the best tv announcers are the ones that talk the least. I can see that the batter flied out to centerfield…I don’t need the announcer to tell me.

  5. Kerouac says:

    Kerouac has been a Dodgers fan since the 1950’s, and as such a Scully subscriber. If he is ranked #1, it is an indictment of his modern day counterparts (and of TSN likely turning a deaf ear to Vin’s errancies, which now come in more frequent doses; TSN gives Scully a pass for said if not Hudler for his running stream of consciousness.) Frankly, Scully has slipped – comparing his work today with old tapes him dating to the 60’s affirms said. He still has decent ‘pipes’ for an octogenarian in fact, but a long resume cannot fool father time. As for the Royals Lefebvre, his work is on par that of his father, Jim, latter a player for the Dodgers 1960’s: competent if not Hall of Fame caliber. My vote for the best is the San Francisco Giants, who come in at #2 on the TSN rankings.

  6. Ron says:

    Like most 12-year-old boys, Lefebvre loves to make crude innuendos whenever the catcher or another player gets hit in the groin. On the broadcast in question I believe Ryan did it twice, once when Gordon got hit in the thigh, and once when Butler trapped a grounder against his “croctchular area” while playing first base. Most professional announcers would just ignore these situations, knowing that we all saw it anyway, but Lefebvre points it out and makes childish comments just about every time a player gets hit in the groin area with a baseball. Pretty silly stuff for a grown man to do.

  7. Smith says:

    Of course Beaver and Hudler are a well-below-average broadcasting duo. Paired together by the same franchise that ran Frank White off. Ran Fred White off. Allowed the fans to choose a 6th inning song (Don’t Stop Believin’) that champions the city of Detroit. Tortured fans for 25+ years with abysmal teams and abysmal managers. Of course Beaver and Hudler are what they gave us.

    Of course they are.

  8. Dave says:

    GH: How great would it be if the Royals employed a guy to correct all of Beav’s and Hud’s comments much like the guy who does the same for ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption? There wouldn’t be enough time between innings to cover the verbal boots.

    That is a comment that made me belly laugh!

  9. pdinop says:

    It certainly isn’t fair to judge on one game – it takes at least five to be convinced that Ryan, Rex, and Steve are the worst in baseball. But they are at least loyal as they go along with the latest mandate of focusing the cameras and commentary on every three year-old in the stadium so that we know that the Royals love their fans even if Ned doesn’t.

  10. Juan Pablo says:

    I like Huddler and most people I know like him. you never know what he is going to say and he says some funny crazy stuff. Frank White sucked , it was like listening to paint dry.

    • Fred Flintstone says:

      Sometimes Juan, I think you and I were separated at birth.
      Especially on the Frank White comment.
      That’s probably NOT a compliment to you.

  11. b12 says:

    Meh. Ryan is a competent, solid, unspectacular broadcaster that seems like a genuinely nice guy. He fits well in Kansas City.

    I couldn’t stand Hud until about six weeks ago. He is growing on me. In between the bursts of incomprehensible and incomplete sentences are some pretty good nuggets of baseball strategy, and stories. Maybe good baseball makes Hud more palatable. Who knows…

    Judging from all the “who’s driving the bus” signs in the stands…he’s fairly popular.

    The review of McLaughlin and Hrabosky on the Cardinals’ broadcasts is pretty spot on. McLaughlin gargles on various Cardinal players, or fans’, crotchular areas each evening. Hrabosky is basically reduced to agreeing with Dan…and doing foundation repair commercials.

    • PJ says:

      “Judging from all the “who’s driving the bus” signs in the stands…he’s fairly popular.”

      That is not caused by Hudler’s popularity, it’s caused by the popularity of getting/being on TV.

  12. Brad Westmar says:

    The reason some of you are pardoning Hudler is the same reason shitty songs become hits: Overexposure. The more you hear, the more you crave.

  13. Rosco says:

    Love the Hud.

  14. who-fan says:

    I’ve gotten to the point where I can tolerate Hudler. The one who really gets on my nerves is Physioc! He just gushes and gushes about the players! Reminds of me Arsenio Hall, back in the day…

  15. R.H. says:

    Spector sounds like a guy who got paid to find something to “rip” announcers about, even after judging them for one game.

    He needs to spend more time reading Curt Smith’s book on how to rate broadcasters, and then devote 20 games on each team to figure it out.

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