Bill Pennington has a great profile of John Sterling in the NY Times – it’s a long-ish read, but it’s worth the time. Pennington takes a look inside Sterling’s personal life, discusses his announcing roots and quirks, and tries to make sense of how a broadcaster can be so well loved and so strongly criticized at the same time. Perhaps a simple quote from Randy Levine sums Sterling up best:
Some people like what John does, some people don’t, but everybody talks about it, and that’s good.
And even that is almost an understatement. Nearly every Yankees fan has a strong opinion one way or the other about Sterling. Critics call him “a cheerleader,” “a hack,” and even say that he cares more about performing and his own radio persona than the team he is covering. On the other hand, fans of Sterling enjoy the enthusiasm he brings to the game. His off-the-cuff style and occasional flubs bring unexpected humor to the broadcast and remind listeners of an eccentric, beloved uncle. Sterling knows he is not Vin Scully, and he doesn’t try to pretend that he is. He brings his own personality to the booth and there is really no one like him.
So with the Yankees radio contract expiring at the end of this season we are left to wonder whether Sterling will continue to be the Voice of the New York Yankees. Levine, who is negotiating the new radio deal, declined to comment of course. This is Sterling’s 23rd year with the Yankees, but we can’t forget that baseball is a business, and loyalty often takes a back seat to profit margin. Personally, I hope Sterling and Waldman are back in the booth next season and for many seasons after that. As a Yankees fan in the Midwest, I stream their broadcast on my computer for nearly every game, and they are a huge part of my Yankees experience. But if this is the end of an era for Yankees radio, I’d just like to speak on behalf of all the Sterling and Waldman fans out there and say thank you for the enthusiasm, humor, and countless hours of entertainment you have given Yankees fans!
*Just can’t get enough John and Suzyn? Well here are a few ways to get your fix: I do a monthly “Best of John & Suzyn” feature on my personal blog, our friends over at IT IS HIGH, IT IS FAR, IT IS… caught are all John Sterling, all the time, and FauxJSterling has Yankees play-by-play covered on Twitter!