Random Musings Of the Professor aka The Sports Guy – August 26, 2008

First off, we have lost quite a few celebrities in the past couple of weeks since I last blogged my musings — several of them relatively young, at that. I just wanted to lead off this entry with shouts to them and all that they contributed to this world to make it better, as well as an extension of condolences to their respective families.

Gene Upshaw. (1945-2008)
Isaac Hayes. (1942-2008)
Skip Caray. (1939-2008)
Bernie Mac. (1957-2008)
Kevin Duckworth. (1964-2008)

There are several others, but in the interest of space (I TRY to limit myself to 1200words per entry) I will keep it brief. However, the last one of those listed probably was the one that jolted me most. Gene was 63, and his death was shocking because he had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer mere DAYS before he succumbed. Isaac Hayes was 65 years old, but had health problems in the past few years. Sad, but not a total shock. Bernie Mac’s condition, which he had suffered with periodically for 25 years predisposed him to frequent bouts with pneumonia, and hence, while shocking, his death was not surprising. Skip Carey had been sick for years. After all that, Kevin Duckworth’s (or “Duck”, as NBA fans referred to him when he was in his best years with the Portland TrailBlazers in the early-to-mid 1990s when they were making NBA Finals runs with their Drexler, Kersey, Porter, Ainge, Buck Williams-led squads) passing last night was totally out of the blue. Those who really knew him saw his weight balloon even more than it did while he was playing, but he was seven feet tall — and guys that height tend to have heart problems; especially if they are overweight. Nevertheless, no one outside of the Portland area had heard a peep out of Duckworth, 44, in the ten years since he retired. Then, BAM! first thing I see on ESPN.com this morning was that Duckworth had died. Forty-four years of age! Rest in peace, all.

In regards to the news —

I watched the Democratic National Convention’s “opening ceremony” of sorts last night. Michelle Obama’s speech was rousing, genuine and heartfelt. That’s all you ask when someone makes a speech. You don’t want to hear politispeak, a bunch of impossible-to-fulfill promises and feather-ruffling. She spoke glowingly about Barack, her children and her track record about helping people with a sincere heart. Where have people like this been all these years when it comes to running for President??? Barack will have a tough time topping a speech like that — and he’s a great orator, as most know. We shall see how things evolve the rest of this week.

I see that Major League Baseball is instituting instant replay for disputed Fair or Foul/Home Run or Not calls. This can be good, but I can’t help but think that eventually this will prove to be a Pandora’s Box of sorts and will only push those (idiots) who say baseball is boring FURTHER away from the game. Eventually, players, managers and general managers are going to push for botched plays at first base, or plays at the plate to be challenged. The delays will only make a three and a half hour even longer, potentially. Let’s hope not.

Olympic gold? Well, I am happy they did it. But let’s stop all the foolishness about them being better than the Dream Team. NO. FRIGGIN. WAY. This “Redeem Team”, while star-laden, is about two or three MEGASTARS short of being able to handle the Dream Team. Let’s explore:

1. While Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade played stellar defense in the 2008 Olympic Games, neither one of them would have been able to stop Michael Jordan. I refuse to discuss the topic. I feel very strongly about this.

2. Carmelo Anthony is a stupendous talent offensively. THe knock on him has been, and probably always will be 1) he does not play defense, 2) he drifts around the perimeter too often every game instead of driving to the basket consistently, 3) at 6’8″ 235 lbs, he does not hit the boards like he should (because of the aforementioned drifting onto the perimeter every game far too often). He is not Reggie Miller.

3. Dwyane Wade, with his inconsistent shooting, would not pose a threat when you have guys like Chris Mullin who NEVER missed shots (see the 1992-93 NBA Playoffs – Golden State vs. Phoenix when Mullin truly did not miss a shot for almost half of the game, and not layups, either). He is acrobatic (Wade) and a beast defensively, but I just don’t see how these guys pose a threat to the Dream Team.

4. Annnnnnnnnnnnnd at Centerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… at Seven Feet from Georgetowwwwwwn… number 33… cooooooooo-captain… PAAAAA-TRICK Ewing! I don’t have to say more, but I shall, nonetheless. Pat was in his prime (PLUS they had David Robinson coming in when he went out) in 1992. His patented baseline J with the high release and follow-through, along with his patented trounce (he always walked, but so did Mike) across the lane was unstoppable and MONEY from 1988-1997. What could Bosh, Howard (MAYBE) or any of those other big men on the “Redeem Team” do with Ewing? That’s right.

