Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

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Jon Chelesnik
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Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#1 Post by Jon Chelesnik » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:56 am

My suggestion to stop using nicknames in play-by-play was less than well received. Alright -- point conceded to the forums visitors, haha. How about this one, though: stop turning players' last names into puns. Ex: "Grill is sure swinging a hot bat, hardy har har." Watching an NFL broadcast recently, the broadcaster was driving me nuts by constantly, and predictably, grabbing this low hanging fruit.

Paul Van Scott
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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#2 Post by Paul Van Scott » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:58 am

Jon Chelesnik wrote:My suggestion to stop using nicknames in play-by-play was less than well received. Alright -- point conceded to the forums visitors, haha. How about this one, though: stop turning players' last names into puns. Ex: "Grill is sure swinging a hot bat, hardy har har." Watching an NFL broadcast recently, the broadcaster was driving me nuts by constantly, and predictably, grabbing this low hanging fruit.

Didn't Chris Berman pretty much build a career doing this kind of thing? Believe me I'm not saying it is right.

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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#3 Post by ktomasch » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:25 am

Jon Chelesnik wrote: Watching an NFL broadcast recently, the broadcaster was driving me nuts by constantly, and predictably, grabbing this low hanging fruit.
Was it a preseason game?

NFL preseason games with the local yokels doing the play-by-play are case studies in ( a ) homerism, ( b ) genuflecting at the altar of the local team, ( c ) shilling for sales of tickets, merchandise, fan clubs, etc. and ( d ) schtick.
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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#4 Post by RadioPat1982 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:00 am

[/quote]
NFL preseason games with the local yokels doing the play-by-play are case studies in ( a ) homerism, ( b ) genuflecting at the altar of the local team, ( c ) shilling for sales of tickets, merchandise, fan clubs, etc. and ( d ) schtick.[/quote]

Not to get too far off subject but is this not what you would expect from a local TV broadcast for an NLF pre-season game?. The guys are going to lean towards the home side because they are getting paid by and to cover the local team. Who really cares about the opponents 3rd string that’s playing the majority of the 2nd half anyway? They are also required to read all the ticket and merchandise promos and such that are part of the deals. I think we just get so used to hearing a neutral broadcast by the networks anything local sounds amateur.

As for the puns. Chip Caray in Atlanta is notorious for this. Not on the annoying level of Berman more like a sometime funny sometimes not kind of level. I personally can’t listen to Berman for an extended period of time. So people love him but I find it annoying.

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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#5 Post by ktomasch » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:45 am

RadioPat1982 wrote: Not to get too far off subject but is this not what you would expect from a local TV broadcast for an NLF pre-season game?. The guys are going to lean towards the home side because they are getting paid by and to cover the local team. Who really cares about the opponents 3rd string that’s playing the majority of the 2nd half anyway? They are also required to read all the ticket and merchandise promos and such that are part of the deals. I think we just get so used to hearing a neutral broadcast by the networks anything local sounds amateur.
I have grown to expect lots of things in life; that doesn't preclude me from finding them distasteful.

"Lean towards" doesn't begin to cover it. These are - largely, though not exclusively - sports anchors on the TV stations who have the rights to the preseason games, who, after spending four weeks fawning over the local team, wearing team polos and doing the team's bidding for a paycheck, then spend the next 20 weeks supposedly "covering" the team in question, and someone's supposed to expect neutrality out of them? The people watching them from September to January are supposed to expect fair coverage from someone who's in the pocket of the team? And who will toe the line, lest they find themselves watching someone else do the games next August?

OR there are network guys who - by virtue of their names - get hired to do the team's games (they need reps to prepare, fine, whatever), wear team logo sportswear for a month, but then go back to their national gigs and may be assigned to do games of that team that just paid them for a month, and we're supposed to believe they'll be fair and tough when necessary?

I know there are local baseball guys who have also done national games (either in the postseason or games of the week, what have you), but the proof is in their actual coverage. The good ones bring the insight they have from covering the team on a regular basis to the table on a national platform, but aren't homers during the national broadcast, nor should they be. Tell me where Scully (or Buck, or going as far back as Barber) brought any biases with them to the national broadcast that showed in the work. ("She is....gone!" and "I don't believe what I just saw!" are probably not qualifiers.)

We're all beholden to somebody. What separates some is their belief that their main priority is the game itself, and not their temporary agendas or the ephemeral thrill of being in the bigtime spotlight for a month.

