The Epic Poetry of Baseball Announcing
Something tells me Fred White--Royals fill-in radio guy, corpse--either hasn't read or doesn't remember reading the Iliad. I say this because Fred White has the unparalleled ability to sound as if he is calling that day's game between bites of oatmeal, most of which his shaky hand spills onto his flannel pajama pants. They may actually just call him on the phone and have him give his thoughts from a La-Z-Boy at a nursing home, I'm not sure. I think he actually brings his own old-timey microphone with him. He probably has to crank it which is why he can only say five or six words between his phlemy, oatmeal-scented exhalations.
What I'm trying to say here is that Fred White sounds old.
Also, he's probably not familiar with Matthew Arnold or Milman Parry. Hell, I'm not even familiar with those guys and I didn't die in 1880 (Ed note: he is probably not that Fred White but we're not ruling it out). But what Fred White has in common with Homer, Matthew Arnold, and Milman Parry is a fascinating appreciation for the traditions of oral storytelling. He's not the best radio guy--in fact, I'd say he's probably the worst--but he takes my favorite Homerian-styled announcing trope to extremes. This is probably an exaggeration, but I think his call last night for Alex Gordon's game-winning 10th-inning homerun actually went something like this:
- Homerun by* left-handed* young Gordon*deep left* field over* Ford’s head
- Left-handed* young Gordon* gone deep*left field*Lew Ford’s*head hung
- Great win for*young Gordon*Bell and the*team over*Twins’ Boof* Five-Three
Now if you're reading this--and you probably aren't--you're surely thinking that my dactylic hexameter is way off. I imagine you are correct. The point is that Fred White uses these great repetitive phrases during his commentary so much that I keep expecting him to slip in a reference to the long-haired Myrmidons without missing a beat. Alex Gordon is always young Gordon or left-handed Alex. Various pitchers are either crafty or promising depending on whether they are 35 or 25 (if they fall somewhere in between they are invariably "confident").
I imagine he doesn't talk like this in real life, but I wouldn't put it past him. Without even attempting to butcher more dactyls:
- I'll have three Whoppers please Miss three Whoppers and one Diet Coke Miss
- Great burgers three Whoppers can't miss with Diet Coke too please hurry Fred White
- Hungers for three Whoppers and one Diet Coke in a perspiring cup King Size? No, Miss Thang.
It's a lost art, this oral tradition.