During the past offseason, the Kansas City Royals and their TV broadcast partners Fox Sports parted ways and parted ways somewhat acrimoniously with their popular TV analyst Frank White. In to replace him they brought two new commentators, Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc. Physioc’s many failings as a commentator and the disrepute he brings to the organisation have already been discussed, but Hudler is quite possibly worse. It’s a very close thing and Hudler has only been mildly offensive (more on which below), but the fact that there is even discussion on this point shows how badly Fox and the Royals erred.
Hudler has not been popular in Kansas City and whilst part of that can indeed be put down to his replacing the popular White, it would be a huge mistake to write it all off as such. Hudler is massiveley lacking in ability. He is a former commentator for the Los Angeles Angels and his style has been described as west coast. Though having heard some other west coast commentators they should be insulted.
Hudler’s analysis is utterly devoid of any substance. Instead of talking about what players did right or wrong on a particular play he will instead shout an idiotic catchphrase. Instead of using his experience as a journeyman infielder to educate on the finer points of the game, he uses it to try to teach the audience how the players talk. Thanks to him I learnt that an RBI can be referred to as a ‘steak’, but not once did he discuss what one player had done to pick up the RBIs that another had not.
To listen to Hudler do analysis of a game is like watching the game with an excitable child who loudly spouts the first thought to come into his or her head after every play. Only with a child one would applaud their excitement about the game and try to nurture it by teaching them the finer points of what just happened.
Unfortunately, it is Hudler’s job to go over those points and I am still yet to be invited into the press box to try to explain the game to him. He is also fond of relaying conversations he has had or imagines have happened by doing a crude mimicry of the speaker’s voice. This includes doing a jaw-dropping falsetto if he is imitating a woman speaking.
Unfortunately, Hudler’s knowledge of the world outside of baseball is as lacking as his knowledge of the world inside it. He once expressed his certainty that the River Mississippi and the River Delaware met, despite their being on opposite sides of the Appalachians. He was delighted that the early bird schedules had pictures on them instead of words as he could understand it better. The usual on-air time-filling talk between him and co-commentator Ryan Lefebvre very frequently devolves into Ryan trying to explain something and then gently taking the Mickey when Rex still fails to understand.
Which in a way makes the whole affair all the more annoying because Ryan actually knows what he is doing. He is a solid commentator and when he is paired with former closer Jeff Montgomery the broadcast is actually excellent as the pair work well together. (Even better is when Ryan works the radio games with Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Matthews.
The two have worked together for years and one almost hopes for a delay and a chance to hear them go off-topic.) And yet the Royals and Fox continue to give Hudler games. I understand that they are paying him either way and he might as well do the work, but they do not seem to think of the fans at all. Hudler is under contract for one more season, but after that he must be shown the door.