Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

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Jon Chelesnik
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Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#1 Post by Jon Chelesnik » Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:08 am

Avoid referring to the players you cover by their nicknames when doing play-by-play. It is an easy habit to get into because you are with the players every day, often becoming friendly with them. However, referring to guys as Smitty, Hoffy and Jonesy on the air is too casual, especially for listeners who are less familiar with the players.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#2 Post by pbpisfun » Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:08 am

I totally agree with Jon on this. I'd even go as far as saying you shouldn't even call them by their first names, let alone nicknames. For example, it shouldn't sound like "Mike is back to pass and finds Tom in the back corner of the end zone. Barry joins in the celebration!"

Yet, many long-time, legendary, beloved play-by-play guys do it every broadcast. I'm talking about guys who are in the pros and high-level college.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#3 Post by Stu Paul » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:43 am

Me too! I agree with everyone! It drives me NUTS when announcers do that! I think it's one of the MOST UNPROFESSIONAL ASPECTS to do in a broadcast, in my opinion!

Announcers can be friendly with the athletes, but they MUST remember that they are NOT one of them, even though they travel with them and may be employed by the team! Of course, it's okay, for instance, if you mention Phil Rizzuto's nickname as "The Scooter", which was commonly used among announcers and baseball personnel. But Smitty, Jonesy and all that do not belong on the air. You can greet someone as "Smitty" away from the mic, but not on it.

We're supposed to be professionals and I try to neutralize myself when it comes to calling an event for your team, school, etc.

I would say Adam Jones (who was with me in San Antonio) as that and NOT Jonesy! Believe it or not, starting in Nashville, whenever a Sounds player belted a home run or if a Delaware State player scored a touchdown, oftentimes, I refer to saying, "Mr. Mat Gamel", or "Mr. Brendan Katin". The reason why I did that was out of respect for a guy who did something special and especially being in the South, I always try to conduct myself as a gentleman! Just another trademark thing for me, I guess!

Again, you have to separate yourself from the players. Plus, you NEVER know when listeners tuning in to pull for the OTHER team, may be focusing on the broadcast as well. It's also the same as being "fair" and "impartial". Just my two cents!

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#4 Post by Kelly44 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:36 pm

I'm fine with nicknames as long as you don't overuse them or they are not the primary way you refer to a player. It's like anything else in baseball. You should try and have many different ways to say a "ground ball to short".

Plus fans love nicknames and you are broadcasting for the fans.

When I was in Triple-A a few years back in Memphis we acquired a player named John Rodriguez in a minor league deal with the Indians. One day at the batting cage I noticed he had the words "J-Rod" written on his cleats. As a broadcaster "should do" I asked him about it and he said it was something his teammates had started calling him years ago when he was in Double-A with the Yankees.

So as announcers "should then do", I told the story that night on the broadcast. From that point forward "J-Rod" became a part of the vernicular when he was in the game.

Not exclusively. Still refered to him as "John Rodriguez" and "Rodriguez" but also "J-Rod".

Then he TOOK OFF hitting 17 home runs in 34 games including four grand slams. As he took off "J-Rod" took off and by the time he reached St. Louis less than a month and a half later for his big league debut, the St. Louis media and the rabid Cardinals fans base were already referring to him as "J-Rod"!

The best part of this story is, Tony LaRussa was incensed that a guy just up to the big leagues already had an "active" nickname.

Just thinking back I can't remember too many other players for whom we used active nicknames so like I said it's something you can use selectively. I certainly wouldn't have nicknames for every player in the lineup.

Here at Arizona we had a punt returner a few years back named Mike Thomas who we almost always refer to by his nickname "Money Mike". When I was in Cleveland, Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren was more often than not addressed by his nickname "Big Money".

My philosophy is nicknames are fun and you should have fun with your broadcast.
Once a radio guy. Now a TV guy.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#5 Post by sctsports77 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:01 pm

I totally agree with David here. Just don't drop giving full names completely in favor of the nickname. BTW, J-Rod is currently tearing it up with the Wichita Wingnuts.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#6 Post by Stu Paul » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:58 pm

I'm not opposed to using nicknames if a person is commonly called something. Yes, "J-Rod" or in this case, a man who is in trouble in Baseball now with "A-Rod" is fine, but the point I'm making is not to get too informal.

Dave, I do agree. We do broadcast for the fans that of course, that's something that we should not forget. I remember when former Met Al Weis was known as the "Mighty Mike" and the late great Mets announcer, Lindsey Nelson, called him "Mighty Mike". The late Bob Prince of the Pittsburgh Pirates called Roberto Clemente, "Arriba", meaning "Let's get going". I admittedly used it for Leo Gomez.

But Jonesy, Smitty and all of those nicknames do not belong in a broadcast. Nicknames are fine if the fans know who these guys are. "The Bambino" (Babe Ruth) , "The Yankee Clipper" (Joe DiMaggio) and "The Springfield Rifle" (Vic Raschi) were used by the late great Voice of the Yankees, Mel Allen, who coined those nicknames. Yes, again, they're fine, but my point is that an announcer is NOT a ballplayer and should not forget that.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#7 Post by jaymurry » Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:36 pm

I too use nicknames, albeit sparingly--when a player makes a great play in a pivotal part of a game. I use a nickname if (a) a player's style of play lends itself to the creation of it, (b) if something about a player's name or hometown spurs a nickname creation, and/or a player's major course of study creates an opportunity.

