A Silent Hawk is an Angry Hawk
June 12, 2003
While Chicago and the rest of America has to put up with corked bats, debates about corked bats, the media blaming the players, players blaming the media, ex-players blaming current players, and everyone in general blowing things way out of proportion, we must remind ourselves that sports are simply meant to be entertainment and that if Sammy Sosa's suspension is 5 games, 15 games, or somewhere in between, our lives will not be affected. His suspension will not keep mean people off the streets or drugs and guns out of school. It's entertainment, so treat it as such. Respect the game, but understand its place in society.
I have always sided with the belief that unless you are employed by the organization, you shouldn't be referring to the team as "we." You also shouldn't be emotionally affected by a team's performance. Short term excitement from a win is fine, and a small period of the blues for a loss is acceptable, but when you can't function the rest of the day because Troy Percival blew a lead in the ninth, you have a problem. Leave the worrying to the team and its employees, and when things are going bad, sit back and enjoy the surroundings.
A perfect example is this year's Chicago White Sox. Each time they throw a game because of a baserunning mistake or lack of hitting, the announcers get more grizzled. There are five primary announcers who can thoroughly be enjoyed when the Sox are struggling. The radio announcers, Ed Farmer and John Rooney, just get antsy and defensive toward the umpires, but not in a ruthless way. A typical exchange:
Farmer: With one out, Carlos Delgado steps to the plate. Colon delivers the first pitch right down the middle for ball one. Did I miss something, John?
Rooney: I don't know, Farmio. The home plate umpire must enjoy US Cellular Field, because he's in no hurry to finish this game.
Then you've got Dave Wills, a lifetime White Sox fan, doing the postgame wrap-up and call-in show. Dave has the unenviable task of trying to present unbiased analysis and hide his utter disgust for an underachieving team all while having to defend that same team when guys like Larry from Oak Park call in and say stupid things like "Paul Konerko should go to the minors until he starts hitting better." Somehow, Wills has to pretend to take his uninformed listeners seriously while trying not to bash the White Sox and anger his bosses. The radio station broadcasts every White Sox game, so they don't want their postgame guy bashing the product, but at the same time, defending a bad team and painting a rosy picture will make their man look bland and unopinionated. Wills is always on a tightrope and it's fun to listen to him balance every night.
Lastly, there are the television announcers, Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Darrin "DJ" Jackson. Hawk is an experienced broadcaster with a fiery personality and a decent baseball career, while DJ was an average player who doesn't offer much to the broadcast, doing his best to sound smart without ticking off his partner. This tense and awkward relationship works best when the White Sox are in their worst of slumps. Harrelson, unlike Farmer and Rooney, doesn't get hostile; he just gets eerily quiet - a funny situation when he's doing the play by play. With these two, an outing against the Devil Rays, trailing 4 - 2 in the eighth with Frank Thomas up, 2 men on and 2 out, might go something like this:
DJ: Frank's been struggling as of late, as his .220 average over the last 6 games might indicate.
Hawk: Frank takes outside to make it 3 - 1. He should get something get to hit here. C'mon Frank. Ball four / base hit. Here's the pitch... (silence as Thomas pops up to the third baseman... more silence... still more silence... then, just before the commercial break...)
Sox trail by 2, we'll be back after this.
It doesn't get much better than that. Like I said, let the players and employees fret over the little things. You can just sit back, have a cold one, root for your team, and if they don't win, turn the television off and go play with your kids.