With the playoffs upon us, the season of listening to Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser call Dodger games has ended in 2020. There is little love lost for national broadcast crews by Dodger fans.
Perhaps Dodger fans are spoiled. After Vin Scully (the goat) retired, he was replaced by the dynamic and charming duo of Joe and Orel. Perhaps it is the stress and anxiety that comes with Dodger playoff baseball. What is certain, is that Joe and Orel are professionals, and have a fun chemistry together.
A Duo Unlike Any Other
If you polled social media users about their favorite Joe and Orel moment, you would get at least 20 different answers. One of the likely answers would be Hyun-Jin Ryu’s home run in 2019. Joe and Orel for at least a season discussed many times the idea that Ryu had quite the thunder in his bat. Ryu was known for hitting some home runs in batting practice. He most certainly had the power to hit one at the plate.
As Joe so poetically puts it in this clip, “it’s happened.”
Personally, my favorite moment in terms of encapsulating the chemistry and whimsy that a Dodgers broadcast has is one where Dieter Ruehle got involved. I could describe it, but the moment itself needs to be watched.
Being a good enough musician to do that on the fly is impressive. Trust me, I would know. The thing is, interactions like these are typical on a Joe and Orel broadcast. They have so much fun together that it makes the rest of us watching feel like we are friends with them too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself, “I would do anything just to go to dinner with those two.” Chemistry is a thing you can’t impart or teach. Luckily, Orel and Joe have it. You can tell they are friends. There’s evidence of that, anyway!
— Rich Stephenson (@LA_Dodgers_Fans) June 30, 2017
If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, or at least a half smile half cringe face you would make at your father, I don’t know what to tell you. Beyond their personal chemistry, I appreciate their professionalism.
Knowing Their Audience And The Context
One of the things I always appreciate is Joe Davis’ willingness to bring analytical statistics into the broadcast. Joe is clearly up on the times in terms of modern stats, and he isn’t afraid to discuss them. He’s discussed WAR, wRC+, OPS+, FIP, and other current statistical metrics. Orel may not always know what they are, but when Joe explains them or catches him up, Orel remembers later. This brings me to another point that goes unappreciated or unnoticed by many about Orel Hershiser.
Orel is a Dodger legend, and in the eyes of many, a player who belongs in the hall of fame. He’s also a product of someone who played in the ’80s, a ‘boomer’ as the kids would say, and pardon another cliche but, he’s an ‘old school guy.’ We have seen many old school types (John Smoltz for example) not only eschew modern analytics but actively trashes them during broadcasts. It is infuriating for sure, but in some ways, one has to understand where it comes from. That was not their way. Those were not the stats and contexts that mattered.
It shows just what a good broadcaster and active learner Orel Hershiser is that he not only respects them, he openly embraces those analytics and how the game is played because of them. He understands they are here to stay. He understands the Dodgers use them to drive their research and development. When Orel asks Joe questions to better understand those statistics, he will frequently contextualize them himself (because Orel is a brilliant baseball mind) and then paint a realistic picture of how they could be used, because he himself played professional baseball for two decades.
For Orel Hershiser to embrace those things despite being from a different generation of playing and thinking, is a perfect display of his professionalism and grace.
This piece was certainly a little personal. Joe and Orel broadcasts have always been something I have loved listening to. The year 2020 has brought many challenges and hardships for us all, myself and my family included. For two months and a few days, Joe and Orel’s commentary paired with watching the boys in blue was a balm and an escape from some of those things. As I thought about this, I knew that I couldn’t be the only one.
What are your favorite Joe and Orel moments?