5. Scottie Pippen. Best one on one defender (in my opinion, but it is arguable) ever. Kobe would be whining more than he ever did during the Boston series in the 2008 NBA Finals. Wade would resort to flopping like he did in the 2006 NBA Finals (where are the so-called Heat fans from that year, by the way???) and Anthony would just quit (see his annual first-round exit in the playoffs — and especially this year when his teammates resorted to taking cheap shots at Kobe and “The Machine” Sasha Vujacic, when they were about to be swept. Anthony, being a captain of the team, definitely did not show great leadership sulking around the entire series. Imagine Scottie getting in his @$% (no homo). Anthony probably did not have two hands laid on him the entire Olympics because of the rules. Scottie (along with Alvin Robertson, Joe Dumars, Michael Jordan — all of whom make Bruce Bowen look like the CHUMP that he is) was one of the best defenders at taking advantage of the hand-checking that the NBA allowed players to employ until the past few years. He would steer offensive players the way HE wanted them to go and guys like Anthony and Wade, who are mediocre shooters at best, would just fold under pressure — much like Thunder Dan Majerle and Danny Ainge did in NBA Finals matchups versus the Chicago Bulls in the early 1990s).

6. I could go down the list man for man, but basically, the “Second Five” of the Dream Team would demolish the best players on the Redeem Team. The players were more fundamentally sound back then. Let’s face it. I love Dwight Howard (no homo) and those of you who know me know Kobe is my favorite player in the NBA. But these guys would not stand a chance. Case closed. Enough with the nonsense.

Now, to the NFL —

My New York Football Giants reached out to Michael Strahan to see if he would be amenable to coming back now that we lost the best defensive end in the NFC, Osi Umenyiora, to a season-ending knee injury. People who do not watch the Giants and only saw the Super Bowl think we only won because of our defense. Given this, I have been hearing a lot of “mail it in, it’s over. No playoffs for your boys”. And I want to see empirical evidence that even leads one to believe this.

First of all, while Gibril Wilson (the heart and soul of the secondary the past four years) defected to the Raiders (say goodbye to your NFL career, fam…) and Kawika Mitchell left to go to Buffalo, Strahan’s retirement was not a shock and it did not kill the Giants’ hopes of making the playoffs and repeating as NFL Champs. The Giants QUIETLY (and I do mean QUIETLY) acquired Danny Clark. And while he is not a big name in the NFL, he is a prototypical strongside linebacker. Umenyiora’s injury forces the Giants to move Clark to the strongside (he had been playing weakside throughout the preseason). Gerris Wilkinson, provided he can avoid the silly injuries that have stunted his growth since he entered the NFL, is what you would like in a weakside ‘backer when it comes to his 6’3″ 230 lb frame. Antonio Pierce is a stalwart at Mike linebacker. Some Giants fans take him for granted. Let’s HOPE the Giants’ front office (we’re watching you, Jerry Reese!) does not drop the ball by not re-signing him. This Strahan situation could have been a colossal mess if the Giants had paid Strahan his asking price of $12 million PLUS to come back, when guys like Umenyiora, Pierce and Plaxico Burress were asking for new contracts all offseason. I, for one, am glad Stray chose to stay retired. He went out healthy, on his own terms (although he might want to go ahead and mail his gonads — pause — to his wife, after that divorce settlement!) and with a championship. Imagine if Michael Jordan had done that in 1998??? Nevertheless, I digress. The Giants’ secondary is BETTER than last year. Corey Webster, who ended Brett Favre’s Green Bay career, has his confidence back. Aaron Ross is going to be a shutdown cornerback within the next year or so. Our nickelbacks are veterans who made plays all season/postseason in R.W. McQuarters (Romo) and Sam Madison (helping to shut down Randy Moss in the Super Bowl).

