One of New York's tabloids, the New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch, allows one of its hirelings, a writer who covers the media named Phil Mushnick, to periodically attack legendary New York Yankees announcer John Sterling.
Mushnick admits that Sterling is the "Voice of the Yankees," but takes issue with Sterling's competency.
This is the same Phil Mushnick who wrote that Mickey Mantle's great, instinctive play that allowed the Yankees to tie the Pittsburgh Pirates at 9-9 in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series was "...unnecessary, senseless. Had Nelson made that tag Mantle would have made one of the worst base-running errors in history."
Keith Hernandez who knows a little more about playing first base than Mushnick, confirms the greatness of Mantle's move, calling it an astonishing play.
Back to Mushnick and Sterling.
A few days ago, Nick Swisher hit a home run at the Yankees ball park. Mushnick didn't approve of Sterling's call as follows:
"Driven to right. If it's fair, it's gone. That ball is...gone! Nick Swisher drives one into the right field seats to get the Yanks a run down. His second home run in as many days. Nick Swisher is positively Swish-a-licious!"
For one of the few times in his career, Sterling got the call right. This time, it wasn't a drive that was high, that was deep and that was caught at the wall.
Mushnick criticized the call because Sterling didn't tell his millions of fans that Swisher's drive hit the upper deck facade. Big deal.
Why in the world do listeners have to know where the ball landed? All they have to know is that the drive brought the Yankees to within one run of their opponents.
Mushnick criticized the call because Sterling told his millions of fans that Nick Swisher was "Swish-a-licious," claiming that Sterling chose his "signature nonsense" over everything else.
Mushnick dismisses the fact that Sterling did describe what had occurred.
Listeners of the Yankees radio broadcasts love Sterling's descriptions of home runs. What could be more exciting or satisfying than a Boston Red Sox fan who is visiting New York hearing one of Sterling's creative comments.
• "Robbie Cano, don'cha know?" (Robinson Cano)
• "Gardy goes yardy!" (Brett Gardner)
• "A thrilla, by Godzilla!" (Hideki Matsui)
• "Andruw Jones makes his bones!" (Andruw Jones)
• "Russell has muscle!" (Russell Martin).
John Sterling is a commentator. He is an entertaining personality. He is the face of the Yankees who is an entertainer first and a baseball announcer second.
His job is to entertain. If he makes mistakes or has what Mushnick refers to as "schtick," that is too bad.
The “Voice of the Yankees” invariably excuses himself:
“I thought it was gone when it left the bat” or “That ball just died.” Does Mushnick take responsibility for his mistakes, such as the enormous one when he criticized Mickey Mantle's great play?
Admittedly, Sterling may seem to be smug, haughty and condescending, but many listeners find that charming.
A radio play-by-play announcer sees the game for his listeners. He must get fans into the flow of the game, set the stage as the game unfolds and of greatest importance, provide accurate descriptions of what occurred on the field.
Sterling rarely does that, but Mushnick doesn't realize the reason is that the spotlight belongs to Sterling, the commentator. The Yankees are merely his vehicle.
The Yankees brass knows what it is doing. Mushnick wonders why no one within the Yankees authority structure doesn't attempt to coerce Sterling into changing his style. The answer is quite simple. The fans love Sterling's style.
Mushnick thinks Yankees listeners would rather "pull up a chair" and listen to someone such as Vin Scully. What a joke. New York isn't Los Angeles and the Bronx isn't Brooklyn of the 1950s.
Yankees fans want to be entertained.
Listening to Vin Scully tell them what is actually happening on the field would only distract them.