Kevin Frandsen is back in Washington, D.C. After a nine-year major league career, including the 2014 season with the Nationals and the last four seasons as a member of the Phillies radio broadcast crew, the former utility player is picking up the stick mic and stepping in front of the camera for Nats games this year.
MASN and the Nationals announced yesterday that Frandsen was chosen to be the new color commentator alongside play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter in the broadcast booth for the 2022 campaign.
And the 39-year-old Frandsen can't wait to get started.
"Everyone will know that I'm excited. My voice at times will change because of that," said Frandsen in an interview after the announcement via Zoom. "It's a huge step in a career that I knew I wanted to get into: calling games. But more than anything, the TV side has always intrigued me. I've been so fortunate working on the Phillies broadcasts for the last three years, four if you include the couple I had previously.
"It's surreal because when you think of moving up into TV, I don't necessarily think that it's from the outside source. Like from the Nationals and MASN wanting a radio guy from the Phillies. Even though I was a National, it's one of those things where it's humbling. It's a humbling experience because you just don't expect that. You're not supposed to be at a loss for words for the job that you do. But sometimes it kicks you right there just because it makes it known that it's real and the opportunity is there and the excitement is sometimes overwhelming."
Frandsen, a career .258 hitter with 15 home runs and 110 RBIs, found his niche in the majors as a utility player. He saw time at second base, third base, first base, shortstop, the outfield and as the designated hitter while playing for four different teams over his career. He uses that experience all over the diamond to help in the booth.
"One hundred percent. One hundred percent," Frandsen said. "I mean, look, as a utility guy, you get to experience a lot of different things. I always like to say, 'What is a utility guy? A utility guy is a guy that's good at a lot of positions, not great at one.' And usually the guys that play for a long time at one position, they're great at one position. I just happen to be not great at any positions and good at a few. And so, whether it was video work and trying to get ahead on that, whether it was just talking the game with the boys and your coaching staffs, wherever you were, that's how you get better. Obviously, the action of doing it is gonna help. But I mean, the constant communication that we have as players, as broadcasters, that makes you better every day. It should at least.
"Because to me, there's no defined way of describing baseball. Baseball is an evolving sport. Baseball is an evolving way that we look at things. And if you get close-minded and think like, 'Oh, well, I like my baseball one way,' then you're gonna get passed up. And I feel like I'm in a world of wanting to be a part of the trend that gets the 'Get off my lawn' people out of here and understands that it's America's pastime because it's been in the past. And we're stuck in the past. It needs to be America's passion. And football is always gonna be America's passion, I get that. But why can't we make baseball and try to get it there again? Because it used to be America's passion."
If you didn't know already or can't tell by now, Frandsen loves baseball. You can see it in his eyes as he talks about the game even through a screen, which Nats fans will be able to see during every MASN broadcast this season.
So how do we make baseball America's passion? By embracing and highlighting the game's best talents. For example, the Nationals' very own Juan Soto.
"By embracing the now more than anything," Frandsen said. "I mean, you look throughout the league, and it starts in Washington too with Juan, but we just did on MLB Network Radio our top 10 lists of everything. And you look at the top 10 players and obviously there's gonna be a couple that are OK, but most are early 20s guys, mid-20s guys. And you have the unicorn in Shohei Ohtani. And so when I say embrace it, it means embrace the greatness that we have right now. We have some insane, insane talent. And it starts with Juan, I get that. And you got Fernando Tatis Jr., you got Ronald AcuÃ±a Jr., Shohei, don't forget (Mike) Trout and Bryce (Harper) obviously. We make it that by doing the now, by embracing the now."
By mentioning Soto, is it safe to say the 23-year-old slugger is the player Frandsen is most looking forward to seeing on a daily basis?
"Yeah, I mean, I guess," Frandsen replied. "I say I guess because I sit here and marvel at, like 2018 I always go back to. He was going from (Single-A) ball to Double-A and the Nats were in San Francisco at the time and I was doing my radio show. I ended up on the field and talking to (general manager Mike Rizzo) before a game and I was asking about him. He said, 'Franny, this is the best hitter I've ever seen in my life.' And I just say, you know, kind of go back, like, 'Uh huh.' Because there's not a lot of smoke being blown with Rizz.
