I feel bad for the legions of Cubs fans who are sad that Steve Stone and Chip Caray are gone from the team's TV broadcasts, but I sure like having Stone on ESPN games, offering his concise, insightful, sometimes sardonic commentary on more than just the Cubs.
I never thought much of Caray. He's gone to the Braves' broadcast crew, where he joins his dad, Skip, plus Don Sutton and like half the state of Georgia.
Stone, though, is great. Many Cubs fans hated to see him resign in the wake of preposterous whining by the team's players and management last year that Stone's on-air criticism of the team's play and behavior somehow cost the Cubs on the field. The lamentation over Stone's departure isn't just the belly-aching of people opposed to any change when it comes to the voices of the home team, though there's probably some of that mixed in.
Stone understands the game and can explain both strategic and mechanical points as well as any announcer going. And he gets his ideas across by addressing the audience as though it's made up of intelligent people. He avoids overly obvious points and doesn't belabor the points he does make. Tim McCarver, who's every bit as smart and observant as Stone, should take heed.
During Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees game a pitch by New York reliever Felix Rodriguez just missed the strike zone, glanced off Jorge Posada's glove and went to the backstop. It was ruled a wild pitch, but play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne suggested that the call might soon be changed to a passed ball.
"Only if the invention of instant replay has hit the scorer's booth," Stone deadpanned. It's not as funny just lying there in print. But the point is he didn't overplay his joke, call attention to it, riff on it endlessly with ever-diminishing returns, all things most broadcasters do. Just said it and let it go. Nice.
With Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, my favorite announcing team, already in midseason form, this season's off to a nice start in the Sports Daily Viewing Complex.
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Letters on "Lady" [PERMALINK]
Whoa, struck a little nerve there with my whining Wednesday about women's teams that still use the word "Lady" in their nickname. A selection of letters, none of which defended the practice:
Melanie Lee Chang: I had to chuckle at your comments about the "Lady" appellation for women's teams. I've always hated it, and I've never even been a team athlete unless you count half a semester being a coxswain. Being the "marked" gender or class is a constant reminder that you're different, or not as much, or just not quite; it's a general linguistic phenomenon that is well illustrated by the whole "Lady Bears" thing.
Brian Campbell: Winston-Salem State's women's teams are the Lady Rams. That is to say, a female male sheep. Virginia Commonwealth used this mascot as recently as a few years ago. Are the Rams transgendered or transsexual? I didn't take enough gender studies in college.
Leslie Claire: As to who says "lady" anymore, I regret to tell you that it's in all too common usage. I do wish people would stop it, but most notably, whenever any female friend and I go to a restaurant, the server inevitably calls us "ladies" at every opportunity: "Good evening, ladies ... what will you ladies be having to drink?"
Worse yet is when some fellow thinks of himself as especially suave and calls us "lovely ladies" at each turn, but we won't even get into that. I often wonder what they say to two men, or to a man and a woman. Maybe we could set an example by calling our most physically powerful and capable women something other than "Lady" anything. Then again, maybe that's exactly why they're referred to in this condescending way. Maybe some people are threatened by their strength. Just a theory.
King replies: It occurs to me that I've also heard women address their friends as "ladies," and I've heard female athletes address their teammates in the same way.
James E. Hall: Back when Baylor's coach [Kim Mulkey-Robertson] was playing for Louisiana Tech, I wondered why they were called the "Lady Techsters" until I thought about the usual mascot for Lousiana Tech being the bulldog. We all know what a Lady Bulldog is.
King replies: What is it? Oh. I see what you mean. Well, OK, but a female bulldog is still a bulldog. Here's a quick survey of how a few of the more prominent "Bulldog" schools refer to their women's basketball teams, judging from their official Web sites:
Georgia: Lady Bulldogs
Fresno State: Bulldogs
Mississippi State: Lady Bulldogs
South Carolina State: Lady Bulldogs
Not a comprehensive list, but do you see a pattern there? For the geographically challenged: Gonzaga is in Spokane, Wash., Drake is in Des Moines, Iowa, and Butler's in Indianapolis. See it now? Me neither. But the next letter writer does.
Jonathan Taylor: I hate to bring up the obvious, but you do know what the three "Lady" teams [in the Final Four] have in common? Geography. As in below the Mason-Dixon line.
Now I'm not saying that all Southerners are misogynistic. Just their institutions. If those athletic programs ever dared to insist on being called the same as their male counterparts, there would be a roar that would match the intensity of the reaction to someone suggesting the removal of Confederate flags and symbols.
Ed Tijerina: When I lived in Milwaukee, my favorite team nickname came from Pius XI High School, the "Lady Popes." I'm not sure which I enjoyed more -- the irony of the name or the fact that people there used the name without even a hint of irony.
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I misidentified the radio personality who was giving that "God is a Reds fan" sermon just before the Opening Day broadcast on WLW in Cincinnati.
It was Bill Cunningham, not Andy Furman, though Furman was present. That makes the line "the Furman brothers sitting next to me now, circumcised," at least make a little bit of sense.
I've corrected the original column. That way people coming across it through a Google search or the Salon archives won't see the error with no way to find the correction.
I took a little creative license with the headline on that item, "Jesus is a Reds fan." As reader Gary Leising points out, "It was God who's the Reds fan, not Jesus. I'm guessing there's some father-son disagreement there."
His theory on Jesus' favorite team reminds me of an old Burns and Schreiber routine in which they played monks who got access to a TV for the first time and found a baseball game. Schreiber discovers that one of the teams is called the Padres and begins rooting for them -- until he finds out who they're playing.
Previous column: Baylor wins NCAA title
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