As a baseball analyst/TV personality, Gregg Zaun may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but what can be said about him is that he was the one person on Sportsnet’s Blue Jays broadcast who wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is.
The problem with the Blue Jays broadcast at the moment, that is to say without Zaun, is that it’s full of announcers who fill the airwaves with nothing but praise for the players and coaches, regardless of performance. I’m as big a fan of Buck Martinez, Pat Tabler, and Jamie Campell as almost anyone, but on the air, they can be dry and somewhat boring. And that’s exactly what Sportsnet and Rogers expects of them. With the departure of Zaun however, this broadcast needs someone with a presence, someone who’s entertaining and who fans will tune into watch. And of course, someone who hopefully knows how to behave properly around the opposite sex.
Far too often we’d hear about how Zaun rubbed a Blue Jays player the wrong way with his on-air commentary. The thing about that peculiar relationship between player and baseball analyst, is that Zaun was simply doing his job and what most anyone would have expected of him. When the Blue Jays play as poorly as they did in 2017, what do you expect an opinionated, ex-ball player to say about such a sad excuse for a performance? Especially when that person’s job is to analyze what’s happening on the field, whether good or bad.
In the short time since Zaun was shown the door, there have been a few names discussed as to who might replace him. Some have mentioned J.P. Arencibia simply because he seems to have an interest in a broadcasting career and was also the most outspoken player when it came to Zaun. The issue with Arencibia, in case you didn’t catch his brief stint on the MLB Network earlier this year, is that he’s almost as bad at broadcasting as he was at catching.
Another name bandied about has been Kevin Barker, and to that I say I’d rather have Arencibia. For someone who played big league baseball, Barker provides very little insightful and expert knowledge that fans these days appreciate more than ever. He also has a tendency to pick on certain players like Ezequiel Carrera because he’s an easy target on account of him being a fringe player and someone who you don’t have to fear upsetting with such comments because he doesn’t speak much English.
This past off-season, we got a glimpse of Justin Morneau doing some work alongside Zaun and Campbell on Sportsnet’s baseball coverage. For someone as new to broadcasting as Morneau, he certainly held his own, displaying a good baseball intellect and witty sense of humour. Anyway, who do you think Sportsnet should bring in to replace Gregg Zaun?