Craig Calcaterra seems to think it is improper for broadcasters to call players by their first name. He uses Rich and Tommy as one example:
While watching the Marlins broadcast last night I noticed that the announcers for FSN Florida — I believe it was Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton — were constantly calling Marlins players by their first name. "Hanley is up with it…" "Wes really got a hold of that one …" "Chris had the green light on 3-0 …" But they’re not alone in this.
Whatever the case, I’m not fan of unnecessary formality, but I’m struggling to think of something that transforms a broadcaster from an authoritative voice to a silly fanboy faster than constantly using first names like that. They’re ballplayers. Say that Shlabotnik was caught looking, not Joe. It’s what we expect and it’s jarring and somewhat silly to do otherwise.
I completely disagree. Sure, if it was a national broadcast where fans from both teams were expected to be watching, then yeah, I could see that maybe Mr. Calcaterra has a point. But the Marlins broadcast is directed at Marlins fans, not the entire nation.
Using first names humanizes the players to the local fans. Not to mention, that is what the broadcasters call them when they are off the air. Being a fan of the Marlins, I do not expect the hometown broadcasters to be just an authoritative voice. We spend our time, energy and money in following the team and we do not want to watch a generic local broadcast of the Marlins. It's our team* and we want to the broadcasters to present it as such. In other words, it is the job of those in the booth to make the game and the Marlins as accessible as possible to the fans. And presenting the players in an informal manner is one way to do that. When a player screws up, sure I want them to say he screwed up. But they can tell me that using first or last names.
Also, the announcers are just using the names by which the fans already use to refer to the players. No Marlins fan's default is Ramirez, it is Hanley.
I can only imagine the look on Logan Morrison's face if I walked up to him and said "Mr. Morrison...."
And oh, by the way, if during an inning I'm walking to frig and I hear "Sanchez looks to be injured" my first thought is: which one? The Marlins have three.
I would really be disappointed if we had to live in the mundane world of local broadcasting that Mr. Calcaterra thinks we should live in. Really disappointed.
* The "our team" part opens up a whole different argument. Which I will leave alone for the time being.