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Friday, November 18, 2011

And Then Al Michaels Said To Howard Cosell: “You’re Drunk. You’re Ruining The ####### Telecast.”

Speakeasy of Everything…an excerpt from Mark Ribowsky’s new book on Howard Cosell.

During the 1984 American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals, Cosell and play-by-play man Al Michaels took to sniping at each other, though what viewers didn’t know was that Cosell had been drinking during the game. After Michaels disagreed with a point he made, believing Cosell’s explanation of a baseball strategy “made no sense,” Cosell waited until after the game before telling the even then respected announcer that he would never be a good broadcaster until he “learned to take a stand,” implying the latter was too soft on tough issues and on players and owners. Michaels, who personally liked Cosell, snapped back, “You’re drunk?.?.?. You’re ruining the ####### telecast,” adding, “You ever come in like that again, I’m not gonna work with you.” Needing a good stiff belt himself, he then went into the press room and asked for a large vodka. The apologetic bartender poured the glass only a quarter full—all Cosell had left him.

...In the end, Spence made the call: Cosell would not be used for the World Series, played between Gussie Busch’s Cardinals and the cross-state Kansas City Royals. His place as analyst would be taken by Tim McCarver, the former Cardinals and Phillies catcher who was moved up from working as a roving grandstand reporter. McCarver was a personable, keenly perceptive, and articulate man who broke Cosell’s stereotypical “dumb jock” mold, and with his entrance as a full-time color analyst, few mourned or noticed Cosell’s exit.

Repoz Posted: November 18, 2011 at 11:13 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, books, history, television

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   1. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: November 18, 2011 at 11:35 AM (#3996329)
The anecdote is interesting, but it's very poorly written. The article makes no sense in places. And I really wanted to read it. Bummer.
   2. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 18, 2011 at 12:37 PM (#3996331)
Cosell hated baseball

Pretty simple
   3. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 18, 2011 at 12:49 PM (#3996332)
In the end, Spence made the call: Cosell would not be used for the World Series, played between Gussie Busch’s Cardinals and the cross-state Kansas City Royals.

Also not used for the World Series were Gussie Busch’s Cardinals, and the cross-state Kansas City Royals. The Cardinals and Royals didn't play the 1984 World Series. The following year, the Tigers weren't in the ALCS. ABC didn't broadcast the 1985 Series.
   4. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 18, 2011 at 12:50 PM (#3996333)
It's been clear for decades that Al Michaels is something of a bossypants priss.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 18, 2011 at 12:59 PM (#3996335)
Also not used for the World Series were Gussie Busch’s Cardinals, and the cross-state Kansas City Royals. The Cardinals and Royals didn't play the 1984 World Series.

you have to RTFA--the ellipsis in the quoted excerpt takes us into 1985
ABC didn't broadcast the 1985 Series.

yes, they did
   6. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: November 18, 2011 at 01:41 PM (#3996341)
Can we refer to McCarver as Cosell's Curse from now on? It's the same number of syllables!
   7. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 18, 2011 at 01:59 PM (#3996347)
ABC didn't broadcast the 1985 Series.

yes, they did


My mistake-- I mixed up the online lists of WS and ALCS broadcast networks. And I'm not even drunk and quarrelsome!
   8. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: November 18, 2011 at 02:08 PM (#3996354)
So it's Cosell's fault we have Tim McCarver doing the Series? Thanks, Howie. Thanks a lot.
   9. WhoWantsTeixeiraDessert Posted: November 18, 2011 at 02:28 PM (#3996360)
I dunno what Al is beefing about, he probably got to talk a little more if Cosell was drunk.
   10. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: November 18, 2011 at 02:30 PM (#3996361)
I always liked Cosell as a boxing commentator despite his clear lack of technical knowledge. Enthusiasm covers a multitude of sins.
   11. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 18, 2011 at 02:44 PM (#3996366)
Coincidentally, I just posted something on my blog about Cosell and the Monday Night Football crew. I've been watching MNF games from the early '70s, and it's obvious to me that Gifford and Meredith both brought a lot more to the broadcast than Cosell. Cosell had some contributions to make as a journalist, but most of the time, he was really nothing more than a hype man.

