The playback reveals Willis to be a dynamo of enthusiasm with a decided propensity for overload. In excruciating detail, he describes every movement of the pitcher, the batter, the fielders and the umpires. He has fun with the baseball cliches—"Here's the wheel; here's the deal"—but when the deal comes down and the ball is put in play, he stumbles over words that he can't get out fast enough. From his perch above the first base foul line, he has trouble judging direction and distance on fly balls.
Here's the difference between a heated fan and a cool pro. Minnesota outfielder Kirby Puckett is batting. Fantasycaster Willis calls it this way:
"Here's the pitch to the plate. Swung on, tapped—what is it? Tapped... foul. Now wait a second, let's see what's happening. Home plate umpire's coming out, third base umpire's holding up his hands. That's what it was, ladies and gentlemen, a foul ball off the plate."
A's broadcaster Bill King described it like this:
"Chopped foul off the foot of Puckett in the batter's box, and the count is 1 and 1."
I'm not much better when I take the mike. I can't follow the paths of fly balls, lose track of the count and call a dropped third strike a foul tip. Fortunately, I have my friend Adam Rubin-son, a young man who actually knows something about baseball, at my side. Still, when Adam calls a hit an error, I'm there to correct him. By the end of our half inning we're just getting warmed up, and we wind up calling most of the rest of the game into my tape recorder.
We should feel foolish. We should be self-conscious. But we don't, and we aren't. After all, we know we are not alone.