The Horse That Loved

Don't get me wrong, I love having League Pass with all my earthly heart. But at least seventeen times per otherwise-unattainable telecast, I find myself reaching for the Sterno and barbed wire, ready to grate off my face just so I won't have to hear homer commentary anymore. Tuesday's Bulls/Suns parade was a real bladder-mousser, and yet the Chicago broadcasters had me turning away regularly. These guys didn't even wait to see the replay before they declared the call abysmal or righteous, depending solely on what their team needed. To me it's silly and prehistoric, but I'm not the person for whom they shill. They're supposed to stoke the flames of energy, to pull off the high-wire act that is informed bias.

I often find myself questioning if these people in fact like the sport of basketball, or just the team that happens to play it. You'll find non-stop love for Steve Nash, but good luck catching any of them suitably impressed by LeBron or Amare. While it's a matter of degree depending on the city, and I almost invariably find myself screaming at the screen "IT WAS A MASTERFUL FEAT BY A WONDEROUS BEING. SHOW SOME RESPECT FOR THINE ENEMY." In these moments of forced nonchalance, I find this stance almost childishly absurd. I understand the nature of disappointment, and so I also recognize that victory is dulled if the foe is consistently downplayed. Wouldn't you prefer to feel as if you were going blow-for-blow with a beast, rather than set up a situation where loss can only equal failure?

You probably didn't even need to hear me tell you this: homer announcers are the anti-FD. Now, the twist: this is ritually true when it comes to stars. Turn to the lesser figures, though, and I believe you'll be surprised at the sides I can take. In my hopeful experience, network guys frequently fall back on some pretty standard personel assessments. Hell, they have to keep track of the entire league; why wouldn't they cut a few corners when it comes to the most intimate details of bench players? A lot of times, this means valorizing vets even if they're playing like shit, slurping that one hustle player, and hanging on to college memories as if they still mean something. If I had a penny for every time they told me a high school rookie was "still learning" or "had a long way to go," I wouldn't need your fucking pennies.

The hometown guys, though, have to say something nice about everyone. Sometimes they're accurate, other times merely positive, but it's heartwarming to hear someone other than us gush over the usual suspects. When J.R. first arrived in Denver, it made my whole room light up to hear the Nuggets team dizzy themselves over how he could score at will, how the sky was the limit, how a star was being born. If you want to hear hyperbole about young players waiting to arrive, there's really no place better to turn to than the very same men I derided above.

I can't wait to watch the Heat during this Dorrell Wright era.


At 1/04/2007 2:11 AM, Blogger T. said...

Shoals - I'm not sure if you ever saw any Laker telecasts with Chick, but he's really the end all and be all of NBA announcers. I'm continually disappointed because I was lucky enough to grow up listening to Chuck - he would really tear into the Lakers if he thought they deserved it.

As a side note, I think Ralph Lawler (Clippers) and Bill Worrell (Rockets) are also very good - but when Bill first lost Calvin Murphy, then the incomprehensible (but very knowledgeable and funny Van Chancellor) for the ultra dry and honestly not very good duo of Matt Bullard and Clyde Drexler, Rockets telecasts took a step back.

At 1/04/2007 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stacey King has shown some unexpected (which is to say, any) chops with the telestrator and can competently explain what happens on the dance floor. It sounds like faint praise, but it certainly elevates him among his new peers.

However, I fear the Dumbledore and Johnny "Interred" Kerr influence on him is strong. He'll end up just another guffawing and braying confirmation of a fan base's ill-fated attachment of self-worth to win-loss records.

Jerry Reinsdorf believes that sells, though, and so you can put this on the board in concrete, yes.

At 1/04/2007 8:59 AM, Blogger Trey said...

I have a feeling that Chicago announcers are a bit reticent to voice their displeasure with the hometown team after the abrupt firing of former Chicago Cubs announcer Steve Stone. Stone would criticize the Cubs when need be, and numerous players were offended by that. This could be on the minds of the announcers city wide and lead to (even more) blatant homerism.

Gotta give some love for a broadcast team that has three members over 6'10" though.

wv:dvdlsek - Lakers Sex Education by Kobe, now on DVD

At 1/04/2007 9:28 AM, Blogger JoshLove said...

you haven't lived until you've heard the Bobcats guys gush over the transcendent talents of Walter Hermann or Bernard Robinson (RIP).

At 1/04/2007 10:01 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

the heat announcers are not really that bad with regards to homer-dom; they're just stuttering half-wits, thats all. loves them some dorrell wright as anticipated, but to my surprise havent really been inappropriately effusive.

At 1/04/2007 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One exception to the rule:

the Celtics announcers, because I'm convinced it is self-parody.

Oh, and Scott Hastings? Apparently the Denver Nuggets are more persecuted by the authorities than Jesus Christ.

At 1/04/2007 11:18 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

The Portland announcers are prototypical homers you speak off. I mention it because it really blows my mind how anyone can speak that well of the Blazers every night, but they do it.

The worst thing James Dolan ever did was firing Marv Albert. May the man taste his own blood before dying a fiery death for firing Marv. Of course, Marv now works for the more exciting Nets, so I guess it worked out for the best.