The whole piece is here.
   12. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 18, 2011 at 02:55 PM (#3996372)
I always liked Cosell as a boxing commentator despite his clear lack of technical knowledge. Enthusiasm covers a multitude of sins.


I'm surprised that you, a boxing expert, would say that. It's always been my understanding that aficionados of a sport want more expertise from their announcers, while casual fans want more enthusiasm.

I know a lot of serious college basketball fans hate Dick Vitale, but I - who don't follow college basketball at all - have always appreciated his enthusiasm. I think his obvious love of college basketball is infectious, and I need someone to be that excited about the game in order to get me excited about it, or else I just won't care.
   13. Gary Truth Serum Posted: November 18, 2011 at 03:06 PM (#3996385)
For years I've been trying to figure out the inane baseball strategy that Howard was babbling about during that 1984 ALCS game. I remember it was inane, I just can't remember what the strategy was supposed to be.
   14. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: November 18, 2011 at 03:30 PM (#3996399)
Cosell hated baseball

Pretty simple


Ah, the Bill Simmons of his day.

But even he couldn't destroy it!
   15. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: November 18, 2011 at 04:40 PM (#3996475)
I like that there's a big Jim Beam ad next to the article/excerpt.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: November 18, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#3996649)
So it's Cosell's fault we have Tim McCarver doing the Series?

No, McCarver is just another of alcohol's deleterious effects on society. Don't drink, kids!
   17. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: November 18, 2011 at 07:11 PM (#3996653)
Needing a good stiff belt himself, he then went into the press room and asked for a large vodka. The apologetic bartender poured the glass only a quarter full


There was an actual bartender in the press room?
   18. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: November 18, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#3996662)
I think his obvious love of college basketball is infectious, and I need someone to be that excited about the game in order to get me excited about it, or else I just won't care.


This is how I feel about Joe Buck.

Wait, no, complete opposite of that.
   19. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 18, 2011 at 07:28 PM (#3996667)
There was an actual bartender in the press room?

Wonder what game of the ALCS it was? I watched the whole broadcast of Game 3 8-9 months ago and Cosell didn't seem any worse than usual.

Michaels probably just never liked Cosell calling him "Alfalfa."
   20. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: November 18, 2011 at 11:54 PM (#3996872)
How could anyone with a sense of humor not like Cosell? Arrogant tools are always good for a laugh, and, isn't that the important thing in life? A laugh?
   21. Morty Causa Posted: November 19, 2011 at 12:24 AM (#3996888)
Remember when Tom Seaver was a guest. Seaver was pretty good, rather glib in fact, and he one time used the term "butcher boy" and it was always funny thereafter to witness the strain Howard exerted to work the term into his comments.
   22. Gary Truth Serum Posted: November 19, 2011 at 01:38 AM (#3996924)
Wonder what game of the ALCS it was? I watched the whole broadcast of Game 3 8-9 months ago and Cosell didn't seem any worse than usual.

It was Game 2--the final one in Kansas City. I remember that much even if I can't remember what Cosell said.
   23. Delino DeShields & Yarnell Posted: November 19, 2011 at 01:38 AM (#3996925)
And who could forget this critique of Howard?
hates his guts
   24. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: November 19, 2011 at 03:14 AM (#3996956)
I know a lot of serious college basketball fans hate Dick Vitale, but I - who don't follow college basketball at all - have always appreciated his enthusiasm. I think his obvious love of college basketball is infectious, and I need someone to be that excited about the game in order to get me excited about it, or else I just won't care.

It's not Vitale's enthusiasm that's so goddam grating, it's that godawful voice and accent, which makes it seem as if he's intentionally trying to sound about 50 IQ points dumber than he probably is, driven by some particularly dimwitted sort of a marketing strategy.

Of course it's possible that if he didn't say "DOOOK" like some Borscht Belt imitation of a 1930's movie gangster, the rest of his schtick wouldn't be so annoying.

----------------------------------

How could anyone with a sense of humor not like Cosell? Arrogant tools are always good for a laugh, and, isn't that the important thing in life? A laugh?

By that standard, I guess that John Sterling should be your favorite baseball announcer.
   25. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: November 19, 2011 at 12:40 PM (#3997116)
Never heard him announce.
   26. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: November 19, 2011 at 04:50 PM (#3997167)
23: Loved the WTT and NASL standings on the same page!

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