Sunday, November 01, 2015
It's dark out already?
This was especially true when I was a kid. I couldn’t stay out and play past 4:30. And there was always school the next day. Who needed that shit?
Looking back though, I did have one fond memory of late fall Sunday afternoons – watching NFL football. Of course this was sooooo long ago that Los Angeles actually had a team.
I was a big Rams fan. I guess at heart I still am although fuck ‘em for moving to St. Louis. If they return I’ll be a fan again… although when things come back they’re usually not the same. I call that the “Hawaii 5-0 Syndrome.” They were not very good in my childhood. In 1959 they were 2-10. (Ironically, one of their wins was against the Packers in Green Bay. Final score: Rams 45, Vince Lombardi 6.)
I’m going way back before the AFL really had a toehold. The NFL was the Big Kahuna. Here’s how far back I’m going – the NFL actually had a competent commissioner. One of the many things that Pete Rozelle did right was set up the television package. One network – CBS – carried all of the games. Every team split the rights equally. So a small market team like Green Bay would get as much as the New York Giants. Unlike baseball, there was true parity.
And the broadcast schedule was the same for every team. In every market that had an NFL franchise, you got one or two games a week. All of your road games were televised and only home games that sold out a few days before kickoff. Otherwise, you saw another game.
Since the Rams played in the Coliseum with a seating capacity of over 100,000 (and they sucked) they never sold out. But that was okay. Here’s why:
Local team announcers called the games. There were no national guys – no generic slick interchangeable robots with the same voice. The game callers had regional accents, and distinctive styles, and were passionate about their teams. They added way more to the experience than just whiz-bang graphics and endless replays.
KELLEY: Pass to Arnett – incomplete.
STRATTON: Bob, the Rams are relying way too much on their passing game, don’t you think?
KELLEY: Second and ten from the thirty-four.
I used to love when the Rams were home because that meant we usually got the early game. Before Monday Night Football all games started at 1:00 on Sunday. If you were on the West Coast that meant games from the East started at 10:00. I’d watch a game in the morning and listen to the Rams in the afternoon. I imagine if you were on the East Coast and saw a Rams game it must’ve been doubly depressing because it was already dark where you were and still sunny in California.
But I loved those morning East Coast games more than anything. I’d hear the elegant Chuck Thompson (later to be my partner with the Orioles) call the Baltimore Colts, the stentorian Ken Coleman of the Cleveland Browns and Van Patrick of the Detroit Lions. I forget who called the Bears and Eagles but do remember Chris Schenkel of the Giants (sorry I didn’t get to hear Marty Glickman do their radio), and the best of the best – Ray Scott of the Packers.
SCOTT: Taylor. First down.
I know. You had to be there. But it was thrilling.
Those were different times. I will say this – there was never a World Series game after Daylight Savings back then. As much as I love baseball, it just seems wrong still playing in November. “Hey you kids. Get off my outfield!”