Jays vs. White Sox: The Wisdom Of Bernell Klein

Monday, May 29 2006 @ 07:45 AM EDT

Contributed by: Rob

49 games without a sweep doesn't sound that bad. There are 113 games left and surely the Jays will sweep someone. Last year, the Jays swept a series six times, nailing the Rays, Royals, Red Sox, Mariners, Angels and Tigers. I doubt they'll go down to zero this year.

Come on, even the 2003 Tigers swept the Orioles, White Sox (twice!) and Indians. (How would you like to be one of those teams?) The Jays are on pace to win twice as many games as those Tigers, and if you call me on that because it's too early, then it's also too early to worry about not sweeping anyone. Also, if you look at the last game of the Red Sox series (May 26, 2005) and the last game of the Mariners series (July 21)...well, that looks very much like two months to me. Nobody noticed that because it didn't happen at the beginning of the year.

But that's not the reason I'm here today. No, this Series Report is only tangentially related to the series we just watched.

Without Friday night's game (and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday) on TV, I was treated to the radio broadcast. Now, there are far worse things than listening to a bad radio broadcast. You could be suffering from malnutrition, living in a war-torn area of the globe, or considering a run at the Liberal leadership. But I don't know about any of those things and so, I have but one thing to complain about today.

Our own Named For Hank sort of brought up the issue in his Angels report. Lyle Lovett's mother, apparently, once said, "Sometimes people will say they like your hair when they have nothing else nice to say." And I must say, Warren Sawkiw does have very nice hair now that the frosty white bits that we saw during his TV bits with Jamie Campbell in previous years are gone.

But even if his hair was bad, it wouldn't matter. Ron Burgundy might take offense to his hair being insulted in the middle of a terribly unfunny movie, but come on...it's radio. And it's bad radio now, unfortunately.

What did it for me? Glad you asked. It was Alice Fazooli's.

One of the best cheesy moments of a Jays radio broadcast a few years back was the third or fourth inning when the late Tom Cheek would move perfectly from calling the game to dropping a plug for the downtown Toronto restaurant. "Just three blocks north of the SkyDome," we all remember. What happened when Sawkiw had to advertise? By the time it took him to say "294 Adelaide Street West," Tom could have gone with an entire "You know what the Yankees and Red Sox can agree on? The garlic shrimp" story, Jerry Howarth could have updated us on the two pitches we missed during Sawkiw's extended plug or Mike Wilner could have said "Texas Rangers of Arlington" about seven times.

If that was the only problem, things might not be too bad. Last year, I actually didn't mind the new guy so much as I figured he was nervous or excited or something. Turns out, he just isn't very good. It's not just me, if you've never listened to the station and are wondering what I'm ranting about. Dave Perkins of the Star and William Houston in the Globe have both brought up the Sawkiw topic, and neither had anything nice to say. I'm not even alone at Batter's Box.

The Star and Globe are just two newspapers, though. I've never said this before and never will again, but let's see what the Toronto Sun thinks. Well, Mike Ulmer had a puff piece in April of 2005. It's telling, however, that even in this article, we were treated to this line: Sawkiw finds himself at the top of the announcing food chain without any formal media training.

That gets to me as well. Surely there are plenty of qualified candidates who would do a better job. Look down inside the organization at the excellent Mike Murphy in New Hampshire. Look inside the same booth at Mike Wilner. His baseball knowledge and "listenability" is exponentially better. Just don't look at one local guy. Cringing every time Jerry Howarth finishes a sentence and gives air time to his partner is not what you want your radio listeners to experience.

Whether it's acting like a routine 6-3 grounder shows maturity, predicting things in hindsight after a Blue Jay gets a hit ("You know, Aaron Hill told me he was feeling good this morning") or even omitting letters (Zaun was apparently "fustrated" after his error yesterday and many players have been "fustrated" since April 2005), not five minutes went by this week during a game where I didn't roll my eyes and curse the Memorial Cup.

After 200 games of experience for Warren Sawkiw, you'd expect some improvement. Instead, he's the Alex Gonzalez of colour men. (It remains to be seen if his career will be as long, but it's worth noting that Gonzo retired recently.) So this is it. In a typically Canadian way to protest, I am not listening to the FAN anymore. Not during a Jays game, not at 7:30 in the morning when eating breakfast, not even during any segment with the possibility of Mike Wilner. I'll return to my much-enjoyed radio habits once they bring in a legitimate broadcaster to replace Warren Sawkiw. He has done the impossible by making baseball painful and I cannot listen to him any longer.

But he certainly has great hair.