Thursday, July 17, 2008

New York Sports Talk Radio: Feedback Wanted

Last month, WFAN turned 21, introduced to the world on July 1, 1987. As we sit here in 2008, the world of sports talk radio and the evolution of the Internet have given rise to the voice of the fan like never before. Instant feedback from the paying customers tells the people who run our local teams how they’re doing on a daily basis. No need to wait for the word from the Daily News or Posts’ columnists. Talk radio allows Tony from Queens or bloghead123 to tell us how they feel after each game, sometimes even during the game. And the access to information makes statistics a dangerous tool sometimes.

How do you think talk radio and the Internet would have affected the New York Sports scene say…50 years ago?

June 15, 1958: The Yankees are swept four straight by the Tigers, including a Sunday doubleheader. The Yanks have now lost seven of their last 10…Benny from the Bronx is next on the FAN….
"I know they’re still up seven games, but these guys gotta do something. Mantle’s won two MVPs in a row and he goes 1-for-7 in a doubleheader? C’mon, where’s this guy when you need him? I don’t care if he wins six MVPs, he ain’t no Joe D!”

Joey from Brooklyn is next up on the FAN…
“They gotta get rid of Stengal, he’s done…This team just doesn’t respond to him anymore. He’s only won the World Series once in the last 4 years. They shoulda let him go after he lost to the Braves last year! Now they get shut out in both games of a doubleheader by the stinkin’ Tigers?! Time for some fresh blood.”
A few days later, June 20, 1958, Sandy Koufax goes four innings and loses as the Dodgers fall to the Pirates.

Sal from Yonkers is next on the FAN…
“I know they left us for Los Angeles, but I’m one of the only guys here still following this team and I think they’re making a mistake with this Koufax guy. His ERA is 4.43! When am I gonna see this great pitcher everyone is talking about? They gotta get rid of him now. This guy hasn’t done squat! He can’t throw the ball over the plate. I’ve had it with this bum!”

As the July 31 trading deadline approaches, Willie Mays’ power numbers are down, just 3 home runs total in June and July. Larry from Times Square is next on the FAN…
“I think Mays is slipping…his power numbers are down, maybe he was one of those juicers. The Giants should get rid of him now. He’s gonna be a free agent at the end of the season. They should trade him now for some young starting pitchers.”

Next caller is Hank from the Staten Island…
“Just changing gears a little…I’m still disappointed in the Giants, I think they did a bad job in the draft. I mean, they passed on Ray Nitschke and Jerry Kramer. Do you know how impressive Kramer was at the Combine? And one more thing…what do you know about this John Madden fellow the Eagles took in the 21st round?”

Joe from Jersey City is next up on the FAN…
“Is it too early to talk about the Knicks and Rangers? I’m tired of these teams coming up short. The Knicks haven’t made it to the Finals in 5 years! They finished under .500 this year. Isn’t there anybody out there that can play defense? And what about the Rangers? C’mon…it’s been 18 years since they won the Stanley Cup! I’m tired of seeing my teams come up short every stinkin’ year!

I guess maybe we’ve always been reactionary as fans, but nowadays it’s moved beyond the local watering hole and everyone in the world can listen in.

I just hope the time we live in doesn’t keep us from appreciating how good the players in front of us really are. When we tear them down after every 0-for-4 we may not realize we’re getting a chance to watch some all-time greats. One day you are going to catch yourself booing A-Rod after a postseason game without an RBI. But he belongs in the same breath as the immortals that came before him. After all, even Willie Mays struck out with the bases loaded from time to time. He just didn’t have Bobby from 181st Street calling him out on the radio an hour later.

With help from Baseball-Reference.com for the stats and Sweeney Murti for the concept.

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