“Floyd Caves Herman, known as Babe, did not always catch fly balls on the top of his head, but he could do it in a pinch. He never tripled into a triple play, but he once doubled into a double play, which is the next best thing. For seven long years, from 1926 through 1932, he was the spirit of Brooklyn baseball. He spent the best part of his life upholding the mighty tradition that anything can happen at Ebbets Field, the mother temple of daffiness in the national game.
“(In 1945), Branch Rickey and Leo Durocher lured Babe Herman, then forty-two, from his turkey farm in Glendale, California, to hit a few more for the honor of Flatbush. A fine crowd turned out to watch the ancient hero on the first day of his reincarnation.
“‘It looks like they haven’t forgotten you here, Babe,’ said one of the players, glancing around the grandstand.
“Mr. Herman shook his head. ‘How could they?’ he said with simple dignity.”
John Schulian admits that one of the reasons why John Lardner could have had it better than most sportswriters in the last 50 years was because, well, the subject matter was less subjective.
“Today’s player won’t let you see a side of them that the players did during the era when Lardner wrote,” said Schulian, whose book, “The John Lardner Reader,” is out point of focus in today’s media column (linked here).
“Players today are so walled off and make enough money where they can live in a parallel universe. This money has fed their paranoia. You do have all the TMZs of the world and Entertainment Tonight and kids running around with iPhones looking to catch players in compromising sitautions. And it’s clearly not too hard to do,. But there’s not even any charm to these athletes. What charm is there shooting yourself in the leg?”
But among the writers today who Schulian does admire — he makes the call that award-winning Joe Posnanski (and that’s actually a releatively recent photo of him, pretending to be an old-time writer) whose recent profile on Vin Scully (linked here) was one of the best we’ve read in a long while, is one his favorites.
Now, you make the call.
Posnanski’s current SI.com cover story on the 32 great sports calls of all time could have been an easy rehash read (linked here). These lists have been done for years, updated, reconfigured. But what Posnanski does here is taking it, again, to another level.
“Is the CALL great or is the MOMENT great? And does it even matter?” Posnanski asks.
“In the end, I think there is something ineffable about the greatest calls, something that — when taken out of the moment — might not seem so magical. Is “Havlicek steals the ball!” really so brilliant a four-word sentence? Is ‘There are no flags on the field!’ such a fascinating insight? Is ‘The Giants win the pennant!’ shouted again and again brilliant craftsmanship?
“I think it’s the moment, the unrepeatable moment, that makes those calls breathtaking and chilling and wonderful. It is the singular dalliance between elation of the voice and wonderment of the moment and power of the words. Was Verne Lundquist’s ‘Yes!’ ever so powerful as when Christian Laettner hit the shot that beat Kentucky?
“One short and familiar word — the word you long to hear when you propose marriage, the word Marv Albert says with such authority when shots dropped — was infused with something hard to describe when Lundquist said it. But it’s still just a word. Does saying ‘Yes!’ really constitute one of the greatest calls in sports history?
“In a word: Yes.”
Spoiler alert: Both Scully’s call of Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series Game 1 homer for NBC, and Jack Buck’s call of it for CBS Radio, tied for No. 5 all time. Scully also has football call that made the Top 10, and another Dodgers’ call that was a No. 17, another call about an ex-Dodger that was No. 19.
And he was probably short changed.
We’ll let you investigate the rest…
== We’re already thinking that the mainstream media’s coverage of the TIger Woods’ affair, going back to using TMZ photos from his car crash outside his home on Thanksgiving night, was setting the tone for future sports journalistic endeavors.
From that, we think the Brett Favre-Jenn Sturger saga, which was don’t even feel like touching for various reasons, is more an outgrowth of the Woods’ mess, but there are those who see it more as another starting point for today’s information gathers, writes Eric Deggans of the Indiana Unversity National Sports Journalism Center (linked here).
We also direct you to the piece that Dan LeBatard did for TheBigLead.com (linked here), and that Richard Sandomir did for the New York Times (linked here), where he quotes ESPN’s Vince Doria senior VP and director of news: “To me, that was a public acknowledgment that it had reached a point where the NFL considered the impact. Reaction of that sort lifts a story to where you can report it.”
Can, or want?
== The MLB playoffs — the ALCS starts tonight on TNT, while Fox has the NLCS starting Saturday — wormed only two for-sure day games out of the first eight, with two more that could happen if either series gets to a sixth game. Monday’s third game of the ALCS, as well as Games 2 and possibly 7 of the NLDS will go up against the NFL.
Fox reconnects Joe Buck with Tim McCarver on the NLDS, starting in Philadelphia on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The pregame will include Chris Rose with Eric Karros and former Phillies reliever and current MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams for the first two contests.
TBS has Ernie Johnson Jr. with Ron Darling and John Smoltz, plus Craig Sager roaming around for the ALCS. By now, Smoltz must have figured that no playoff-bound team needed his services.
== More on Mel Kiper Jr., and what he does or doesn’t do with his draft reporting on ESPN: The Sports Business Daily points out that the SI.com report makes it clear that this isn’t the first time a mainstream media outlet has questioned Kiper’s ties to agent Gary Wichard.