At 1/04/2007 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wizards have a great broadcasting team. Steve Buckhantz (might have heard him on Sportscenter's top 10 play this morning) and Phil Chenier (a former Bullet). Both well spoken and know the team extremely well. They point out when they are playing well and when they are "reverting to their old tricks" of the early 2000s.
I wouldn't want anyone else announcing the Wizards game. Buckhantz is famous for his "Dagger!" calls. The one for Agent Zero's game winner last night was classic.

Anonymous, your right on the Celtics. They are surreal. So biased. Awful accents. Love Paul Pierce way too much. It makes me want to vomit.

At 1/04/2007 11:23 AM, Blogger seezmeezy said...

i feel honored to listen to steve buckhantz and phil chenier for every zards' game. they are fair, make insightful comments, know the other teams thoroughly, and at times can have the "fucking hysterical" chemistry only found between two good friends. i'd much rather watch their broadcasts even when a high-definition picture is available somewhere else.

i still feel that there too many teams in the nba and babbling idiot announcers feed the flames of my hatred of the over-abundance. most of these clowns would be announcing the next ho to the pole at the local strip joint if they weren't bitching about non-calls for their herb-ass team.

as for the celtics announcers, it is possibly the funniest homerism available in pro sports.

wv oosshd: oo7 vs. the secret service in HD

At 1/04/2007 11:31 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

From ESPN:
Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas: 32 points, 11 rebounds . . . and that winnning 3 in a 108-105 win over the Bucks. Defender Charlie Bell on backpedaling before Arenas launched a 32-footer. "I thought he would take one more dribble," Bell said. "I give him credit. They say he has no conscience, and he doesn't."

Damn it, it's time for a new nickname for Agent Zero: The man with no conscience. That, btw, is the textbook DSM definition of a sociopath.

At 1/04/2007 11:45 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'll have some further thoughts on the arenas thought when i'm not explaining wordpress to the tech people at work.

this announcer post was initially much longer, but i cut a bunch when it ended up too top-heavy. the main point was the thing at the end about FD-ish guys; unfortunately, i was dead tired by then.

earlier drafts included this priceless sentence: "five minutes of the boston announcers will confirm every worst stereotype about Greenball, the city of Boston, and race in America." i also speculated that the bulls team had talked about the suns like "a band of marauding deviants," since for homers their city's brand of ball is THE WAY. and has been set up to correspond with their most cherished notions of humanity.

trust me, the edit was for the best.

At 1/04/2007 12:20 PM, Anonymous westney said...

What, do I have to mention Clyde Frazier and his erudite loquacity?

At 1/04/2007 2:11 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

Switching over to MSG and catching strategic discourse from Clyde is like taking a drug. Except Clyde is free. I get a different flavor of drug when they put Norm Van Lier on the Bulls post-game show. Is it this way with all the "old former player" announcers? Is it just a thing with wise and smooth old black men? Someone tell me if that was an offensive/ignorant question.

At 1/04/2007 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Celtics announcers, because I'm convinced it is self-parody..


And really, who wouldn't love a Tommy Point?

I'm surprised DLIC hasn't chimed in with his love for the greatest announcing duo of all time, when the Wolves had Kevin Harlan and the incomparably awesome Trent Tucker as their local cable guys. For some reason, Tucker is unfamiliar with Texas geography, so the Wolves always struggled when playing the Tan Santonio Spurs.

At 1/04/2007 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the entirety of the Bulls-Suns game with the Chicago announcing crew. I agree that Red is an intolerable homer.

He's always good for a "look out" when a Bull is about to turn it over in the open court. It's like he is yelling out a warning to the player.

Stacey King is actually good. I am really surprised. He did a good job of explaining Amare's game the other night. I like his analysis.

The Bulls announcing team isn't so much an "us v. them" type crew. They were laudatory of the Suns (and generally give props of good teams and players), but they are always cheering for the Bulls.

At 1/04/2007 2:52 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

To state the obvious: the announcers are employees of the team; they are instructed to be 110% positive about their co-workers on the court.

To state the more obvious: that in way reduces the stain that these men leave on the game.

The fans in Oakland are regularly cited as among the most knowledgeable and devoted in the L, yet the two clowns who announce the Warriors games essentially insult the intelligence of those fans with nearly every word they utter.

It strikes me that this is one area in which the Commish should be making some efforts to force the owners to improve. Announcers who could actually teach something about the game and honor all of its talents should increase the general level of interest and excitement. I believe we are forever condemned to suffer the homer, however.

wv: ulpezdj--upload the new track from dj pez

At 1/04/2007 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that no one gives two shits about the Grizzlies, but 144 is an awful lot of points in regulation. Plus, Rudy Gay has apparently decided to just flush it on any mortal that comes in his way, so that should be fun to watch in the coming months.

At 1/04/2007 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can't stand frazier. i have watch knicks games with the sound turned off. when i bother to watch that at all, that is.

At 1/04/2007 4:38 PM, Anonymous youshoottoomuch said...

i love frazier. if hubie brown didn't have madden status already locked down, i'd say that frazier is what would happen if madden was a player (not a coach) and a poet (not an imbecile). his propensity for words that end in -izing is both mesmerizing and tantalizing. both breen and frazier are pretty critical, although there's a wide-eyed hope for the kids running through most of frazier's criticisms. and he has wondrous suits. baby-blue velvet? oh yes!

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