Tuesday, May 14, 2019

"That's Baseball, Suzyn."

I love when everyday expressions slowly make their way into the lexicon. One that has crept in lately is an expression that originated in baseball. A number of expressions we now use started in our National Pastime.

Example: Some who is left-handed is called a “Southpaw.” That comes from baseball. The way baseball stadiums are configured to avoid the sun being in the batter’s eye, the batter faces east and a left-handed pitcher’s pitching arm is on his south side. Amaze your friends with that nugget.

The New York Yankees have a very unique radio broadcast team. Veteran John Sterling does all the play-by-play and his analyst is longtime Yankees reporter Suzyn Waldman. John is quite a character. He’s now in his 80’s and calls every pitch of every inning. His eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but his broadcasts are always colorful and opinionated. He drives a lot of people crazy but his ratings are still through the roof. And in this day and age of young generic cookie-cutter boring uninteresting announcers, he’s a throwback and breath of fresh air. I’m sure I’ll get lots of comments today, yay and nay.

But anytime something wacky happens on the field (which is almost every day) and it’s something you can’t easily explain (like why a guy who never hits home runs suddenly hits three in one game) he will always say…


He’s said it enough now that it’s become somewhat of a trademark. I’ve seen people wearing T-shirts that say THAT’S BASEBALL, SUZYN. And now I’m starting to hear it outside the circle of baseball.

Now I’m hearing people use it to explain anything that doesn’t have a clear logical explanation. Fox benching one of its highest rated shows, LAST MAN STANDING – THAT’S BASEBALL SUZYN. Anyone in the world gives a shit about Kim Kardashian – THAT’S BASEBALL SUZYN.

Watch. I bet within a week you’ll have occasion to use it too.


kent said...

In 1971 Jack Lemmon directed a movie starring his good buddy Walter Matthau as an octogenarian named "Kotch". In the film of the same name, a teenage girl complains to Mathau that her friends have sex all the time without a problem but she did it just one lousy time and got pregnant. Mathau's reply was "That's baseball".

VincentS said...

Glad to hear that. I'm a fan of Suzyn Waldman. Will start saying it!

Rich Shealer said...

I thought Last Man Standing was renewed by Fox. Did you mean ABC?

By Ken Levine said...

Fox picked it up but left it off its fall schedule.

Mike Doran said...

" … and this ball game is all over!"

Growing up in Chicago, that's how Jack Brickhouse wrapped up every ball game he ever broadcast, radio and TV, Cubs and White Sox, for many generations.

How he inflected those words - that's how you knew whether the home team won or lost.
Jack was basically a homer, but he knew his baseball, and always gave credit where due for superior play on any side.

Jack Brickhouse was a complete broadcaster: between sports seasons, WGN used him to interview all sorts of people who came through Chicago promoting this or that, and Jack was always prepared with good questions - he listened, which many don't really do (then, now, or ever).

Just thought I'd mention that …

VP81955 said...

Sorry, Ken, but John Sterling is what you get when a baseball Dr. Moreau crosses Ted Baxter with Kenny Bania (the hack comic character from "Seinfeld"). He's the anti-Scully/Ernie Harwell, an embarrassment to broadcasters. At least Ken Harrelson had the excuse of being a former ballplayer, not a professional announcer, all his years with the White Sox (a team he never played an inning for, BTW). John can be a good announcer when he wants to be, but too often he's content to slum it, as his dreadful work for the '70s Islanders and Nets proved, which makes him all the more maddening. To think he's been at that job for more years (30) than the venerable Mel Allen...does John have compromising pictures of the Steinbrenner family?

As for Suzyn Waldman, I recall her excellent beat coverage on the Yankees of WFAN in the late '80s when Steinbrenner drove the team into the ground, culminating in his suspension by Fay Vincent in 1990. (The announcement was made during a game vs. the Tigers at Yankee Stadium; seconds after word got around, the ballpark erupted in cheers -- just as Detroit's Cecil Fielder homered. It was a surreal moment, folks.) She generally knows her stuff, though she's from Boston and is a lifelong American Leaguer (when covering the 1993 World Series, she was unfamiliar with Harry Kalas, who with Vin and Ernie comprises my baseball play-by-play holy trinity). I wish her well in this most thankless of jobs.

Sam said...

RIP, Tim Conway. :(

Robert Brauer said...

Ken, a Friday question for you: we all remember Kevin McHale's two guest appearances on Cheers. Was there ever any attempt to get Larry Bird on the show? I'm envisioning a Cheers universe where French Lick is located right next to Hanover, and Larry and Woody could trade insider jokes about growing up Hoosier.

J Lee said...

When George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973, Sterling replaced Jack Spector as the pre- and post-game show host on WMCA (which had given up trying to compete with WABC in the Top 40 battle and became one of the earliest AM talk radio stations). Sterling would inevitably get into an argument with and hang up on the caller. His show also made frequent use of the seven-second delay button, because a lot of Sterling's callers thought they could get an f-bomb live out over the air.

As a play-by-play guy, he's actually best in low-scoring games, where there's not enough things going on to try and hype with pre-planned catchphrases, especially with the home run calls -- a low-run game locks John into talking more about strategy than thinking up showboating homer calls, and he's better for it.

Before Waldman was his booth partner, Sterling did alternate play-by-play in the booth with Charlie Steiner, where the atmosphere at times seemed to be about like this past Sunday's episode of "Game of Thrones". It's probably best they're 3,000 miles apart now.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ken,

Lifelong NYY fan who's listened/watched the Yankees forever. I know John and Suzyn are terrible, but I love them. They are not calling a baseball game- they are doing theatre. I won't bore all the other readers with his treasure trove of home run call nicknames and catch phrases. But he's an institution and beloved by most Yankee fans, --LL

DrBOP said...

