deconstructing sterling

Deconstructing Sterling: The Yankees Win the Pennant

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 Yankees clinch the American League crown.

A short clip is below, and a slightly longer (but annoyingly non-embeddable) clip can be found here.

Enthusiasm. Sterling’s at his actual best when he doesn’t have time to think too much, and can just react to the play in front of him. For instance, when Mark Teixeira hit his walk-off in the ALDS, Sterling had to forgo two of his catchphrases (“It is high … ” and “a Tex message”) to call the play in real time. (Unfortunately, this happened on a Friday night, after we’d already shut down our Sterlingometer for the week.) What we’re getting at is that perhaps the best way to elicit a natural response from Sterling is for the game to end on a strikeout, leading to a burst of energy when the ball crosses the plate. We got that last night. 8.5/10.

Duration. The mad scientists at It Is High, It Is Far, It Is Caught (who, technically, got a shout-out from the man himself last night), timed last night’s warble at 10.62 seconds. As we’ve discussed before, this is enhanced by some extra words, and clocks in at 0.96 seconds less than his division-clinching call, which contained the same number of syllables. Nevertheless, this is a historic number. 8.5/10.

Catchphrases. It’s sort of amazing that after all these years, Mariano Rivera doesn’t have a strikeout catchphrase that Sterling can use to elongate his game-ending calls. (Sterling’s really missing out on a whole world of catchphrases by choosing not to use them for pitchers.) After all, it’s becoming increasingly clear to us that the ultimate John Sterling call would have to involve a walkoff home run, so as to combine his “Ballgame over” shtick with one of his numerous player-specific calls. (In terms of absurdity, this phrase would have to be “Hinske with your best shot,” though unfortunately Eric Hinske is unlikely to play again this season.) Still, we get the phrase “American League Championship Series over” stuffed into the traditional game-ending call, which is worth two points alone. 7/10.

Bonus Points. The postscript to this one was mostly forgettable, as he nicely summarizes what they’ve accomplished by winning the game. Boring! The one standout moment was when he said that Mariano Rivera “was jumping on top of the pile” before expressing hope that no one get hurt during what sounded like a truly reckless (and acrobatic) move by Rivera. If you were listening on the radio, you might have visions of Paul O’Neill tumbling over the pile of bodies after the 1996 World Series. But if you were listening to the call the following morning while also comparing it to the Fox broadcast (as a proper analysis of John Sterling demands that you do), you’d see that Rivera simply jumped into the outer circle of the pile, and perhaps in a failed attempt to jump atop it, used his teammates’ shoulders to momentarily jump into the air and return safely to the ground. One point for the image of Rivera making a superhuman leap into the scrum, and a half-point for reminding us that Paul O’Neill actually accomplished this in the least graceful way possible.

Total: 25.5. His enthusiasm is in top form, but as is always the case when grading John Sterling calls, more catchphrases could really bump this score up. Here’s hoping for a “high” and “far” “A-Bomb” leading to a “ballgame over, World Series over” at some point in the next two weeks.

Deconstructing Sterling: The Yankees Win the Pennant