The Wall Street Journal reported last week that this season is the last year of the contract of crapulent Yankees radio announcer John Sterling (note that I understand that “crapulent” isn’t the proper word here — it means “sick from gross excess in drinking or eating” — but I’m using it in the Urban Dictionary sense of “Having the aura or quality of crap about it; worthless, full of crap in the metaphorical sense.”)
As a Yankees fan and forced consumer of Sterling’s broadcasts (I do everything I can to avoid them, whether by watching TV — even Michael Kay is better — or streaming the other teams’ radio broadcasts on the web) I am well aware that he is horrible at his job. He has no idea what’s going on in the game, knows little of the players on either team and often can’t even identify them. Mike Cardano gives a recent example:
I’m not certain that I’ve ever heard a broadcaster not know who the participants playing in the game were after already announcing the game for a half hour. Listen as in the second inning of Sunday’s game, John Sterling has no clue who the player is in right field that catches the fly ball. He initially call the put out made by Carlos Beltran, and then comes the uncomfortable period of silence and correction after he’s told that Beltran is the DH and Fernando Martinez was the one who caught the ball.
The funniest part is, after he screws up, he tells the audience that he has not yet looked at the score card. It was the second inning of a game that he was announcing!
The truly amazing thing is how unapologetic Sterling is about the fact that he is horrible at his job. He thinks it’s a good thing! The proof that there is no God will be when the Yankees inevitably re-sign this piece of shit.
Sterling has spent more than 22 years cultivating a singular style. He famously stretches the word “the” as if it were warm taffy and sometimes shoehorns show-tune lyrics into his game calls. Sterling said he derived his signature praising phrase for former Yankee centerfielder Bernie Williams (“Bern, baby, Bern”) from the infamous rallying cry of Black Panther Party leader H. Rap Brown. He describes every home run the same way, regardless of the drive’s distance or trajectory. On some occasions, he has had to cut short his call when the ball wasn’t ruled a home run. It’s better to be “ahead of the play,” Sterling says. “I make a million mistakes. I mean, that’s more of the charm.”