Last weekend, I had a chance conversation with someone in the neighborhood who is a displaced Chicago White Sox fan. I mentioned something about a recent Nats’ game that had been on the local cable network. That led my neighbor to express displeasure with the Nat’s color announcer on the local cable telecasts, F.P. Santangelo; my neighbor said he was too bland to listen to. Then my neighbor said he wished the Nats would get someone as good as “Hawk” Harrelson to do their local games…
In no way would I put F.P. Santangelo in any pantheon of great color commentators in the history of the game. Nonetheless, I do not find him objectionable in any way. He is like vanilla ice cream; you may not love him but there is no way you can dislike him.
“Hawk” Harrelson is not that way at all. Harrelson is about as big a “homer” as anyone you will have ever heard or will ever hear. Therefore, if you are a White Sox fan – like my neighbor – you will love him. If you have no particular affiliation with or affection for the White Sox, you might wonder if this guy even knows that the word “objective” exists in the English language.
Personally, I can take Harrelson in very small doses but his “homerism” quickly gets to me and I start to tune him out. However, that chance conversation got me to thinking about ex-jocks who have migrated to a position behind a microphone on radio and TV. Some of them are – or were – very good but there are some who just do not provide me with listening pleasure:
Troy Aikman: He is good working with Joe Buck; he is good on his own. I like him a lot.
Charles Barkley: I think the lack of a 10-second delay line between his brain and his tongue provides for the possibility of real entertainment when he is on the air. I enjoy him; nevertheless, I recognize that there are lots of folks who would prefer that he get laryngeal surgery – today.
Cris Collinsworth: I think he is excellent.
Kirk Herbstreit: I have no idea if this guy does anything in his life that is not connected to college football, but he is really good at that one thing.
Michael Irvin: What he does to the English language is what workers in an abattoir do to the carcass of a steer. I fear that my 12th grade English teacher – wherever she may be in the cosmos – gets a twinge in her spine every time Irvin goes off on one of his expository flights of fancy. As often as not, I change the channel mid-way into one of his commentaries.
Daryl “Moose” Johnston: I used to enjoy him but he is too repetitious. He harps on things over and over. His repetitiveness drives me nuts. How come he says the same things all the time? Enough already…
Shaquille O’Neal: If Shaq is an acquired taste, all I can say is that I have not yet acquired same.
Warren Sapp: Many folks say he is a wonderful person who would give you the shirt off his back. I cannot speak to that but I do wish that he would say something important more often than he does.
Curt Schilling: He is destined to make Sominex an unnecessary product.
Shannon Sharpe: Just because he speaks loudly does not mean he has something important – or even interesting – to say.
Phil Simms: It took a while for me to get used to his voice, but once over that hurdle I came to enjoy hearing from him.
Tony Siragusa: He tries too hard to be the latter-day Art Donovan.
Kenny Smith: He and Charles Barkley obviously have fun working together and I enjoy being part of that upbeat environment.
Joe Theismann: Five words apply here:
Fingernails scratching on a blackboard
Chris Webber: One word will suffice here:
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list; it just happens to be a few folks who came to mind as I recalled the conversation with my neighbor. I am sure others can add folks to the “really like this guy list” and to the “get this guy off the air list”.
Finally, here are a few of the best malapropisms from the late Ralph Kiner – a former jock who got behind a microphone and provided entertainment albeit not always in the way he meant to provide it:
“All of his saves have come in relief opportunities.”
“If Casey Stengel were alive today, he’d be spinning in his grave.”
“The reason the Mets have played so well at Shea this year is that they have the best home record in baseball.”
“The Mets have gotten their leadoff batter on only once this inning.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………