The Brewers have reached the postseason three times during Brian Anderson’s 12-year run as their lead play-by-play man. The first two, he got to call at least part of their runs for Turner, in 2008 and 2011.
This time, the team and its TV announcer will exist in parallel playoff universes.
It is Turner’s turn to cover the American League, so Anderson was in the Bronx Wednesday to call the AL wild-card game between the Athletics and Yankees, and will go on to Boston for the LDS and then eventually the ALCS in whichever cities advance.
The Brewers were back in Milwaukee, where Anderson lives, preparing to host Game 1 of the NLDS against the Brewers on Thursday.
Anderson said he deals with the situation by compartmentalizing.
“It’s just such a different brain space,” he said. “It’s so different, meaning there is nothing familiar about it. The analysts are different, the producer is different, the director, the crew. So it feels like I am with my Turner hat on now. It doesn’t feel weird.”
In fact, there is a big advantage to watching the Brewers from afar rather than working their games.
“One thing I enjoy about it is I get to actually be a fan of the Brewers,” he said. “I know them well and I spend seven months with them. I’m rooting for them to have success. If I‘m calling one of their games it’s a different experience. It’s a professional experience.
“It does allow me to kind of be a fan and tap in and send out text messages to my buddies, saying, ‘Way to go!’ . . . I call it ‘keeping the air in the balloon.’ If I’m working a game and it’s a Brewers game then there’s air in the balloon and you are doing your broadcaster thing. So it’s a little bit of a split personality disorder. I can understand that. But I’m in Turner American League playoff mode.”
Anderson worked the Athletics-Yankees game with analysts Ron Darling and Dennis Eckersley in place of Ernie Johnson, who was restricted from plane travel because of blood clots on his legs.
“Ernie is my mentor and friend,” Anderson said during batting practice. “I texted him before, saying, ‘I‘m really uncomfortable doing this game, because this is your game.’ And his response is always great. I’ll keep it between us, but he’s just the best. He’s always encouraging and always giving me life. He feels bad he can’t be here.”
Anderson has become one of Turner’s go-to play-by-play men, with a shtick-free style that largely has been embraced by viewers around the country, even if it has not turned him into a star.
“I kind of prefer that I’m not a known quantity,” he said. “I’m just happy to set it up on a tee for my analysts and make sure I get in and out of commercial packages and graphics and do a good job and do the job correctly. I have no interest in being known or popular.”
Anderson did 90 to 100 Brewers games this season and is bullish on their playoff chances.
“This is the broadcaster hat on now,” he said. “Let me declare my personalities before I speak on this. This is the professional broadcaster hat. This is Brian Anderson, not B.A. the fan. But I do think they’re built for a successful run in the postseason because of their bullpen, because they have a balance of a position player grouping that can hit homers up and down, that sees a lot of pitches per plate appearance, that can be a nightmare on a pitching staff.
“So they have the ability to chase pitchers. They have the ability to pitch well, too, in all kinds of scenarios. Their starting pitching doesn’t have the name guys, but they have a good group of guys that can get through those early windows first, second time through the batting order, which is all they’re trying to do.”
Anderson is hoping for the best. The World Series is on Fox, so he will be off that week. He already has tickets to the Brewers home games to watch from the stands as a fan.