The call(s)

Sports Illustrated asked a number of prominent sports announcers for their opinions of the greatest sports calls announced by someone other than themselves.

The number one call is not surprising.

Followed by …

(I have heard six calls of Gibson’s home run, including Vin Scully on NBC, Jack Buck on CBS radio, Don Drysdale for the Dodgers, Bill King for the Athletics, and this Spanish radio call. There is no bad call of this moment.)

Al Michaels, of “Do you believe in miracles?” fame, said that just popped into his head as the moment took place. He said he has never preplanned a call because then it will sound canned. That included the Miracle on Ice because before the broadcast, Team USA’s presence in that game was so improbable that, Michaels wrote, he and analyst Ken Dryden just hoped the game would be close.

I have a strange mental exercise before big games. I always write out my opens so I get in what I want to without the, uh, you know, kind of verbal wandering that, um, can happen. On the opposite end of the broadcast, I sort of plan what I will say — not a clever catchphrase, but the mechanics of it — if the team I am covering loses, as in “(insert win here) beats (insert loser here) (insert score here); the (winners) go to state, and the (losers’) season ends at (number of) wins and (number of) losses.”

I have a psychological rationale I figured out some years ago. George S. Will once said that pessimists are the happiest people because either something happens and they were correct, or they are pleased to be proven wrong. I am not a fan of announcers who lose their, uh, stuff when the wrong team wins:

I got to do one of those kinds of games earlier this season — a girls basketball team that had gotten to the sectional level three previous seasons without getting to state. The sectional final was the last and best chance to get to state for the undefeated team.

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