Some of my fondest childhood memories surround listening to my beloved Kansas City Royals on my transistor radio. On more summer nights than I can count, often long after I was supposed to be in bed, it was the voice of Denny Matthews vividly describing the exploits of my heroes.
A scorching double by George Brett off of the right field wall that easily scores the lightning fast Willie Wilson from first. The image of a crouching John Wathan throwing downs signs for submariner Dan Quisenberry to close out yet another Royals victory.
These images were so perfectly painted for me by the silky smooth voice of Denny Matthews. Denny the reliable. No matter what my day had brought I could count on Denny Matthews bringing me the joy of Royals baseball night after night.
In many ways Denny was, and will always be, Kansas City Royals baseball for me.
Since 1969 that voice has faithfully been there. The nostalgic little boy in me hopes Denny wants to do this forever which is why, as much as I hate it, it is long past time for Matthews to go.
For some time now, I have felt like Denny Matthews cares little about his craft. It is as if he is marking time, waiting for something – for what I do not really know. Is it for the Royals to return to glory? Is it one more shot at announcing a World Series? Or is it because he has lost his passion but does not know how to let go?
I take no joy in saying that, as Matthews enters his 46th consecutive season as the Royals announcer, he seems almost angry and bitter at being at the games.
For several years now the Royals front office has allowed him to do the home games but pick and choose which road games he wants to do. Frankly, the best Royals radio commentary comes on the Royals road games Denny chooses not to do.
I know Matthews is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and in the Royals Hall of Fame. He’s even in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Those honors are more than deserved. He has broadcast 3000th hit games, no hitters, he has grumpily seen it all. It seems like he is bored and wants every listener to know it.
It is almost painful to listen to. It is not that I want a Mitch Holthus-type that acts like every yard gained is as momentous as winning the Lombardi trophy itself.
That type of over the top yelling into the microphone can be irritating and distracting but at least Holthus cares. You can feel it.
It is not an act; Holthus really is that excited. Unfortunately, with Denny it feels like he stopped caring about his craft about five years ago. Some critics may suggest that number is kind.
The Royals have one of the most promising young teams in baseball. Frankly, it has not felt this good coming into a new season for a very long time. For the first time in almost 30 years Royals fans can legitimately dream of playoff games and are far from the laughing stock of just a few short years ago.
I would love to hear an announcer that is as excited as I am about the Royals. Fans want their announcer to care.
I want a kid staying up later than Mom and Dad, listening on his IPod, to barely be able to stay quiet at the sounds and description of a game-winning Eric Hosmer home run. I want that kid to be in his mind pushing Billy Butler to pick up anchor and run faster because he can FEEL the announcer pushing Billy too.
Truth be told, I want a Royals announcer to make this big kid feel the way Matthews used to. That may be selfish, but so is resting on your laurels and staying longer than one should.
It is hard to say goodbye to a legend. It is even harder to call for the exit of one who brought to life so many cherished memories, but that does not change the harsh reality that it is over.
It is past time for Denny Mathews to switch off the microphone and leave us with only the good memories of a magnificent play-by-play career.