Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Third Commandment of the Rivalry

Sports announcers are linked to their events more tightly than the voices for anything else. Political shows, news broadcasts, human interest shows -- if you don't like one, you have options to suit your viewing and listening needs. This is not the case with sports.

If you watch your team, or listen to the game on the radio, the announcers are part of the package. There's no avoiding them.

The voices behind the Red Sox and Yankees lead you through the action, educate you on the game, and mold your memories (unless those voices belong to Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan, which add no value to any game, and may God have mercy on your soul.)

If you're lucky, you'll hear a phrase that will resonate for all time ("I don't believe what I just saw!"; "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!").

If you're unlucky, then you'll end up like me -- cut off from my beloved Michael Kay and Ken Singleton of the Yankees without paying extra to listen in. Watching the Sox' announcers just feels wrong -- like I'm cheating on my team somehow. Nothing is more abhorrent than tuning into the other team's station, especially as they announce a game involving my team. I'd liken watching the Yankees on the Sox' station to nails on a blackboard -- only if the nails were ice picks and the blackboard was my forehead.

The announcers are the ultimate connection between fan and team -- they talk to both sides and they provide inside jokes and information. (The rivalry even extends to these networks, as reported by the Sports Business Journal.) After all, the Yankees Universe and Red Sox Nation are made accessible to the masses by the men and women in the booth, after all. The bond a fan base shares with its announcers strengthens with each game out of necessity -- it's the only way the average fan connects to the events as they happen.
No matter where you sit, you keep the opponent's broadcast team at arm's length, while embracing your own. Nothing sums this up more than the situation in Connecticut, where both NESN (Sox) and YES (Yankees) are part of the normal cable package. When the two teams meet, each fan base recedes to their respective stations, to the comfort of their team, their announcers, and their own personal windows into this rivalry.

Looking for more?
Here's a rundown of baseball's best and worst announcers. The author gives a special shout to those putrid pundits, McCarver and Morgan, at the bottom.

Speaking of announcing, an iconic Sox/Yanks rivalry participant announced his retirement today, as well as his move to an analyst position with ESPN. 

Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry Commandments
1. Thou shalt choose a side. Forever.
2. Thou shalt not accept bandwagon fans.

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