Report: Orioles planning major changes to MASN broadcasts in 2021 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Report: Orioles planning major changes to MASN broadcasts in 2021

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles are planning massive changes to their broadcasts on MASN for 2021, according to a report by The Athletic.

Longtime broadcaster Gary Thorne, who did not appear on telecasts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, won’t be back. Nor will Rick Dempsey, who has long appeared on pregame and postgame shows. Mike Bordick, who has analyzed games since 2012, won’t be back, either.

The Athletic reported that MASN would be eliminating its half-hour pregame and postgame programs. Tom Davis, who long hosted those programs but did not appear on them in 2020, and former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson are apparently not going to have a role in 2021 broadcasts, either.

Earlier Friday, Jim Hunter, who was removed from the Orioles’ broadcast team before the start of the 2020 season, announced in a tweet that he wouldn’t be returning to the team’s broadcasts in 2021.

Hunter, whose association with the team began in 1997 and served as a game broadcaster on radio and television and a pregame and postgame host, is parting ways with the team.

“I was informed this week by @Orioles my contract will not be renewed for 2021 ending my career w/the ball club,” he tweeted. “It’s disappointing to have my tenure come to an end especially since it was not my decision. For 24 years I gave my heart & soul to the broadcasts & now it’s over.”

Hunter declined further comment. The Orioles said they wouldn’t comment on personnel changes to the broadcast team and would have an announcement on their 2021 broadcasters soon.

In 2021, the Orioles added Geoff Arnold as their principal radio play-by-play voice, Melanie Newman and Brett Hollander as sideline reporters, radio play-by-play voices and pregame and postgame hosts. Each is expected back in 2021 as is Kevin Brown, who joined the Orioles’ radio team in 2019 and appeared on radio and television in 2020.

Scott Garceau was the principal television broadcaster. Ben McDonald and Bordick were the analysts.

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Jim Palmer, who did not appear as a live analyst, did contribute to some broadcasts on Zoom.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Bigchutzell300

    January 23, 2021 at 7:12 am

    I’m a huge die hard orioles fan. I know the O’s are doing a big rebuild but that shouldn’t include the longtime broadcasting team. These broadcasters are what made the games better even when the team didn’t have its best performance. Definitely sad, greedy in my opinion. Jim Hunter especially, 24 years down the drown being told “ hey your not invited back this year after 24 years “ . Just sickening. This organization better get their act together is all
    I can say. The fans don’t just watch the games to see the players we like to see the WHOLE PICTURE!!!!

  2. CalsPals

    January 23, 2021 at 8:00 am

    Regardless of who makes the decisions, they all reflect on the O’s & Mikey, takes a long time to build traditions, not long to destroy them…sad…go O’s…

  3. Orial

    January 23, 2021 at 8:36 am

    The one thing baseball has over sports is it’s glorious past and history. The worst thing one can do is start gutting fans of ties to that past whether recent or long ago. Well the Orioles are in the process of doing just that. Thank God Chuck Thompson’s not around to face the humility of being handed a pink slip. Whether you like Jim Hunter or not he was a “voice of summer” who LOVED his “Birds”. As for Gary Thorne—a personal favorite of mine(I’ve heard voices since 1960 and he’s up there). Now whether this has anything to do with Elias( doubt it),Angelos Sons,MLB,MASN issues, I don’t know but it is very ominous. Watch Thorne go to the Nats(I’ll throw up). So sad. Shame on you Baltimore Orioles.

  4. VICTORTEE

    January 23, 2021 at 8:36 am

    But the current broadcast crew works CHEAP. What else do you want?

    It is sad that O’s broadcasters in the past included Chuck Thompson, Bill O’Donnel, Jon Miller, Fred Manfra, Joe Angel and for 24 years
    Jim Hunter. Now we have to listen to a bunch of minor leaguers because they are CHEAP!!!

    • CalsPals

      January 23, 2021 at 12:16 pm

      We’ll have a announcing staff of rule 5 pick ups…sad…go O’s… the

  5. whiterose

    January 23, 2021 at 8:49 am

    another step to NOT picking up option on lease.

  6. jimcarter

    January 23, 2021 at 8:49 am

    Younger “talent” works a lot cheaper. Same goes for local newscasters. Physical appearance seems to trump experience, smarts and talent. A team “rebuild” has nothing to do with the TV/radio crews.

  7. Mike1966

    January 23, 2021 at 8:51 am

    Baseball is not just the players on the field, it’s also the voices that tell us the stories of the past. For the Orioles to cut ties with Thorne, Dempsey, Bordick, and Hunter is a huge mistake, especially when the play on the field is so dismal. Oftentimes the pre and postgame analysis were the highlights.