Wichard, who reportedly is the focus of a current NCAA and NFLPA investigation, was linked to Kiper in an April profile on Kiper in The Washington Post, but Kiper denied that he overhyped Wichard clients.
Going back to 1996, the Denver Rocky Mountain News published a profile of Kiper by Joel Buchbaum, the late Pro Football Weekly draft analyst.
“Let’s put it this way, there are certain players who Mel seems a little high on, and very often, they’ll belong to certain agents,” Buchsbaum wrote, adding that Wichard was one of those agents. Kiper insisted that even though he and Wichard had been friends for 15 years, “if I don’t like a player, I don’t care who his agent is.”
== And for those still wondering: Lakers radio play-by-play man Spero Dedes was a late call doing CBS’ Kansas City-Indianapolis with Dan Dierdorf was because studio anchor James Brown was unable to work because of illness, and Greg Gumbel was called back to New York to host the pregame show.
Dedes said he arrived with the Lakers on Friday afternoon from Barcelona after an 11-hour flight and got the call from CBS a few hours later, finding himself back on a plane headed to Indianapolis from L.A. on Saturday at 6 a.m.
With the Lakers’ regular season coming up, Dedes’ NFL gamecalls will probably be curbed unless he’s able to work it into his schedule, as he was during the first five weeks of the season.
== Your L.A. NFL TV lineup for this weekend:
= 10 a.m., Channel 2: San Diego at St. Louis (with Don Criqui and Steve Beuerlein, which, on the CBS ranked games in this window, would seem pretty low after Baltimore-New England with Nantz and Simms, Kansas City-Houston with Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker, Miami-Green Bay with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts or Cleveland-Pittsburgh with Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots).
= 10 a.m., Channel 11: Atlanta at Philadelphia (with Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, over Detroit-N.Y. Giants with Dick Stockton and Charles Davis; Seattle-Chicago with Chris Myers and Brian Billick or New Orleans-Tampa Bay with Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan)
= 1 p.m., Channel 11: Dallas at Minnesota (with Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman; CBS also has two games in this window: N.Y. Jets-Denver with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, and Oakland-San Francisco with Bill Macatee and Rich Gannon).
= 5:20 p.m, Channel 4: Indianapolis at Washington (with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer)
= 5:30 p.m., ESPN: Tennessee at Jacksonville (with Mike Tirico, John Gruden and Ron Jaworski).
== Barry Thompkins and Petros Papadakis have the USC-Cal game for Prime Ticket on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., again likely blacked out by those who have the Dish Network. Those folks can always tune into KSPN-AM (710) and hear Pete Arbogast refer to Trojans tailback Allen Bradford as “LenDale White” has he has the last couple of weeks. Going back to the USC-Washington game, Arbogast not only miscalled Bradford as White, but the ballcarrier was actually Stanley Havili.
== For ESPN2’s coverage of Minnesota at Purdue (Saturday, 9 a.m.) Brian Griese will work with his dad, Bob Griese, as the analysts for Dave Pasch. Too bad it isn’t Michigan against Purdue. ESPN has Carter Blackburn, Brock Huard and Mike Bellotti for Oregon State-Washington at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, right after Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit call No. 1 Ohio State at Wisconsin (4 p.m., ESPN instead of ABC).
== An Associated Press story about poor TV Azteca reporter Inez Sainz saying she didn’t want to venture into NFL locker rooms anytime soon actually was listed as the No. 3 headline on ESPN.com’s front page for a long while Thursday (linked here).
They had a news conference near Universal Studios to allow her to admit: “I’m not going into the locker rooms anymore. It’s not a good place right now for me. I don’t want to be in there. … I need to wait one month to work again because I don’t want to be the focus. I’m not looking for that kind of publicity. It affects my career and development in the States.”
The AP story also noted she was wearing “a black-white-and-lime green sequined mini skirt and white blouse” on Thursday.
Top Rank, meanwhile, is looking for some publicity. It sent out a release that “international sports reporter” Sainz will host daily behind-the-scenes features for the international broadcast team during the week leading up to the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito world super welterweight title pay-per-view fight in Dallas on Nov. 13.
The release says Sainz “will utilize her vast experience interviewing sports personalities from around the globe in producing fresh and insightful reports” that will be available online as well as fed to TV outlets via satellite. Top Rank president Todd duBoef is quoted: “Ins will be a valuable addition in providing sports fans unique stories on the fighters and the event during fight week and the fight broadcast itself that we have never had before. Inasmuch as she is bilingual and has the experience of covering major sporting events worldwide and has interviewed the top athletes in those events, she will help enhance our coverage of Pacquiao vs. Margarito and attract a wider audience to the sport of boxing. Top Rank feels very fortunate to have her for this event.”
Inasmuch as Top Rank didn’t want to, it also sent an attached photo with the release, used here.
Well played, Inez. From the photo, we’re not clear: Is that your working outfit, or is this before you’re headed out for your 5-year high-school reunion?