The players don't necessarily have to be star players to receive a nickname. One Wash-U men's basketball player did a lot of heavy lifting inside, setting screens, and distributing the ball out of the high post. He also had a hairstyle that looked like Russell Crowe's "Maximus" character in "Gladiator". So, that player's nickname was Maximus. Apparently, one of his high school teammates who played at Duke was jealous because he didn't have a nickname in Tobacco Road country.

A women's player was dubbed "M-Squared" because her first and last name both began with M, and she was a math major. Fans really enjoy the nicknames, probably because they give their Division III sons and daughters some playful notoriety. But, I use them very sparingly. And, I never refer to a player solely by his or her first name, for the reasons expressed in earlier responses to this thread. Even in a game with frequently-followed pro teams, there is a degree of confusion when a listener first tunes into the game and just hears first names in the play-by-play.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#8 Post by JimRiley » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:04 am

My God you'd swear we were all working at the New York Times. There's nothing wrong with using a player's first name (especially for your squad- only a couple times did I ever use it for the visitors). It breaks up the pattern. Listeners don't want to keep hearings Jones this and Jones that. Call him Adam once in a while.

No nicknames? No first names? There's more casual speech at the Supreme Court than in your broadcasts.
"They have their hands cut out for them." J. Vilma 11/23/18

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#9 Post by RadioPat1982 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:18 am

Everyone seems split on this. I will say I have been in & around high school, independent and the Minor Leagues and things (to me) are different at every level. I once broadcast some ABA Independent games a few years ago. The games were real sloppy & all the players had nicknames. The nicknames were on the game notes like you may see Twitter handles currently. They wanted the nicknames said on air so "Skywalker" passed the ball to "50" for the jam. I would however never do that in high school games for a primary description of a play. The only way I would call a player by a nickname is if they actually went by that in school or in a secondary role. One example is the Ogletree twins from UGA, who have very similar first names. One went by Alec and one went by Zander in high school. They were also known as Big tree and Little tree. I would say "a sack by Alec Olgletree, the second of the game for Big Tree". I don't want a casual listener from the road school to hear a nickname and not know who actually made the play. It would not work very well to try using a first name either since there is over 100 kids dressed out for any home varsity game at this particular school. There is probably at least 4 kids named Trey on the roster.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#10 Post by JGuerette22 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:39 pm

I think nicknames are like candy- they can be really great and satisfying, but don't have some at every meal/broadcast.

Sometimes, nicknames just come up as a way to be fun. For example, when the U.S. Military All-Stars rolled in to play the team I'm broadcasting for this summer, they did a great thing where they paused the game at 9:11 and the players took turns singing along to "Proud to Be An American." One player stole the show when he took the mike and just belted out an impressive last few lines of the song.

Well, lo and behold, after informing the listening audience what had taken place, that same player hit a home run in his next turn at-bat. Looking for descriptive words for the blast, I called him "The Soloist."

If there's a story behind a guy's nickname that's funny or charming, I think that it can really help. But overuse puts you on the team, as Jon said, and I don't think that's a way to go.
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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#11 Post by Bill Czaja » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:22 am

JimRiley wrote:My God you'd swear we were all working at the New York Times. There's nothing wrong with using a player's first name (especially for your squad- only a couple times did I ever use it for the visitors). It breaks up the pattern. Listeners don't want to keep hearings Jones this and Jones that. Call him Adam once in a while.

No nicknames? No first names? There's more casual speech at the Supreme Court than in your broadcasts.
:lol: Well done, sir.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#12 Post by malden153 » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:53 am

I believe the main point is that the broadcast should not be as informal as the clubhouse. I find the clubhouse-style nicknames to be very off-putting on the air. To be blunt, too often they make those who use them sound like jock-sniffers.

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#13 Post by JimRiley » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:25 pm

malden153 wrote:I believe the main point is that the broadcast should not be as informal as the clubhouse. I find the clubhouse-style nicknames to be very off-putting on the air. To be blunt, too often they make those who use them sound like jock-sniffers.
A larger violation of this rule is use of clubhouse jargon to describe on-field events. "Oppo", "Upper tank" "Bowtie" etc.
"They have their hands cut out for them." J. Vilma 11/23/18

ssteve

Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#14 Post by ssteve » Sat Aug 03, 2013 12:03 am

Well, I am guilty, and so are some at the top of their profession. Craig Bollerjack of the Jazz always referred to Darren Williams as "D-Will". Jerry Schemmel of the Nuggets would say "Melo" for Carmelo. And what about Magic Johnson? Nobody called him Ervin. This one I don't follow. You could argue that "everybody knows Magic Johnson", but where would the line be drawn on who's nickname is easily identified and who's isn't?

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Re: Please stop doing this in your play-by-play

#15 Post by pbpisfun » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:29 pm

ssteve wrote:Well, I am guilty, and so are some at the top of their profession. Craig Bollerjack of the Jazz always referred to Darren Williams as "D-Will". Jerry Schemmel of the Nuggets would say "Melo" for Carmelo. And what about Magic Johnson? Nobody called him Ervin. This one I don't follow. You could argue that "everybody knows Magic Johnson", but where would the line be drawn on who's nickname is easily identified and who's isn't?
I don't think it is that hard to figure out if a nickname is "universal" or if it just inane jargon.

I do think names like A-Rod, Melo, Magic, Dr. J, and others (probably including D-Will), and even including using a first name like Kobe, are okay.

I think the point Jon was making was the informal jargon nicknames that only a teammate or friend would use - like Smitty, Jonesy, or something totally unique that no one would know like "Catdog" or "Hot Foot" and the like - sound somewhat shoddy in a broadcast. And, I agree with him.

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