However, when it comes to Strahan, Mathias Kiwanuka was a BEAST in the Big East Conference. I know. Because I watched him KILL Chris Rix and Drew Weatherford while he was playing defensive end at Boston College. Most non-football minds and those who don’t even watch the Giants (but are always commenting) call him a ‘tweener, meaning no one knows whether to call him a DE or a LB, but he always played DE and played very well in Steve Spagnuolo’s (or as Troy Aikman calls him, “Steve Spagnola” — next time Joe Seacrest Buck and Aikman do a Giants’ game, or Aikman refers to Spagnuolo, see if I’m making this up) system. He will be fine at LE, and can move over to RE, allowing Wynn to play LE when Justin Tuck comes in to line up at DT (how good is this guy? When I get a chance, I’m coppin’ a #91 jersey). Justin Tuck is about to open a lot of eyes in the NFL while Osi is out.

Offensively, I would have NEVER used the two words in the same DISSERTATION, much less the same sentence, but Eli Manning has found his swag! When a QB has swag, he makes plays that no one ever saw him make before. Given that our running back corps are one of (if not THE) deepest in the NFL with Brandon Jacobs (boom-boom-boom – ala Chris Berman), Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw (shouts to another guy playing RB in the NFL at 5’10” and under and 200 lbs and under — hold it down for guys like me who are 5’10” and 190 LOL) we will be right at the top in terms of running the ball AGAIN this year. Factor in that Eli won’t be making the same mistakes this year and you have the makings of a great offense. The offensive line is in the Top Three in the NFC and Top Five in the NFL as a whole. Disagree? Give me proof. Minnesota has a great line. So does San Diego. Who knows about Indianapolis’ for sure? But they have perennially been great. Carolina’s offensive line is going to be very good this year. Outside of that, whose line is better than that? Washington’s? No, although they are right there, no hating. New England’s? No. They get away with holding and clipping (like the San Francisco teams of the late 80s/early 90s) more than anyone. Even in the Super Bowl, Brady would’ve been sacked three or four more times had the refs called the BLATANT holding calls that were overlooked. Baltimore’s offensive line is done for with Ogden retired. So count all that up, a stellar offensive line. The best set of RBs top to bottom in the NFL. Very good receivers in Burress, “Well-Dressed” Amani Toomer, Steve (not “Steven”, Sam Rosen!) Smith, Domenik Hixon and then Sinorice Moss and rookie Mario Manningham in the fold. NOT TO MENTION THE SUPER BOWL HERO, David Tyree. We’re going to be alright.

Now, when it comes to the Race Card, I don’t pull it often. But much like when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) was dominating everyone from Inwood and Harlem to Westwood in Los Angeles, the rules-makers changed things to prevent a man of color from dominating. Lew was not allowed to dunk (nor was anyone else, but the rule “coincidentally” came along when Alcindor left Power Memorial High School in New York to attend UCLA). John Wooden claims it wasn’t done for that reason. I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. Same with Bob Gibson in baseball (segue) in the 1960s. Gibby was so dominant that they had to lower the pitching mound. The guy had FILTHY stuff (baseball people know what “filthy” means). So I read that this kid in New Haven, a nine-year old with a 40 mph fastball (equivalent to a grown man throwing 102 on the gun) and a nasty curveball has been effectively banned from the kiddie league in Connecticut because none of the other kids could hit him. One team actually QUIT before a game started when they found out he was pitching. MOREOVER, the league coordinators want to break up the kid’s team and don’t want him to pitch for “safety reasons” — even though the kid has Brandon Webb-like control. That’s terrible for two reasons 1) you teach kids to be QUITTERS early on in life. Sports for kids is character-building. It should not become about wins and losses until you are at least 12. When you are telling 8-10 year olds to quit, they’re going to quit every time the going gets tough in life. That can be more detrimental than POSSIBLY being beaned in the forearm with a cut fastball (part of the game) or having a guy strike you out 15 straight times. There are guys who were scared to face Unit (Randy Johnson) in his prime. This guy is 6’10” and his arm is seemingly in your face by the time he releases the ball. Plus he’s left-handed. Plus he throws (even to this day, at age 45) 100 mph. Do guys quit? NO. You get in there and get after it! I bring up race, because there were dominant pitchers before Bob Gibson (Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Bob Feller, etc. etc. etc.) and no one ever even considered the type of wholesale changes to prevent pitchers from being dominant before Bob Gibson (who is Black) came along. Same thing with this kid in Connecticut. He is NOT the first dominant young man who can pitch. But I can’t help but think that if he were (he looks as if he is either Black or Puerto Rican or a mixture of both) White, this would not be an issue.

