The Astros May Suck, But At Least You Can Listen To Jim Deshaies

So I'm watching the Astros/Twins game on Sunday afternoon, and it gets to be that inning for the trivia question. The question this time asks Jim Deshaies and Bill Brown to name the four Minnesota Twins that have been named as American League MVPs. So they start tossing out names of great Minnesota Twin players. Kirby Puckett. Rod Carew. Tony Oliva. Harmon Killebrew. Mary-Kate Olsen. There's a slight pause after Deshaies names Mary-Kate, and you can just mentally picture Brownie looking at JD as JD answers that, well, she is a twin, right?

That's why Jim Deshaies is my favorite broadcaster in all of sports.

Forget the fact that the guy knows what he's talking about and he can break down every aspect of every play that happens within seconds. Forget about the fact that, unlike bigger names like Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan, Deshaies doesn't treat us all as idiots, or dwell on how much better the game was fifty years ago. Forget about the great chemistry between Deshaies and Brown, his broadcast partner. He's my favorite broadcaster because he makes watching the Astros, an otherwise old and boring team, fun to watch.

Every sportscaster has a shtick of some kind. Milo talks about everything but the actual game that is being played. Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond shout in attempts to make games sound exciting. Bob Costas thinks he's funny. Joe Buck is a pompous twit. Mark Grace acts like he's on the Jim Rome show. Tim McCarver is the grand old guardian. And Joe Morgan tells stories involving himself which might not have actually happened

But Jim Deshaies just has fun.

I often long for the Astros to get involved in a blow-out because that's when JD's at his best. That's when he'll go off on tangents that have seemingly nothing to do with baseball, yet keep you riveted to the broadcast, unable to change the channel because you've just got to find out how far out he's going to go.

There's no analyst out there who's better at breaking down the game -- I've had the MLB Extra Innings package, and I watch the in-game cut-ins on the MLB Network, so I've heard just about every TV broadcast team out there. He can tell you that the pitcher's arm slot is off, why it's off, and how to fix it, while telling the uninformed what a pitcher's arm slot is without either making them feel like an idiot or without dumbing down the game so much that the informed fans are turned off. He can tell you what the pitcher's thinking, what the catcher's seeing, and how the manager is juggling his lineup options. He truly is the best analyst out there with the chess game aspects of baseball.

But as good as Deshaies is at that aspect of the broadcast, there is no analyst that I've heard working who's as good as keeping one's attention riveted to the game when the game's out of reach. Vin Scully and Bob Uecker can do it as play-by-play guys -- and they often work alone -- but there's no analyst who comes close to matching JD's ability to riff on a player's name, or to go off on Seinfeld trivia, or just pull Mary-Kate Olsen's name from out of nowhere as part of an answer to a trivia question.

And it doesn't even sound likes he's trying.  It's almost effortless. It's like he's at a bar with his buddies and he thinks of something and just throws it out into the flow of the conversation.  

I don't know why he's never gotten a network spot on ESPN or FOX or the MLB Network. But Jim Deshaies makes bad baseball games fun to watch. And the Astros play a lot of boring and bad baseball. So I'm grateful that JD's still here in Houston. I don't even want to think about how bad Astros baseball would be to watch without him around.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal