The lost art of understatement

The lost art of understatement
April 17, 2013, 12:00 am
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Those who remember Summerall in his years at CBS remember how he meshed perfectly with John Madden. (AP IMAGES)

One thing we do well as a nation when we put our minds to it is shoot a middle finger at the unknown and the frightening.
—Ray Ratto

Pat Summerall’s passing took with it one more pillar of the era of the understated play-by-play announcer. The notion that the picture told you what you needed to know and the analyst could handle the overmodulated emoting is one only a very few veterans still cling to in the new Gus-Johnson-Is-Our-Guide broadcasting style.

Those who remember Summerall in his years at CBS remember how he meshed perfectly with John Madden, the hot to Summerall’s cool to form the ideal NFL broadcast team. But there is no logical inheritor to his crown because the executive producers who run the networks now want more revs from both their trained larynges. There are still a few holdovers from the era, like Vin Scully, Al Michaels and Martin Tyler, but for the most part, louder and more verbose is the new and evolving standard.

On the other hand, you have your friendly mute button only an outstretched arm away, so don’t forget who’s actually in charge, here. You remain in charge of your own ears.

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I remember when signing Tracy McGrady was a big deal? But now that he’s a San Antonio Spur, I only wonder one thing: How will this affect Danny Green’s minutes?

Okay, two things. How this will effect Gregg Popovich’s mood during in-game network interviews.

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And speaking of Kobe Bryant, general manager Mitch Kupchak told Jim Rome Tuesday that Bryant did in fact put himself into games when he felt like it, even down the stretch, so the person to blame for his Achilles tendon injury is not Mike D’Antoni but that model of irresponsibility and waster of human resources, Kobe Bean Bryant.

I wonder then if Bryant will amnesty Bryant in an attempt to find a team that will use Bryant more judiciously. Hey, if the McGrady thing doesn’t work out . . .

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The fate of the Sacramento Kings is being delayed yet again, and knowing how the status quo has taken a beating every time things have quieted down, it looks like Sacramento’s last chance to run with the Seattle offer is coming.

The city has a tough choice here – to re-overpay on a package that is already more expensive than prudent, or to husband its powder for the next team that comes on the market, or for an expansion team. Or maybe Sacto wins, and Seattle gets the expansion team. One would be foolish to offer a guess even now, but the pendulum seems to be swinging north again.

Then again, we are also overdue on some kind of action from the Maloofs, which never fails to create turmoil for their own benefit. Hold your pants at waist level, children. This isn’t done yet.

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In an interview with HBO’s Real Sports, David Samson of the Miami Marlins said, and with his very own mouth, “We've had no shortage of players who want to come play here. If you offer the most years and the most money to a player, they're gonna play for your team, whether you're located in the far reaches of Yemen or in Miami, Florida.”

The Marlins have the second-lowest payroll in baseball, which suggests among other things that Yemen is also kicking their ass for talent.

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The NHL announced its intention to have six outdoor games next year, including Anaheim-Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. This will be the game in which players will not need helmets or visors, but will be required to wear floaties, and have a lifeguard where the penalty timekeeper would normally be.

And the Sharks? Keeping their proud sunscreen-free history intact, at least until they win a Stanley Cup. So, never.

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And finally, the people who run the Boston Marathon say they fully intend to do it again next year. As though there was a reason not to, or any sentiment to skip a year because of fear or bad memories. One thing we do well as a nation when we put our minds to it is shoot a middle finger at the unknown and the frightening. This is that finger, and we wholeheartedly applaud them with the nine we are not otherwise using.