ESPN’s Bobby Valentine On Reporting Bin Laden’s Death: “I Didn’t Think I Would Be Presentable”
ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball team (as well as others calling the same game) faced a tough task last night - balancing the game with informing its audience of a major breaking news story. Not only is it a challenge to suddenly switch from baseball to a major foreign policy/homeland security development, it's a challenge to handle such news - which carries an enormous emotional impact of some form or another for pretty much every American - with a level head.
Well, the early reports are in, and they indicate that play-by-play man Dan Shulman did well. Awful Announcing's Ben Koo said Shulman and team did a "commendable job" with the news, and that Shulman exhibited "class and grace." Via Newsday, here's what Shulman said as the news broke:
“ABC News is reporting that Osama bin Laden has been killed, and a presidential news conference is upcoming momentarily."
“We ask all of you to go to your ABC stations for further details on that situation.’’
Of course, Shulman had to specify "ABC" because of the Disney corporate umbrella, but as Koo notes, Shulman deserves some measure of credit for mentioning another network at all. And Shulman had to carry the load himself when the news first emerged - via Newsday's Neil Best, fellow announcer - and Mets manager during 9/11 - Bobby Valentine wasn't fit to talk about it.
"When I heard it was confirmed I got choked up," he said. "[Producer] Tom Archer asked me how I was doing and I didn’t think I would be presentable."
Understandable given Valentine's history, which he detailed further after the game:
"I'll remember that I was here, and I'll remember that I was managing the New York Mets on 9/11 and I had the honor of managing a team that took the field on Sept. 21, the first baseball game in New York after those horrific attacks.
"That was when the healing began, when we began to get back to a recovery state. Maybe tonight has helped so many who have suffered all these 10 years to continue their road to recovery. And I hope so."
It was an earned, and appropriate, moment for Valentine to bare his soul. While we admit to not having seen all this play out live (we were more or less in a Twitter trance ravenously devouring each new tidbit), from the sounds of it, the announcing team handled a tough job well. They knew what to say to respect the moment...and, in Valentine's case, knew when to say nothing at all.
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