Saturday, October 6, 2007

Yankeetorial: Sheppard Being Sheppard

Matsui, A-Rod, Wang, Posada -- the list of Yankee household names who haven't shown up for the 2007 playoffs just got bigger. Public address announcer Bob Sheppard--the Yankee Stadium "Voice Of God" for 56 years--has taken himself out of the booth for the home series, pleading "bronchial infection."

We can understand how such a malady and its attendant laryngitis might hamper the performance of a PA announcer. If it were anyone but Sheppard the discussion would end right there.

But this is only the latest case of Sheppard pulling back when his team reaches a point of desperation.

On Opening Day 2006, the Yankees needed to rebound from their humiliating loss in the previous year's American League Division Series. Sheppard sat that homestand out, too, blaming a "broken hip." The team went on to lose another ALDS, and are now on the brink of losing their third in a row.

Asked after Friday's loss about Sheppard's planned absence, Joe Torre shrugged and said, "Sheppard's being Sheppard. What you get is what you get. I can't speak to how he physically feels, because I'm not inside his head." It's hard to imagine that George Steinbrenner would react as calmly as his manager, but The Boss is reportedly distracted by health problems of his own.

If this were some booth-bum or junk-talker, none of it would matter. But Bob Sheppard, who turns 98 next weekend, is the most talented PA announcer in the history of the game.

Unfortunately, talent will only take you so far.

You also need discipline. And commitment. And toughness. And heart. And a sense of priorities that places your team above your own well-being.

On Sunday night, as they face elimination at home with the voice of a second-string announcer clattering in their heads, the Yankees must add Bob Sheppard's mental makeup to their growing list of concerns for 2008.

They can no longer afford to turn a deaf ear.


el duque said...

For the money he makes, he better produce.

I'm tired of his excuses.

Announce, or get out.

rap said...

Rick Cerrone does a wicked Sheppard imitation, so let's do what we need to here, Cash Money!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I would like to know why some of the great Yankee fans like rudy and Hillary haven't volunteered to do the gig.

_ GS