Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Plenty of doubt

If it's possible to will a baseball over a fence from the broadcast booth, I did it tonight. Jose Valdez was at the plate in the sixth inning and hit a drive into right-center field. Sure, I'd like to see the kid connect on his first home run of the season. But my "willing" the ball over the fence had everything to do with my premature call.

Valdez crushed it. Loud crack off the bat. Ball exploded off his bat. Can't recall my exact words, but I know for certain that I said "there's no doubt about that one ... "

Except there was doubt.

Pretty much as soon as those words left my mouth, there was tons of doubt.

In fact, outright fear. The ball doesn't travel well to right-center at John Thurman Field in Modesto. It's deep too, about 375 feet, although players think it's deeper. The ball seemed to be moving in slow motion. I debated whether to say on the air there was doubt, or some doubt, but decided to just stick with my call -- and pray like crazy.

My stomach was turning. Palms were sweaty. I was calling upon the ghosts of broadcasters past to blow that ball over the fence. (All this, mind you, took place in about 2.5 seconds.)

Sure enough, it went over. Barely. Nonetheless, I'll take it. The audience didn't know any differently (well, unless they read this) and it sounds great on tape. It was another lesson learned. Don't jump the gun. Make sure there's no doubt if you say "there's no doubt."

The Modesto Bee's Brian VanderBeek, who was in the booth with me at the time, even sold my call a little by saying how Valdez got all of it. Might have even reiterated there was no doubt. When the inning ended, Brian asked me, "did you have any doubt?"

Hell yeah.

Remarkable game tonight. I'm still pumped. Great game and great broadcast. Puts me in a much better mood, especially after last night's fiasco. No technical troubles at all.

Modesto was down 7-0. Rallied to take an 8-7 lead, starting with Daniel Carte's two-run triple. San Jose re-tied it. Modesto won it 9-8 on Jeff Kindel's RBI double. Other than nearly blowing the Valdez home run call, I thought myself and broadcast partner Greg Young had great calls of the big hits in the comeback. Brian and I broke down the options for San Jose, if/once the Oakland A's move to Fremont.

Greg interviewed the two heroes on the field, Jeff Kindel and Daniel Carte, and hustled back to the booth to cue up highlights of the big hits in the game.

Sure felt like a major-league broadcast.

Another cool thing about tonight: these are the games I couldn't enjoy as a newspaper reporter. These nights require massive re-writing, and torn emotions. Especially when I covered the A's, my childhood favorite team, the fan in me wanted to be pumped with the crowd and players and savior the victory. The objective journalist in me couldn't do that, and didn't have time to do that. Not to mention, it's hard to do justice to a comeback like this in print, especially on deadline.

But now, as a broadcaster, it's my job to get pumped and go crazy -- a controlled and well-spoken crazy, of course -- so that my voice (and crowd mic) tell the story of what's happening.

The game ended two hours ago as I type this. I've still got adrenaline pumping through my body. I call this "a sober buzz" because I can't think of another way to describe it.

My alarm clock will go off in four hours. Still have a morning show to do. Need to get to bed. But no idea how I will sleep when I'm still so pumped.

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