John Sterling: FAR from Sterling on the Radio
It's like Forrest Gump used to say: "Stupid is as stupid does, sir."
I'm a huge Yankee fan. I am convinced and will argue with anyone that being a Yankee fan is not only the greatest thing in the world, but also the worst. It is the greatest because you know the Steinbrenner's will do whatever it takes to put the best 25 men in pinstripes year in and year out.
But for that very reason, it is also the worst. The expectations become steeper and steeper each year and, at times, are flat out ridiculous. Just ask Joe Torre.
If it were up to me, Joe would still be in town. But that's an entirely other story. As a Yankee fan for so many years, my expectations of the team have, as the status quo seems to have become, exceeded what they once were. I expect the best from the Yankees, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
Which is why on game nights where I have to listen to the Yanks on the radio for one reason or another, flipping the switch to 880AM - WBCS NY kills me. It doesn't kill me because it's AM radio, or because the signal is bad.
It doesn't even bother me that I have to listen to it on the radio. Baseball's glory years were listened to by thousands of fans at home when televisions- and ball players- were royalty.
The elegance of baseball being called on the radio by legendary announcers like Ernie Harwell, Vin Scully, and Harry Kalas is second to none in the broadcasting world of sports.
What bothers me is that I know on the other end of those radio waves, John Sterling is ready to grace me with a bevy of miscalls, elementary analysis, mindless criticism and unnecessary excitement.
To make matters worse, his partner in crime/shame, Suzan Waldman, is a Boston native. Her favorite team? You guessed it...
The so called "Legendary Voice of the Yankees" must have gotten his nickname somewhere else besides around the radio. In my eyes, he is a legend simply for having gone so long without getting fired.
Sterling has a great radio voice, there is no denying back. He's got that perfect James Earl Jones-esque blend of bass and silky smooth vocal cords. However, the brain simply controls the physical movements of the jaw.
It does not have the power to stop someone from saying stupid things. I wish there was a better way to put it, but there isn't.
Here's a prime example. Last season, the Yanks were in Minnesota. Robinson Cano came up to the plate as I sat at a red light in my hometown of Wayne, NJ. The stage was set for a Sterling miscue. And as all great sportscasters do, he delivered:
"It'll be a 1-2 to Robbie, swung on aaaaand slicing foullll...IT"S A HOME RUN!"
All I could do was laugh to myself. I laughed so hard I almost missed Johnny Boy trying to explain his mistake by blaming the ball camouflaging into the Minnesota roof. Yea, OK John. I wasn't even surprised.
In fact, I had more of a sensation of fulfillment and complete satisfaction than anything else.
Listening to a Sterling broadcast without an error is like getting a flat screen but not getting the HD package to go with it. Yea, you're more than happy with the 50" Sony right where the family portrait used to be, but you can't see every mustache hair on Joakim Noah on a regular cable feed.
You could groom Joakim yourself from your living room if this bad boy had high definition. But noooooo.
The only people who probably actually think John does a good job are the thousands of sponsors he pimps nightly on the airwaves. Each pitch has it's own little significance, whether it be the "Road Runner High Speed Internet 17th Pitch" or the "Lowe's Broadcast Booth's 26th Pitch," or maybe the "Hideki Matsui Loves Benihana 42nd Pitch."
Seriously, you have to hear some of the slogans these companies throw out for some air time. But it's because they know a 10 seconds interval of scripted writing is music to the ears of baseball goers who have succumbed to 3 hours on unedited mindless banter from "The Legend."
I'm being rough on John, but it's only because I love him. A Yankee game not being called by John Sterling is not a Yankee game. Flat out. He has not missed a game since 1989, so there is no denying his dedication. His errors and miscues are comedic relief to fans who follow their baseball teams like they follow stocks.
One day they're up, one day they're down, but either way it's all business 24/7. But as ungraceful as Mr. Sterling may be, there is one call which even he can't mess up. It's the call which he has made almost 2,000 times since he became the voice of the Yanks. And it happens to be my favorite call in all of sports.
"Ball game over! Yankees win! THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... YANKEES WINNN!"
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