Here's a Raissmanic pellet bomb from 2006:
When Melky Cabrera made a spectacular catch off the bat of Manny Ramirez, it also became clear that the world is a safer place because John Sterling (above) is a radio play-by-play man. For if Sterling descended upon God’s green Earth as a Seeing Eye dog, well, the poor owner of this mutt would be – at best – constantly walking into walls or – at worst – crossing the street directly into the path of oncoming traffic.
At least when Sterling blows a call, nobody gets hurt. Not even him. If Sterling was a Yankee player, he would have been dumped long ago. But in his 17th season in the Bombers’ radio booth, Sterling is rewarded (with a major league salary) by Yankees brass for constantly blowing calls and recapitulating plays. Nice work if you can get it.
Still, even if you appreciate the fact that Sterling is the shill’s shill, or love his ever-expanding list of signature calls and his self-absorbed style, there is no debating the fact that he is severely challenged when it comes to painting the word picture. More often than not, Sterling is behind the play. In Sterling, the Yankees have the American League’s Most Valuable Seven-Second Delay.Over the years, Raissman has occasionally warmed to Sterling. He is not the announcer's harshest critic, (the NY Post's Phil Mushnick.) But whenever Sterling misses a call - and he misses his share - it can become fodder for Raissman's next column.
So let's ponder the dynamic two nights ago in the cold concrete of New Jersey. Here is Raissman, working the phones on the night shift, calling to ask about the fire that has just destroyed everything Sterling owns. Put yourself in John's shoes: You're watching your life go up in flames, and here is a guy who has buttered his bread with your reputation. Do you take the call? Do you vent on the guy? Or do you just let it go to VoiceMail?
Well, of course John took the call. He gives Raissman the story and some nice quotes. And did anyone think that Sterling would ever walk away from a microphone or a mouthpiece? This is a guy who hasn't missed a game since George H.W. Bush was President. In the morgue, the medical examiner won't need to poke a needle in Sterling to test for life reflex. He'll just say, "Here comes Jeter," and if the body doesn't start talking, they'll know he's dead. Sterling is many things. At the top of the list, he is the consummate pro.
And as far as I can see, two nights ago, Sterling did exactly what he always does - for better or worse: He talked from the heart.
Sterling's on-air persona balances on two giant boulders: his enormous ego, and his love for the Yankees - the kind of love a moose has for his flying squirrel. Sterling wears his heart on his sleeve, whether the Yanks are six runs behind, or his life is tatters.
We often mock Sterling on this site. I consider it one of the most delicious aspects of being a Yankee fan. But when the Yankees lose - and we are railing at our demons - we're never alone. And to folks who really do hate Sterling: Be careful what you ask for, because when he's gone, you'll spend countless hours describing him... and they won't believe you.
Oh, and when you're talking about him, remember two words: "Consummate pro."