First off, let me say I generally like Indians radio announcer Tom Hamilton. I like his style, I like his upbeat persona, I like his observations.
But more and more, he's starting to be incapable of building Cleveland and the Indians up without tearing other cities down. That also holds true for Winter Haven, Fla., the Tribe's spring-training home.
It has been long hinted that the Indians aren't happy with Winter Haven and would like to move elsewhere. They apparently feel the baseball facilities are aging and inadequate, and the city in general doesn't appreciate their presence. Of course, Winter Haven leaders might say the feeling is mutual.
Which brings us back to Hamilton. He's paid by the Indians, so I don't expect unbiased criticism from him. But during Wednesday's Indians-Astros exhibition game, he turned into a Winter-Haven-hating mouthpiece for Indians management.
Some of his more notable comments:
Upon commenting that booth-mate Matt Underwood was scarfing down a chocolate sundae, Hamilton launched into a speech about how great the food is at Chain of Lakes Stadium. But he got his dig in at the end.
"Unfortunately, some of the best restaurants in Winter Haven are at the ballpark," he said.
With two out in the ninth and the Indians leading 6-5, pitcher Matt Miller was about to get the save. Hamilton felt the time was right to add a jab about Winter Haven's fan support.
"Now, eight or nine people rise to their feet and start clapping," he sarcastically remarked.
But Hamilton's most mean-spirited comment was saved for the scoreboard operator, who apparently had trouble keeping track of balls and strikes. Even though balls and strikes are something that should be in the back of Hamilton's mind, he lost track with help from the scoreboard, prompting him to bellow "Strike three called!" on the second strike.
Hammie's fault? Not even remotely. No, it was the fault of the trained chimp running the scoreboard. And Hamilton proceeded to embarrass him or her to an audience of thousands.
"I don't know who the scoreboard operator is here, but he makes this the hardest job in baseball," he snipped. "You don't need a PhD. You press a button for a ball and another button for a strike."
Which prompted Underwood to quip, in his own "my-jokes-make-Leave-It-To-Beaver-look-edgy" kind of way, "No, ha ha, you need a PBD! A push-button degree!"
As somebody who has operated scoreboards for baseball and basketball games, sometimes on short notice, I can't help but wonder if the scoreboard operator at Chain of Lakes Stadium was a college intern who was thrust into the role at the last moment, or some elderly person who took the job because the regular operator couldn't make it.
Odds are, he or she wasn't the dimwit Hamilton described. And Hamilton should feel ashamed for publicly humiliating that person.