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deconstructing sterling

Deconstructing Sterling: ‘Eastern Division in 2009 Over!’

Crucial John Sterling calls will be graded here out of a possible 35 points: ten each for enthusiasm, duration, and catchphrase over-the-topness, with five points that we'll dole out at our discretion for things like "an A-Bomb for Matsui" (gaffes are part of Sterling's, um, charm). Today: the last out of yesterday's AL East clincher.



Enthusiasm. The stage was set for Sterling yesterday: Mariano Rivera introduced just a bit of tension in the ninth by allowing runners on second and third with two outs. So when Jacoby Ellsbury grounded back to Mariano Rivera, there was plenty to celebrate: a division win, the best record in baseball, the team's 100th victory, and a surprising split in the season series with Boston. All of these, naturally, get a mention in his trademark postscript (not heard above, unfortunately). But he left out the part he was certainly most excited about: The game ended well before sundown, meaning his Yankees compañera Suzyn Waldman (who observes Jewish holidays) would be handling clubhouse duties, while John stayed high and dry up in the Lowe's Broadcast Booth. 7.5/10.

Duration. A Hall of Fame performance, really. If you go by the calculations on the Internet's leading John Sterling–focused website, his "Yankees Win" call clocked in at 11.58 seconds, just shattering his previous record. But this is no three-minute mile: As pointed out in the It Is High, It Is Far, It Is ... Caught comments section, their current warble-measurement system is ill-equipped to handle special occasions when additional words are added to the call (more on this later). But still, using our unscientific method of just listening, Sterling really outdid himself; his voice nearly gives out at the end of the word "the." (Update: It was, in fact, a record warble, even without the extra words.) We fear for his safety come playoff time. 9/10.

Catchphrases. The "Ballgame over ... " call is the centerpiece of the John Sterling repertoire, and it's only on very special occasions that it's altered. Yesterday was one such occasion, with John slipping in the completely awkward phrase "Eastern Division in 2009 over!" Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? 7/10.

Bonus Points. We'd like to point out that, technically, "Eastern Division in 2009 over!" doesn't make sense. The division itself didn't cease to exist yesterday. None of the teams were disbanded until 2010 or anything. What he meant to say, of course, was that the Eastern Division race was over. It's easy to see how he'd make this mistake: The origin of this addition comes from his standard series-ending calls, which make sense because a series is something that actually does end. (For example, "Ballgame over! World Series over!!) This concludes today's edition of "Things John Sterling Meant to Say." Three points for a technical inaccuracy, and for getting us to wonder if the Yankees would still get a playoff berth if the division really did cease to exist today.

Total: 26.5/35. A stellar effort. Everyone, including Sterling, knew this moment was inevitable, which takes away from the spontaneity a bit. But this matters less for him than for most announcers, since a good Sterling call is crafted well in advance anyway. So rest up this week, John: The postseason — and its previously unheard decibel levels — await!

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