Staff Picks: Five Announcers Who Briefly Lost Their Minds On Air
Welcome to "Staff Picks," a segment where we bring you the most impactful plays, memorable characters, or surreal TV and radio moments from our collective sports-clogged consciousness. In this week's edition, we look at announcers and analysts who had on-air blowups that briefly made us question their sanity.
Glenn Davis: When you try to craft an effective argument - particularly about why something is bad - there are some comparisons you just shouldn't make. A couple of such ill-advised comparisons: [bad thing in question] to American slavery, or [bad thing in question] to the Holocaust.
Look, whatever you're talking about might be bad. Is it "so inhumane and systematic a form of repression that the cultural wounds it caused have yet to fully heal nearly 150 years later" bad? Is it "genocidal regime that caused millions of innocent deaths" bad? No. It is not.
One day on the radio in 2006, Michael Kay invoked not one, but both of those atrocities. He did it in the span of one minute. What was the point of comparison? Stalin's Russia? China's Cultural Revolution? Well, not quite...Kay was actually referring to the idea that an announcer can jinx a perfect game while it's happening.
Timothy Burke: It was Game 5 of a 2009 Eastern Conference playoff series between the Hawks and the Heat, and the series had been a string of blowouts. This game would also be a blowout, in part because Dwyane Wade injured his head early on after he ran into Josh Smith, and was thus less effective than normal.
Frustrated by what was becoming a runaway by the Hawks, and left without much supervision by then-rookie coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat committed a few hard fouls on Atlanta while getting progressively angrier at their also-agressive play.
And that's how we get two great sports memes in one broadcast, from Hawks play-by-play announcer Steve Holman. Disgusted by what he felt was prima donna-like behavior from Wade, and deliberate attempts to injure by the Heat, Holman provided us with two phases that have utility far outside of basketball: the "I'm DWYANE WAAAADE!" whine and the proclamation that "THE HEAT HAVE RESORTED TO THUGGERY."
The wealth of announcer meltdowns are dominated by those conducted amidst or in the wake of terrible losses. This one comes from a win, and I'm sure it's the angriest Holman has ever been during a win in his career.
Alexandra Kuczynski Brown: Angelo Cataldi is considered by many to be “The Voice of the Philly Sports Fan.” And after growing up listening to him on 610 WIP’s Morning Show every day on my drive to school, I’m inclined to agree. One particularly infamous Cataldi “rant” — so controversial, in fact, he was suspended from the airwaves for two days because of it — came on July 15, 2003, about one month before Lincoln Financial Field was scheduled to open.
Incensed by the Eagles’ new policy that would prohibit outside food at the Linc — which team president Joe Banner had recently described as a security issue and not a ploy to make more money — Cataldi went on a tirade in which he likened the ban and stadium security to something reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
In the end, “Hoagiegate,” as the saga was nicknamed, attracted so much attention from fans and politicians alike (seriously, even Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and then-Philadelphia Mayor John Street got involved) that a compromise was reached allowing food in clear plastic, sandwich-sized packages into the new stadium through designated gates.
And that’s how I learned firsthand the power of a crazy person with a microphone.
Ben Axelrod: As a writer at a school paper that received death threats for reporting stuff that was true, I'm no stranger to having to deal with an uninformed audience sometimes. So when Colin Cowherd became frustrated with a caller/conspiracy theorist who claimed that ESPN had it out for Kansas City, and then scolded Cowherd for failing to mention Royals pitcher Joakim Soria breaking the single season record for saves by a Mexican-born player, I understood exactly where Cowherd was coming from when he got annoyed.
What I didn't understand was Cowherd's insistence that the caller should commit suicide right there on the spot. That one kind of came out of nowhere.
Dan Fogarty: I feel like a lot of the things that people hate about Mike Francesa - the air of arrogance when it comes to sports knowledge, the penchant for panicking when he's losing an argument and hanging up on callers - are the same reasons I find him so entertaining. I don't find it annoying like some people, because it's familiar to me: he is like every person I have ever argued with about sports, because to him there is no possible way he can be wrong. And if you disagree with him, yer outta yer mind.
I've watched this clip close to 20 times throughout my life, and I've never cared enough about the actual argument to follow along. All I know is that Andy Pettite is a starting pitcher, and Mike Francesa looks like he's about to eat his microphone.
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