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Sterling Forever Linked To Yankees

Jason Barrett

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Back in 1990, when the Bronx was still a zoo and long before anyone had heard of the Core Four, the struggling New York Yankees were headed for just the fourth last-place finish in franchise history. They were getting ripped in the press and on the local sports-talk airwaves, with fans directing much of their ire at owner George Steinbrenner. While broadcasting a Yankees game on the final day of a homestand that June, radio play-by-play man John Sterling, then in his second year with the club, suggested to his listeners that they lay off Steinbrenner and general manager Harding “Pete” Peterson, and instead focus their frustration at the players themselves.

Steinbrenner must have been listening, and he must have appreciated someone coming to his defense when it was unpopular to do so. A few days later, during a rain delay of a Yankees-Brewers game at Milwaukee County Stadium, Sterling ran into the Boss, who had traveled with the team to see his friend, then-Brewers owner Bud Selig: “He said to me, ‘John, I want to tell you something. You’ll always do the Yankee games, and if they ever try to replace you, I’ll veto it.’”

That July, Steinbrenner was temporarily banned by Major League Baseball (he paid a known gambler, Howie Spira, to dig up dirt on former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield; Steinbrenner was reinstated by MLB in 1993). And in August, Peterson was fired. But 25 years later, Sterling remains at the microphone, having not missed a single game since arriving in the Bronx. He’s the longtime play-by-play voice of the league’s most popular team, in the country’s biggest market. But he’s also become one of the most polarizing figures in sports media for his catchphrase-heavy shtick and occasional on-air blunders.

Sterling knows what people say about him. And he says it doesn’t bother him. In fact, he’d rather people say it to his face.

Born in 1938 and raised on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Sterling began his radio career at a small station in upstate New York. He eventually landed a gig as a rock DJ in Providence, and later hosted a general talk show in Baltimore. He’d sometimes talk about sports on air, which led to work calling games of the NFL’s Colts and NBA’s Bullets, back when both teams were still located in the city.

In 1971, Sterling returned to his hometown, and the following year he began hosting a sports-talk show on WMCA. In 1975, he started calling games for the Islanders and the Nets, both of whom then played on Long Island, but he spent much of the 1980s in Atlanta as the play-by-man for the Braves and the Hawks. It was there that he displayed the forerunners to the unique calls that would become his signature. When describing a particularly spectacular play by Hawks star Dominique Wilkins, he’d exclaim “Dominique is magnifique!” or “Dominique is terifique!”

In 1989, Sterling landed the Yankees radio job without an audition, thanks to someone at WABC (then the team’s radio home) who’d remembered his work in New York from the 1970s and had heard him more recently on Atlanta-based TBS. The hire apparently delighted Steinbrenner, who later told Sterling that he’d always wanted him to call Yankees games.

By the mid 1990s, New York was improving thanks to the homegrown players who would form the foundation of a new dynasty; 1995 alone saw the major league debuts of four players—Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera,Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada—who would come to be known as the Core Four for helping the Yankees win five World Series titles. Sterling’s calls of those famed teams would help bring him to the attention of fans nationwide.

It was around that time that Sterling began to develop a trademark style. It began with the way he punctuated New York’s victories. After one game during Buck Showalter’s tenure as manager, which ran from 1992-95, rather than simply saying “Yankees win!” Sterling tacked on a few words in his deep, booming voice: “Yankees win! The Yankees win!”

“I did it very straight,” Sterling recalls.

But by changing the delivery, it would soon become one of his signature calls. “One day, for whatever reason, I put a little rock-and-roll into it,” he says: “Yankees win, thuuuuuhhh Yankees win.

“I started hearing it come back,” recalled Sterling on a May afternoon from his broadcast booth at Yankee Stadium. People would yell the phrase back at him from across the street, or tell him that Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo were discussing it on their influential WFAN radio show. “It became a thing, so I kept it,” he says.

Sterling learned early in his career how catchphrases could enter the lexicon: He remembers hearing lines from the TV program Get Smart when he was still a young radio DJ, and even though he himself worked nights and never watched the show, he knew the significance of sayings like “Sorry about that, Chief” and “Missed it by that much.”

Consider his personalized home-run calls for each player on the Yankees, which draw on everything from Broadway lyrics to groan-worthy wordplay, and have gotten increasingly stylistic ever since he innocently debuted his first ones, for Bernie Williams, the Yankees’ longtime centerfielder. (One of Sterling’s Williams calls, “Bern, baby, Bern,” was meant as a reference to the civil rights rallying cry, not the song “Disco Inferno.”)

