They both won the most games in their divisions and swept their respective playoffs, so it is appropriate that they should appear in the World Series." Thus the old wizard, Curt Gowdy, accounting for the mysterious presence of the Mets and the Orioles in the same stadium so late in the season.
Meanwhile his sidekick, Tony Kubek, is combing the stands restlessly for dignitaries—the same ones as last year, listing a little farther over the rails. Tony congratulates one and all on the outstanding job they have done this year. Since there is, strictly speaking, no answer to this, he doesn't come away with much. Joe Cronin allows that he expects a great Series; so, paradoxically, does Bowie Kuhn. The dignitary who expects a rotten Series is yet to be found, though I hope they never stop looking.
This is the World Series, which even the cautious New York Times once described as "a famous sporting event," and this is the level of discourse with which it is honored. When the Series is over I hope to say something about the pictures—and Mitzi Gay-nor—but the first low moan must be reserved for the announcing, which, beginning with the previous weekend's playoffs, was not only banal but strangely ill at ease with the subject. Kubek referred surprisingly to "the speedy Jerry Grote" and assured us that Art Shamsky never hits to left (Art promptly obliged by dumping one out there, as he does from time to time), and we only learned of Al Weis' presence in the first game when he made the final assist. 'That was, er, Al Weis," wrapped up Gowdy. Sandy Koufax doesn't take the big risks that Kubek takes, contenting himself with a "Definitely, Jim" from time to time. And Koufax sounds as if he's about to cry, as well.
For the Series, NBC has at least impounded one local man. But local announcers are often chosen on some equally baffling principle of affable mediocrity so that although they do indeed know their players, they sometimes have trouble sweating it into English. Bill O'Donnell, the voice of Baltimore, told us that Mike Cuellar "looks down at his feet a lot, to relax those rubber arms," although rubber sounds pretty relaxed to begin with; how looking at one's feet helps is not immediately clear. My favorite O'Donnellism concerned the Orioles' handicapped bat boy. "Those artificial limbs have not hurt that youngster one bit," O'Donnell exclaimed heartily. Nathanael West would have thrilled to that one.
October 19, 1969
And so it goes. Whether baseball commentators are really less articulate than other people or just pretending is a question that probably can't be settled in a short Series.