Sunday, April 01, 2001
New season, same old Brennaman
Sports on TV-Radio
By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Marty Brennaman is not going to go soft on us. He'll continue to call them as he sees them to a greater degree than any other play-by-play man in baseball. But Brennaman, who Monday will begin his 28th year of calling Reds games, would prefer a little more peace and quiet this season. Last year, he got more attention than he had in any other single year.
It was good and bad, he said.
The good was his induction into the broadcasters wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It was a great weekend, he said. To be in Cooperstown with my family and to be inducted with Sparky (Anderson) and Tony (Perez) was unbelievable. All the calls, letters and e-mail I got from all over the country of congratulations were very humbling.
The bad was the controversy with Johnny Bench on Hall of Fame weekend, and the controversy with Ken Griffey Jr. later in the summer.
The problem with Bench came after Bench approached Brennaman during Hall of Fame weekend and asked Brennaman to refrain from mentioning Pete Rose in his induction speech.
Brennaman mentioned Rose anyway. He says he'd do the same thing if the induction were today.
The only thing I regret is going public, Brennaman said. That was wrong.
It led to a major falling-out between the two. Bench went so far as to quit the Bench and Brennaman on Baseball radio show.
Bench and Brennaman still speak. They had lunch with a group of friends at spring training.
He was a dear friend for years, Brennaman said. It may be that what happened adversely affected that. I certainly don't think any less of him.
The Griffey incident happened after Brennaman criticized Griffey for not running hard to first base. Griffey replied that Brennaman didn't know he was hurt at the time. A shouting match ensued.
I don't hold a grudge, Brennaman said. I hope he doesn't. I was doing my job. I'm ready to turn the page. It would be nice to get along with him. But if we don't, we don't.
Such is Brennaman's status as a broadcaster that he can take on a former player who made the Hall of Fame on the first ballot (Bench) and a current player who will make Hall of Fame on the first ballot (Griifey) in the same year.
Brennaman took some shots on talk radio, but his status as a local icon was untarnished.
But, again, Brennaman would rather tell the story than be part of it this year.
The last thing I need after 27 years in broadcasting is to try to enhance my reputation with controversy and confrontation, he said.
Bob Boone is the 12th Reds manager Brennaman has dealt with in his tenure with the Reds.
He's been very good to deal with, Brennaman said. I told him what I've told every manager when I've done a pregame show: "If you make a decision the night before that causes the ballclub to lose a game, I'm going to ask you about it the next day.'
I don't do that to make him look bad. But the dullest pregame shows are ones where the host doesn't ask tough questions ... When you do that, people are going to want to tune in, because what they hear might educate them to what the manager's thinking.
Brennaman did the Michigan State-Arizona basketball game for CBS Radio on Saturday. But he's ready for baseball.
I used to do a lot of college basketball, he said. Frankly, by the time baseball began, I was worn out. But the last 10 years, I haven't done any regular-season basketball, so when baseball rolls around my batteries are charged and I'm ready to go.
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