After their regrettable decision to drop Tommy Hutton after 19 years, Fox Sports Florida and the Marlins took the unusual step of alternating four television analysts last season before realizing that doesn’t make much sense.
So the Marlins and Fox Sports Florida are opting for the more traditional one analyst approach this season, and the man they hired – former big league outfielder Todd Hollandsworth – has a lot going for him: a pleasing voice, contemporary knowledge of the game, experience both as a studio analyst for the Cubs for eight years and a morning host on MLB Network radio and roots within the Marlins organization.
What Hollandsworth lacks is substantial experience calling games in a big-league booth.
He estimates he filled in as a game analyst on 8 to 15 Cubs broadcasts over the past eight years but believes he’s ready to handle a 150-game package alongside Rich Waltz, including Monday’s 1 p.m. regular season opener at the Washington Nationals.
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“Studio work is fine and dandy, but I was ready for the next step and I was probably ready for the next step the last few years,” he said. “I wanted more. I wanted the ability to hone in on a team.
“I’m not clowning around. I moved a family of six to South Florida in 40 days [including four children ages 7 to 14]. I am going to bring my A game 150 games a year. Hopefully that keeps me here for a long time.”
Hollandsworth, 43, spent only one season with the Marlins, but it was a memorable one: the 2003 season that ended with a World Series title. He had only 228 at-bats, finishing .254 with three homers and 20 RBI as a reserve outfielder.
“I came here as a power hitting left hander who couldn't get the ball over the wall in right field at Pro Player Stadium,” he said. “Miguel Cabrera got called up. They said, ‘Take a seat over there on the bench.’... That was the most selfless team I ever played with.”
Hollandsworth moved on to the Cubs in 2004 and retired after 2006 with a .273 career average in 12 seasons. But he said he always had a fondness for the Marlins after leaving.
After Hutton was dropped in November 2015, Hollandsworth was summoned to South Florida to audition alongside Waltz. But the Marlins instead opted for a four-pronged analyst approach, with Eduardo Perez, Al Leiter, Jeff Conine and Preston Wilson.
Fox and the Marlins quickly determined after last season that using one analyst was the more sensible approach and moved quickly to hire Hollandsworth. Fox Sports Florida executive producer Brett Opdyk likes the “enthusiasm” in Hollandsworth’s delivery.
Hollandsworth indicates he’s willing to criticize when warranted but with a gentle approach.
“I love to educate fans on the game,” he said. “Instead of harping on placing blame on the failure, I explain why failure is happening.” But he vows to “call a spade a spade” if a player isn’t giving full effort. “We can’t deny what we see with our eyes.”
Hollandsworth said he spoke with owner Jeffrey Loria and multiple Fox and Marlins officials and was never told to curtail criticism or given any restrictions.
“They said, ‘You be you.’ I’m not a dummy. I know what this job entails. My main objective is to bring the best broadcast in baseball.”
AROUND THE DIAL
• Beyond the Marlins’ 150-game TV package, FS-1 will carry two games, Fox Sports Sun will televise two Rays-Marlins games and ESPN has the Sunday night, April 9 game at the Mets, leaving just seven Marlins games untelevised.
Those seven include one night game (Thursday, May 18 at the Dodgers at 10:10 p.m.) and six weekday afternoon games.
• Quarterback Tony Romo, who is expected to be released or traded by the Dallas Cowboys, reportedly has been offered analyst jobs by CBS and by Fox, which wants him to replace No. 2 analyst John Lynch, who left to become general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.
• In the wake of Cleveland and Golden State resting all of their stars in recent consecutive Saturday night ABC games, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a letter to owners, according to ESPN, that threatened “significant penalties” if teams don’t abide by the NBA’s standing rule to provide “notice to the league office, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest.”
Owners allowing coaches or others to make these decisions is unacceptable, Silver stated. That’s because, according to Silver, those other people may not have the correct awareness of the impact those decisions have on “fans and business partners,” the reputation of the league and “perception of our game.”
Silver called it “an extremely significant issue for our league” and it is expected to be discussed at an April 6 Board of Governors meeting.
ABC/ESPN have every right to expect the NBA to fix this problem.