St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up his thoughts on the Rays broadcast team.
Dewayne Staats, TV Play-by-play
A play-by-play baseball announcer can enhance or ruin a broadcast, and when you're talking about a marathon baseball season, he has a lot to do with whether it's an enjoyable or irritating summer. Rays fans, you have it good. Staats remains one of the best in the business, a true professional who saves the right moments to get excited, is never shy about criticism and, best of all, knows that fans are there to watch the game, not listen to him. The only TV play-by-play announcer the Rays have ever had, Staats returns for his 13th season in Tampa Bay and his 34th in the big leagues. It's hard to imagine anyone else calling a Rays game.
Kevin Kennedy, TV Analyst
Midway through 2009, his first season as a Rays TV analyst, the former big-league skipper became a polarizing figure among Rays followers. Many Rays fans missed former analyst Joe Magrane, and some saw Kennedy's workload (only about 100 games) as a sign that he was mailing it in. Early last season, Kennedy didn't do much to dispel that with way-too-general analysis and a little too much of everyone's pet peeve: "Well, when I managed …'' But Kennedy's performance improved as the season progressed, probably because he became more familiar with the team and could speak confidently about it. Kennedy, again, will call about 100 games, and that still seems problematic. He misses too many series, meaning he might be missing subtleties and trends. No question that he knows the game, and he only gets better the more he is around the team. Brian Anderson, TV Analyst
Anderson fills in well when Kennedy is gone, and it's a shame he's only around for 50 or so games. Being a former pitcher, Anderson brings especially good insight to pitching, but he also has a good grasp of the Rays roster. Best of all, he seems to have to have a comfortable rapport with Dewayne Staats and often shows a great sense of humor. His style is light, but he knows what he's talking about and communicates it well. The Rays are fortunate he's available to do it on a part-time basis because he should be calling 160 games for someone.
Andy Freed and Dave Wills, Radio
It's impossible to think of one without thinking of the other, so let's talk about both at the same time. They are starting their sixth season together as the Rays' radio voices. They sound alike, talk alike and work well together, never trying to upstage the other. Far too many radio teams around the league feel like two individuals waiting for the other to stop talking so they can start. But Freed and Wills are both great listeners, and it feels like a conversation as they are calling the game — a conversation with each other and with the audience. Neither played in the majors, so they offer a meat-and-potatoes broadcast, but that's meant as a compliment. Radio listeners want meat and potatoes, which means the essentials. Tell us the score often, describe what is happening, call the game. Radio announcers are there to inform, not entertain. Freed and Wills inform, and along the way, manage to entertain, too.
Ricardo Taveras and Enrique Oliu, Spanish radio
Ricardo Taveras and Enrique Oliu return once again to call Rays games on Spanish radio. This will be Taveras' eighth season calling play-by-play, while Oliu, who has been on Rays broadcasts since the beginning of the franchise, is back for his 13th season.