Sunday, October 2, 2011

Where's Suzyn? The New York Times' Very Strange Profile on John Sterling

The New York Times has a 3000+ word profile this weekend on the Yankees' radio broadcaster John Sterling. I found the article, written by Bill Pennington, interesting, but I also found it a little infuriating and head-scratching as well.

First of all, Pennington doesn't seem to understand the Internet. He writes that Sterling "has spawned more than 100 Web sites dedicated to denigrating his emblematic calls and his anomalous broadcasting style." Nonsense. There may have been more than 100 sites that have criticized Sterling at times (including Subway Squawkers!) but writing that there are that many sites devoted just to mocking him is completely untrue -- and it's also a scurrilous accusation to make. It's the type of so-called "fact" that people will quote, because they read it in the Times, even though it's inaccurate.

The truth is that there is exactly one site -- It is High, It Is Far, It Is Caught -- that is solely dedicated to mocking Sterling, albeit in a good-natured way. And the article described Hart Seely, creator of the site, as calling himself "a Sterling fan." Seely says that "Sometimes, John is like a caricature of a baseball announcer who would be on a TV sitcom." However, he also says this:
"But for the serious Yankees fan, he has a lot of appeal. Some people, most of them not Yankees fans, think that because the Yankees are a flagship franchise, they should have a network-level announcer who is never a homer. But the truth is, when the Yankees do something wrong, John rips them, like any psychotic Yankees fan. At the same time, like a true Yankees fan, when they win, John cannot control himself. The joy bursts from his breast."
Look, I'm not saying that Sterling doesn't get criticism on the web -- of course he does -- but the idea that there are over 100 web sites owing their very existence to mocking his every move is overstating the case by about a hundred! I mean, really. Casey Anthony may be the most hated woman in America, but there aren't even 100 web sites devoted just to her!

Anyhow, the author of the Times piece also writes:
He is the regular whipping boy of two New York tabloid sports media columnists. Radio talk-show hosts play tapes of his radio calls almost daily, frequently mocking his shtick and picking apart his missteps, whether they are misidentified players or a hasty, over-amped home run call on what ultimately became a long flyout.
That is true, but sometimes some of the Sterling clips played, like the home run calls and his WinWarble at the end of the game, are done in a good-natured, funny way. And Evan Roberts of WFAN, to name one example, is as obsessed as I am with coming up with possible home run calls for new players for Sterling to use.

But this topic brings me to the most jarring thing about the article -- the almost complete absence of Sterling's companera, as he calls co-host Suzyn Waldman, from the article. The sole mention of her is this: "He has worked with Suzyn Waldman since 2005." What? No interview with her? No discussion of the complete lack of chemistry the two have (one of my own complaints about the broadcasts?) Writing about Sterling without talking about Waldman is writing about Laverne without mentioning Shirley!

Besides, as we talked about yesterday with the Squawkers' radio show host friend Larry Milian, Suzyn Waldman clips are staples of sports radio, too. Suzyn's "goodness gracious" Roger Clemens remarks, and her crying over what turned out to be Joe Torre's last game as also rebroadcast incessantly on sports radio shows around the country. (The other day, I just heard WEEI hosts play Suzyn's tears as if she were crying over Terry Francona's last game!)

The article also gets into complaints that Sterling is too much of a homer. But I want my broadcasters to be homers! Frank Messer wasn't a homer, and he was pretty dull to listen to. My issues with Sterling is more than it's sometimes hard to follow what's going on in the games, between the schtick and the incessant on-air shilling for advertisers.

The other thing about leaving Suzyn out of the story is that if you're going to talk, as the article does, about whether Sterling will be back, the future of Waldman should also be discussed. Will they both be gone, or one of them, or will they stay? It doesn't make much sense to speculate on his future without including her in the mix.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Edward Surdez said...

STERLING IS AN ICON!!! He'll be missed when he's gone.

Uncle Mike said...

You know, Suzyn, you just can't predict sportswriters. Maybe that's why the Times left her out.

Mo said...

You know, John probably read that article over the weekend and I'm sure the following line jumped out at him, "he has spawned more than 100 Web sites dedicated to denigrating his emblematic calls and his anomalous broadcasting style."

So he's thinking, wow, over a hundred sites created just to slam me? I need to get on Google and find them. But of course, they're not there. Except for the one you mentioned, they don't exist.

Bravo to the Times for devoting this many column inches to Sterling, but this was shoddy reporting. Simply lazy and not what we've come to expect from the NYT.

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