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Call of the Week: Dave Sims crushes it

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The Players Alliance Game Changers Celebration Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for The Players Alliance

It’s often a mistake to step into a great man’s shoes. When that great man is a beloved poet of the pastime, such as Dave Niehaus, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Many Mariner fans of a certain age can recite the entire call of The Double from memory, so perfect were the words to match the moment. He was beloved the region over for his trademark calls like “My, oh my,” and “Break out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma, it is grand salami time!” But his most remarkable skill was his ability to impulsively turn perfect phrases without preparation. “The old time religion lives.” Don’t underestimate the confidence it takes to replace a man like that.

And yet, despite the sky-high bar set by Niehaus, the Other Dave has slowly but surely wormed his way into my heart. Indeed, the entire post-Niehaus broadcasting crew has been among the game’s best. On the radio side, Rick Rizzs’ continued presence has helped me stay connected to my childhood, and Gary Hill Jr.’s wry delivery and silly facts have kept me sane during many losing seasons. Mike Blowers, who’s probably taught me more about baseball than anybody else, has been sorely missed this year. But his absence has given Angie, Hyphen, and Dan the Man a chance to nurture their talent and gain confidence in the booth, which has been a gift as each of them has such different expertise. I could spend all day listening to Angie talk about hitting adjustments or Ryan talk about why a pitcher sequenced the way he did. And it must be noted how lucky we are to have kept Aaron Goldsmith after he flirted with leaving us for St. Louis. That the new crew the Cards went with has been such an embarrassment reminds us how good we have it.

But the beating heart of the team has been Dave Sims, the Sunday Night Football veteran who could fill an ocean with his knowledge of seemingly all sports. Unlike a lot of broadcasters, his role for this team has been neither a pollyanna hype man nor a debbie downer. He calls it like he sees it and has the rare gift of being able to criticize the team when it’s called for without drowning us in negativity. And when the team has been good, he’s never failed to live up to a big moment. This, for instance, may not have had the importance of the Double, but the call was just as emotionally resonant:

Something really underappreciated about Dave (and good broadcasters in general) is his sense of when to let a moment breathe. A lot of broadcasters would have talked through that 10-second pause starting around 0:26. But letting the crowd do the talking is what lets the goosebumps rise.

I’ve even come to love his foibles, like his constant misreads of whether a fly ball has a chance to go out. What Lookout Landing commenters refer to as “getting Simsed” might not exactly be a compliment, but it’s a sign of how large he looms in our lives that his name is a verb. The size of that presence is the stuff of which nostalgia is made. Savor it now.

Which brings me to my favorite calls, which often come when there’s no chance of getting Simsed, like this megablast from Nelson Cruz.

Dave Sims is at his best in calls like that, when he seems to be free of all self-consciousness and just lets it rip. And that’s how he brought us the play of the week. For as violent as this home run was from Julio—a 422-foot blast in part of what would have put him in contention for AL Player of the Week if not for Shohei—it’s Dave Sims’ instantly iconic call that makes it sing.

That sing-song perfectly matches the euphoria of what Julio accomplished, and Dave lets it go as if the meoldy was bursting out from inside his body. It’s organic, Dave’s best quality. To the same degree that the home run itself was a no-doubter, so too was it immediately clear that this would go in Dave’s highlight reel. Pity the person who has to step into his shoes some day.

Honorable Mentions

Kolten Wong Seizes the Opportunity to Do the Funniest Thing Possible

OK, so on this one, I do not fault Dave Sims at all for missing the likelihood that this would go out. After all, it was the most absurd thing to happen in a Mariners game this year. And I, for one, am grateful. As I’ve said in this space before, if the Mariners can’t win, the least they can do is find new and interesting ways to lose.

Julio Gets the Clutch Hit

I feel like the discourse got out of hand again after Julio struck out to end Saturday’s game, but Julio’s been steadily getting better outcomes in high-leverage spots as the calendar has marched on. Don’t forget that he did stuff like this all the time last year. He’s done it a couple times already this week.

Matt Brash Makes Someone Look Silly

Brash has finally got his BABIP under .500, but it’s still about 40 points higher than second place among relievers with 40 IP. Never let that make you forget how fun he is to watch. He’s in the top five in strikeout rate, and I’m going to say as a scientific fact that he’s number one in accruing swinging strikes on pitches that end up between the batter’s legs.

Cabby Nails Gurriel

Caballero’s recent struggles at the plate has seen him cede his playing time against righties, but stuff like this reminds us why he’ll always be a reasonable use of a roster spot.

Gabe Speier Keeps It Close

I have to admit that the Mariners pitching development’s track record of getting the most out of relievers sometimes blinds me to how much credit the pitchers themselves deserve. Gabe Speier is making a strong case for Unsung Hero of the Year, with performances like Saturday’s, when he effortlessly retired all four batters he faced to keep the game tied.

Cade Marlowe’s Biggest First

What a week for Cade, with his first game, first hit, first RBI, first run, first stolen base, and first home run. Even admidst all that, my biggest takeaway has been pleasant surprise by the competitiveness of his plate appearances, something he struggled with in Tacoma early in the year. His sharp swing decisions has made him look much more mature than the typical rookie. But I also love to root for rookies because of how hard they play. So the moment I’m going with for Marlowe’s honorable mention is borne of the hustle he showed in securing his first triple, showing off the kind of drive you only rarely see in a vet. Our man wanted this one. Welcome to the show, Cade.

One for the Road

Paul, it has truly been an honor to root for you these last few years.