Calling a game from 3,000 miles away has its challenges
Yankees radio announcer John Sterling’s signature home run call sometimes leaves him vulnerable to being fooled. He has to start his “It is high, it is far” call a little bit early to nail the dramatic timing, so occasionally instead of “it is gone,” he has to wrap up with “it is ... off the wall” or “it is ... hauled in at the track.” But Sterling has never been fooled the way he was on Wednesday night.
When Aaron Judge stepped to the plate in the third inning in Seattle, Sterling, sitting in the broadcast booth in the Bronx, saw Judge crush a hanging breaking ball into the upper deck.
“It is high, it is far, it is gone!” Sterling said, before realizing he’d been bamboozled. “Unfortunately, that was a replay of the home run [Judge hit in the second inning].”
“I’m sorry, it’s on the monitor,” Sterling continued, sounding a little exasperated. “What am I supposed to do?”
“This is a great way to do a game, isn’t it?” his broadcast partner Suzyn Waldman chimed in.
It seems strange that, as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in baseball and in the country at large, MLB announcers are still calling road games from their home parks. If announcers are fully vaccinated and comfortable with traveling, there’s no reason why they should still be sitting in empty ballparks and calling games off of monitors.
Announcers have gotten better at calling games in a virtual setting (watching the Yankees, I sometimes forget Paul O’Neill is in his basement in Ohio) but the broadcast certainly suffers when the crew is hundreds or thousands of miles away. Having the announcers able to pick up on little things like the energy of the crowd or the weather conditions, or see things that aren’t captured by the cameras, makes for a better viewing experience for fans at home. With the All-Star break right around the corner, maybe MLB will decide that announcers can return to the road in the second half of the season.
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