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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CALL THE GAME FAIR OR GET OFF THE AIR!

Of course, as a Yankee fan, we all love it when the Bombers make the post season.  I mean it’s exciting for God’s sake.  But, what I can’t stand is when the national announcers take cheap shots at the Yankees for all the world to hear on network television. At least, as Yankee fans, that's how we hear it.  I was awakened by this notion while watching ABC’s coverage of the USC vs. Notre Dame game.  Brent Musburger made a ridiculous comment two plays into the very first Irish possession.  He said, “The Irish are experiencing their first wrinkle of the game.”  Really?  A wrinkle?  They just picked up a first down in three plays, how is that wrinkle for a team that has gone undefeated?!  Then, like a shot deep to left, my brain immediately rushed to my file on Fox Sports Announcer Joe Buck and his blatant lack of respect for the Yankees.  He and his sidekick, Tim McCarver seem to blast into their Yankee digs way before first pitch.

Now, in their defense, no one can call a game like our home team announcers Kay, Ken Singleton, Paul O’Neill, Sterling and Waldman, who know our guys and know our city, but Buck and McCarver could tone it down a bit and stick with the game on the field. 

“One suggestion would be flanking a play-by-play guy with a color commentator who works for each team during the regular season. It would increase the knowledge of the teams and the personalities while balancing out any claims of bias between the two sides,” said reporter Josh Alper in his 2009 article Do Joe Buck and Tim McCarver hate the Yankees? The article takes it a bit further by delving into  Buck’s psyche a bit.  “More often than not, he seems to dislike just about everything about his job which he tends to approach with a smug (or professional, depending on your point of view) detachment that is antithetical to the way die hard fans feel about their favorite teams and sports. A good example is his flat call of David Tyree's unbelievable catch in the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl."
As a graduate of the Boston University’s College of Communication, it was drummed into me in course after course that you must balance passion with objectivity.  Joe Buck must have missed that course, or he buried deep within his archives.  Now, John Sterling may not always get it right, but he certainly has passion for the game.  He makes the game exciting, even if you yell back at him every chance you get.  And Kay keeps it real as well.  They are with the team, and when they get critical, it is not a bashing like certain announcers... are you listening Joe and Tim? “They are with the team all season and want it to win. They all swear their job is easier when things are going well as opposed to watching the Bombers squander a 10-game AL East lead,” as reported by the New York Daily News in early October our our guys (HERE)

The Wall Street Journal (HERE) recently conducted a 30-team study on television baseball announcer bias. “The conventional wisdom in sports is that TV announcers should strive to call the game straight down the middle. It's a philosophy that's been embraced over the years by most of the famous baseball voices.”  The article went on to state that “by the rules of our study, anyone with a microphone who used a pronoun like "we," "us" or "our" to describe the home team was given a citation. Obscure pet names for players were also flagged: The Detroit Tigers announcers, for instance, referred to backup catcher Gerald Laird as "G-Money." Additional penalties were given for things like excessive moping after miscues or unrestrained glee after big moments. (A Miami Marlins broadcaster marked the end of a lengthy scoreless drought by screaming "Hallelujah!").”
I guess by these rules, long time great Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto’s “Holy Cow!” would be flagged as well and since this was just television announcers and not radio, Sterling and Waldman get a buy.  As for our local television announcers, they placed 26th with the Mets’ announcers Keith Hernandez , Gary Cohen, and Ron Darling placing least biased at 30th .  Number one on the list was White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson (Read HERE).  He applauded his number one status.  He is a lover of the sport and lover of his team! 
(In Photo: Mel Allen)
Like it or not, baseball announcers are here to stay.  Many of the greats have space in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. Our very own Mel Allen is there along with Harry Caray and Jack Buck, not to be confused with Joe.  They gave baseball a voice and life and someone to yell back at when things weren’t  going so well.  Today, baseball announcers continue this legacy while bringing humor and excitement into their signature calls.  But, what they should never do is beat up on the local team in such a way that fans feel the insult deep in their own core from their living room.  Those announcers need to take a hard look at their calls and keep it real, fair, or get off the air!


--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Opinion Columnist
Twitter: @suzieprof




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