Tom Tolbert Eric ByrnesKNBR announced the signing of Eric Byrnes for a year back in February. No big deal, but before that time there were several weeks when it looked like Byrnes might not return. The prospect of Byrnes spending his time elsewhere wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, in the minds of many. Byrnes knows baseball but isn’t anywhere close to an expert on much else besides triathlon, and his voice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Plus, most people I know (myself included) much preferred Ray Ratto as a foil for Tolbert. But even during the baseball season it seemed like Ratto was in the studio with Mr. T more often than Mr. B went on the air, and I can’t even remember the last time we heard Byrnes on KNBR at all … save for the occasional charcoal commercial.

Byrnes may be featured in more shirtless calendar photos than Ratto (click that link at your own risk, by the way), and he has definitely pedaled more miles and swam more laps over the past year. But Ratto is Tolbert’s real co-host these days, he just doesn’t have the title. KNBR seems to like having Byrnes around during baseball season, but Tolbert and Byrnes don’t have nearly the same amount of chemistry as Tolbert and Ratto.

Ratto makes sure to mention regularly that it’s Tolbert’s show, especially during debates about NBA minutiae, when Tolbert digs in and lets Ratto know that he’s not losing the argument. When Byrnes is there, Tolbert controls the conversation to the point where it seems like Byrnes is nothing more than an in-studio guest.

Tolbert needs a partner. Since Ralph Barbieri was fired (another story from this year that didn’t get much pub: apparently KNBR and Barbieri reached a fairly lucrative settlement), there has been only one guy who’s seemed like a true partner: Ratto.

But opinions tend to vary on this stuff, as they do with just about everything.

Today’s Amici’s Pizza + Champagne contest question:

Should KNBR just get it over with and make Ratto the permanent co-host?

There might be some behind-the-scenes stuff that would make this impossible. For instance, Ratto could have something in his contract with CSN Bay Area that prohibits him from taking a “full-time” position with any other media outfit. But the key here is who works better with Tolbert and who you prefer listening to.

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For more chances to win the party (catered for you and 18 coworkers), you can also comment on the posts below. I’ll choose a winner on Friday.