Last season, teams had to make sacrifices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of them was broadcasters calling away games remotely from monitors instead of being present at the ballpark. While this was a situation they were not used to, it was understandable considering the unprecedented times upending everyone’s lives.
This season however, things are much closer to normal. Thanks to vaccines being readily available, fans are back in ballparks and the COVID-19 restrictions that had previously been in place have been mostly lifted.
One thing has not gone back to normal, however, is John Sterling and his “Yankees Compañera” Suzyn Waldman still not traveling with the team on their trips away from Yankee Stadium. It’s a decision that can no longer be explained by COVID safety protocols but rather by a penny-pinching mentality by the Yankees and Audacy, the company that owns their radio partner WFAN.
It’s no secret that everyone involved with Major League Baseball from the team to their broadcast partners lost revenue last season and are looking to make up for all of it in 2021. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that … until these tactics cause the product to suffer. Any regular listener of the Yankees on the radio will notice a stark difference in the quality of the broadcast between an away game and a home game this season.
A few notable moments come to mind that illustrate this issue. Recently in the Yankees’ series in Oakland, a bases-loaded double play seemingly got Jordan Montgomery out of a serious jam. Calling the game from the television feed, Sterling sent the radio into a commercial break since the inning appeared over. In reality, the call at first base was being reviewed and was eventually overturned, leading to a run scoring and the inning continuing.
The listeners were misled because of this disconnect.
Sterling, at the mercy of the television cameras, had no idea this occurred. Fans were confused and Sterling’s exasperation with the entire situation was obvious.
Another gaffe caused by remote broadcasting occurred in July during a road game in Seattle. The live stream of the game showed a replay of an Aaron Judge home run, however, Sterling mistook it for a live “Judgian Blast.”
It’s a travesty the Yankees are letting their radio broadcast fluctuate wildly in quality for no reason other than a small financial savings. They have no issue pointing the finger at Audacy and WFAN when the franchise that is currently worth a whopping $5.25 billion could easily remedy the situation if they wanted to.
They can no longer fall back on the COVID-19 safety excuse. If the Yankees want to save money, that’s fine, but ignoring the fan who listens on the radio is a terrible look for the organization — especially since they “saved” money by cheaping out on free agents this past offseason and refused to go over the luxury tax threshold at the trade deadline.
John Sterling is 83 years old. From 1989 until 2019 he called 5,060 straight Yankees games. One day he will have a plaque in monument park, and it will be dedicated to the longtime voice of the Yankees. Can the organization start treating him with some respect? Find a different way to recoup costs that doesn’t involve infuriating a legendary part of your history and the many fans who routinely tune in to the game on the radio.