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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reflections on a grand rumination by John Sterling

Early in yesterday's game, Yankee radio announcer John Sterling took time out to illuminate a fascinating side of sportscasting - venturing into an area of his profession that seldom gets explained. John was telling why he generally refrains from citing batting averages of players in the early games of the season.

Why, you ask? Well, it's simple. Think with us here...

John said that if only two or three games have been played, the batting averages of players can actually be deceiving. For example, a hitter might come up to bat with an average of .500, which - at first glance - would make him one of the greatest hitters of all time. Not even Ty Cobb or Ted Williams came close to hitting .500. A man who hits .500 is destined for the Hall of Fame.

Nevertheless, if you go about saying that the batter is hitting .500, you could be misleading the listeners. The fact is, he might be two for four on the season, which is why his average is .500. It's not that he is the greatest hitter in the history of the game. He might even be a lousy hitter - hence the few at bats - who simply had a good day or two at the plate. It's one of the ways that statistics can be skewed.

As a result, John said in the first games of the season, he prefers to give the actual raw hitting statistics. He'll say that the hitter is two-for-four, and not go about saying that he is hitting .500. That way, listeners at home won't get the wrong idea.

John was using common sense to prosecute those who misuse statistics, when explaining the nuances of the game. At times, more is less, and a sportscaster needs to make things real. That is one of the reasons why on this site refer to him as "The Master."

One of these years, we will have two brand new Yankee radio announcers, driven by Jeep. It's likely that they will spring from the pool of oily haired types who frequent pre- and post-game shows on YES, and they will never stoop to using personalized homer calls or game-ending win-warbles, and they will never take the time to explain such fundamental aspects of sportscasting as the proper times to using batting averages. They will be witty, self-assured, knowledgeable, and they will never call a ball high and outside - and then have to correct themselves and say it was a strike. 

When that day comes, trust me: We will find ourselves telling stories about John and Suzyn, laughing with tears in our eyes, and seriously wishing they were still around. 

13 comments:

KD said...

IIHIIFII..C poll idea: who calls radio games next year? Do we DARE hope for another season of The Master and his golden pipes? Would Suzyn be offered or even sign a contract sans The Master? and when that horrible day finally does arrive and the Master takes up residence at The Hebrew Home, which is like a college campus, will duque rename this blog?

Joe F said...

Long live The Master!!!? Memories of the '96 world series will live on

Anonymous said...

John Sadak and Darren Headrick ought to be the next duo. They call RailRiders games, and are top notch. Headrick's "Mary the Elephant" story is one of the funni3st things I've ever heard. Sadak calls NFL games and college hoops for westwood one during the offseason. He's a pro. RailRiders games are a joy to listen to. They really should get the call up.

Alphonso said...

Did John ever explain why some sportscasters will pretty much announce a home run, only to " swerve" at the last instant , and inform listeners that the ball was caught for an out.

Or actually went foul by about 40 feet?

Did he inform us why are there some announcers whose accuracy rate would improve about 50%, if they actually watched the game instead of their text messages, or drooled over that luke warm hotdog ( with bad mustard ) sitting in front of them?

I would also like to know why they ( announcers ) never learned to watch the outfielder to determine if a ball is playable, or out of the park?

How did John get that job?

Tom said...

I'm not sure, but I get the sense that Alphonso is not being as upbeat and positive as he frequently claims.

As with Rizzuto (whose name I still have to spell check every time), it's the maddening little quirks that make our weird little duo special. For somebody parachuting in from Mars or Cincinnati, they must sound quite silly and parochial. Every radio announcer in every town is a homer. They couldn't keep their jobs if they weren't. Ours are uniquely Yankee homers, each of them with their strange, little tics, and when they are retired, the Yankee brass will replace them with somebody blow-dried and polished and with no interest in musicals, and as duque says, it will be a sad day.

KD said...

Alfonzo was obviously writing about his distain for John Sadak.

Mike said...


Time and change being what they are, thinking about John and Suzyn being gone makes me miss them a little bit already.

Until they go, though, I'm gonna put in the earbuds and listen any time I can. And not just because the earbuds really bring out the "huh"s of Suzyn and the smacks of John in as close to living color as a little AM radio allows.

I admit it took me a long time to warm to the pairing, but given the choice of them or any grouping which includes John Flaherty operating as a purveyor of "color", there's no question ... The Master and His Companero win. I wish they'd stick around forever.

ranger_lp said...

I always like the analogy of Bob Murphy painting the word picture while John Sterling is using crayons. Nevertheless, I like John but you just can't take him seriously...

Ken of Brooklyn said...

Amen El Duque,,,, AMEN!!!!!!!!!

John M said...

Their replacements probably won't be witty at all. They won't be quirky. They will be hired because they are boring, vanilla, with smooth, radio-friendly voice timbres that will be completely replaceable and without any unique-sounding qualities whatsoever. Michael Kay and Kenny Singleton will be a refuge on TV, until Singleton retires and is replaced by someone as boring and without personality as the radio team. Kay will linger for years, and his occasional penchant for saying something in an excited voice or getting a little worked up over some move or umpiring call will make him the Rizzuto of his day, a pale echo of the original. He will also get fatter.

JJ in MA said...

I kind of figured when they started Sweeny Murti doing the radio postgame that he was being groomed to take over the main broadcast. He's okay. Not great, but not entirely bland.

I think Jack Curry could effectively carry doing color on the radio. He's pretty insightful and has stories from years of covering the league. Not sure how his voice would pair with Sweeny, but it would be an adjustment either way no matter who takes over.

Somehow it seems like a lot to ask considering the clown(s) making these decisions, but I hope they keep a woman involved in the main broadcast, not just as a clubhouse token a la Meredith Marakovits -- who actually knows more than anyone else on YES -- on the TV side.

Though it would play into the youth movement, I'm not sure Meredith could handle doing color at this point or calling plays, but Kim Jones could probably do either easily.

JJ in MA said...

Actually, you know who could replace the master? David Cone. Let him do color and have Kim Jones call play-by-play. PURE RADIO GOLD.

Alphonso said...

I think you will eventually see one of Trump's daughters , or ex-wives, in the radio booth. Maybe even the First Lady.