Washington Post columnist Leonard Shapiro wrote about Rob Dibble today and more or less agreed that he’s a poor announcer and deserves criticism for his recent remarks about female baseball fans and Stephen Strasburg.
Despite that Shapiro also argues that Dibble shouldn’t be fired because … well, I’ll let you read his words for yourself:
Those who love him praise Dibble for his passion for the game and the team. Those who hate him wonder what sort of outrageous comment he might unload next. But they all tune in.
There’s a scene in Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts where his bosses at the radio station are going over the ratings and find that the average Stern fan listens for about an hour per day while the average Stern hater listens for about three hours per day. The idea in the movie and the idea in Shapiro’s column about Dibble is that being outrageous and controversial and often disliked can lead to big ratings.
And there’s really no arguing that, but here’s the problem with making the Stern argument for Dibble. Stern was merely one of several dozen morning shows available to someone with a radio, so the “if you don’t like it, turn it off” argument was perfectly reasonable. That is hardly the case with Dibble, because if a Nationals fan wants to watch the team on television he’s their only choice for an announcer. The alternative is muting the television or turning it off, not simply changing the station to a different broadcast of the same game.
I don’t think Dibble should be fired for his comments about female baseball fans or Strasburg. I think he should be fired because he’s not good at being a baseball announcer and without exception every Nationals fan I know dreads having to listen to him as part of watching their favorite team. Shapiro says “they all tune in” regardless of whether they love or hate Dibble. I say “they all tune in” because they don’t have a choice.