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Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, May 31, 2013

There are times when a little silence would be helpful

I’m glad the baseball season lasts a long, long time — from early April until, for the very good teams at least, almost Thanksgiving.

That way, the true believers can endure a few blips along the road without going crazy.

That’s not the way it is in professional football. There, two or three losses and you are already looking ahead to the next season.

But in baseball, and with a patient manager like Terry Francona, or, in the past, Al Lopez, there is never any reason to panic.

You lose a few and you just keep giving it your best shot, trying to win every day, and hoping one of the Goliaths playing for the Tigers pulls up lame.

Remember when the Indians were scalping everyone in sight? (That is a metaphor that is possibly inappropriate, but you know what I mean).

Then the Tigers came into town, clobbered the Tribe, and then we went to Boston and got treated without the hospitality one might expect, given the fact that the Red Sox were the hosts and we were the visitors.

Our pitchers who were looking like Hall of Fame candidates suddenly got the stuffing beaten out of them.

What happened was, well, Graig Nettles said it best. Nettles was the excellent third baseman who gained acclaim with the Indians and ascended to stardom after he went to the Yankees.

I hate it when that happens. But I digress.

Viewing an outing in which one of his team’s top starters got shelled, he observed, “Cy Young one day and sayonara the next.”

Nettles was the wittiest player who ever donned a Major League uniform. I didn’t say the smartest. That would have been Moe Burg, a catcher a long time ago with the Red Sox.

But Nettles was by far the wittiest.

Which leads me to an observation I have made by watching baseball on television and listening to it on radio. (The same goes for football).

And let me add another dimension to the conversation that goes far beyond sports. It applies to on-the-spot broadcasts of everything that happens that is newsworthy, from the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon to the release of three young ladies who were held captive for 10 years in Cleveland and every large and small event in between that attracts swarms of TV and radio broadcasters from all over the country.

The announcers never stop talking! I will say that once again for emphasis. The announcers never stop talking!

I would have put it in italics, but you get my drift.

It is considered a mortal sin in the broadcast industry to have a second or two of dead time on the air, when nobody is talking.

Let me say this on the baseball level. Never, for so much as a second, do Rick Manning (who is a really nice guy, and who probably misses Gavi’s Restaurant in Willoughby almost as much as the lady of the house and I do) and his broadcast partner, Matt Underwood, probably live in fear of losing their jobs if they ever have a pause in their announcing.

This phenomenon is even more remarkable on radio. Tom Hamilton is the main Indians announcer.

He has a partner (I don’t know who he is). But they often take turns, so that only one of them is on the air at a time.

When I listen to Tom he is never silent. If you know anything about baseball, you know there are times when absolutely nothing is happening. But there is never a void in the verbiage because the announcers are never silent.

The same is true when the TV cameras are at any kind of a tragedy, be it a flood, an earthquake, a tornado or simply a traffic jam.

Now, there are times when I demand silence from the TV set, and I can achieve it because I hold in my hand what we in my household call “the clicker.”

We apply the same terminology (“clicker”) to anything you hold in your hand to make something work, such as the garage door opener.

There are certain phrases I hear on TV which cause me to demand — and thus bring about — instant silence.

Some of them are, “Hi folks, my name is Fred Thompson” (no, I don’t want a reverse mortgage), “I’m Terry Bradshaw” (no, I don’t want to lose 30 pounds), “My name is Doug, and I have mesowhatever”), or “Hi, I’m William Devane.” (I don’t want to buy any gold.)

So either I go to “mute” or to another channel — usually just in time to hear a huckster say, “But wait! Call now and you’ll get two...”


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