Behind the Mic

BLOG #439

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Faux (Clueless) Announcer

Over the years, I have always been proud of the fact that I prepared myself for any broadcast. I tried to learn as much as I could before any event. That does not sound like a difficult goal, but there have been moments – doing a soccer game without ever seeing one; ditto for field hockey; interviewing 4-H club goat winners not knowing what that entails (it entailed goats chewing on my sport coat); doing a swim meet never haven’t attended one, etc., etc. I’m sure you get the idea. I was clueless.

And speaking of clueless, there is one event that truly sticks out in my memory, probably because of the anguish it caused. Take a look:

Pocono Raceway: Bad Memories

Last weekend, the local papers were full of stories about the return of Indy Car racing to Pocono Raceway. The last time Indy cars raced there was in 1989. There were plenty of stories written about the history of the venue and local nostalgia about the Andretti family (Mario, Michael, and now Marco) at the race track. It turned out that Sunday was not a good day for the Andretti racing team. It was another bad memory for them. Ironically, it, also, brought back a very bad memory for me.

I really do not know the year, but it was a long time ago when I was asked to be the main announcer for the GATR 400 at Pocono. GATR was an acronym for The Great American Truck Race. The draw was to take truck cabs off the highway and have the drivers race them for 400 miles, you know, much like truckers do on Route 22 every day.

Now, let me be up front here – I was not and am not a racing fan. My sole auto sport interest, in the past, centered around the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day, especially if a local driver was involved. I know very little about cars, their engines, and how they work. That’s what mechanics are for. To make matters worse, I knew virtually nothing about trucks!

I did not want this announcing job. I figured rather than just saying, “No, thank you”; I would offer to do it for an exorbitant price. I asked for three times my normal fee, thinking that would get me a “Sorry, we’ll look for someone else.” That did not happen. The company agreed to my “demand” (ploy) and I was now doing a broadcast about which I knew nothing.

The race was on a Saturday with time trials and practice on Friday. I decided to go to practice to watch and learn. I went into the pits, struck up conversation with the participants, and took notes. I was honest with the drivers and they were cordial in divulging information. One suggested I should ride with him around the track to get a sense of the speed and the experience. Every brain cell said, “Don’t do this”, but my pride (stupidity) took over and I accepted the offer. I jumped in the cab and off we went. It was not long before we were going down a straightaway at 90+ miles per hour. I tried not to look frightened, but I was afraid my underwear would tell a different story. Trust me, it was frightening! I was convinced we would fly over the retaining wall and that would be it! The headline would read – “Young Local Announcer Dies Covering Sport He Knew Nothing About!” I, also, have the fear that same headline might be written about every sport I have covered over the years. But, I digress. Obviously, I did not die.

Instead, the next day I found myself high atop the track in the announcer’s booth ready to fake interest and knowledge and hope my color analyst was the best race announcer ever to take the microphone. To make matters worse, ten minutes prior to the start, we were informed our words would, also, serve as the PA sound to the thousands who had gathered to watch the race live – you know, the people who REALLY KNEW the sport.

The broadcast began (I still have nightmares about my scared voice “booming” out throughout the track), the race started, and I talked! It was exactly as I suspected – long, confusing (no truck should be allowed to lap another), and intense. Just like “all good things must come to an end”, it is also true of all “bad things”. I got through it.

On the way home, I wondered how much money I should ask for the next time I am offered a job to announce a race. For some reason, another offer never came.

And, trust me that was good for everyone concerned!


There is no better “sit-on-your-recliner” golf spectacle than the Ryder Cup. Every drive, every approach, every putt by every player creates some drama until the final team score is accomplished. Add to that the emotions from the crowd, the players, and the coaches and you have great television. And at the end, the cheers of “USA! USA!” finally rang out from the crowd.

The Phillies just cannot stop driving the fans crazy. This week, they win 5 games in a row (one after trailing 6-0), and draw to within 1 ½ games of first place. Then on Sunday, they lose to the woeful Pirates while first-place Atlanta wins putting Atlanta 2 ½ games in front. The Phils have done this time and time again this year. They play the Braves three straight this week. Will they find a way to win the NL East? Of course not. P.S. The Eagles do not look very good, either.

Penn State’s win over Villanova this weekend, coupled with some losses by ranked teams has them moving up to #4 in the rankings. That’s an amazing climb! The extremely tough Big Ten schedule awaits, but, for now, the Nittany Lions are in position to vie for the BCS championship.

I sure cannot figure out the NFL yet this season. My guesses have been awful – yesterday the Bucs (Super Bowl champs) and the Chiefs both lost. When was the last time that happened? The Giants are 0-3, losing on the final play of the game in the last two weeks. The Packers looked awful in week one and now have won two in a row. My advice – don’t gamble on the NFL and, by all means don’t bet on me.

Our Lafayette football coverage continues this Saturday at 3:30 when the Leopards take on the Rams of Fordham University in their first Patriot League contest of the season. Lafayette got their first win in an upset victory this past Saturday over Penn 24-14. It was a great team effort with the offense, defense, and special teams all scoring points. The Leopards, also, came up with three interceptions. Watch to see if they can start the League campaign with a win.

Gary’s Guesses

NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 26-22 54%)


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