“’At the end of the day,’ said one Yankee source told Bob Raissman of the NY Daily News, ‘people listen to the games because they want to listen to the Yankees. Media guys rip John. (The Yankee hierarchy) don’t care. You don’t love him, but they know their fans do.’”
Apparently, the Yankee brass is set on continuing with the announcing tandem of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, who have functioned as an uncouth combo since 2005 on WCBS-AM. And the above quote suggests that the owners think of Sterling and Waldman to be fan favorites who don’t get the critics’ vote.
Wrong. I’m just one fan, and I don’t listen to Yankee games on the radio unless I absolutely need to, but I’ve always had distaste for the pairing. My father and I share laughs about Sterling’s incredible inability to call each home run as such or each fly ball as such– “It is high, it is far… it is… caught! In the corner! I didn’t even see the ball off the bat!” – and Waldman’s nasally, pitchy voice (which is a shame, as it masks her knowledge and likability). They aren’t the perfect radio duo in my clan, but I’d always thought this was just a genetic inheritance – perhaps the hate ran in the family and only in the family. After all, I don’t go to a single game where I don’t see a handful of people listening on portable radios while they watch the action in front of them. I did indeed witness people listening, willingly and happily, to John and Suzyn. Maybe it was just us.
I repeat: wrong. I eagerly opened the link to the FanGraphs “Radio Broadcaster Rankings,” to see where my hometown announcers fell. After all, this would settle once and for all what I wanted to know but never researched: “Is it just me, or is this play-by-play undeniably crappy?” Sure enough I found at the bottom of the rankings the New York AL broadcasters, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, clocking in at a whopping 2.1 on a scale of 5 (made up of 173 votes, a small sample size, but a passionate one as well). The second worst radio-broadcasting combo was Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson, who received only 52 votes as the Chicago White Sox representatives. Their score was 2.8 out of 5.
So what are the Yankees thinking? The possibility that the Yankees home station will move provides them a perfect opportunity, in theory, to start with a blank slate, two new voices to grace the airwaves. But the Daily News article concludes that, “They ain’t going nowhere,” with they, of course, being John and Suzyn. The men and women in charge seem to think that the pairing is well loved, even when the most quote-worthy praise of Sterling I can quickly stumble upon is one FanGraphs’ reader calling him one of “history’s greatest monsters.”
I suppose what I’m asking for is too much – they seem, by all accounts like good, loyal people, and people who care about the game. This is important and loyalty should be rewarded… to an extent. But even the nicest people fail at their jobs, and John Sterling in particular is a failure as a radio broadcaster – he fails with names, home runs, fly balls, rules, and more. His long ball nicknames are cringe-worthy at times – “A text message from Texeira!” – and outright offensive at others (“An a-bomb from A-Rod!”). The package all put together equals an unpleasant listening experience, which is what it should all boil down to, after all.
Even if the Yankees do part ways with their beloved blowhards– which seem incredibly unlikely – do we really trust the biggest fans of Sterling and Waldman to hand-pick their replacements? Here’s to an eternity of bad radio broadcasting for yours and mine, the New York Yankees.