Friday, April 11, 2014
Posted by el duque at 7:09 AM
Last night, The Master unveiled a new, high-concept home run call for utility infielder Dean Anna: "ANNA'S ON THE DEAN'S LIST," he shouted. This came one night after he brought out his new call for Carlos Beltran: "UN CORREAZO!" which sent Twitter twerps to the translator websites, where they decided John was attempting to say in Spanish, "a Beltran belt."
Well, it's finally happening. After more than twenty years of "BERN, BABY, BERN," and "GEORGIE JUICES ONE" - lines that once seemed to roll off John's tongue in the warm ecstasy of a Yankee home run - the Melkman has finally delivered a downside to the business. John is now spending hours in advance, attempting to compose poetry. You can say that's the mark of the true professional that he is. But as a poet, John Sterling is channeling Jewel. And I'm starting to wonder if it's going to bring him down.
For starters, John is no longer parceling out home run calls for the home run hitters, which he did at the beginning. (Anyone remember a call for Luis Sojo? Scott Brosius? Mariano Duncan?) The fact that last night Dean Anna - who might have gone this season without a home run - received a ready-made Sterling yelp could be a sign of the final bugaboo of John Sterling's long career: His ego may be spawning terminal self-awareness.
OK, I know what you're thinking: "WTF, el duque? You're accusing John Sterling of being over the top and egotistical? Where have you been since 1995?" Obviously, you're right. But I always viewed The Master with two basic rules.
1. Yep, he's a crazy nutbag Yankee homer. But some folks seem to think every other team in baseball can have its unabashed, pro-home team announcer, but the Yankees should not. They seem to think Yankee fans should feel guilty about the team spending for players, so we should have Glenn Greenwald ripping us in the booth every night. I do not feel guilty about the Yankees buying pennants. It's a pro team. If we buy them, it's because other billionaires are willing to sell them. Homer announcers are a part of baseball. They have always been a part of the game. The Yankees can have one, too. NO GUILT.
2. Of course, John Sterling operates in another orbit. He's way over-the-top. But he's over-the-top in a totally transparent way - not in the conniving way that some announcers pretend to be fair and reflective, yet you can feel their ego pulsing through every sentence and bit of mediocre wit that they trowel into the microphone. (Michael Kay, at his worst.) Yes, we can all picture John Sterling spraying honey into his mouth as Suzyn introduces him, like a bad Lyle Wagoner comedy sketch, but when he sounds clownish, everybody knows it - I think, himself included. Let Reagan be Reagan! Let Sterling be Sterling!
Trouble is, these deeply thought-out home run calls don't necessarily sound buffoonish. They just sound sad. It's as if John senses he has finally gotten attention - for something that really wasn't that important - so now he's going to make up home run calls for every guy who ever wears a Yankee uniform. And this will be his legacy? No, it will be his downfall.
Do we really want "Anna's on the Dean's list" to be on John's home run list? Well... it is. From now on, if a guy hits one home run in his Yankee career, will Sterling have a specially designed call ready for him? What's the point of that?
Listen: Forget who should be our backup first baseman. Disregard global warming. Folks... THIS IS THE MOST CRITICAL DEBATE CURRENTLY FACING THE YANKIVERSE.
It is time to save John Sterling's soul.