On a lighter note, I like to listen to the announcers for the games of various sports. For years (25 to be exact) I have listened to the likes of:

Harry Caray (Chicago Cubs).
Marv Albert (The G.O.A.T. of ALL announcers/MSG Network/New York Knicks/Boxing/New York Rangers/Westwood One for the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, NBA Finals/NBC Sports/TNT Sports).
Dick Stockton (CBS/TNT Sports).
Bill Walton (NBC/ESPN/ABC Sports).
John Madden (CBS/FOX/ESPN/NBC Sports — for the under 21 crowd who don’t even know who John Madden is and what he did before the GAME came out, the dude was a great coach and the best NFL announcer for 25 years).
Troy Aikman.
Doug Collins.
Dick Vitale (“Dickie V.”)
Bill Raftery.
Gus Johnson.
Phil Simms.
Sam Rosen.
Skip Caray.
Rick Sutcliffe.
Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.
Tommy Heinsohn.
Michael Kay.
Steve “Snapper” Jones.
Tom Hammond.
Magic Johnson/Isiah Thomas DEBACLES-ON-THE-AIR in the early 1990s.

And the list goes on… let’s tackle these guys one by one. I do impressions of most of them.

Harry Caray, who passed away in 1998 was a legend. Back when the Cubs were televised 145 times a year, even non-Cubs fans saw Caray and his announcing career. He became famous for his seventh-inning stretch at Cubs’ home games. He was also known for his HUGE bifocals. However, actor Will Ferrell has brought Caray’s legacy back to mind (albeit in a spoofy manner) with his impressions over the years. Ferrell is SPOT ON with it, too. My dad and sister used to watch Cubs’ games (I was not a fan, but I loved watching them play. BTW, for the record, I was a Mets fan from 1984-1989 — due to my aunt who lived on Long Island having Mets’ games being shown (somehow?) on Channel 11 when we spent summers with my grandmother while she kept her sister’s house.

Side note: I became a Yankee fan in 1989 for the same reason I became a Florida State Seminoles fan in 1987 — DEION SANDERS. So while I am not your typical “lifetime” Yankee fan, I was a fan at the tail end of the awful Bronx Zoo years, LONG before and LONG AFTER World Series titles, so don’t test me.

I digress.

Harry Caray is missed. Announcers don’t have that quality to them anymore. HOOOOOOOLY COWWWW!!!

Marv Albert, who in my mind — and few can dispute this, is the best announcer ever to do it. He has done EVERY sport and done it better than any. And no, I am not biased as a Knicks fan. His work speaks for itself… “Oh!!! A spec-TAC-ular move… by Michael Jordan!!!”… “Here’s Jordan for three… YES!!!!!!! Did you see that look?!?! Michael… INDICATING… he can’t believe it!!!”… “Here’s Miller off the catch-and-shoot… (subdued) yes…” — and one of my favorites, “Starks drives, pulls up… YES!!!! IT COUNTS!!!……… AND……. THE……. FOULLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Albert’s voice and tone are perfect for sports. He knows how to capture the moment (anyone who saw any of the aforementioned plays, being that they were all over 15 years ago, can remember where they were and exactly what year it was — THAT is what a great announcer does). He lets his color analyst(s) breathe. He does not get in the way of the game. The only travesty is that he dressed up in women’s clothes and bit that chick in 1997. Otherwise, he would be doing the NBA Finals INSTEAD of that awful team ABC has been putting up since the glorious NBA on NBC days ended in 2002.
THE. BEST. EVER. PERIOD. He is probably my best impression. Ask my best friends, they know I do a spot-on Marv Albert. Also remember, Marv has the driest sense of humor and the best deadpan this side of Kenny Mayne.

Dick Stockton mostly appeals to people who came along before CBS Sports lost the NBA to NBC in 1991. He still does games on TNT and did games on other networks here and there. To me, he is one of the best ever, but these days he is associated with CONSTANTLY butchering players’ names and always starting sentences with “and” (listen to him this season upcoming NBA season on TNT… I do not tell lies).

