Wednesday, December 26

You Might Be A Homer

I watch a lot of hockey. The "Center Ice" package has made my life immeasurably more enjoyable. At the same time, it's caused me to spend a little more time than I ever imagined pretending I'm a sound engineer. Some of you know the routine, don't you?

1) Pause DVR
2) Log on to
3) Click "Listen Live!"
4) Un-pause DVR
5) Hit mute button.
6) Spend a few minutes trying to perfectly synchronize ten second-delayed audio with action on television.

The commentary that comes with almost any hockey broadcast originating in the United States is unbearable. The broadcast team usually consists of the city's baseball play-by-play man (slumming during his off-season), accompanied by a nondescript former hockey player. Usually a back-up goalie or a colorful 4th liner who can spit out hockey-isms like "That puck has to go deep!" and "That's a good active stick!" I suppose that's all par for the course, but it's the root, root, root, for the home team shit that makes me boil. I don't know about you, but when I listen to a game, I'm not looking for a couple buddies to high-five with after a goal. I want someone to give me information and compliment the action, not jam the Kool-Aid down my throat.

Look, I get it. You're paid by the team, you travel with the team, you've seen most of the team naked in the showers, Jonathan Cheechoo scrubs your back with the loofa - I don't care. As Frank Deford once said, "Never forget that no matter how much fans love their team, they're also the first to criticize...except Greener and Norte". The point is, fans WANT tough love, not a bunch of homers and apologists who are afraid to be critical of players for fear that they'll be excluded from the Texas Hold 'Em game on the plane ride home.

The other day I was watching a game where a player on Team A had a partial breakaway. The defenceman on Team B tried to get back and break-up the play, causing the other player to fall down and lose the puck. No penalty was called. The announcers for Team A were predictably screaming for a penalty shot, and couldn't believe there was no call. I quickly switched over to the other feed for the game, where the announcers for Team B were talking about a "great defensive play." Hilariously ridiculous.

Let's examine some more of the classic signs.

"You might be a homer if..."

You can't be bothered: Nothing shows you're so fundamentally crap at your job as mispronouncing players' names. So let me get this straight - when I'm watching a Detroit Red Wings game, Valterri Filppula just rolls off the tongue, but the best player on my team is named Alex Hemsky? He should be easy to remember, he's the guy who scored the goal that knocked you out of the playoffs two years ago. No? Nothing? Jarret Stoll is not one of the Staal brothers. It's pronounced 'stole'. Andrew COG-LEE-ON-OH. I know it's fun to cop that lame Italian accent and talk like you're from the 'old world' but it's not Cogliani, or Conigliari. For fucks sake, what's gonna happen when he plays on a line with Pisani? The other day the studio host for the Colorado Avalanche told me Steve Avery was called for roughing. Really? At least pick a baseball player who's still playing if you're gonna fuck that up. Note to all broadcasters: The names on the roster aren't an interpretive exercise, full of typos, or open to poetic license. If you can learn the names of all your boys you can learn the names of mine.

You spell team with 'we': "Big faceoff here. We need a goal." No we fucking don't. Stop pretending you're a member of the team. You're a lazy, balding, middle-aged man who's vicariously living his man-love sports fantasy through a bunch of guys who tolerate you so they don't get fined.

You complain about the referee: I know, I know, your team doesn't take penalties. My team are a bunch of cheaters. One night, I actually heard Randy Hahn and Marty McSorley (of the San Jose Sharks) insinuate the referee was fixing the game, and say he "should be embarrassed to go home to his wife and children." The Sharks were losing 3-0. Go figure. The best part about this behavior is it's usually followed by a back-handed apology with about 6 minutes left in the third period. Something like, "Hey, but let's not take anything away from the (insert name of team that's winning). They've played a good game tonight."

I don't get your inside jokes: I don't know what Nicolas Havelid's favorite movie is, how much Filip Kuba's suit cost, or the name of Phil Kessel's dog. Therefore, to me, "I'll bet Steve doesn't think THAT tastes like cinnamon," is an idiotic, and slightly homo-erotic, non sequitur. Hey asshole, don't talk like millions of us aren't in the room.

You call players by their nickname during live play: Remember when Peter, Anton, and Marian Stastny used to play on the same line with the Nordiques? Well, apparently now when a team has two players with the same FIRST name, it's confusing. Which surely must explain why, "Little Joe streaks down the right side and drops it for Big Joe." Or maybe it's because 'Pavelski' and 'Thornton' just aren't cute enough! Do you ever here Joe Bowen call Tomas Kaberle 'Kabs,' or Chris Cuthbert say, "Heater throws it behind the net to Spez?" No, because it sounds fucking stupid.

And, you might be a homer if...

You work for the Minnesota Wild: I hope everyone gets the experience of watching/listening to Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay (an ex-Oiler). Every Brian Rolston shot is a volcanic eruption, every Marian Gaborik pass is a laser beam of perfection, and every Keith Carney dump-in is pure genius. Holy shit, call me when you win something. Anything.