When I was eight, I'd spend warm, sunny Saturdays in the basement with the voices. I was Curt Gowdy's voice. I was Jack Buck's voice. I was constantly thanking Bob Gibson for stopping by the booth. My audience was our clunky reel-to-reel and our dog, Pugs, but only because I closed the door behind him. Sometime in the next 34 years my play-by-play career died—until Tuesday night of last week.
That night I finally made it. I weaseled normally sane Fox Sports executives into letting me broadcast three innings of the San Francisco Giants- Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field.
Bad idea. I was better when I was eight.
I misidentified players. I misidentified base runners. I missed an entire pitching change. That's not a lie. I was finishing a fascinating story about the mud the umps rub on baseballs when my color man, former major league righthander George Frazier, said, "That's great, Rick. By the way, Stan Belinda is now pitching for the Rockies."
Somehow I had missed the sight of Belinda warming up, Belinda running the 300 feet from the bullpen and Belinda taking eight warmup pitches. It would be like Edward R. Murrow reporting from World War II London and having somebody whisper in his ear, "That's great, Ed, but are you going to mention the bombs dropping behind you?"
It wasn't that I wasn't prepared. I was prepared. I had hounded Joe Garagiola, Jon Miller and Bob Costas for advice. ("Pretty much just shut up" was their advice.) I'd spent a week at the elbow of the Rockies' fine play-by-play man, Dave Armstrong. I even had a list of 25 home run calls typed on a sheet of paper in front of me.
There goes another nine bucks, Mr. Selig!
!No m�s pelota! (for a Latin player)
Take a suck of that!