May 20, 2009

Defending Sterling

A couple days ago, I read two articles disparaging the CBS Radio broadcaster for the Yankees, John Sterling (River Ave. Blues & NY Post).  I have always liked Sterling, although I understand why some people want to replace him.  However, after listening to the Blue Jays and Orioles radio announcers, I have come to appreciate Sterling a lot more.

A necessity for a radio broadcaster is to keep the audience updated with the status of the game.  Sterling does an excellent job of reiterating the details of the score and inning of the game.  When listening to the Blue Jays and Orioles announcers, quite often I found myself wondering what was the status of the game .  Sterling’s voice is so deep and succinct that there is never confusion in what he says.  Plus, the adjectives he uses to describe the events are normally dead-on.

We have witnessed in television broadcasts, most notably with Joe Morgan, huge digressions from the game.  TV networks will claim that it okay because the TV audience does not need a constant play-by-play commentary when the game is happening right before their eyes.  However, with a radio broadcast, the conversations that deviate from the game need to be held to a minimum.  In my opinion, this is the biggest advantage Sterling has over the other broadcasters.  Sterling truly describes the game.

Another thing that makes him great is the joy he brings to the booth; because along with joy comes excitement.  The Blue Jays and Orioles announcers could care less when the Yankees did anything good, and even when their team did well, there was nothing that brought me out of my seat.  Sterling brings a great deal of excitement for both teams’ fans and does not overly bias things in favor of his Yankees.  After listening to Boston Celtics color commentator Tommy Heinsen for 10 years, you know what bias in a broadcast is.

Get a load of this:  (found on RAB)

Fans don’t seem to realize that it will be easy to identify who is calling the famous replays of this era 50 years from now.  Sterling has made his calls memorable with distinct calls for each player, such as “A-Bomb, Tex message, Thrilla from Godzilla…” (just to name a few).  These repeated calls become a big part of the collective memory of this Yankees era.  These “cheesy” phrases are a lot better than a monotone call like “a home run from Alex Rodriguez.”

The only negative I see with Sterling is his occasional miscue.  Just the other day, he mistakenly called Matsui’s double as a home run.  Yes, the call messed with listeners’ mentalities a lot.  But I think a mental lapse is allowed every once in awhile, and his positives outweigh his negatives.

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