  8. Tileman

    January 23, 2021 at 9:26 am

    There is just no comparison to how the Ravens and Orioles front offices are. One is all class!

  9. ClayDal

    January 23, 2021 at 9:38 am

    From what I understand this is an industry wide situation, not just MASN. NBC Sports Washington, formerly Comcast, has laid off many of their on air talent. Same with NBC Sports Philadelphia. With people cutting the cable chord regional sports networks are losing money. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped matters either. So it will be interesting to see how regional sports networks in other cities handle this. Don’t forget ESPN laid off over 100 on air personnel several years ago. So this is goes way beyond the Angelos family. Or Elias, who has nothing to do with MASN

  10. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 23, 2021 at 9:41 am

    No Davey Johnson or Rick Dempsey? Jesus. Might as well just go ahead and melt down Brook’s statue to sell it for scrap! What’s wrong with these boys?

    Please sell the team already. The Angelos brothers are a complete disgrace in so many ways.

    • CalsPals

      January 23, 2021 at 9:59 am

      Hope Rick keeps his restaurant in the ballpark, they may tradition that out the window as well…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 23, 2021 at 12:33 pm

        And Boogs BBQ?

    • CalsPals

      January 23, 2021 at 12:44 pm

      My favorite, they better not get rid of it…grrr…go O’s…

  11. The Cartoon Bird

    January 23, 2021 at 10:18 am

    It’s not coincidence that this news was first reported by a Nats writer. This is MASN retaliating against the Nats for winning $100M in the courts that’s awaits them in escrow. This is MASN telling the Nats, you want expanded coverage, pay for it out of that $100M.

    Sad thing is, the older broadcasters that MASN is getting rid of are collateral damage in this fight to the death between the Nats and the Orioles. It’s unfortunate.

  12. Tony Paparella

    January 23, 2021 at 10:24 am

    All I can say is it is very disappointing news from my perspective Rich.A lot was missing in last years broadcasts as a lot of these guys were limited because of the covid situation. Now they are gone for good. Just hoping there is some reconsidering in this area.

  13. pjsteelman

    January 23, 2021 at 11:03 am

    I never thought I’d say this, but, last year I listened to the opposing announcers more than the home (?) team. I will keep that tradition alive again this year.

  14. Bancells Moustache

    January 23, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    I get that change is necessary sometimes, but a full blown gutting of the broadcast team, which was one of the best in baseball, makes no sense. After the completely atrocious performance of the game radio team, now the TV broadcast is going to be just as bad?

    I’m sorry, but what is the benefit of pulling for the Baltimore Orioles? This organization sucks. It is a disaster.

    • CalsPals

      January 23, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      Right now, memories, just memories…go O’s…

      • Bancells Moustache

        January 23, 2021 at 6:51 pm

        You can only sell dogs**t with a nostalgia dressing for so long. That team that actually invests in the product on the field down 295 doesn’t look too bad right now.

  15. OriolesNumber1Fan

    January 23, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    You can thank Covid-19 and the MASN feud with the Nationals and their greed for more money for all these moves!
    But I’m going to miss Gary Thorne (the most), Jim Palmer and Rick Dempsey but at 72, 75 and 71 years old respectively, I would think they’re all ready for retirement.
    I would think with all the risks from Covid19 plus all the traveling for away games, Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer with their ages are probably looking at retirement way differently now anyway.
    So, I wish them all the best and please stay safe and enjoy your golden years, you definitely deserve it!!! I’ll miss you guys but I understand your safety concerns come first!!!

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 23, 2021 at 3:13 pm

      Dario, where in this story does it say that Jim Palmer is leaving? The Orioles have yet to announce their broadcast team for 2021.

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        January 24, 2021 at 12:12 pm

        Rich – I read that Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer is selling his two-story condo in Little Italy’s Canal Street Malt House for $775,000 after 13 years. So, I kind of figured after his recent health issues with myelitis and Palmer, Thorne, and Dempsey are in their 70s, which makes them very high-risk for Covid-19. That they all would just retire. Maybe he stays on through zoom but all signs pointing to retirement. I again, hope I’m wrong but either way wishing them all to be safe which should be priority one!!!

    • dlgruber1

      January 23, 2021 at 5:29 pm

      Rich, you are correct. Palmer was not mentioned. Here is my thinking as to why. I think they (whomever it was that made these decisions) felt safe letting go of all of them thinking the fans will get over it as there are no strong attachments to any of them (tho I believe they’re wrong about that with Dempsey and Hunter). However, Palmer is a direct link to the O’s glory days and is of course a Hall of Famer. I believe they’re hoping he’ll see the handwriting and simply choose to retire rather than have the ignominy of being fired. If I’m right I hope he calls their bluff and says he’d like to come back tho I certainly would understand if he chooses not to.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 23, 2021 at 7:27 pm

        Along with Joe Morgan and Earl Weaver’s short time in the booth, Jim Palmer in my opinion, is the most knowledgeable announcer that I’ve ever listened to. He explains pitching like no other. His descriptive power of throwing the ball with a specific purpose, truly turns the act (chucking the ball) into an art form. He’s a savant in that regard. He has a statue for gosh sake. Even the Angelos Bros can’t be that stupid. Can they?

    • CalsPals

      January 24, 2021 at 12:43 pm

      Wish I could disagree with you Boog…go O’s…

  16. WorldlyView

    January 23, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Rich: Could you explain how MASN’s decision-making process works: Is this mass shakeup of broadcasters their decision, or Orioles ownership, or some combination? Where, exactly, should anger (or praise) be directed for this shakeup? I cannot shake the thought that most or all of the new broadcasters will be claimed off the waiver wire.

  17. Birdman

    January 23, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Rich, you indicate that Geoff Arnold and Kevin Brown are expected back, but no info on Scott Garceau’s status for 2021. Although I am a Gary Thorne fan, I thought Garceau did a pretty capable job as his replacement this past season. Hope Garceau is not yet another victim of the Orioles budget ax, as Thorne, Hunter, Davis and Dempsey appear to be.

  18. Vince C

    January 23, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    When if ever will we hear MASN or the Orioles reason for these moves? If this is a cost saving move, not that we’d like it any better, be honest and say so. Will they address the fans issues with these moves, or will the fans and their opinions be ignored again?

  19. Vince C

    January 23, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    As long as some are voicing their opinions about the remaining broadcasters, I’ll do the same…..
    Geoff Arnold is the best of what they have, but needs some improvement.
    Kevin Brown was better this past season, is better in TV than radio.
    Melanie Newman has a great voice, but announces the game in a monotone, no enthusiasm at all. Finally Scott Garceau, long time local broadcaster and good guy, but was horrible last season…….none of the people I mentioned were anywhere near Jim Hunter or Gary Thorne.

  20. CGarcia

    January 24, 2021 at 8:15 am

    I wasn’t a fan of Melanie Newman, she seemed super green – I hope they don’t bring her back.

    However, I love both Ben McDonald and Kevin Brown mixed in with Jim Palmer.

  21. Bmore

    January 24, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Great the broadcast team put me to sleep last season now got to deal with this for years to come all as I can say is Mr. Elias you better put a winner on the field or you’re gonna lose a lot of fans

    • CalsPals

      January 24, 2021 at 12:49 pm

      Bmore, afraid you’re right…gonna be a long couple yrs, has been already…go O’s…

  22. Caseywa

    January 24, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    I catch 120 or so games in a normal year on MLB network. That means I see the game broadcast, but not the pre or post game coverage. In the past 5 or 6 years that I’ve really started to watch MASN coverage, I’ve heard lots of Thorne, Palmer and Bordick. I’m a big Gary Thorne fan and will miss him. I prefer Palmer to Bordick because I feel he tells it like it is. I personally think the color guy/gal should be an information source. Tell me something I don’t know rather than repeating the same thing every time a play occurs. I believe they should be loyal to the O’s but not afraid to call them out. My fear is that the O’s don’t want that type of broadcaster. I liked Brian Roberts when he was on. Ben McDonald provided some good insight at times too. I am a bit critical, and I hear Mike and Jim use the same words/lines when answering a question posed by Gary. Maybe this is true of all color commentators, but I don’t listen to others to the same extent.

  23. Ekim

    January 24, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    Not that anyone cares about what I think but… I refused to watch any games last year for a number of reasons (new rules, truncated season, etc, etc). This latest O’s travesty gives me a good reason to do the same this year. I’m so old that the old “saw”, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” was already an antique when I first saw it carved into the main wooden crossbeam of the first service garage in my town back in 1945 when I was 8 years old. I didn’t understand it then but quickly learned. But, it still holds true today.

  24. G-man

    January 25, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    As great a pitcher Palmer was on the ball field, he was equally as brilliant in the broadcast booth, and even though he doesn’t look it, he’s not a spring chicken anymore. BTW, he is the only Oriole to be on all six World Series teams. Thorne has a great voice for broadcasting. And even though I’m a Jim Hunter fan, he has received his fair share of amount of criticism on these social media sites. My point is I think these moves were made for economical reasons and I think someone in the Orioles marketing department thinks the Orioles need to skewer towards a younger demographic. I think it’ll take time to get use to the new voices.

  25. OrioleMaze

    January 25, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    I have to think, ALL these cost savings (Player trades, broadcasters, etc) are attempts by ownership to chip away at CD’s albatross of a contract. If CD would only just walk away…

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