MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

While watching the Washington Nationals play the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, it occurred to me that just two weeks into this new baseball season I have already watched more Nats games on the suddenly poorly-run and poorly-owned MASN Sports Network than I did in the last 10 seasons.

Not that this news flash will prompt the Lerner family to reconsider and take their team off the market for potential sale or partnership; nor does it mean I am a Nationals fan, because, while I respect and admire the organization and how it is run, I am not, nor ever will be a Nationals fan.

As the great Frank Costanza once said, “I got a lot of problems with you people!”

So if I’m not a Nationals fan, why do I bother to watch Nationals games? Hey, I watched them when they weren’t very good. I just love baseball.

Yet the reason I can watch Nationals baseball now without a second thought should be clear, and I know I speak for an awful lot of people here: The F.P. Santangelo reign of terror is over.

Our long Nationals nightmare is over!

F.P. is no longer with the broadcast team, for whatever reason. Doesn’t matter. He’s gone, and that’s good, because he was so bad. And we’ll just leave it at that.

To the Nationals’ credit, they have always had great broadcasters, beginning with Mel Proctor, Don Sutton and Ron Darling on television in the very beginning.

Personally, I really liked former analyst Rob Dibble after that, but the Lerners apparently didn’t, which, of course, led us to F.P.

The same can be said for radio; which, by the way, Nationals radio games can be heard right here on WCMD 1230 AM/102.1 FM, and it’s as good of a baseball radio listen as you’re going to hear. These guys are good, and have been from the start. Literally.

Charlie Slowes called the first pitch in club history on April 4, 2005, and he and partner Dave Jageler make Nats radio baseball a great listen.

Put it this way: If you’re making a long drive somewhere on a Sunday afternoon, and you’re by yourself? Put a Nationals game on the dial and you will not be alone. The trip will go quicker than you could have imagined it would. And you’ll make two new friends along the way.

Slowes and Jageler know baseball, they make a smooth call and they have great transition. They make it feel as though you’ve known them both for a very long time. They make you comfortable.

And comfort, my friends, is the essence of baseball.

As for Nats TV, in fairness to the folks who currently handle the pre- and post-game shows, I honestly have not seen their work yet, as I am rarely home from the cocktail hour at that point.

That said, when I was unable to watch the actual Nats games (I did always try), I always made sure to watch the pre-game and post-game shows because in the great Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight, they couldn’t be beat.

Johnny Holliday is the Brooks Robinson of broadcasting, and being the Brooksie of anything is the highest compliment anybody gets from me. But perhaps Brooks Robinson was the Johnny Holliday of third basemen, you know? They are both good gentlemen, have kind and giving hearts and are the very best at what they do.

On top of it all, they are our friends. And when I say “our” I mean every one of us.

Johnny introduced my friends and me to Ray Knight one afternoon at Nat Parks and then invited us to join them in their MASN tent as they did the pre-game show live. What a thrill of a baseball fan’s lifetime that was for all of us.

Ray Knight is a great baseball man, a great analyst and an even better person. His hospitality and frankness (we asked some questions) made a group of grown men feel like kids again, and none of us will ever forget it.

In the booth behind the plate, the Nationals are unrivaled in their television play-by-play, because Bob Carpenter, in his 17th year with the Nats, is a pro’s pro. He doesn’t miss a beat. He’s one of the best, no matter what sport he is calling; and he’s called them all.

To me, he has always been at home with baseball, which is probably why the St. Louis Cardinals hired him – not to mention ESPN and MLB Network. He thinks baseball, anticipates and calmly describes it to you, while never talking down or getting in the way of the game. Plus, he keeps a great scorebook.

More than anything, you can trust Bob Carpenter when he’s conversing with you. I don’t mean he’s telling the truth. I mean you trust Bob Carpenter. And there is no better feeling for a baseball fan than trust.

As for our hero today, and we’ll leave it at that, Kevin Frandsen has joined MASN and the Nationals this season after four seasons as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies radio broadcast team. A member of Washington’s 2014 National League East Division championship team, he has hosted shows on MLB Network Radio.

Frandsen played nine big-league seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, Phillies and Nats as a versatile defender and utility player.

His style is easy, yet emphatic at the appropriate times. He clearly knows what he’s talking about and provides a natural and welcome complement to Carpenter’s professionalism rather than the contrived calamity baseball fans had been subjected to for the past decade.

This was a good trade.

As for the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates? They’re in pretty good hands in both broadcast booths, too. Truth be told, they always have been (with one glaring exception). We’ll cover the Orioles and the Pirates broadcasts along the way as well during this absolute gift to us all (despite the motives of the owners) known as the baseball season.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT