From Awful Announcing, this sums up last night pretty well:
J.S. Thuuuh pitch. And Gardner hits a fly ball deep to right-center field, Victorino back, back — home run! A Yardy! For Gardy!
S.W. Brett certainly got all of tha —
J.S. A Yardy! For Gardy! And the Yankees take a 1-0 lead.
Now Robbie Cano, the second baseman, settles into the batter’s box. A .294 batting average, with 20 home runs and 59 runs batted in. Robbie’s been struggling a little at the plate, but Suzyn, I ask you: how do you predict baseball?
S.W. You can’t really, it’s —
J.S. Exactly. You can throw the numbers out the window.
J.S. Thuuuh pitch. High and outside, a hanging curve that never broke. That hanging curve brought to you by the State of Texas. We don’t hang ’em anymore, but we do the next best thing. Texas.
S.W. Actually, Jawn, I think that was a changeup that —
J.S. And Cano rockets one to right field. It is high, it is far, it is — gone! Home run! Robbie Cano, doncha know! It’s a back to back! And a belly to belly!
S.W. You know, Jawn, I’ve always wondered what that phrase means.
[Illustration by Chris Morris]
Over at Sports on Earth, Joe DeLessio writes about how he learned to love John Sterling:
But over the past few years, my appreciation for Sterling has grown more sincere. I’ve written this before, but I’ll admit that I giggle at his silly catchphrases, even as I roll my eyes. I now look at Sterling the way I look at the New York Post ‘s front page: The more the headline makes your roll your eyes, the better it is. The Post is ridiculous, sure, but I’d hate for them to start using straightforward headlines on the front page, free of puns and sexual innuendo. Similarly, I’d miss Sterling if the Yankees replaced him with a professional, boring play-by-play man. I want him to introduce terrible, amazing home calls every season, forever. Too many Sterlings—like too many New York Posts—wouldn’t be a good thing. But there’s a place for silly, even in a profession with a long history of no-nonsense (or at least, little-nonsense) icons.
Once upon a time, I laughed at Sterling when he broke out his crazy home run calls. But now I think I’m both laughing at him and with him. He seems to be in on the joke—crafting increasingly complex, absurd home run calls, for the entertainment of people like me. And I eat them up. After all, if the main purpose of a baseball broadcast is to inform the listener (which Sterling does, at least when he’s not jumping the gun on an ump’s call or failing to properly follow the ball once it’s put into play), then there’s no reason the secondary purpose can’t be to entertain. It’s like a “Big Show”-era edition of SportsCenter, but with more Broadway references.
[Photo Credit: Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times]
Bill Pennington profiled John Sterling in the Times the other day:
Sterling came to the Yankees’ radio booth in 1989 and did every game, although his 100 percent work attendance streak began in 1981 in Atlanta.
“I have not missed a game I was supposed to work,” he said. “I am blessed with a good immune system.”
Michael Kay, the Yankees television announcer and Sterling’s radio partner from 1992 to 2001, said: “I do 125 games a season, and that feels like a lot. I don’t know how he has done 162 games a year for 23 years.”
In his time with the Yankees, Sterling has had five broadcasting partners. He has worked with Suzyn Waldman since 2005.
A typical day for Sterling starts late because he stays up late. Besides having an affection for TV soap operas, he is a voracious reader of mystery novels and celebrity biographies. He tries to swim every day for at least a half-hour. On the road, it is a familiar sight at the Ritz-Carltons and other fashionable hotels where the Yankees stay to see a soggy Sterling striding through the ornate lobby in a terry-cloth robe, goggles perched on his head on his way back from the hotel pool.
The piece is well-worth your time.
[Photo Credit: Beatrice de Gea for the New York Times]
I’m a Mets fan, yet my favorite announcers are the Yankees’ John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.
I can already hear the groans from baseball aficionados, so let’s clear the air before we get started. Yes, Mr. Sterling’s silken delivery owes more to the golden age of radio, or perhaps Ted Baxter of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” than it does gladiatorial ESPN. He’s been known to call home runs—”It is high, it is far, it is gone!”—only to have to take it back when the balls turn out to be playable. And Ms. Waldman might have momentarily lost perspective when she swooned in 2007 upon spotting Roger Clemens in George Steinbrenner’s box at Yankee Stadium, signifying his lordship’s return to the Yankee roster for one year at $28 million, and said: “Oh my goodness gracious. Of all the dramatic things I’ve ever seen…”
My reaction to the armchair critics is: Lighten up. Get a life. Then again, I may not be the best judge. I started a co-ed softball team in college, with myself the only male player because I wanted nurturing and encouragement rather than vilification when I dropped a pop fly, as I occasionally did.
But for sheer radio listening pleasure for the casual fan, I don’t think anybody beats the Sterling-Waldman duo. Their style is conversational rather than testosterone-crazed; it’s almost overheard, as if you were eavesdropping on their tête-à-tête from the next table at Sardi’s. And they know their stuff—Mr. Sterling because he’s been the Yankees announcer for every single game since 1989, Ms. Waldman because she works her tail off—as I discovered when I visited them at the stadium for last Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
[Photo Credit: The Yankee Analysts]
New York Magazine has a fun little piece on the seven types of John Sterling home run calls (thanks to Was Watching for the link):
Before I got off the subway in the Bronx tonight, I checked the MLB app on my phone and was pleased to see the score: Yanks 4, Twins 0. Mark Teixeira with another dinger, again of the three run variety. Andruw Jones with a solo shot–Hey, Now.
I ran for the bus on 231st Street and put on the John Sterling radio call once I got on board. Ol’ Silver Throat usually annoys me but tonight I was comforted by the sound of his voice. In the early innings of an April game, with the Yanks ahead and C.C. Sabathia on the mound, Sterling was unhurried, almost sedate and entirely pleasant.
Now, if you stand too close to the back door of a New York City bus an automated voice comes over the loud speaker and says, “Please step away from the rear door.” A man wearing earplugs was too close to the door and the message repeated. This didn’t bother him any on the count of the earplugs. I focused on Sterling’s patter when I heard a vendor in the distance on the radio broadcast. A thick Bronx accent barked, “Hot dogs…hot dogs…hot dogs.” You know the tone–imploring and insistent.
So the music in my ears went from electronic to authentic: “Please step away from the rear door,” “Hot Dogs,” Please Step away from the rear door,” “Hot Dogs.” The rhythm made me happy and I remembered an old Simpsons episode: “Dental plan,” Lisa needs braces,” Dental plan,” “Lisa needs braces.”
I got home and watched the rest of the game. Sabathia was visibly frustrated with himself but he sailed through the Twins lineup anyhow, retiring the last 17 batters he faced.
So it was a mild surprise to see Rafael Soriano come out to pitch the eighth and disconcerting when he walked two of the first three men he faced (and the comments section here at the Banter lit up like a suicide hotline in Detroit). Denard Span slapped a single to left and the bases were loaded. But Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a slender guy, struck out on three pitches, and waved his hand at the umpire. Enter Joe Mauer, and restlessness at the Stadium. Soriano walked him on five pitches and his night was over.