Dave Raymond has been the voice of the Texas Rangers since the 2016 season, after doing some time with the Houston Astros. It was a bumpy trip to get to the booth in Arlington: the Astros basically let him walk, sending him wandering in the sports desert for about four years. Before that, he’d clawed his way through minor league ball. He was somewhat famously (Sports Illustrated wrote about it, at least) traded from the Charleston RiverDogs to the St. Paul Saints for a case of crab cakes, a wind machine, and a blind color commentator. He found a job in Iowa, at the Triple A squad Cubs, and didn’t report to Minnesota.
Oh, and, in the summers, he worked as a fact checker at Forbes, which led to an opportunity to write. In 2000, he blew the lid off the accounting irregularities at MicroStrategy, a stock plunge that brought about the bursting of the dot-com bubble. And—can’t forget this one—he shares a name with the guy who created the Phillie Phanatic, which actually helped open a door or two for him professionally.
So, yeah. That’s why we asked Dave to drive all the way from his Flower Mound home to the Old Monk in East Dallas to chat. We got into all that and more, like the new stadium and the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. (My take: get better signs. How do teams broadcast such an integral part of the sport so publicly and not expect your competition to try to find ways to break your code and capitalize? This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but everyone’s so up-in-arms because the Astros—and the Red Sox, another buncha techno-cheaters—actually won. And, yeah, they used tech to do it. The Astros are a symptom of a league that’s too long coasted on handshake and gentleman’s agreements, and when technology floods these stadiums, teams and the league need to adjust.)
ANYWAY. Listen below or on Spotify. After the jump, Dave talks about the new stadium.
“The broadcast booth is a little high. We tried to have input, but it’s a little tall. I don’t want to be too critical until we call a game there. I don’t want to be too critical anyway. Viewers don’t care. Of the things that they’re interested in, that’s not one of them, whether or not I’m enjoying my perspective. I understand that. But I really do believe it makes a difference in the quality of work that you’ll get out of a broadcaster, relative to where they’re positioned.
“San Francisco is privately funded ballpark. They need to make as much money as possible to pay off their note on that ballpark. But they took some prime real estate and made it the booths—not just for the broadcast but also for the media. As a result, every vibe coming out of that ballpark is golden. It is regarded as the best ballpark on the planet, maybe that was ever built. Every seat in that ballpark isn’t perfect. But you don’t know that, because the people who talk about it love it. And it was very intentional on the part of the Giants. They did that because they had investors in New York, old New York Giants fans who are moneyed fellas who invested in building that ballpark, and Larry Baer, who was the president of the Giants, he felt like it was important for those guys to hear how great it is every day. And it worked.
“Now, the Washington Nationals built a new ballpark not that long ago. The Pittsburgh Pirates built a gorgeous ballpark not that long ago. Both of them stuck it to the broadcasters. I mean, you can see nothing. You see little dots down there. As a result, I am telling you, if you went and you logged broadcast conversations in every ballpark and every broadcast, you’ll notice that the broadcasts at those ballparks stray from the game. No one’s intending to do that. That’s not their goal to go in there and disregard the game and get off on random topics, but it happens because they’re not engaged in the game. They can’t see it. They can’t feel it. When you’re closer, you see nuanced stuff, body language, all sorts of things. And if I can’t see that, then I can’t relay it all.
“I think it’s very important. Teams do not care to listen to that. You know that they’ll tell you that, well, it’s revenue in those seats. Guess what a television contract pays. We pay better than $30 million a year at Fox to broadcast those Rangers games. Pretty sure they’re not getting $30 million a year for any one of those suites.”