I've talked in this space before about how difficult it is to be a Padres fan living in another city. If you're visiting us because you're a Friars fan you know all too well that these are not the Red Sox or the Yankees. If you don't try very hard, or fork over money for some sort of TV package (I don't, I'm cheap), you're not going to get a whole lot of information about your team. The major networks just don't have the motivation to deliver up-to-date information (Side Note: I was recently watching the MLB Network and they did not show highlights of that night's Padres game for over an hour. This is a first place team! I love you MLB Network, and I haven't watched Baseball Tonight since you entered my life, but spread the love around a bit). One advantage to this dearth of information is that it can offer you some perspective as a fan. It's like if you spend every day of your life with someone, you don't really notice that they're getting fat, but I go a month or two without seeing them and I point out to you that your best friend has been eating a lot of cupcakes and only then do you notice (I probably overwrote that metaphor).
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Anyway, this weekend I was in town for The Kept Faith's resident cupcake expert Dallas McLaughlin's birthday and on my drive back up to LA I got a chance to listen to the Padres on the radio. I can usually catch radio broadcasts in LA, but it comes in and out and I'm usually in my car during games that happen on the East Coast, which means I'm mostly hearing away games. And these days the road crew is Ted Leitner and Andy Mazer. Our dear friend Jerry Coleman seems to be staying at home more often than not these days, and that's both a happy and a sad thing. His voice has been with us for a long time and it's sad to hear him being phased out, but all that is an aside to the point I'm actually trying to make. Which is that it had been a while since I heard Jerry Coleman call a Padres game. Which means that I saw how fat he was. And when I say "fat" I mean "old."
It's no secret that Jerry has been getting on in years. He rambles, he gets confused, these things are to be expected. In fact, I think it's a wonderful part of baseball. Hearing an aging announcer call a young baseballer by his Father's name (simply because said announcer has been calling games for forty years) is charming. It's also another thing that is totally unique to our national past time. In football games the announcers make mistakes because their brains are literally failing them due to head trauma, in hockey it's because the names are hard to pronounce (keep reading my columns for more original jokes and observations), but in baseball the announcers make mistakes because we literally let them work until the day they die. And that's a good thing.
But listening to Jerry yesterday got me a little worried for him. He seemed to have the brothers Hairston all straightened out, and he was calling us "gang" just like always, but then he descended into a rant about players wearing baggy pants. It was in the middle of the game, there were even runners on base. But all Jerry could talk about was how these guys should take a survey so they would learn that everyone else thought it looked "stupid" (not a real quote, but close). From there it became obvious that Jerry isn't what he used to be. He continued to randomly interject and distract from the game and I swear that at one point he said something that was slightly racist (slightly, like only someone who had been raised as a Unitarian would notice it). Poor Andy, who it would be tough to label as an "expert," did all he could to mask the fear in his voice as Jerry changed the subject time and time again, but you could tell that he was frozen. I like Andy a lot and I think he's getting better (and I prefer him to Leitner) but he's still getting his legs under him for these broadcasts and riding the Jerry-losing-it-train is not going to help him get better.
I'm sure that you've been listening to Jerry and thinking that maybe he's slowing down, but I'm telling you, I haven't heard him on the radio since maybe last season, and he's gotten worse. I'm hoping this season keeps going the way it has been, because I want Jerry to go out on a happy note and I have a feeling we'll be saying goodbye to him soon (hopefully only in retirement).
PS - Leitner sucks. Like really bad.