This entry covers the more basic—but fundamentally important—subject of pitch description.
Pitch description itself is self-explanatory. Assuming the ball is not put in play by the batter, the listener needs to know what type of pitch was thrown, the location, the velocity, and the outcome (ball/strike/foul).
Pitch “description” can also be referred to as pitch “calling.” However, the latter implies that simply identifying the type of pitch is sufficient, whereas incorporating the breadth of details mentioned above paints a much clearer picture for the listener.
An average baseball game might involve close to 300 pitches thrown between the two teams, the large majority of which are never put in play. The batter/pitcher matchup is baseball’s most basic form, and the way each subsequent pitch changes the odds of an at bat’s eventual outcome is one of the game’s greatest intricacies.
Providing as much detail as possible on every pitch can help the listener visualize the drama of the batter/pitcher battle as it unfolds in real time.
A quality broadcaster needs to be objective. We fleshed this out considerably in our discussions on accuracy and quality of information. A broadcaster’s job is to provide relevant and substantial information in an accurate and timely manner to those who cannot see the game with their own eyes.
“Objective” is defined as “(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.”
The operative word is “facts.”
A baseball announcer can fulfull their responsibility of being objective simply by providing the listener with accurate and relevant facts.
Unfortunately, there are too many instances where baseball broadcasters (at all levels) conflate being “objective” with being “negative.”
Similarly, there are too many cases where baseball broadcasters (at all levels) possess a misinformed belief that being “objective” and being “positive” are somehow mutually exclusive.
Make no mistake–you cannot lie to the listener. If a batter pops out to shallow center field, you can’t make it sound like the ball carried to the warning track and almost left the yard. On the other hand, injecting derisive commentary into your broadcast just because a team or player happens to be scuffling is equally wrong, and crosses the line between telling the truth and being outright negative.