Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Reports in the mainstream media had Dick Enberg's contract ending this year, the play-by-play announcer's third season with the Padres.
Actually, Enberg is under contract through 2013, as you might have noticed yesterday upon reading this blog's story that the Padres had signed his broadcast partner, color analyst Mark Grant, to a three-year deal that ultimately could run through 2016.
Enberg, to be sure, will be the lead TV announcer when the "Fox Padres" debut in spring training, most likely near St. Patrick's Day if MLB signs off on the 20-year contract soon enough.
But if Fox decides to put its own stamp on the play-by-play job for 2013 -- more likely than not, I'm hearing -- the Fox-Enberg fit could require creative thinking in months ahead.
Enberg will be 78 going into the 2013 season, and due a seven-figure salary. Although he has told me his passion for baseball remains, it's not crazy to think that a year from now, he might welcome the chance to stay in baseball without having to leave San Diego.
Fox will be looking to generate returns on a 20-year investment that could approach $1 billion. It will need several broadcasters beyond those who call the games. Pregame and postgame shows, for example, will be meatier than what Cox Communications created for Padres telecasts, although I'm hearing it will take time to build the full plan into reality.
Enberg as a studio host, for instance, seems a potentially good fit for 2013. Working as a host for NBC, he helped make "Breakfast At Wimbledon" good TV for even the casual tennis fan. He also has won awards as a writer and a producer.
See, finding something for him to do -- and do well -- shouldn't be difficult. The man has more Emmy awards than he does fingers. His knowledge of baseball history is vast. His gift for storytelling is a treasure.
Has his play-by-play work with the Padres recalled his razor-sharp calls of John Wooden's UCLA teams, or the California Angels of Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana? Of course not. Father Time remains unbeaten.
Fox, for its part, has shown itself a cooperative partner to the Padres by retaining Enberg, who is contracted as a Padres employee.
But at some point, Fox will look for a new play-by-play announcer to pair with Grant. (Are you reading this, Matt Vasgersian?) Water pistol to my head, I'd guess Enberg's replacement will be in place by this time next year.