There are only a few things I ever ask of my baseball play-by-play announcers.
The first, largely but not always obeyed, is to display some common decency. If you wouldn’t say it in front of your mother, it’s probably not appropriate for TV.
The second is that you get your eyes checked on a regular basis (I’m looking at you, John Sterling). Don’t tell me “that ball is high, it is far, it is...caught.” It’s either gone or it’s not, so please make sure you know which one it is before giving the entire East Coast a heart attack.
The third, and the most often ignored, is simple: Please, please, please for the love of all that’s holy, respect baseball superstition.
I know, I know. Most people don’t believe in it. Your words in the press booth can’t possibly affect what happens on field.
Still, baseball superstition is as much a part of the game as peanuts and cracker jacks.
There is one superstition, in particular, of which I am especially careful: no mentioning of a no-hitter or perfect game until it’s over.
The media at large is generally not respectful of this; in New York the broadcast media (I am staring right at you, Michael Kay) seems to have a personal vendetta against anyone who so much as even politely requests the no-mentioning-of-a-no-hitter until it’s over.
This is especially annoying, as there are many different ways to insinuate a no-hitter without mentioning it: “He’s got zeroes across the board,” “Take a look at your line score,” “X team has only had X baserunners and they reached on X,” “Pitcher Y is putting on a clinic,” “Go call your friends,” etc.
Really, the things that could be said instead of “we have a no-hitter” or “we have a perfect game” are endless.
So I ask the New York broadcast media this question: Is anyone’s experience going to be ruined because you didn’t mention that such and such pitcher was pitching a no-hitter until it was over?
If you could make even just one fan happy by respecting this most ancient of baseball traditions, would it not be worth it?
Would it hurt for just one time not to mention the words “no” and “hitter”?
In the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively minor quibble. Really, if the biggest problem you’re having is that someone’s jinxing your pitcher’s no-hitter, you’re probably having a pretty good day.
Still, the way the NY media—and here I am referring to Michael Kay and those who broadcast with him—makes it such a point that jinxes don’t exist and that those who do believe in superstition are somehow not qualified to be baseball fans is insulting to those of us that like to respect the superstition of the game.
After all, as the Chicago Cubs can probably attest, if there’s a group of deities out there you don’t want to upset, it’s the baseball gods.