LOVE "It is high....it is far....it is gone."

Describes many of my fellow Canadians these days.

DrBOP said...

Tim Conway was a Cleveland "hometown boy", and his very early work with Ed Anderson on Cleveland's Channel 8 was not only as funny as anything else he did in his career, it served to educate an entire generation of kids how to laugh at ourselves. He and Ernie were pure comedy magic.


sanford said...

Mike Doran, Not quite sure when I first heard Brickhouse. Probably in 1955. I had a chance to talk him many years ago at a Reds game in Cincinnati. Nice guy. Brickhouse was the radio announcer for the 1954 World Series. Many of the you tube videos of Mays catch is Jacks call. He did it all. You don't see that today. Brian Anderson who does tv for the Brewers does the NCAA tournament and the NBA playoffs. And he does national baseball games as well when they are on TBS. I guess the Brewers are willing to let him do that because he is so good at doing baseball. I think he is great,so I am kind of peeved when he misses so many games.

Steve Lanzi (formerly known as qdpsteve) said...

Hi again Ken. I have a Friday question, but admit it's a little odd: When you've worked in writers' rooms on various sitcoms, did you and the others ever enjoy music in there? Have a radio on in the background, maybe?

The reason I ask is, and this is where it gets weird... over the years I've become quite a Steely Dan fan, and call me crazy but it seems like both M*A*S*H and the Dan shared a very similar, sardonic 'feel' or 'vibe' throughout their runs, although obviously the band expressed it musically while the show expressed it dramatically. particularly in the 1970s. The sitcom reminds me of Steely Dan, Steely Dan reminds me of M*A*S*H. So I can't help but wonder if there were any fans of Fagen & Becker in the writers room there at the time.

He's theeeeeeeee worst. said...

A blind baseball announcer is a good premise for a comedy sketch. Not so much for decades of actual baseball play-by-play.

Suzyn Waldman sounds like Gilbert Gottfried, if Gottfried had strep throat.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Being a lifelong Angelino I've never heard of John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman or the expression, "THAT'S BASEBALL, SUZYN." Although, I probably haven't heard it because I haven't seen you in several months. I'm guessing that every other sentence out of your mouth is "That's baseball, Suzyn." Or at least it should be if you're trying to make that saying catch on.

But, getting back to your thesis statement, I DON'T "...love when everyday expressions slowly make their way into the lexicon." One that I find particularly irksome is one of Yogi Berra's Yogiisms: "It's like Deja vu all over again." On the one hand it is kind of funny; typical Yogi. On the other hand it's terribly redundant. It's like saying, "3:00AM in the morning." Now, when everyday people say it, most of them don't know any better. They may think that's the proper expression. Or they may just be trying to be funny. But, what really infuriates me is when the TV news anchors use Yogi's malaprop. These people are supposed to be journalists. Part of their education is supposed to be proper grammar and the correct use of the English language. At least one would hope so. Yet, since many of those so called newspeople use that phrase without a hint of irony, one has to assume that they meant to do it. THEY SHOULD KNOW BETTER!
As I've said many times before on this blog, what are our colleges and universities teaching kids these days besides how to be offended at everything.
GOD have mercy on us all!
P.S. I acknowledge that my grammar is often lacking and I don't always use the correct terms. But, I'm not claiming to be a professional.

Jeff Carter said...

Curious if anyone outside NY has heard/seen "That's baseball, Suzyn." I'm in St. Louis and a HUGE baseball fan, but have never heard or seen that phrase before this blog

Poochie said...

Fri Question,

So Disney's next yuge blockbluster Aladdin comes out next week. Two months after that it's Lion King. And the list goes on of all the live action remakes of there animated library that feed the coffers. As the animated Aladding screenwriter, Terry Rossio, points out, these are all near shot for shot, word for word remakes, and yet the original screenwriters don't get a penny. This sounds like grade A bullshit. How has this loophole not been been sued to oblivion. Can you comment on this?

BobinVT said...

I think it’s kind of “in” to dislike John Sterling. I enjoy his humor and creativity. Not plain vanilla like so many that have replaced the great voices of the past. Regarding phrases in common use that came from baseball, there are many. Here are a few:

Right off the bat
He can’t get to first base with her
He’s out in left field
He really hit a home run that time
He struck out with her
He wouldn’t play ball
That’s really inside baseball
He was shut out
He whiffed with (new coke, the Edsel, etc.)
He’s the Babe Ruth of (fill in the category)
He really threw him a curve
Switch hitter...I think it’s slang for bisexual

Those are just oof the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more.

mike said...

Mr. Sterling has handily beaten out all competition to become the worst homer I ever heard.

Stu R said...

It is fun to listen to Sterling especially with his home calls...dontcha know. But the best radio play by play guy in the league works in Queens. Howie Rose is a treasure. Now that Vin has retired, Howie is the best.

Sam J said...

Hey Ken - any favorite Suzyn Waldman stats? I know she likes to make some crazy connections like "Melky Cabrera just became the first player to hit for the cycle in a day game at a ballpark in Chicago after the All-Star break since Ty Cobb in 1926." ... that's obviously a fake stat (although Melky did hit for the cycle during a day game in Chicago in 2009). Any instances like this come to mind? I can't find any good ones elsewhere on the internet