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How’d the new guy do?

Rich Waltz was called up to fill in for Jon Miller and Dave Flemming this weekend. Here’s the game one review.

MLB: Winter Meetings Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

You may or may not have heard, but filling in for Jon Miller and Dave Flemming this weekend in Cincinnati and the first game in New York against the Mets is former Marlins play-by-play broadcaster Rich Waltz. If you missed his radio and TV call last night, here’s a quick review.

Rich Waltz began yesterday’s broadcast on KNBR like he’s been covering the team all season. He mentioned that it was an honor to fill in for Jon Miller and David B. Flemming through Monday’s game against the Mets before reiterating how crucial this series was for the 61-61 Giants.

After the national anthem, the lineups, and the storyline setups, he addressed the elephant in the booth:

I’m sure you’re tuning in and you’re saying to yourself, ‘Who the heck is this that has stormed the Giants’ broadcast booth?’ My name is Rich Waltz. For the last thirteen years, I was the television voice of the Miami Marlins. This year, I’ve been working on MLB Network on both the showcase and some of the Facebook games.

And then he made sure to double down on answering “Who the heck is this?” with his bay area bona fides:

Grew up in Martinez a Giants fan, an A’s fan. Went to a lot of ballgames growing up. So it’s a real honor to get the call from the Giants and fill in with Jon Miller and, as Jon would say, David B. Flemming, both on assignment.

Before tripling down on the implicit followup question of ornery Giants fans wondering “Who the heck is this?”: “... and how long do I gotta listen to him?”

I’ll be here for three games in Cincinnati and one game on Monday night. Duane Kuiper will be by in the fourth, fifth, and sixth inning here on radio. I’ll hop over with Javy Lopez, and then Jon Miller will join us when we arrive in New York on Monday.

It’s always good to reassure people that the people they like will be back very soon. It’s why I keep saying Grant’s still around and will contribute here on the site sometimes.

So, Waltz cleared the introductory hurdle with aplomb. No entrenched audience likes disruption, no matter how adequate or great the replacement, and really, it felt like the veteran Waltz understood this and didn’t try to do too much to upset the typical broadcast experience.

Later in the game, he revealed that Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani is nicknamed “Disco” because his teammates and coaches got tired of trying to pronounce his last name properly. This was amusing to me because when I switched over to the TV side, neither Duane Kuiper nor Javier Lopez, both former ballplayers, had any trouble saying the name, which suggests that DeSclafani’s Reds teammates are just jerks.

Once he jumped over to the TV side in the fourth inning, he did a quick intro and then told Javier Lopez a story about how earlier in the day, as he was settling into the broadcast booth, the door opens and Joe Morgan stepped in saying, “Jon Miller! Jon Miller” before realizing “You’re not Jon Miller!”

Now, of course, the Hall of Famer was seeking out his former broadcasting partner, but I really enjoyed the momentary thought I had of Jon Miller ditching out on the series to avoid talking to Joe Morgan. On another level, Joe Morgan not knowing where someone was going to be feels like meta commentary on his anti-advanced metric bias — he doesn’t think data should be used to determine defensive shifting, etc. A reach on my part for sure.

In the top of the sixth, he read the copy for the “Pivotal Play” of the day, which was a flashback to 2012 when Angel Pagan hit a 3-run home run to give the Giants their sole win of a three-game series in Cincinnati (in the regular season, of course — they swept them in Cincinnati in the NLDS).

“Of course, that was the year of the ‘happy flight’. Somebody pitched a scoreless eighth inning and got the win. Javy Lopez.”

And then he and Lopez talked about how the Reds have had ownage against the Giants over the years and how 2012 in particular was a memorable year for both teams, but also indicative of when the Reds were the Reds before this recent lengthy downturn of theirs.

“The next year, 2013, was the last year when the Reds went to the postseason... it was also their last winning season.”

This prompted Lopez to jump back to the Reds’ ownage of the Giants, how they were 41-29 against them in the regular season at one point. Waltz jokingly added that “your win” in that Pivotal Play game helped the Giants avoid the sweep in that series, which made Lopez joke that he only needs about 300 more of those to be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Look, it wasn’t great banter but it wasn’t terrible, either, but it gave them both a chance to really settle in, which in the limited time they were together (three innings) wasn’t a given.

If you, like me, kept wondering where else you’d heard his voice before and, like me, started working backwards based on all the information given — specifically, those thirteen years with the Marlins — then you probably arrived at the same conclusion I did: he was the guy who used to shout “HIS NAME IS DAN UGGLA!”

This recollection immediately -10,000’d Waltz in my head. But in the course of looking for a “HIS NAME IS DAN UGGLA” video clip, I came across the story that explained why he (and Tommy Hutton, his broadcast partner in the TV booth) used to shout that every time Uggla homered. It’s pretty straightforward: in a 2006 preseason fundraising banquet (let us never forget how cheap and gross Jeffrey Loria is), Marlins players were introduced and the host mispronounced Uggla’s name, prompting Uggla’s brother to shout from the back of the room “HIS NAME IS DAN UGGLA”.

So, that’s just a thing that happened that became a running joke. I am much more okay with that version of events than the one I think most of us assumed, and that’s a broadcaster trying to create a cool, famous call based that wasn’t that cool and the player wasn’t famous. I’m sorry for misjudging you, Rich Waltz.

Overall, it was easy to hear why the Giants pulled out a seat for him. They needed to be able to drop someone in who could do the job with no fuss or muss and a 13-year TV vet who’s already covered the Giants this year (in one of many Facebook games) is a fine “get”.


3 Young Jon Millers out of 4