Yankees: Are You Ready For Another Season With Ma And Pa?

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees did all they could to hold us in suspense, and despite a bit of drama, there was never any doubt that the team of Suzyn Waldman (ladies first) and John Sterling would not be rehired to broadcast Yankees games on the radio, was there? 

Because this iconic duo is so New York, and in some respects so Yankees, could we ever live without them. Go figure, but here they come – again!

The Yankees team of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, affectionately know as “Ma and Pa,” is once again back for another season of Yankees baseball on the radio – and what else? What is it exactly they do to make them so appealing, and ripe for criticism at the same time? How do they get away with their schtick that belongs more in Paducah or Des Moines than it does in the media capital of the world, New York City?

When asked, Suzyn Waldman explained it to Newsday this way:

"“Baseball, on the radio, in particular, is a game of familiarity,” she said. “I think when the landscape is in upheaval the way it is, people will go up and down the dial looking for familiarity. If you’re going to change total stations and replace another team that’s been there for almost 30 years, you better have familiarity there. You better have the voices that people are looking for.”"

And it would seem that she nailed it in using the word “familiarity” in trying to explain the team’s popularity. Because regular listeners can probably recite their words before either of them says them.

Yankees listeners know the call by heart now.

Sterling: “It is high, it is far, it is deep, and it’s caught on the warning track”.
Waldman: “Well, you know JAWN, that wind is sure blowing in tonight, isn’t it?”
Sterling:“Yes Suzyn, be sure to ask him about that play when you do another one of your splendid post game reports.”
Waldman: “I definitely will, John.”

It’s so corny that it’s good. But maybe that overlooks the fact that, just as the Yankees are a team, so are Ma and Pa. The blend themselves together on purpose, because don’t think for a minute that this is something they haven’t worked on over the years and continue to hone even now.

Suzyn has learned and is apparently willing to accept that Sterling is the star of the show. She openly caters to his every whim and glorifies nearly everything he says, to the point where it’s noticeable, and maybe that’s intentional too. But, it works.

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And then, of course, there are the “tags” that Sterling connects to certain hitters when they hit a home run. Again, they are all familiar, and we remember waiting for his signature, “Bern baby, Bern” for Bernie Williams, or “It’s an A-Bomb from A-Rod”. A little too cute? Apparently not, because they proliferate YouTube when you search his name.

And by the way John, I’ve got one for you to use for Aaron Judge, free of charge. How about “Here Comes the Judge”?

But for all the criticism he gets from writers like Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News, who I believe coined the Ma and Pa designation, Sterling is part of the Yankees family. When, for example, his apartment in New Jersey burned to the ground, and he lost all of his possessions, it was Alex Rodriguez, among others, who stepped forward offering him a place to live.

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Sterling and Waldman, again like the Yankees, are entertainers above all else. At times, they grate on us and push us almost to the point of turning down the volume on our radio. Almost, but we never actually do it. And for no other reason, that’s why the Yankees brought them back. And as Suzyn Waldman said, they are familiar to all fans of the Yankees. You know what you’re getting, and they deliver it.