I am thankful this week, not because it’s Thanksgiving – I hardly ever pay attention to the calendar; heck, I’m still on Daylight Savings Time – but because my body rhythms just tell me to be happy about so many transcendent blessings. Such as…
I am thankful for Marv Albert, 77 or thereabouts, Al Michaels, 74, Mike Emrick, 72, and Bob Costas, 66. In an era of shameless shouters and play-by-play mal-practitioners, The Golden Boys give sports viewers safe harbor when they call NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB games.
America has gotten louder, bringing with it a generation of sports loudmouths; rather than accompanying the game, these roaring voices overwhelm it.
I will not name names – being in a loving, heartening mood – but fellas like Kevin Harlan and Gus Johnson don’t understand that, if you’re screaming at the top of your lungs from the opening minutes, you cannot find a higher note at game’s end when the most dramatic moments call for it.
My AARP+ announcers understand this.
Albert is a wonderful example of engaging in properly channeled high energy and, with a sensible crescendo, saving the best for last.
Albert, on the NBA, and Emrick, on the NHL, arguably are the best ever at calling their sports.
(Full disclosure: In any given year, I only watch hockey once or twice, usually by court order. Emrick sounds terrific, and my puck head friends tell me he is as good as it gets.)
Michaels, remarkably, has been the voice of “Monday Night Football” and “Sunday Night Football” since 1986. Usually you wear out your welcome – not Michaels, so unspectacularly steady, we sometimes forget how sharp and dependable he is.
And, finally, props to Costas. We often don’t see eye-to-eye – my goodness, I have to be at least three inches taller than him – but his work on MLB Network games is understated and underappreciated. It’s a delight to listen to Costas and Jim Kaat, forever casual, conversational and congenial.
I am thankful Stepson of Destiny Isaiah Eisendorf found work, starting for Hapoel Haifa in the Israeli basketball league’s second division. Isaiah is averaging 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds, and his team is 4-0.
(By the way, I told him to get out of the house, but I just meant Santa Monica or San Diego. Haifa? HAIFA? That’s an overreaction, no? He doesn’t speak Hebrew, he barely reads left to right and he doesn’t know a falafel from a frittata.)
Today, Haifa; tomorrow, Houston. Trust me, he can help any NBA team more than Carmelo Anthony will.
Sure, you don’t find a lot of guys going from Division II (Le Moyne, baby!) to Israeli second-division hoops to the NBA; actually, you won’t find any. But he’s a five-tool-player – Isaiah can shoot, dribble, rebound, defend and eat caramelized French toast from here to next Sunday.
He’s 6-foot-6, 225 pounds and very coachable, unless you tell him to cut the grass or take out the trash.
I am thankful for poker. I have been playing the game since college – well, the University of Maryland – and I have been talking about it since 2003 on ESPN, alongside my lanky partner Lon McEachern, who, my goodness, must be at least three inches taller than me.
If you want to make America great again, invite everyone into a card room. Nobody is refused; it’s the most inclusive place in the land. There is only one color – green – and no matter how much or how little of it you have, you can come in.
Plus we play with our own money, not like those PGA stiffs, who play for millions of sponsor prize money.
(Tiger vs. Phil this weekend, $9 million winner-take-all? Hah! They’re not risking a penny; it’s easy to gamble when you can’t lose. Posers.)
And I am thankful for all my readers – my mother, my father, my sister or my brother (they rotate reading the column), Vinnie, Mitch, Roger, Victoria, Scott, Mike, Perry and my barber. I am particularly grateful to my two longtime under-35 readers, Tom and Danny, who, unfortunately, are now over 35.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Syracuse freshman Buddy Boeheim – son of basketball coach Jim Boeheim – had his name misspelled “Boheim” on the back of his jersey for a game last week. Thoughts? (T.R. Simms; Saratoga Springs, N.Y.)
A. Jim Boeheim is still coaching at Syracuse? How many more vacated wins does he need to set the NCAA record?
Q. Is the only way to stop the Golden State Warriors from another NBA title to give them Carmelo Anthony? (Larry Rosen; Albany, N.Y.)
A. They survived Nick Young last season, but you may be right – Melo already has denied his teams a championship 15 seasons in a row.
Q. What does The Slouch like best about living in La La Land? (Jack O’Brien; Fairfax, Va.)
A. “Monday Night Football” ends by 8:30 p.m. PT, leaving me time to go clubbing or bowling.
Q. If the Florida-Florida State game Saturday ends in a tie, how long should we expect the recount to take? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email email@example.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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