04 August 2008

Skip Caray

Atlanta Braves. TBS. Skip Caray. The only other triumvirate of baseball team, network and announcer in the same league would have been the Chicago Cubs, WGN and Skip's dad, Harry Caray. An entire generation was born, came of age and begat a new generation while Skip called the Braves's games. I never met the guy, and I don't have any more connection to him than any other viewer.

I learned from watching and listening to various people over the years about the value of baseball. I learned from Pete Rose the importance of playing hard every time out; from Cal Ripken, Jr. the value of just going out at all; from Joe Torre the reminder that it's "just a game" and from Field of Dreams how it's more than that. And from Skip Caray I learned that it's entirely okay to watch a baseball game and talk about movies.

I don't mean this in a disparaging way, but whenever I think of Skip Caray, I think of a guy who spent more time talking about what movies were on TV in the hotel room after the game the night before than about the game going on now. I always wanted him to publish a movie review guide. In no other sport is this even acceptable from a commentator. Imagine John Madden discussing anything other than football for a moment. That guy could be in a conference with his doctor, finding out that an alien has deposited its eggs inside him, and I think he'd have a hard time discussing it because it's not "Football!" In baseball, though, because of the pace of the games and the length of the season, you can be forgiven for not talking about the game ad nauseum.

It's thanks to Skip Caray that when I go to a ballgame, I've perfected the ability to follow along what's happening on the field while discussing something else entirely. I can't stand spectators that discuss their own things and frequently ask to find out what's going on; if all you want to do is talk, why did you spend the money to come to the ballpark? I also can't stand sitting near the guys that feel the need to discuss every single pitch of every at-bat like they're wanna-be scouts or commentators. You know these guys; they're the ones yelling, "Twenty million dollars and you can't hit an 0-1 breaking ball?" in the fourth inning. But Skip Caray, like Baby Bear, had things just right.