2010 World Series: Speaking Lessons from the Pinch-Hitters

I’m thrilled that one Bay Area team is in the World Series this year, but as many of you know, I’m a fan of the team on the other side of the bay—the Oakland A’s. I’m undecided about who I’ll root for in this year’s match up, although that’s hard to admit in public around here. Giants fever has hit every corner of Northern California and it’s hard to quell. People who have never watched a baseball game in their life are suddenly rabid fans, paying exorbitant prices for tickets and talking about Buster Posey and The Panda as if they’ve known them since childhood.  

The fever is so unruly that I have friends who tell me I should root for the Giants no matter what, which is a little like telling a Mets’ fan to root for the Yankees. It doesn’t happen. And since I’m feeling some loyalty to the Texas Rangers Manager, Ron Washington who was with the A’s for 11 years, I’m leaning toward the Lone Star. After you follow a team and get to know the players and staff, they become like family. When they move away, you wish them well, follow their journey, and applaud their success. End of story.

No matter who ends up in the World Series, it is always a good show and a great way for true baseball fans to end the season. However, one thing that is always tough on fans in any World Series is the announcers. Typically, the local home team TV announcers don’t cover the games. That means the familiar voices you’ve listened to all season are not heard. Because these games are nationally televised, the announcers are selected from the national pool. The local announcers will be in the stands like everyone else.

Of course, there is no denying that these elite announcers are top shelf. With their booming voices and strong physical presence they can call the game with skill, speed, and agility; however, their color commentary is sometimes not so colorful. Because they don’t know the players, the names don’t roll off the announcers’ tongues quite as easily, background stories are read from a script instead of “known” and relayed by heart, and everything sounds and feels a little less personal. No matter who wins, this one aspect is always a loss for diehard fans.

From my living room, this long-time baseball fan and public speaking coach will watch the announcers closely to see what they do and how they do it. I’ll listen for their vocal and verbal delivery, and take heed of any interesting turn of phrase. I’ll make notes and learn lessons that I can pass along to my clients in some way. At the end of the game, I’ll watch the player and staff interviews as the winners and losers speak about their experience.

Ultimately, only one team will win it all. Whoever does will be fine with me. I’ll just be capturing a few public speaking lessons…and waiting for next year.