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The Charm of John and Suzyn

By Mike Silva ~ April 8th, 2012. Filed under: New York Yankees, Sports Media Commentary.

I decided to do something different for the Yankees-Rays Opening Day game by listening to a couple of innings of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WCBS 880.

The due referred to as “Ma and Pa Pinstripe” by Bob Raissman of the Daily News, is always under fire. They are obvious homers, very un-fundamental in their broadcast style, and appear to, at times, have trouble seeing the action on the field. Sterling’s over-the-top home run calls have become a part of baseball lore. I don’t listen to much baseball on the radio anymore - Mets, Yankees or otherwise - as part of my job here is to provide analysis, and I don’t feel that radio allows me to do that quite as well. When you add in all the video replay that MLB.com offers instantly, there is also tons of ways to interact with the game before radio. What’s funny is my introduction to baseball as a kid was more on the radio than television.

Interestingly enough, when I do listen to the Yankees on 880, I always come away with a laugh. I particularly love when Sterling announces “angry” during those rare periods of Yankee ineptitude. He was in rare form on a Sunday night in 2007, when the Yankees were struggling and on the verge of being swept by Boston. He came across as if it was an “affront” for the team to be wasting his time. I don’t know if I ever heard him as disgusted in the last 17 years. You then have Waldman, who talks about the team in a way you would expect your grandmother to while watching her grandkids play sandlot ball; always in a personal and loving manner. You would think that A-Rod, Teixeira and Jeter were related to her.

Instead of disliking Sterling and Waldman, like many outside the Yankees Universe, I come to actually enjoy their games. Friday afternoon was no different, as rode the treadmill during the 7th and 8th innings of the game in Tampa; I have never laughed so much during a workout before.

For those that never have listened to the duo, think of an elderly couple sitting on the porch watching a game. It’s clear they do this often, and take the results of the game personally.

During the 45 minutes I listened, Sterling blew a Mark Teixeira home run call (the ball was foul) and became agitated by a Carlos Pena hit and run single against the shift. Waldman was conducting a sermon on “cowbell rays” when discussing an upcoming Tampa promotion where the fans will receive a cowbell upon entering the park. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News corrected her from the press box mid-inning, telling her the proper term for a cowbell ray (I can’t find it or remember it), but it turned out all of them are wrong. According to Big League Stew, the entire Tampa Bay cowbell movement was borne out of the famous Saturday Night Live More Cowbell” skit starring Christopher Walken. That’s not the point, but the discussion of this during a half-inning of a close ballgame just tells you what type of broadcast I was experiencing.

The point where I laughed out loud, literally, was when Sterling said after the Pena hit and run single that “If Pena can do it, and David Ortiz can do it, why can’t the Yankees?” The shift has become a hot topic in Yankee-universe this weekend, and Sterling seems agitated the Bombers have been befuddled by it. He made it seem as fundamental as laying down a bunt.

It’s hard to describe my experience in words. You have to listen to this duo to truly understand what I am talking about. There has been talk in recent years of 880 replacing Sterling and Waldman with a more traditional booth. I would be very disappointed by such a development.

The Yankees are phony and corporate in just about every facet of their operation. The radio booth is the one place where I feel I can actually “touch and feel” the organization. I rarely use the word “charm” when discussing the Bombers. That is, however, how I would sum up John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman doing play-by-play on the radio.

Want to know where to find Mike Silva now? He Host's the "Weekend Watchdog” on Long Island’s ESPN affiliate Champions Radio (96.9/107.1FM Suffolk) go to http://weekendwatchdog.com to listen and interact with Mike at mikesilvamedia.com
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6 Responses to The Charm of John and Suzyn

  1. Stu B

    I believe Raissman’s nickname for the pair is “Ma and Pa Pinstripe.”

  2. kranepool

    I can listen to Sterling as he whole schtick is funny to me but Waldman is unlistenable. Stuck at work on Friday I listen to Yankees-Rays and for most of the afternoon I kept “Shut the F up Suzyn the woman was just non-stop babble.

    When she first started on on the radio with Sterling it was great she read scores and promos and did player interviews that’s her strength baseball analysis is her weakness.

  3. Mike Silva

    Good catch Stu

  4. Steve S.

    I agree with the whole premise of this article. You can’t take either of them too seriously, and they do have the comforting, often times maddening charm of one’s own family.

    Though you missed my favorite Stering-ism during the game. Someone hit a fly ball that he called caught, then a HR, then caught again, then suddenly went to commercial.

    I was sitting there, with my head on the steering wheel. Trying to figure out what, for the life of me, just happened.

  5. Doug Van Brunt

    I am a life long Yankees fan, my job keeps me in the car most days and so I am a regular listener of Yankees games on the radio. Waldman and Sterling have become such a tired act that I prefer the road games, on these days I can listen to the competitions home radio broad cast in XM radio. Yes I would rather listen to the Red Sox homer duo rather than suffer through Waldman & Sterling. The Yankees really need to usher these two off to the retirement home & find some young new talent that is actually talented.
    The the Steinbrenner family; I for one implore you to replace these two A.S.A.P.
    Thank you
    Go Yanks

  6. Ken Bland

    I may have a flawed memory, or perhaps be a poor judge of talent, but I remember Sterling being a rather competent pbp guy when he worked for TBS doing the Braves and Hawks, and he also hosted a 2 way talk show on a syndicated network and I thought he did that pretty well. Nowadays, it’s understandable how he keeps his job, because he’s a tradition. But if he broadcast at the same level of competence his first few years on the Yanks radio network, it’d be surprising because I’d think he’d have been let go. So my question is he’s gotten worse, right?

    To be honest, I kind of like Susyn, little as I listen to Yanks radio, and I’m not a Yank fan anyway, but she’s unique, and that doesn’t turn me off. Steady listener, I’d no doubt feel differently.

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