He Used To Be Ray Knight

Multiple choice question: Who’s the happiest guy in America when the Nationals return home from a road trip?

  1. Dusty Baker
  2. Ben from Ben’s Chili Bowl
  3. Ray Knight

The answer, of course, is 3.

When the Nats are at home, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network broadcasts its pre- and post-game shows with host Johnnie Holliday and analyst Knight from a little cabana on the concourse behind left field at Nationals Park.

During the post-game, while the departing fans generate otherworldly traffic on South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue in Southeast DC, Johnnie and Ray chat about the evening’s game. Knight, who just might be the grimmest man on sports television, occasionally even smiles.

But when the Nationals are on the road, Knight and his co-host Johnnie Holliday broadcast those same shows from a studio that’s 20 miles north … of Baltimore! 

MASN is, of course, owned by the Orioles and its production headquarters is a studio outside the Baltimore beltway in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The Nats have ex-commissioner and car dealer Bud Selig to thank for the deal that allowed them to move to DC from Montreal. Part of that deal was that Washington had to let MASN — or, in effect, the Orioles — broadcast their games.

The O’s and Nats are in bitter, years-long litigation over this deal, which the Nationals believe stinks. They’re right, of course, but a deal’s a deal.

There’s something hilariously cruel about the Orioles making the Nats TV hosts drive 60 miles to do their show 81 times a year. Driving between Baltimore and Washington is like strapping a boulder to your back and hiking 40 miles through a briar patch. Only when you do that, you go faster. Then stick another 20 miles onto the journey and you have Washington to Hunt Valley.

If they take the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to I-695 to I-83, it’s almost exactly 60 miles from Nats Park to Hunt Valley. So back and forth, over the course of a whole season, Holliday and Knight log 9,720 of the hardest stop-and-go commuting miles in the country.

Holliday is used to schlepping all over tarnation. He’s the basketball and football radio voice of the Maryland Terrapins. During those broadcasts, he’s forever mentioning folks in Cumberland or Easton or other little towns across Maryland. And Holliday looks and sounds like he thinks he’s the luckiest guy in the world to get to broadcast sports.

Knight, uh … doesn’t. The MVP of the ’86 World Series is a taciturn grouch on the air. His analysis is usually insightful, but his delivery is joyless and flinty.

With that commute, it’s no wonder. For those of you who don’t live around here, Hunt Valley is … well, it’s pretty much just a shopping center. I envision Ray Knight in his red MASN shirt staring into his macaroni at Noodles & Co., on Shawan Road wondering if the MLB Network might ever call him. At least that’s in Secaucus, NJ, which is more or less an actual place.

Monday, the Nats open a four-game series in Colorado. The first three of those games start at 8:35 pm eastern time. Figure they end around 11:30 pm. Hey, time for the post-game show! MASN doesn’t wrap that up until after play-by-play guy Bob Carpenter interviews Dusty Baker.

There’s no way Knight and Holliday get on the road before 12:30 am. If they’re lucky, they’re home by 2:00 am. If the games go extra innings, they might run into morning rush hour.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.