Dialing In, or Sometimes, Over

I listen to a fair amount of sports talk radio in Chicago, and in so doing, I’ve picked up on some interesting differences between the various shows, and even between the various personalities. Especially between the various personalities.

For instance, take Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers, afternoons on 670 The Score. While these two offer a brainier, more intellectual take on sports than most other such shows, and this is definitely an advantage sometimes, they also become insufferable and boorish when confronted by a caller about something they’ve said in the past. Especially Bernstein.

And just last week, it happened again.

Some caller wondered if Dan still thought Aramis Ramirez should have been traded last year, when the Cubs were shopping him, even though this year he is having a breakthrough year, especially as a clutch RBI man.

And here we go.

Dan gets defensive and angry, right off the bat. He insults the caller, with words and tone. Nice going.

His basic defense is this: well, sure, that’s what I thought last year. This year, I think he is good. So don’t criticize what I said last year, because the situation at the time dictated shopping Ramirez, since he is injury prone and not consistent enough. This year’s situation dictates not shopping him.

Got that? He is exactly as prescient as any yahoo who can look at some stats for 30 seconds, glance up, and confidently make a bold pronouncement as to what value a player has right now.

Golly, thanks for that, Danny Boy. Can’t live without ‘cha!.

Here’s what a real analyst might say.

He might say that by all appearances, the presence of new manager Lou Pinniella has been a Godsend for Aramis Ramirez, since some players respond well to demands for excellence and accountability, and some don’t. Ramirez seems to have responded nicely.

Or he might say that this year’s lineup is much better, since they go deeper into the count and subscribe to the OPS style of offense (On-Base Plus Slugging). More baserunners = more opportunities for cleanup RBI men like Ramirez. More opportunities + a patient hitter = more RBI.

Or he might say “hey, I was wrong, and I admit it”. And here, we have arrived at the critical point: you take a stand on something, you are accountable to us now for that position. Especially on a 50,000 watt beacon that broadcasts to a large section of the country, for a sports-mad town.

Otherwise, your bold pronouncements have no intrinsic meaning, if the basis for them is as fickle as the current stats for any given player.

There is nothing wrong with admitting you were wrong about something. In fact, it shows maturity, and the ability to view the world with eyes wide open, and to re-examine your own assumptions.

But Bernstein, unfortunately, does not seem too keen on it.

Just so we’re clear: it isn’t the existence of the disagreement that is the problem, it is the tone and the style used in exploring the disagreement. People who like to shoot their mouths off can’t really complain when others call them on something. Sports talk radio listeners are actually entitled to their opinions, especially when they’re right, and have facts to back them up. But even if they aren’t right, and don’t have facts to back them up, they should be treated with respect, as long as they are showing respect to the hosts.

So when he goes on these little tantrums against callers to his show, I tend to hit one of the other buttons on my radio — life is too short to listen to bitching that is not even entertaining. It’s just whiny.

I have 3 kids, I don’t need any more whining in my life. 😉


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