TBS's Anderson steps to plate in big spot

TBS announcer Brian Anderson, who is pictured in

TBS announcer Brian Anderson, who is pictured in the booth at a Brewers game, where he is the lead play-by-play man. (Credit: Milwaukee Brewers)

Neil Best

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Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned

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Before each postseason, Ron Darling tries to identify a player who might flourish in the playoff spotlight and become a breakout performer even among casual fans.

This year's pick: Ryan Braun, a would-be star who toils in the not-so-bright lights of Milwaukee.

But Darling also anticipates these playoffs producing a breakout announcing star, one whose primary job is chronicling Braun's exploits for the Brewers.

Most of you have not heard of Brian Anderson. But tonight he will take a seat alongside Darling and John Smoltz on TBS' lead announcing team, assigned to the Yankees in the ALDS.

After that series is over, they will work the NLCS.

"The circumstances under which he's doing the games, of course, weigh heavily on all of us," Darling said, referring to Ernie Johnson's skipping the playoffs because of the illness of his son, Michael.

"But everyone gets their shot. That's what Major League Baseball is about. If you're good, you will get your shot. What you make of that, only time will tell."

Darling is confident that Anderson will make the most of it. He compared his knowledge and preparation to that of SNY play-by-play man Gary Cohen.

Anderson is confident, too, but he acknowledged there will be pressure, both professional and personal.

"I want to do right by Ernie," he said. "I don't want to add any more stress to him than he already has by dropping the ball."

Anderson, 40, was a catcher at St. Mary's College in San Antonio and began calling games for the Double-A Missions there after choosing broadcasting over scouting. His older brother, Mike, pitched in three games for the Reds in 1993 and now is a scout for the Rangers.

After spending four years at the Golf Channel, Anderson began with the Brewers in 2007 and has been on Turner's playoff roster since '08. He called Roy Halladay's no-hitter in last season's playoffs and got strongly positive reviews.

Still, this will be his first time in the crosshairs of New York media critics -- the ones in newspapers and the millions more who do the job on an amateur basis. He well knows how much abuse Chip Caray and, to a lesser extent, Johnson received in that role for TBS.

"I don't want to ruin the experience of the game for them or for anyone else," Anderson said of media critics, most of whom -- including yours truly -- have been nothing but complimentary to date.

If the Brewers survive the first round, he will be with them in the NLCS. He said he is not concerned about bias, having called Brewers games in a 2008 Division Series without feeling conflicted.

"I think it would be great for the city, not necessarily for me," he said of the Brewers advancing. "Obviously, the preparation part would be a slam- dunk."

Speaking of preparation, Anderson said that on Tuesday, he watched every pitch Justin Verlander threw to the Yankees this regular season.

At that point, it wasn't clear whom the Yankees would face. But he has an in with the Rangers, right? "Mike won't talk to me about the Rangers," he said. "It makes me angry because I know he knows."

Anderson emphasized that he is only a "spot starter" and that Johnson remains TBS' main man. But he acknowledged the opportunity presented to him.

"I think it's important ultimately that people know who you are and you're a familiar voice," he said. "I certainly want to push my career forward in that direction. I think this is a jumping-off point.

"I want to be one of the best announcers in the country."

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