(This is going to open up the same discussion we always have about homerism, and Jon's original point will be lost, so apologies for that.)
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Paul Van Scott
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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#6 Post by Paul Van Scott » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:22 am

Back to the nickname thing. How about the guys that cut a name and add the long E sound at the end. Brockington becomes "Broky", "Strausburg" becomes "Straussy", "Portmeyer" becomes "Portsy", "Williams" becomes "Willy", "O' Dell" becomes "Odie".

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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#7 Post by Bob Rotruck » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:29 pm

If you are overdoing the silly puns thing and working them into every other sentence then absolutely yes...you need to stop. But there is still a time and a place for some of that. Like probably anything else in sportscasting, it's about knowing where the line is and having some amount of sense of when it's okay.

If I recall correctly, I believe I've heard Vin Scully and Dick Enberg use names into puns on local and/or national broadcasts. I can't recall when or where off the top of my head (except for Scully's call at the end of the Kevin Costner movie For The Love of the Game something about a Chapel)...I just seem to remember that both of them had that aspect in their arsenal (I might be completely incorrect though). For those guys it would just not happen at completely inappropriate times or be done to stupid-overkill extent.


I mean, on the team I'm with we have a goalie named Heeter. If he starts 30-40 games and it's 2.5 hours for each game I can't do something with his name even a couple of times? That seems like kind of an unnecessary rule.

We had a good player named Ford who had a lot of game-winning goals and on the post-game "3 Stars of the Game" our P.A. Announcer would scream it out that he's "Built Ford Tough!" and our fans loved it. We pick up the P.A. feed for that post-game announcement (pretty traditional thing in hockey). Yes, I do think it's okay for the radio guy to pick up on the popularity of the slogan/pun and OCCASIONALLY bust that out when he scores a big goal....or to even occasionally start that type of thing himself IF he isn't forcing it too hard.

In baseball you have so much more time to slip something silly and pseudo-intellectual in the course of conversation with a little eyebrow-raise or wink-wink-nudge-nudge kind of in a way that I imagine a guy like Josh Lewin would be fond of.

Sometimes it's okay....sometimes it's cringe-worthy. The nature of sports broadcasting I think.
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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#8 Post by gtharalson » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:08 am

This is a great topic and discussion. I believe there is a time and place for a little fun, but when you do it too much, it gets old.

I am reminded of a line that longtime Washington Huskies announcer Bob Rondeau used some 30 years ago, when the Huskies were playing at Oregon. The Huskies were the stronger program at the time and won this particular game. The Ducks had a punter named Preacher.

When the Huskies blocked a punt in that game and Rondeau was recapping the play, he exclaimed "Preacher didn't have a prayer." My dad and I, listening in different rooms of the house, both laughed so loud we could be heard all over the house. Rondeau doesn't overdo it, for him, they come out here and there at the right times.

I remember doing a high school game back in the early 90s, and repeatedly used a line during one basketball broadcast referencing the number of shots off the backboard that went in, stating the "bank is open" - borrowing a line from longtime Sonics announcer Kevin Calabro. I later added my own addition, "the bank is open and so-and-so deposits two points." I kept using the same line that I even felt it was getting old. This was my rookie year and it was definitely a rookie mistake, although I don't recall getting any negative comments about it.

Bottom line is, it's okay to have fun and in some cases names offer themselves up for a pun. You don't want to use pun with a negative connotation, especially at the high school level, but "Preacher doesn't have a prayer" was funny and the timing was perfect.

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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#9 Post by mjcoleman » Thu Oct 17, 2013 6:07 pm

While broadcasting a summer collegiate baseball game this summer, back to back home runs were hit by
the team I covered whose nickname originated from a certain type of potato..In any event I yelled
out "Twice baked!!" After reflecting back on my comment after the game, couldn't decide if it was
stupid or clever! Amazing what comes out of your mouth at times...

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Re: Okay -- how about not doing THIS in your play-by-play

#10 Post by JoeVasile » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:53 am

Bob Rotruck wrote:
In baseball you have so much more time to slip something silly and pseudo-intellectual in the course of conversation with a little eyebrow-raise or wink-wink-nudge-nudge kind of in a way that I imagine a guy like Josh Lewin would be fond of.
The thing with Lewin and even Ian Eagle is that they know when the proper time to throw a joke in is. In a tense late-game situation, they are serious and not joking around, but in the middle innings, I've listened to Lewin and Howie Rose go off on half-inning tangents on Seinfeld, and of course there is the now infamous Eagle-Mike Fratello exchange from a few years ago. Point is, you have to know when to incorporate humor into your broadcast (if it fits your style) and when not to. Like everybody else has been saying, the worst thing you can do is force it and overdo it.
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