ANAHEIM, Calif. — San Francisco Giants broadcaster John Miller was in Washington, D.C., last month to call a series at Nationals Park. He went to his room at the Georgetown Four Seasons and turned on the television. He began watching the MASN broadcast of the Baltimore Orioles game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“So I hear this guy, I don’t know who he is,” Miller said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard him before. And he was really good.
Miller could tell right away that Kevin Brown had some serious play-by-play chops.
“He reminded me a lot of Joe Buck,” Miller said. “I’ve never really heard anybody like Joe Buck. But he was very good. Focused on the game. He had a real facility with the language. He didn’t let too many statistics or things get in the way of the game. He paved the way for Ben Macdonald, who was also very good. They were both good listeners. .I thought, ‘If I’m an Orioles fan, I’m really happy with this combo.
Not everyone was so happy. Brown hasn’t been on Orioles television since that weekend series against the Rays. Several sources have been confirmed AthleticBritt Crowley What a terrible announcement First reported: The Orioles fired Brown from their broadcast team over comments he made on July 23 while reading a graphic about the team’s 3-18 road record against the Rays through 2020-22.
The industry-wide backlash against the Orioles was fast and burning — and Miller found himself dragged into it. Several reports and columns have linked the Orioles’ apparent thin-skinned displeasure to Miller’s departure from Baltimore’s broadcast team following the 1996 season and the failure of owner Peter Angelos — the father of current controlling owner John Angelos — to renew the popular announcer’s contract. He felt Miller was being overly critical of the club.
On SNY’s Monday night Mets broadcast, broadcaster Gary Cohen delivered a scathing critique: “Let me just say one thing to the management of the Baltimore Orioles. When you fired John Miller you were in disgrace. You do it again. If you don’t like Kevin Brown, there are 29 other teams.
Miller’s reaction to the Browns/Orioles situation? It doesn’t make any sense.
“Everybody wants to jump on John Angelos, but the team isn’t talking,” Miller said. “Kevin Brown didn’t talk. I read the stories, waiting for ‘who said it’ or ‘where did this come from.’ It seems unrelated to me.I mean, if someone (Brown) calls later and says they’re upset, it’s going to be hard for him to even remember what they’re talking about.
“Obviously their PR staff had that stuff in their own memos. The producer put the graphics on TV. What does that have to do with (Brown)? A lot of graphics are on the air and a lot of the time you’re reading it off the screen. He underlined how they won this season against a team that was the enemy. showed up. He was positive. So it all seems like an assumption to me. It doesn’t make sense.”
Miller has been down this road before with the Orioles franchise. He was in his 15th season as the voice of the Orioles in 1996 and was coming to the end of his contract in July, when his agent Ron Shapiro gave him a ring. Peter Angelos had hired a new vice president, Mike Lehr, and Shapiro tried to call Lehr several times to discuss a new contract. He never got a call back. So Shapiro advised Miller to start thinking about a possible Plan B.
“I wanted to stay in Baltimore because Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, Vin Scully, they’d been in one place for a long time,” Miller said. “They were completely identified with those teams. That’s what you strive for as a baseball broadcaster. I thought Baltimore might be the place for me.
After the season, Shapiro suggested a lunch between Miller and Peter Angelos to hash out any differences, air grievances and clear the way for a new contract. Miller agreed. After thinking for a few minutes, he called Shapiro back.
“No,” Miller said. “He owned with me as his broadcaster for three years. He paid me three years’ salary. Anytime he was unhappy, he could have called me or his boy could have called me and told me he was unhappy. Why didn’t that happen? It seemed obvious one way or the other.
This became even more apparent after Shapiro finally connected with Peter Angelos. Angelos said he wanted a broadcaster that “bleeds more orange and black,” according to Shapiro’s account to Miller. When Miller’s ESPN Sunday Night Baseball commitments announced roughly 125 Orioles games instead of a 162-game slate, Miller suspected the Angels were loathe to pay him for a full season.
Whatever the reason, what bothers Miller to this day is that Peter Angelos publicly denied wanting to fire Miller.
“He said, ‘No, of course, we wanted him to stay,'” Miller said. “Angelos denied everything Angelos told my agent. He is a lawyer. He said, ‘I didn’t say those things. Do you have the tape of it?’ How he lied about it all struck me as wrong.
In Miller’s 2000 book, “Confessions of a Baseball Purist,” he wrote a chapter about how things ended in Baltimore. He left a part. Author and syndicated columnist George Will was upset when he heard Miller was out with the Orioles and asked if he could intercede. Will was friendly with Peter Angelos and often had lunch with him. Will told Miller he would get to the bottom of it all.
After their meeting, Will called Miller: “Well, I talked to him. My advice to you is to start packing.
Will offered to go public to dispel Angelos’ claim that the team wanted Miller back.
“I felt like (Will) shouldn’t be involved,” Miller said. “But I always appreciate that he offered to do it.”
As for the accusation that Miller was too critical when announcing Orioles games? He is still in awe of it.
“My approach has always been the same,” Miller said. “The idea is to let people know what’s going on. If something’s wrong, tell them what’s wrong and what should have happened instead.
Miller’s explanation Ruben Rivera’s messy fight on the basepaths in 2003 —“That’s the worst foundation running in the history of the game! – is one of his most famous calls. He’s built an ornate career calling the action as he sees it, but he’s rarely been considered too strict. In Monday night’s Giants road game against the Anaheim Angels, Shohei Ohtani criticized rookie center fielder Luis Matos for not aggressively hitting umpire into a stretch double.
“That was the last thing in his mind that was going to happen, but he must have thought so Opportunity Will happen,” Miller said Tuesday. “What. He’s 21. It’s hard to learn those things. But you have to equate with the viewer and the listener. That’s the whole job. It’s the whole value of a broadcaster’s team.
Miller came up with a good plan B after the 1996 season. He knew Hank Greenwald was retiring as the Giants’ longtime radio announcer. Miller grew up in the Bay Area and practiced calling games on a tape recorder sitting in the upper deck at Candlestick Park. He came home to San Francisco in 1997 and is now in his 27th season announcing Giants games. In 2010, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and received the annual Ford C., which honors a broadcaster for “significant contributions to the game of baseball.” Frick received the award.
Leaving Baltimore was “the best thing that ever happened,” he says, “and I was too dumb to realize it at the time.”
Based on what little information he’s heard from Kevin Brown, he predicts that the young announcer has a bright future in whatever broadcast booth he calls home.
“I want to talk to this guy,” Miller said. “I want to find out the real story.”
(Photo by John Miller, right, talking with Giants manager Gabe Kapler: Darren Yamashita / USA Today)