Bill Walton. Now, I will admit, Walton is as polarizing of a figure as Kobe Bryant, Cam’ron or Tom Brady. But if you like Walton, you can’t help but to tune in whenever he is on the air. Whether it is his outlandish declarations “Greg Ostertag is the greatest center in the HISTORY of the Western Conference” or “Kobe Bryant is making Ray Allen look like a SIXTH GRADERRRRR-UH” or his hyperbole such as “And the Pistons take a COMMANDING LEADDDD-UH!!! (while the score was 6-2 in a game)”. You either love or hate him, but he is hilarious. See his YouTube videos and just LISTEN to what he says… unless you’re a humorless ogre, you will die laughing (especially if you know basketball and the historical figures he sometimes mentions). Walton is one of my best impressions, because he had a stutter for years and now overpronounces words to prevent the stutter (i.e. the “-UH” at the end of statements from time to time), which makes him hilarious to imitate. Comedian Frank Caliendo does a pretty good Walton, too. See YouTube.

John Madden. Let’s see. I can go on and on about Madden. Most people know him. He is one of Frank Caliendo’s favorite impressions. I do a spot-on Madden, as well. With the NFL season upon us, I won’t delve to far into him. Just watch Sunday Night Football on NBC and/or play Madden NFL ’09. You will see why he is one of my favorites. One thing I am NOT looking forward to is Madden’s UNNATURAL affinity for Brett Favre. He talks about Favre at every turn (although not so bad lately, can’t help but think that NBC told him to tone it down because so many people complained that Madden talked about Favre even when Green Bay wasn’t playing!). And he never said just “Brett” or “Favre”. He always said “Brett Favre”. Brett Favre did this. Brett Favre can find bin Laden. Brett Favre can win a game by himself. And he always responded to Pat Summerall and now Al Michaels with “and…” For instance, Pat Summerall, in his classic Texas drawl, would prompt Madden with a statement similar to this:

Pat: John, Darrell Green is 38 and still going strong in the NFL…
John: Yeah… and… and… and… that’s true. And… and… and.. he is! Because great players, play great football… and when you play great football, then you’re a great player and great football wins games.
Pat (ALWAYS after a statement like this): Thanks, Johnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn…

BTW, yes, I do a great Summerall, too. But that isn’t difficult. Just talk slowly, with a country drawl and get the vocal down. The “Thanks, Johnnnnnnnnnnn…” is classic.

Summerall was a kicker for the New York Football Giants in the late 1950s. Just a little FYI.

Al Michaels. Along with the music for Monday Night Football, you associate his voice with football. You hear Michaels and that tune comes to mind(I would link it, but I am trying to avoid using copyrighted information in my blog — most people know the MNF music by now). Can’t wait until next week!

The NBA on NBC/Monday Night Football on ABC — just a side note about the musical jingles for both. Hearing the NBA on NBC theme song being played during the USA Basketball games last week nearly gave me goosebumps. That music was like a fire alarm — you RAN to the nearest TV set, because a great double or tripleheader was about to come on the air.

The same with Monday Night Football. ESPN (as with everything else it has acquired from the originator) has RUINED the music, by arrogantly putting their own spin on it, instead of leaving it as was. MNF music got you riled up for a game on Monday Nights. Now they are mostly snoozefests. Boo to ESPN/ABC!

John Facenda is a little before most of my readers’ time. Unless you are about 28, 29, 30 and older, you do not remember NFL Films televising highlights from games in the 1970s and early 1980s. These were mostly rerun until 2006 on regular cable. You can still find them on NFL Network from time to time. Some people dubbed him The Voice of God (I won’t go that far personally, for obvious reasons) but many people imitated his voice. Chris Berman does it when he says “The FROOOOOOOZEN Tundra of LAMMMMMM-BEAUUUUU FIEEEELD”. It was Facenda who coined that phrase while doing highlights of the Ice Bowl, the NFL Championship game between the Green Bay Packers (or PACKUZZZZ, as Facenda would say) and the Dallas Cowboys. Alternatively, Berman imitates Facenda when talking about the rivalry between the Green Bay PACKUZZZ and the Chicaaaaago Buzzzz (Bears). Facenda was Italian, but he sounded Shakespearean when narrating the highlights for NFL Films. GREAT TIMES. Wish he had lived longer. The rest of the 1980s were great afetr he passed in 1984.

