Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Will Now Place Sharp Objects in My Ear: Worst Sports Broadcasters

With the AL East being an anticlimactic non-story and with two-plus weeks until the playoffs start, I really had a hard time deciding what to write for this column. I could tout “Jeter for MVP” but with the Red Sox collapse (read: Ortiz being “disqualified” by association) that also seems like a non-story. Plus, I’d rather not turn this column into a script you would hear on any sports radio show.

Then I lucked out and got the following email from my friend Alana, a Yankees season ticket holder:

Just have to share this because it’s pretty pathetic…

I just got an automated message on my cell phone from none other than…John Sterling. He thanked me for my patronage this year as a ticket holder and oh yes…reminded me to pay my invoice for post season tickets. Pathetic…I love my team, but that was just ridiculous!

For those of you who don’t know John Sterling, he’s the Yankees radio play-by-play guy, famous for his signature game-winning call. It’s the one where he says “The Yankees Win” twice in a row, with the second time sounding like he’s having an epileptic fit. Don’t get me wrong, I like Sterling. I hear him, I think baseball. Can’t replace that feeling.

But that email launched a debate about which broadcaster you’d most like to have leave you an automated message, and hands down we decided that it would be Tim McCarver. Not because we like him, but because you can only imagine the comedy of the message he’d leave:

On behalf of The New Jersey Yankees, owner George Steinburner and Captain Dave Righetti, this is Tim McCarver, and I’d just like thank you for your playtronage this year. We're excited for the 2007 playoffs to start, and we hope you'll join us at Ebbets Field in Octuber when the Giants begin their postseason run.

And now with football having (finally!) kicked off, that debate kicked off a larger discussion of how horrible sports announcers have become. It seems like they’re handing out gigs to anyone.

Did you remotely make a name for yourself playing a pro sport? Come sit in our broadcast booth. Just think out loud, it doesn’t really matter what you say. We’re just going to use your name to promote our broadcast, the rest is really irrelevant. Feel free to contradict yourself regularly and use phrases like “back in my day” to date yourself while belittling the current generation of athletes. The announcers are so bad these days, you really can’t be any worse than the hacks out there. Oh, and talk a lot about steroids, because we don’t think people are sick of that yet…

Because this is Barstool sports, I’ve decided to give you some fodder to discuss amongst your friends (assuming you have some) while sitting at the bar. Who are today’s worst announcers? Guys you can’t stand, the ones who make you cringe when they say obvious things like, “They had better go for it here” when it’s 4th and 1 and your team is trailing by 20 with 2:00 minutes to play? I’ve decided to systematically tear apart most of the well-known broadcast teams from baseball and football. It’s totally throw-away column, I know. But I had fun doing it and that’s what really counts here.

These guys are chosen at random and not ranked (it would be rude to hand out negative numbers) and could be booth guys or pre-game show guys or even SportsCenter guys. Like I just said, random. I left out a lot of guys I enjoy, like Orel Hershiser, who is probably the best baseball color guy out there right now; and Tino Martinez, who I just can’t say anything bad about because he’s Tino Martinez.

Just the guy, and my thoughts on his performance. Take this column to the bar with you and start the discussion. (And if you actually do that, start a MySpace page or something and try to make some friends, okay?)

Tim McCarver: Probably the most infuriating broadcaster currently on air. Commonly puts players in the game who retired 10 years ago, like referring to a base hit by David Ortiz as "a nice rip by Mo Vaughn." (He actually did this. Seriously.) I’m convinced those random kids the Sox have announce batters during the 8th inning at Fenway could do better.

John Madden: I’m pretty sure he’s insane. Talks about football a lot, but never actually comments on the game being played right in front of him. I’m still scarred from a Cowboys game about 10 years ago where he discussed—at length—Leon Lett’s butt sweat, complete with close-ups from the FOX crackpot camera crew. Jarring stuff. I think Madden should be fired and replaced by his video game self.

Al Michaels: Okay, I could think of bad things to say about Al Michaels, but I’m not going to do it. If I say anything bad about Al Michaels—the man who made the greatest call in the history of sports in 1980—the sports gods will systematically dismantle all of my favorite sports teams, make all my bets go bad, and break all of my fantasy running back’s legs. He’s like a Sports Broadcasting Jesus. I’m not going there.

Joe Theisman: Incapable of criticizing anyone at all. Brett Favre could throw 10 interceptions in a game and Theisman would say, "Boy, he really wants to win this one, you have to admire his competitvity." (And yes, he would also say, "competitivity")

Mike Tirico: A fellow ‘Cuse grad and I like his play-by-play. But he should have considered radio. Just saying.

Tony Kornheiser: Funny and down to earth, but I'm pretty sure he saw his first football game in person in Washington a couple weeks ago.

Joe Castiglione: GETS OVER EXCITED FOR DEEP HIGH DRIVES WAAAAY BACK... to the shortstop for the second out.

Jon Sterling: Wishes he had a way to know which games “THE YANKEES WIN, TTHHHAAAHHAAAHHHAAA Yankees win” so he wouldn't have to do the other ones.

Suzyn Waldman (Yanks radio color): In my friend Alana's own words, "I'm for women's rights and all that, but come on."

Jon Kruk: Bitter and humorous, which I like, but he constantly waffles on his picks. Mmm... waffles.

Jerry Remy: Along with Hershiser, in my opinion he’s one of the best color man out there now, if only for the color his thick accent and his wonderful wardrobe from Eastern Clothing of Watertown bring to the table.

Don Orsillo: No human being has ever needed a color commentator as badly as Don Orsillo. I mean, ever. Does he pay Remy to follow him around to everyday places like the grocery store? I need to know.

Chris Berman: The Brett Favre of broadcasting.

Tony Saragusa: Dumb, fat people are the reason we invented reality TV, okay?

Joe Morgan: We know he played baseball and all, but it wouldn't hurt for him to watch a game once in awhile. At least read the rosters before the broadcast, and remember this is 2006.

Jon Miller: Where’s Joe Morgan? Where’s Joe Morgan? Good, there he is. I got nervous for a minute. Joe, please don’t ever take a piss break without telling me again. Okay? Can I go with you next time? Please Joe? Please? Who loves you? Jonny does. That’s who.

Stu Scott: Is he looking at the camera? Is he? Wait. No. Maybe? Yes. Crap, I can't tell.

Terry, Howie and Jimmy: Howie carried Milford High. He carried Villanova. He carried the Raiders defense. Some things never change.

Troy Aikman: When Dan Morgan retires, FOX had better team him with Troy so we can set a record for “Most Head Trauma in a Single Booth.” I’m guessing it would be in the neighborhood of 20 concussions combined.

Steve Phillips: Normally you hire guys who had successful careers.

Every female sideline reporter: Unless every interview contains a drunken Joe Namath, can we just get commentary from the cheerleaders and get it over with? Better yet, can they give us commentary in the form of interpretive dance? Please?

Mike Irvin: This column doesn’t exist, because I didn’t go to THE U!

Joe Buck: Content with running his father's name into the ground; petrified by the mere sight of Randy Moss; between the football and the baseball and the pre-game shows and the post-game shows and the Holiday Inn commercials, I’ve had about all I can stand. Joe Buck must be stopped. In fact, this October, do you think it would be possible for the FOX MLB playoff booth to have a little “accident”? Can someone who knows people who knows people arrange this? Sports fans everywhere would be eternally grateful.

That’s all I got for now. And just because I really couldn’t go a whole column without commenting on the Red Sox/Yankees four-games-in-two-days series and the last Rivalry meeting of 2006:

Did you see that catch Coco made?

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