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deconstructing sterling

Deconstructing Sterling: Let’s Get Musical

Crucial John Sterling calls will be graded here out of a possible 50 points: 15 each for enthusiasm, duration, and catchphrase over-the-topness, with 5 points that we'll dole out at our discretion. Today: Curtis Granderson's first home run as a Yankee.

Careful observers will note that we made some changes to our Sterlingometer over the winter, in response to some criticisms from the Internet's leading John Sterling–related destination, which had claimed that our mere 35-point system was unworthy of the master's epic announcing style. So after many sleepless nights tinkering with the formula, we're proud to introduce our new 50-point system, the result of very scientifically adding five points to each main category. It's a whole new world, folks.

Enthusiasm: Considering Granderson's home run took place in the second inning of a season that lasts six, maybe seven, months, you wouldn't expect much oomph behind Sterling's call. But there's a lot of excitement in Sterling's voice, perhaps because the Yankees had jumped out to an early 2–0 lead, but more likely because he'd have a chance to unleash upon the world his latest verbal creation during Granderson's very first at bat in pinstripes. Score: 8/15.

Catchphrases: About that latest verbal creation: When the Yankees signed Granderson, we posed the question of what personalized call he'd use to announce the center fielder's home runs. Our favorite suggestions included "a Yankee-Doodle Grandy!" and "a Curtis blow!" But we all failed to take into account Sterling's vast knowledge of Broadway musicals, meaning no one guessed the actual catchphrase he used last night: "Oh, Curtis, you're something sort of Grandish!" If you're curious, that's a lyric from the 1947 musical Finian's Rainbow. So, yeah. We expected something a little catchier, to be honest, but there is something uniquely Sterling-esque about using an obscure Broadway lyric to call a home run. You can listen to the inevitable mash-up of the song and the call here. Score: 7/15.

Duration: Because Granderson's home run immediately followed Jorge Posada's, Sterling got to use not one, not two, but three different catchphrases ("It is high ... ," "Something sort of Grandish," and "Back-to-back, and a-belly-to-belly") for this one, drawing out the call longer than once thought humanly possible. We've always been a fan of the ridiculous "back-to-back, and a-belly-to-belly" call — our brain nearly explodes whenever the Yankees go back-to-back-to-back — and we see no reason Sterling shouldn't introduce calls for other fairly common occurrences: caught stealings, sacrifice bunts, trips to the mound, whatever. As Mel Allen almost certainly didn't say, the more nutty catchphrases you can stuff into the broadcast, the better. Score: 11/15.

Miscellaneous: Over the weekend, MSG Plus aired an episode of Halls of Fame that featured a 30-minute sit-down with John Sterling. We assume you watched this Saturday night instead of the Final Four. Because if you did, you'd already know that many years ago, George Steinbrenner told Sterling that he'll "be the broadcaster here forever." Which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with his call of Granderson's home run, but does mean he could potentially be introducing catchphrases one day for players who haven't even been born yet. Score: 4/5.

Total: 30. It's a long season; he's just pacing himself. Obviously.

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Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images