The first thing that blows me away when it comes to John Sterling’s incredible career is his remarkable streak of calling every Yankees game for over 30 years. The man called 5,060 straight games. Every single inning. He likes to add that part. Regardless of what you think about his style or performance, that is a phenomenal accomplishment. It might never be duplicated. John has also mentioned that he called Braves and Hawks games for years in Atlanta. More than 200 combined each year, although he could not announce every single game for both with overlapping seasons. Since Suzyn Waldman became his partner in 2005, John has handled the play-by-play for every inning he was there.
Sterling has called the action in numerous sports for various teams. He has announced Nets games (including one last year), and even called hockey 40 years ago. John turned 81 this month. He was born on July 4, 1938. Same birthday as George Steinbrenner. John was born 8 years after George. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons they got along so well. Imagine spending your 60s and 70s doing all that travel for work. Sterling has been so durable and reliable. John said that people told him he needed to take days off. Otherwise, his streak would probably still be growing.
Many people are familiar with his calls in recent years. I’m one of the people who has complained that he does not accurately describe the action when I’m driving or home listening to the radio. However, I remember how much his calls were anticipated when I was a teenager. Some of you probably don’t know what a transistor radio is. Perhaps you have heard of a stereo or Walkman. Anyway, I would often turn on Sterling and listen to his calls. They were usually much more exciting than the local or national television call.
Chris Carrino and Ryan Ruocco were solid on WFAN filling in for Sterling. I don’t know if either will replace him permanently when the time comes, and I’m not sure if Sterling will step away anytime soon. My guess is that John will not if he has anything to say about it. Carrino is from Yonkers. I met him about 20 years ago in New Jersey when I interviewed for a Nets internship. Chris would probably be my early choice. I think the time off has worked. John sounds stronger. That was the idea.
Meanwhile, let’s give credit to Suzyn as well. She has been nominated for the Radio Hall of Fame. John might also have some special recognition in his future. They have been quite a pair. Although I find the impressions of Sour Shoes entertaining (plus Craig Carton over the years), both John and Suzyn have done terrific work for decades. Not just as voices calling Yankees baseball. I’m sure people will say nice things about them when they stop working. Here is a tip of the cap while they are still going strong.
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The opening Sunday concluded with a brutal Giants-Cowboys game. I was very frustrated at the ridiculous play calls. Early on the Giants were conservative. You could make a case for that. Still close. Time left. Had trouble protecting Eli. One of my real pet peeves is a short pass when you have third and long. At 19-3 in the late stages, there were more short passes from the Giants. Cris Collinsworth was also frustrated. He talked about how they needed to throw a Hail Mary, get an onside kick, and score again. Plus two conversions. They continued to dump it off short. A stunned Collinsworth first stated that the short pass would not get it done, and after another dump off he gave up and confessed to not knowing what they were doing
Jon Gruden likes to complain. He is a grumpy old man. So am I. Therefore, I’m cool with this. Usually he is complaining about penalties and confusing rules. One of his rants this year was about moving the extra point back. Actually, he referred to it more than once. One time stood out though. Basically he said that people find missed extra points exciting. I have totally been in this corner, and point to the Pats-Broncos AFC Championship game that ended 20-18. New England missed an extra point and trailed 20-12 instead of by seven when driving late. I complained that moving extra points back resulted in a missed kick, and that ultimately prevented us from seeing an overtime classic.
Then we have Tony Romo. I can’t stand him. First of all, he does not shut up. You would think somebody could whisper in his ear (or smack him in the head) and tell this fool to let the game breathe. Luckily I was out Thursday and watched the game without sound. Listening to him urging on Aaron Rodgers was tough to take when Green Bay rallied against the Bengals last month. He’ll spike the ball. Don’t worry about it. Not to mention talking about where he could have or should’ve gone with a pass. Yeah, throw it completely across the field. That always worked well in your career. Romo asked Jim Nantz to go out on a limb and predict whether or not Green Bay’s overtime field goal would be successful. Nantz, who usually kisses Tony’s ass, confessed that it was from just 27 yards out. Jim liked the chances of this one. He correctly predicted it. Of course predicting plays has been Romo’s signature trait so far. When Nantz asked how he knew what was coming after one play, Tony arrogantly stated that he has been around football for many years. Oh, you’re the one. Simms and Aikman are newcomers.
I wonder what Phil thinks of his work. It seems a little awkward when the studio breaks in with an update and throws it back to Jim. Phil was often knocked on social media, but he obviously knew the game. Simms put in 19 years at CBS, and was on NBC’s number one team before that. Even Collinsworth has mentioned Romo and seems bothered by him. I’m sure Romo will improve, and I’ll probably get used to his annoying behavior at some point. For now, I’m glad that I will be spending Thursdays out at a bar not listening to Tony’s commentary.