Fun Sports Announcer Gaffes

I thought it might be fun to share any of the dumb things announcers say either during a game or in the post- or pre-game shows.

I thought about the topic while watching the Red Sox game today. The pre-game show features Sam Horn, a former ballplayer who has almost no insight into baseball. But he does uncork tons of great lines. Today, I wrote down three of 'em:

Commenting on the Red Sox lack of clutch hitting, he said, “The Red Sox have untimely hitting.” Uh huh.

And commenting on the difficulties catching base stealers with a knuckleball pitcher on the mound, he said, “It’s hard to catch a moving baseball,” which is true.

And here was my favorite. On two of their pitchers, Alan Embree and Mike Timlin, having over 50 appearances, he said they’re “taking the blunt of the pitching appearances.” Whoa, dude. That’s so, like, deep, man.

I remember Harry Neale, a color commentator for Hockey Night in Canada (and a former coach himself) once offering this during a replay of goalie Curtis Joseph making a save:

“Watch the expression on his mask.”

He’s just trying to act chalant but he can’t fool the smart ones among us becasue we are completely plussed.

double post

The British satirical magazine Private Eye long ago cornered the market in sporting announcer gaffes with its “Colemanballs” section, named after the legendarily gaffe-prone commentator David Coleman.

“Armstrong is about to join a list which includes only himself.”
Mark Brown, ESPN

“The advantage of the rain is, that if you have a quick bike, there’s no advantage”
Barry Sheene

“And Arsenal now have plenty of time to dictate the last few seconds.”
Peter Jones

“That’s football, Mike. Northern Ireland have had several chances and haven’t scored but England have had no chances and scored twice.”

“Her time is about 4.33, which she’s capable of.”
David Coleman

“It’s a battle with himself and with the ticking fingers of the clock.”
David Coleman

‘I would not be bothered if we lost every game as long as we won the league.’
Mark Viduka

“They’ve picked their heads up off the ground and they now have a lot to carry on their shoulders”
Ron Atkinson

Louise Goodman: “Jonny, it’s started to rain, how will that affect the track?”
Jonny Herbert: “Well, it makes it wet usually.”

“If history is going to repeat itself I should think we can expect the same again.”
Terry Venables

“And I honestly believe that we can go all the way to Wembley… unless somebody knocks us out.”
Dave Bassett

“Hoddle hasn’t been the Hoddle we know. Neither has Robson.”
Ron Greenwood

“Whether that was a penalty or not, the referee thought otherwise.”
Brian Moore

“You’re either very good or very bad. There’s no in between. We were in between.”
Gary Lineker

ELTON WELSBY: Magnifique, Eric.
ERIC CANTONA: Oh, do you speak French?

JIM ROSENTHAL: So what’s an American doing playing in goal for Millwall?
AMERICAN GOALIE: I’m trying to keep the ball out.

Many, many more:

I wish somebody had offered Yogi Berra an announcing job. I’m sure he’d have a few gems every single game. “The good thing about cash is that it’s as good as money.”

Yeah, but Harry isn’t a doofus. Those comments from him are meant as jokes 99% of the time. Now Bob Cole…that’s a whole 'nother story.

My favorite announcer story, as told by Bob Costas one night on Leno or Letterman…one of those.

Back in the 1970’s, the St. Louis Cardinals had a 3-man booth: Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, Mike Shannon (who still does the games), and Bob Starr. These three were basically like grown up high-schoolers, sampling plenty of the free product of their employers (The Cardinals were then owned by Anheuser-Busch) throughout the games, singing obnoxiously dirty songs between innings, telling dirty jokes. (I spent a lot of time in the Press Box when I was a teenager thanks to my brother, and Jack Buck was like the funniest Uncle anyone ever had–just full of hysterical stories, most of them fairly off-color, and a wisecracker extraordinaire…great, great guy).

Anyway, like most teams, the Cardinals would do specialty nights: like Belleville Illinois night, when residents of that town could buy tickets from their Chamber of Commerce for cheap, or McDonnell-Douglas night, when employees of that company could get tickets from their company’s HR department for the game cheap.

Well, this particular night was Pevely Dairy Night at Busch Stadium. As is the custom, KMOX invited the representatives from the Dairy to the broadcast booth for a half-inning. Apparently, as Costas tells it, the visitors to the booth that night were a PR guy from the Dairy, and a rather fetching young lady. The two had brought along some desserts from the dairy for everyone in the booth to sample.

Anyway, the PR guy introduces the lovely young lady as “Miss Pevely Dairy”, while she passes out the desserts to the three broadcasters. Buck, Starr, and Shannon make various small talk with the PR guy in-between pitches in the inning.

The girl is still negotiating the narrow broadcast booth to pass out the rest of the desserts to Shannon when Jack Buck pipes up on mic, voice full of mischief:

“Hey Mike,” he says to Shannon, “Whaddya think of Miss Cheesecake here?”

Shannon, unfortunately, mis-hears what Buck said. What Mike Shannon heard was “What do you think of THIS cheesecake here?” He responds to that question thusly:

“Looks real good from here. I’d like to get a piece of that right now!”

The silence was deafening. Apparently Buck had to go off mic, and nearly swallowed his tongue as he tried not to howl too loudly with laughter. Starr spit whatever dessert he was eating all over the place and had to turn his mic off as well. Shannon realized almost immediately what his mistake was, and he couldn’t say anything either.

Luckily, according to Costas, Kenny Reitz hit into a double-play, ending the inning, and allowing the Cardinals’ broadcast booth to regain their composure.

That’s just a great story.