John and Suzyn Waldman will be back calling Yankee games on the radio next year.
[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]
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]
There was so much hype about Carl Pavano facing the Yankees. The tabloids ate it up, and Suzyn Waldman, as far back as the Texas series, said, “If there’s any justice, C.C. Sabathia will pitch against Carl Pavano in Cleveland.”
Sabathia and Pavano both pitched, but not against each other. Sabathia faced his No. 2 two years ago, Fausto Carmona, on Saturday, while Pavano squared off against Phil Hughes, which may have been a more intriguing matchup considering Pavano’s history with the Yankees and his five victories in May, and Hughes’ stellar outing in Texas and continued effort to stay in the rotation.
As I was listening to the game on the radio (another Sunday spent driving), I got to thinking about the myriad options the local editors and writers had for the game. Would Pavano be the lead? Would I make Phil Hughes’ mediocre start coupled by Chien-Ming Wang’s three scoreless innings of relief the lead, playing up the intrigue of Wang’s possible return to the rotation? Poor umpiring was a theme of the day. Where would that fit in? Are all these topics combined into one or do you do take one story as your base and go with the others as supplemental pieces?
I probably would have made Pavano the focus of the game story and made Hughes/Wang a featured supplement, tying in the early note that Andy Pettitte expects to be ready to start on Wednesday. How would you have presented Sunday’s game? Thinking of the broadest audience possible, how would you have set up your Yankees section as an editor? How would you have attacked the game if you were on-site? It’s two different thought processes. I’m curious to get your thoughts.
An examination of the eight local papers covering the Yankees revealed the following:
NY TIMES: Jack Curry had Pavano leading but alluded to the Hughes/Wang situation, melding everything into a tidy recap with analysis and historical context. Typical goods from Mr. Curry.
NEWSDAY: Three individual stories from Erik Boland, who’s now off the Jets beat and has replaced Kat O’Brien: Hughes/Wang leading, a Pavano piece tied with notes, and a short piece on Gardner’s failure to steal.
NY POST: As of this writing, only George King’s recap had been posted. Interesting to see that he focused on the bullpen, specifically Coke and David Robertson. (Had I been reporting, that would have been the angle I took with the game recap.)
NY DAILY NEWS: Mark Feinsand tied everything together, but it looked and read strangely like an AP wire story.
JOURNAL NEWS: No full game recap posted, but Pete Abe gives more in about 200 words on a blog than most other scribes do in 800.
STAR LEDGER: Marc Carig copied off Erik Boland’s paper in that he had individual stories on Gardner and Wang/Hughes, But he had a couple of other tidbits: 1) His recap was short and had additional bulletpointed notes. I thought this was an interesting format. It reminded me of an anchor calling highlights and then reading key notes off the scoreboard graphic. 2) He had a full feature on Phil Coke and his blaming the umpire’s call on the 3-2 pitch to Trevor Crowe. Check out the last paragraph. Looks like he copied off Pete Abe’s paper, too.
BERGEN RECORD: Only one story on the game from Pete Caldera, but boy does he know how to write a lead paragraph.
HARTFORD COURANT: Associated Press recap. Not much to say except this paper is an example of what’s happening in the industry. Dom Amore’s words are missed.
And this just in … on the “Inside Pitch” segment of the midnight ET edition of Baseball Tonight, Karl Ravech and Peter Gammons said the Yankees were the best team in baseball. This revelation comes hours after the ESPN ticker read “Pavano dominates Yankees” in the first half of its description of the game. I’m not sure what to make of this. I know Ravech, my fellow Ithaca College alum, is as good as it gets, but when Gammons agrees, I get concerned.
I’d say the best team is the team with the best record, and the team that’s playing most consistently on a daily basis. That team is being managed by Joe Torre.