Sorry, but I can’t allow someone as special as Doc Emrick to slip into retirement with just a few paragraphs in Monday’s paper on the day the announcement was made.
Besides, we haven’t heard from those who similarly cherished him: his listeners. And since Monday we’ve heard from scores. Here’s a sample about a man whose embracing style and kindnesses were too frequent to be considered random:
In 1992, Jim Cerny, now a senior editor on NHL.com, hosted “Rink Rap,” a time-buy, no-budget show on New Rochelle’s WRTN-FM. His volunteer producer, Billy Parrinello, suggested that Emrick might make a good guest, though an unlikely one, as Emrick was already an established, highly regarded NHL voice.
But they took a shot, leaving Emrick a message about when he might call to set up the interview. Nothing to lose.
One afternoon, as per wishful but nearly forgotten instructions, the phone rang. It was Emrick asking when they’d like him for the interview.
“But it was more than that,” Parrinello recalled. “This was before cellphones and Doc was calling from a roadside pay phone — in a typhoon! He had to shout to be heard; you could hear the rain pelting him. He was being soaked. But he followed through — and we were a couple of no ones.”
Reader Paul Burton of Staten Island recalls those times when Emrick best described the play with silence:
“It was Game 7 of the 2011 conference final, Bruins vs. Lightning, scoreless, frantic. TD Garden in Boston was a madhouse. And listening to the frenzy, Doc simply said, ‘I have nothing intelligent to add.’ ”
From reader Louis Conte: “I was a lowly public relations assistant working for the Flyers in the early 1990s while going to college at La Salle.
“Besides from being one of the best of all time to call a game, of all the people there — players, broadcasters, etc. — no one was classier. Doc always took the time to stop by the old Spectrum PR office to say hello and talk hockey. And he remembered my name: ‘Nice to see you, Lou.’ Wow.”
Reader Louie Rey recalls the Caps-Rangers game on NBC from Madison Square Garden in 2014-15. Washington had a player named Jay Beagle, the Rangers had James Sheppard.
Rey: “At the time of this game MSG also was hosting the Westminster Dog show. During play, Doc casually noted the coincidence then just continued announcing the game. It was magnificent.”
Reader Phil Rubin recalls another telecast during which Emrick wished Beagle a happy 28th birthday adding, “That’s four in dog years.”
Finally reader Stephen Orel recalls — as I do — a 2000 Leafs-Devils playoffs telecast. During a battle for the puck along the boards, Emrick said, “Jeff Farkas, Boston College, meets up with Jay Pandolfo, Boston University.”
The puck was then played out to the Devil’s Bobby Holik, the veteran Czech forward with a face contorted and flattened from years of having it flattened and contorted. Without missing a beat Emrick said, “Taken by Holik, from the school of Hard Knocks.”
Perhaps that does just a bit more to explain what Emrick did and how he did it — for all of us.
You bet golf casts will never be same
Say good-bye to golf telecasts as we knew them. The giant shadow of sports gambling — making losers of viewers, suckers out of fans — has arrived.
Last week’s PGA event was played in Las Vegas and sponsored by MGM resorts and casinos. Thus Golf Channel’s telecasts were infused with gambling come-ons, veteran GC operative Rich Lerner serving as the house shill.
At one point, with PGA star Jon Rahm on the tee, large graphics surrounded the scene to give the odds on Rahm — for that particular hole, i. e. the hurry-up-and-bet online odds for Rahm to make birdie, par, bogey or “other.”
Yet again, the enticements are predicated on fans losing their money, desperate efforts to sustain or improve TV ratings and for all contracted parties to rake their cut of their shamelessness.
Perhaps Dabo Swinney, the devoutly religious coach of Clemson football, was worried that Clemson would lose its No. 1 ranking if his student-athletes beat Georgia Tech, this past Saturday, by, say, only 55-7.
So he allowed his QBs to throw 50 times for 500 yards in a 73-7 needless stomping and humiliation. And he has instructed his young men to do so every chance he gets. Saturday, Clemson’s final TD came on a 35-yard pass play. And the compliant, pandering, sports media, naturally, were yahoo-good with it.
Reader George Katsilometes, however, allows Swinney the benefit of the doubt as he may have been avenging Georgia Tech’s 222-0 win over Cumberland, 104 years ago.
Dodgers star Cody Bellinger wrenched his shoulder during a needlessly flamboyant high-five exchange during Game 7 of the NLCS vs. the Braves. He thus came close to joining the growing list of those lost to injuries during excessive celebrations.
In the 2007 national title game, Ohio State star Ted Ginn, Jr. returned the opening kick 93 yards for a TD, but was lost the rest of the game when he was injured in a team-participation mob celebration. Florida won, 41-14.
Early in the 2015 season, Notre Dame’s terrific safety Drue Tranquill was lost for the year when his leg gave out after leaping to high-five a teammate. This increasingly obligatory excess was precipitated by nothing more than an overthrown, incomplete pass.
Aikman, Buck forgot most important part of flyovers
Too bad Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman had to include political wisecracking within their overheard conversation about money-wasting military flyovers at ballgames or their take might have found favor with most.
Not only are such flyovers expensive, they’re dangerous.
The NHL’s first outdoor Winter Classic, 2008, Pittsburgh at Buffalo, was played in a blizzard. But that didn’t stop the geniuses in charge from sending four gigantic military helicopters — barely visible in the storm — from flying over the stadium in which 70,000 were gathered.
First there were Aikman’s weekly identifications of teams and players taking the field with “chips on their shoulders,” a vague, useless take on coming matters.
Throughout Monday’s Chiefs-Bills, Aikman went long-form silly, telling us that one team or the other’s defense “has to figure out how to get off the field.”
While we’re at it, John Smoltz has had several enlightening things to say throughout MLB’s playoffs and now the World Series on Fox. But his endless, suffocating talk after every pitch continues to make it extremely difficult to distinguish the wheat from the chaff.
But yak-box analysts — count ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” newcomer Louis Riddick, among them — are another of viewers’ untreated burdens.
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