I know, some of you are already sick of hearing Rex Hudler. Others are already sick of hearing about Rex Hudler. If that's you, well, thank you for stopping by. If not, let's talk about the hot-button issue with Royals fans right now, more so than Getz-over-Gio, lineups that don't include Alex Gordon or Mike Moustakas, or Ned Yost's bullpen usage.
I am moving into the camp that likes Hudler. Well, maybe "like" isn't the right word. "Tolerate" might be a better choice. The first couple of televised games I saw, I was not a fan at all. But I do think he's getting better.
I can understand why many Royals fans have been up in arms about Hudler. First off, he's not Frank White. I don't know how much this factors in, but I believe it is a part of it. I've already weighed in on how I felt about the Royals firing White. I don't believe White was the best color commentator in the world, but he was familiar to us viewers. Also, it just seems wrong that this franchise looks to be on the verge of contending, and White won't be around to see it, apparently. The fact that he managed some of these players in the minors just adds to that feeling of injustice.
Going from White to Hudler has also been whiplash-inducing. They seem to be complete opposites in personality. This is what bothers me most about Hudler. The beautiful thing about baseball is that there are quiet moments, times to think and reflect (frankly, this is something the Kauffman Stadium operations staff needs to remember, too). So far, Hudler doesn't seem to understand that, instead preferring to talk seemingly non-stop. In fact, during the opening game in Anaheim, I found myself tuning him out, vaguely sensing a droning noise at times rather than a color commentator.
I do think Hudler is getting a bit better in this regard. Or maybe I just notice it less. Either way, this is where Hudler's broadcast partner, be it Ryan Lefebvre or Steve Physioc, comes in. They need to be better at reining Hudler in. Part of this problem is chemistry--Lefebvre seems to have no idea how to work with Hurricane Hudler, while Physioc seems to do better after working with him in Anaheim for so long.
I don't have any broadcast journalism experience (my journalism minor in college was all on the print side), but I'm sure it's a tough job. There is the thinnest line of all, whether to treat your audience like they know nothing or to assume they know a lot. And of course, you can't please everyone. But in general, the best color guys find a way to pass along the little nuances that make baseball great. I feel like we haven't really found out whether Hudler can do that or not. That may be partially obscured by his fondness for weird sayings. I understand that's part of his personality, but I wouldn't mind if he cut back on those a little bit and instead focused a little more on teaching.
I was not a Hudler fan at first, but when I hear him doing interviews or talking on a pre- or post-game show, I can tell he is just an enthusiastic person and a huge baseball fan. Really, there are much worse traits a person could have. He will take some getting used to, and it may take most if not all of this season, but I think eventually Royals fans will like Hudler. The bottom line is, if the Royals are winning, people will want to watch, and people will associate those good memories with Hudler, at least to a point. In the meantime, I hope Hudler will learn to calm down a bit, let the game speak for itself sometimes, and better communicate some insights to us viewers.