News & Politics

Is the Nationals’ Broadcast Team Really One of Baseball’s Worst?

Why one annual poll claims they are.

Each year, a website called Awful Announcing, which covers the sports media, conducts a reader poll to rank all of Major League Baseball’s home-team broadcasters. And for the last three years, the Nationals’ team—Bob Carpenter and analyst F.P. Santangelo, who appear on local sports channel MASN—have come in second to last, ahead of only the Chicago White Sox.

Why do voters dislike the Nationals’ booth brigade so intensely? “They’re very shtick-dependent,” says Awful Announcing managing editor Joe Lucia, who oversees the poll. “Carpenter’s got to get in that ‘SEE! YOU! LATER!’ for a home run, and Santangelo has to inform everyone that the no-hitter is gone. They’re both predictable, and it gets grating to hear the same thing every game.” (One notable example: Santangelo’s ongoing attempt to brand home runs as “taters.”)

Carpenter, who has called MLB games for 35 years in various capacities, came to the Nats in 2006, while Santangelo, a former big-league player, arrived in 2011. That should have provided time to forge some chemistry, but voters in the poll seem to find it lacking—a problem given how dependent baseball is on commentators to drive the experience.

Of course, plenty of Nats fans seem to enjoy Carpenter and Santangelo, and the Awful Announcing survey is just a snapshot of its readers’ take. But even boosters would probably admit there are some flaws. The duo can fall back too much on philosophical views—playing the game the “right way,” say—and while cheerleading for the home team is a staple of regional programming, Santangelo’s praise can border on sycophantic. “It almost seems as if Santangelo spends a lot of time talking for the sake of talking,” Lucia says.

Now comes some more bad news for the Nats’ commentators: White Sox play-by-play man Ken “Hawk” Harrelson retired last September. That means the Sox crew could rise in this year’s Awful Announcing poll—and Carpenter and Santangelo might, for the first time, finish last.

This article appears in the April 2019 issue of Washingtonian.