Whoaaaa-Nelly, it’s Keith Jackson. Nuff said. College football starts Thursday. Shouts to Keith as he does Pac 10 games watching USC and UCLA “ma-TRIC-u-LATE the ball down the field!”

Brent Musberger. I loved listening to him do games in the 1980s for CBS Sports. Then he became full of himself and annoyed viewers with his “Watch this friends…” gaffle whenever the slightest thing happened on the field. He’s still a legend, and you know it is a big college football game when you hear his voice. I appreciate him more now than I did in the 1990s when he seemed to always favor UF (Florida Gators) whenever my boys at Florida State played them… same with FSU vs. The U. (Miami Hurricanes). He’s great.

Troy Aikman. Aikman is one of Madden’s good friends, and he sounds like it — only with an Oklahoma twang. I do believe Aikman is probably the best and most thorough (slightly over Phil Simms) color analyst in the NFL, but one of my good friends who I used to work with at Aetna back in the day pointed out to me back in 2004… Aikman always (like other announcers) said he talked to X player or Y player on “Thursdee” or “Fridee”. And he inquired, “Mike… what is a THURSDEE???” I nearly died laughing, because although I never paid attention to Aikman say that in the past, I had heard him say it and someone else NOTICING IT made me laugh myself into one of those coughs like chain smokers do when they exert the slightest bit of energy doing anything that requires them to breathe. Now I have several people listening to Aikman and while that is hilarious, he IS the best doing it. Shouts to Aikman, even THOUGH he is a Cowboy.

WFAN Radio 66 in New York. Bob Papa, admittedly a Giants homer, is my local favorite. Giants’ fans love Papa. Dick Lynch always seems out of it half of the time during the game and Papa and Carl Banks disagree and argue through several subsequent plays while on air. THE FAN is great radio when the Giants are playing though. And yes, I am a homer.

Brad Nessler. There’s something about country accents and football that go together. This guy is one of the best ones to do it right now. He absolutely BOMBED doing the NBA on ABC, but he deserved a mulligan. We will forget it if he does.

JVG (Jeff Van Gundy). He coached the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999 and was on the staff under Paulie Walnuts (aka Pat Riley) when the Knicks made the NBA Finals in 1994, so he gets a lifetime pass from us Knick fans. However, on the air, he was annoying to the point where I would turn the channel or watch the game on mute – until this year. Let’s hope he maintains a sense of humor.

Doug Collins. Simply the most insightful color analyst the NBA has to offer. He did the Olympics for a reason.

Dick Vitale. An imitation of him is superfluous and everyone has tried it at least once while he was on the air OPENLY campaigning for Mike Krzyzewski and Duke Basketball for the past 20 years. He is great for the game, though. We suffered with subpar announcers while “Dickie V.” was out with vocal chord surgery in January. Thank God we have him back.

Bill Raftery. MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE announcer in college basketball. For the life of me, I could never figure out why he didn’t do the Final Four all these years, instead of that CURMUDGEON Billy Packer (and his replacement, Clark Kellogg… who never looks at the camera while at CBS Sports’ studios???) While I will admit I am biased, because Raftery is a Seton Hall guy, a Jersey guy and a Big East announcer most of the time, most people like him. “SEND IT IN, JEROOOOOME!!!” (when Jerome Lane broke the backboard at Fitzgerald in Pittsburgh in 1988 — my dad and I were watching the game live and I became a Raft fan that night). I could list Raftery phrases all night, but there are so many… you just have to Google or YouTube him and enjoy!

Gus Johnson can make watching paint dry seem amusing. He does Knicks games now. He has the most professional use of the term “pause” (a sure fire sign he spent a lot of time in Harlem World since moving to New York to do Knicks games LOL) when Spike Lee said “I like Dick” following the 2007 NBA Draft in an interview (YouTube it). Why isn’t he doing the Final Four?!?! Jim Nantz should stick to golf and leave College Basketball AND the NFL alone!!!

