Saturday, June 6, 2009

John Sterling? More Like Gilded

I'm going to take advantage of Friday's rainout to finally vent about something that's been bugging more for a long, long time.

I've had enough of John Sterling. It's time for him to go.

Now, as a member of the media myself, I tend to be cautious about criticising other media members. I understand the job and all that it entails. It's very easy to screw up and I've made more than my fair share.

But this just has gone too far.

Sterling is in his 21st season with the Yankees, and for a time he was pretty good. But not anymore.

He still has a great voice and he's still very entertaining in the big moment, but that's all he's got.

He's become a caricature of himself, constantly searching for the theatrical moment, often to the detriment of the audience.

Ever try to listen to Yankees game on the radio? It's damn near impossible.

The first problem you run into is that you just can't tell what the heck is going on. Too often Sterling is prattling on about some inane topic, wondering why anyone would ever bet on baseball or spewing out platitudes such as, "That is why they play the game."

Yes, there is a lot time between pitches and the radio announcers have to fill a lot of dead air, but it should never come at the expense of what's happening the field.

Sterling's job is to paint a word picture. On the radio, I prefer something reflecting realism, rather than the abstract ... and I love Jackson Pollock.

Then there is Sterling's over-the-top homerism. Now I expect every broadcast to be geared to that team's fan base. The announcers are hired by the team, and face it, the fans want that perspective.

But Sterling takes it obscene heights. He has yet to criticize all the homers flying out Yankee Stadium. He never is critical of management. Close calls? It's a near miracle if he admits a call for the opposition is correct. Then there is the "Home office for baseball."

Have some objectivity, John, please.

Yankees fans are not stupid. In fact, though Dave may snicker, they are rather sophisticated fans who understand the game very well and are not going buy that kind of propaganda.

And as bad as those issues are, they are not the biggest problem.

Sterling has simply become far too inaccurate and has lost all credibility.

How often do we have to hear him launch into his home run call, "It is high! It is far! It is ..." only to have the ball go foul or be caught at the wall? Or how about last season when he said a ball bounced off the wall for a ground-rule double. What?!? Is that even physically possible?

He gets names wrong and too often loses track of who is hitting, who is pitching or even which park he is in. Often he just can't see what's happening and his calls lag the play so much that his description just becomes lacking.

The worst was on a home run call for Hideki Matsui this week.

Sterling has a home run call for every Yankee. Some calls are clever. Some are entertaining.

For Alex Rodriguez, it's "An A-Bomb from A-Rod!"

Now I hate that call anyway. Do we really need a call that invokes a weapon of mass destruction that killed more than 200,000 Japanese civilians? (NOTE: This is not a commentary about whether the U.S. was right to drop the A-Bomb to end World War II. That said, its use still is not something to be celebrated).

Monday Sterling lost track of who was hitting, and when Matsui launched a three-run homer against the Rangers, the call was, "An A-Bomb for A-Rod!" Talk about a major gaffe! Talk about the height of insensitivity!

Look, Sterling still does some good work. His narration for YES Network's original programs such as "Yankeeography" is tremendous. He's perfect for Old-Timers' Day or other Yankee Stadium festivities.

It's just that his time behind the mike for play-by-play is over.

It's time to find some one new.

As for his partner, Suzyn Waldman, oh my goodness gracious!

Truth is she doesn't bother me that much because I accept for what she is: a reporter. Send her down to the locker room and let her talk to the manager, coaches, players and general manager and she will bring back good stuff, though sometime I wonder if she's a little too cozy with the team (see Roger Clemens' return to the Yankees).

When it comes to analysis, though, it's just not her strong suit. Too often she just settles for the obvious, such as, "You don't want too many lefties in the lineup against a tough lefty like Jon Lester." Well, duh.

Still, she could have a useful role in the booth, provided there is a legit analyst as a third person.

I am fortunate to live in southwestern Connecticut and work in Hartford because it has given me the opportunity to listen to the radio broadcasts for the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets.

The Red Sox's broadcast is not bad, though not without significant faults.

But by far, the best broadcast belongs to the Mets. Their guys are accurate, well informed and insightful.

I just wish the other broadcasts, especially the Yankees', were half as good.


Dave said...

I have to agree that the Sox broadcast is somewhat flawed right now. They have as many as four guys who can be on commentary on any given night, which is just insane. The best recent pairing was when it was just Jerry Trupiano and Castiglione. Although if they'd just make it Dale Arnold and Castiglione that would be good. Dave O'Brien should stick to soccer.

crotch said...

Sterling is indeed terrible, but that stupid yenta has to go too. Everything she says is stupid, wrong or both.

Matthew in Hoboken said...

You forgot to mention Sterling's periodic anti-stats rants. As you have pointed out before, that numbers-are-for-nerds mentality among the Bronx elite has been a big part of why the Red Sox became the class of the East. And Sterling has been the biggest cheerleader of this conservatism.

As a Yankees fan, I will miss exactly one thing when Sterling is gone: the "Yankees win" calls. I can't deny I still enjoy those as much as ever. But that's not enough for me to want to keep him around any longer.

Brian Pounds said...

Everyone knows that John Sterling stinks- its an accepted fact in baseball. Being a Met fan, the one thing we've had to hang our hats on all these years is that clearly our broadcasters are better- excepting for Bob Murphy's final couple of years, with constant hacking cough and failing voice. At least we always had Gary Cohen- the best broadcaster in baseball this side of Vin Scully, who is imo the best ever.

Aviv said...

Matthew, Sterlings anti-stats rants aren't that big of a deal to me. He's not part of the Yankees' elite. He's not making personnel decisions. He doesn't have the GM's ear. If it was Girardi or Cashman saying that, I'd be concerned.

But Sterling is a guy talking on the radio. It just so happens this particular topic is a live debate in the sport. He has an opinion and a right to voice it, no matter how much I or anyone else disagrees ... or how ineloquent he sounds trying to defend that ignorant position.

The bigger problem is that there is no one to call him on it or present the other viewpoint.