Almost all of his home run calls begin with the lines “It is high, it is far, it is gone.” The personalization follows: When former Yankee Curtis Granderson went deep, Sterling’s call was “Oh Curtis, you’re something sort of Grandish,” a reference to the musical Finian’s Rainbow. Lance Berkman hit just one home run for the Yankees but he still got a personalized call, one owing to the musicalCamelot: “Sir Lancelot rides to the rescue! C’est lui! C’est lui!” Melky Cabrera’s homers were announced as “the Melkman delivers.” Alex Rodriguez’s dingers are “A-bombs from A-Rod.” Tino Martinez was the “Bam-tino”; Jason Giambi, the “Giambino.” Once upon a time, only select players got individualized calls, but now that it’s part of his established shtick, there’s demand for more.

“The home run thing has become a cottage industry,” says Sterling. “Now I have to do it for everyone.”

Read the rest of this article by SI by clicking here

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Peterlin Takes Over Night Show On 92.3 The Fan

“”Being the guy that you turn on after a day of listening to Ken and Anthony or Andy and Jeff or Nick and Dustin is truly an honor and a privilege. I won’t take that for granted.””

Jordan Bondurant

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92.3 The Fan in Cleveland now has a permanent host for its nightly show in Jonathan Peterlin.

Peterlin wrote in a post for the Audacy station’s website on Tuesday that his show will be called Overtime with Jonathan Peterlin and will air each night starting at 7 p.m.

“This is a dream job,” he said. “Being the guy that you turn on after a day of listening to Ken and Anthony or Andy and Jeff or Nick and Dustin is truly an honor and a privilege. I won’t take that for granted.”

Peterlin had been the afternoon update anchor at 92.3 The Fan since 2016, even hosting on weekends and on a fill-in basis. Prior to that, he spent three years in a similar role at Yahoo Sports Radio.

He wrote that listeners in Cleveland will not need an introduction or reintroduction to who he is.

“You know me and I know you,” he said. “We’ve spent the past nearly 7 years getting to know each other on a daily basis…We were there for each other. Along the way I hope that I’ve earned your trust. Through the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs.”

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Sports Radio News

Layoffs Hit Pro Football Focus

“The reduction in workforce comes less than 18 months after securing a $50 million investment from Silver Lake.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Pro Football Focus has laid off 16 employees, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

The reduction in workforce comes less than 18 months after securing a $50 million investment from Silver Lake.

The company, which Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth owns a majority, still employs just over 200 people.

NFL reporter Doug Kyed was among the layoffs. Kyed had been at PFF since July 2021.

Additionally, 11 interns were also let go.

While PFF remains popular and profitable from a football analytics perspective, there had been a shift since the Silver Lake investment into attracting more sports betting and fantasy football customers. The FOS report indicated a chunk of the $50 million funding was used to develop an iPhone app.

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Sports Radio News

Laurence Holmes: Tim Jenkins Twitter Beef With Mike North Proves The Score Has Gotten Smarter

“Where now every show has a film guy. Like we’re not just out here just guessing. To a certain extent we are, but we go get confirmation and information from people who are smarter than us.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Former NFL quarterback Tim Jenkins had an interesting back and forth on Twitter with former 670 The Score host Mike North over Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Jenkins broke down a piece of film from Chicago’s game against Green Bay on Sunday, saying he didn’t agree with the notion that Fields doesn’t go through his progressions and is more of a runner.

North disagreed, saying wide receiver Dante Pettis was wide open on that particular play, and that Fields missed him.

Jenkins responded, saying North’s take was “not intellectually honest.”

In his weekly appearance on Bernstein & Holmes on The Score, Jenkins talked about the exchange not knowing North’s connection to the station.

“There’s a radio guy up there, Mike North, he was real mad,” Jenkins said. “And I tried to handle it gently because like listen, the first thing in his bio was he was born in 1952. And if my grand-pappy is on Twitter roasting somebody, I hope to handle them gently. And I tried to.”

Host Laurence Holmes said it was truly a meta moment for their show and the station. He talked about how having access to a guy like Jenkins is a sign the station, like many others have done across the country, have grown with the game.

“It speaks to the evolution of this radio station,” Holmes said. “Where now every show has a film guy. Like we’re not just out here just guessing. To a certain extent we are, but we go get confirmation and information from people who are smarter than us.”

The discussion turned to the evolution of the quarterback position in the NFL, and Holmes noted that there are some who just don’t recognize that the game has changed and called for a quarterback to be able to throw accurately but pick up yards and keep plays going with their legs.

“I’m here for the nuance, but people continue to ignore what is a trend,” Holmes said. “And I don’t mean that as a pejorative. The trend in the NFL is dual-threat quarterbacks. Look up and down the rosters.”

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