Phil Simms. He gets a pass from us Giants fans for life, even if he has the worst diction this side of Tim Hardaway. I am still trying to figure out what “eem” means. My sister actually brought this to my attention a few years back during a Colts/Patriots game (she is a Colts fan). Simms said something to the effect of “Well, Peyton and Marvin usually make that play… as you see here, Peyton gets it TO ‘eem (him, I guess?) and Marvin just drops it, Jim. That’s rare.” So of course, ever since that moment, I crack up whenever I hear Simms or any other hick from Kentucky or West Virginia (John Kruk) say it. LOL

Rick Sutcliffe is a guy who you could sit and talk baseball with casually at the bar. He sounds like he is just having a beer and watching the game while doing games for ESPN. He makes the game entertaining. Glad he is over the cancer.

Sam Rosen. Otherwise a very good announcer over the years, lately, I have noticed while watching Carolina Panthers games, that he likes to call Steve Smith #89 “STEVEN” Smith. Yes, we know “Steve” is a derivative of Steven, but the man says to call him “Steve” so Rosen calls him “Steven” everytime he references Smith. It’s annoying, but funny. Shouts to Philip Brady on this one, one of the biggest Panther fans I know and who dealt with my ranting about being annoyed by Rosen for an entire year LOL

Skip Caray. Well, we lost him this year. It is sad, because he had been doing fewer and fewer games the past few years. This year, I never saw him once on the air. But
he was a legend. He was a Braves homer and unapologetically. But he did criticize them when necessary, though, so you can let that ride. My enduring memory of him is his Kermit The Frog voice while saying “and here’s Chipper Jones… base hit… one run will score, two runs will score… and the Braves lead 4 to 3!!!” (you have to hear it, words on the screen do no justice). I do a spot on Skip Caray (although Rich Eisen was better at it when he hosted SportsCenter on ESPN back in the day) He is already missed. R.I.P.

Tom Heinsohn. I like him because he is like that drunk uncle at a cookout. He will say anything, nevermind he is on WEEI with over 2 million people listening on any given night. I like irreverent announcers.

Michael Kay. This guy is a huge Yankee homer. But he is the voice of the Yankees. John Sterling, on the other hand, is annoying with his Home Run calls “it is high… it is far… it is outta here” (particularly funny when the ball DOES NOT leave the yard and he has to change it LOL).

Steve “Snapper” Jones can best be remembered by his on-air bouts with Bill Walton. Too bad we don’t have NBA on NBC anymore. ESPN messed that up, too.

Tom Hammond, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas. The first should stick to Track & Field. Magic needs to learn how to talk. Isiah does, too (and stay away from my Knicks FOREVER!!!)

Finally, one of my favorite MLB announcers calls games for the Chicago White Sox. Ken “Hawk” (for his hooknose) Harrelson. From the time the game begins “and before we show you our picks to click, you choose yours at home” (with a strong South Carolina accent), to a pitcher losing a perfect game bid, “well, cancel the postgame show!” to a White Sox pitcher striking an opposing batter out (Harrelson is the biggest homer of them all) with a resounding “HE GONE!!!” Perfect english, right? Amazingly, Hawk is mostly known for that “He Gone” line. I worked it into my vernacular in the 90s. The dudes on Baseball Tonight are just now saying it LOL. He goes completely silent when the White Sox are struggling and probably his most well-known phrase, which he utters when a White Sox batter hits a potential Home Run “that ball hit hard… get up ball… STREEEETCH… STRETCH!!!… He looks up… You can…. PUT IT ON THE BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOARD… YYYYYYYYESSSSSSSSS!!!” Back in the early 1990s, Harrelson partnered with Tom Paciorek “Wimpy”/”Wimparoo” and now with Darrin Jackson “Feisty”. They both would join in with the “YYYYYYYYYESSSS” when White Sox batters hit jonrons. Great stuff! Tune in sometime, Hawk is a legend. He was the first player (when he played for the Red Sox) to wear batting gloves. He gave Frank Thomas the nickname that everyone who knows baseball knows Thomas by, “The Big Hurt”. He gave Lance Johnson his nickname, “One Dog” (Johnson wore #1). And he talks as if the players can actually hear him when the White Sox need runs. “C’mon Ross… get us started… we need you to do a JOB”. Just listen to a White Sox game on their WGN telecasts. You will be pleased.

That is all for this time… more tomorrow.


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