"And, my God, everything he said was like, 'Well, this guy's two-strike approach, we're trying to get it to everybody in our system.' And you end up finding out that not everybody can do what Juan does, obviously. But he gets up to the big leagues, and sure enough, you're watching the maturation of a guy that dominated in the minor leagues, but he's making the big leagues look like the minor leagues at times because of the stuff that he does. God, he's so good. He's so damn good."
I think we can take that as a yes.
After all the talk of embracing the great young talent, mentioning Soto and Harper, moving from the Phillies to the Nats as a broadcast after having played for both franchises as well, is it going to be weird for Frandsen moving from a Philadelphia broadcast booth to a Washington one?
"Hell, yeah, it's gonna be weird because I know who I work for," he said. "But at the same time, am I gonna sit there and bash the Phillies? Heck no. Sorry, I'm not that guy. I won't go out of my way to do that because what we're seeing on their side is a lot of talented players, too. Right? And so I know what I'm supposed to do. But I also know I'm an ambassador for the game, to pass along my passion and just to appreciate what we have around. You know? And if it's a rivalry that necessitates the bitterness, hell yeah, I'll be into that."
He's going to have a great seat at a budding rivalry between Soto and Harper, who also broke into the major leagues as a teenager with the Nationals.
"You know, the craziest thing is to think that the Washington Nationals have had two of the greatest teenagers of all time," Frandsen said. "And that's not where it stopped, right? It didn't stop at those teenage years for them. And we're still in the infancy of Juan Soto, and I find that to be pretty crazy. It's pretty awesome, man."
Frandsen will be sharing that seat with Carpenter, who returns for this 17th season calling Nats games.
"I love Bob," said Frandsen. "Like Bob is a perfect name for him, right? I love Bob, it's just Bob. I don't know. I'm excited. The person is great. The broadcaster is great. And so being able to mix and try to stay out of his way for the most part, sometimes it's hard for me to contain myself so I say for the most part, I'm excited."
His new partner is excited, too.
"I'm excited to have Kevin join our telecasts," exclaimed Carpenter. "Watching him from afar the last several seasons, I've noticed he's well-prepared and really cares about doing the best broadcast he can. Nats fans will enjoy his baseball acumen and his energy. Great to welcome an awesome ex-Nat to the booth!"
The two will also be joined by Nationals broadcaster Dan Kolko, who first started appearing on the telecasts in Frandsen's only season in D.C.
"Obviously for those that know myself with Dan, he's special," said Frandsen. "He is someone that, because Mr. National is Zim (Ryan Zimmerman), but I mean like someone that really embraces the Washington Nationals and being a Washington National is Dan. Professional. And not only that. Like it started from being on the sides to wanting more and getting more. And it's like you're watching a guy that gets an opportunity in the minor leagues and just gets to that next step and runs with it and gets that next step and runs with it. That's Dan. Like I've been saying, he's done it in the beginning. So he's been running through every opportunity, which is fantastic. And he's been one of my buddies for a while now and I'm just excited to be able to give him hell every day."
That friendship started back in the 2014 season, but is now infamous for their interaction in the clubhouse after the Nats won the National League East title.
With the cameras rolling and Kolko trying to conduct interviews in a massive celebration, players poured multiple beers over the then first-year sideline reporter, with a good amount of it accidentally being consumed.
"That went down the wrong pipe," coughed Kolko.
"There is no wrong pipe," replied Frandsen.
The clip went viral and the rest is history. Our web studio even made T-shirts. I still have mine somewhere.
Frandsen looks back at the moment fondly and with a lot of emotion.
"So that night, not a lot of Nats fans know this because it wasn't really talked about until way later, that was the 10-year mark of my brother passing away," he explained. "And that was the first time I celebrated a divisional championship in, at that time, 10 years in pro ball. So there's a lot of emotion in there, too, and it was just frickin' awesome. I just remember seeing Kolko, because we always had so much with him that he was always a part of it, that when he was interviewing, it was just like he was one of the boys. And you're just there celebrating and he's there celebrating. He said what he said. I said what I said. Can't complain during that time."
Even on a difficult day, that passion for baseball never wavered.