Tom Cheek Remembered
Back in September, I reminisced about listening to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth call Blue Jays games. In October, I revisted the subject when remembering Joe's homer. Nobody does it better than Tom Cheek. In fact, nobody has done it as often either. Until his father's death on June 3rd, Tom Cheek had called 4,306 consecutive regular-season games plus 41 post-season games spanning 27 years. That's every game in the history of the Blue Jays franchise.
Sadly, Cheek underwent surgery this past Sunday, his 65th birthday, to remove a brain tumour. He still requires further treatment because some of the tumour on his frontal lobe was not extracted.
I hope I'll be able to turn on the radio and hear Cheek's brilliant call of a Jays game again soon. It certainly won't be the same without him. His voice is one I heard daily as a wide-eyed youth and he's by far my favourite baseball commentator. As I said earlier, nobody does it better and he's already missed.
The Toronto Blue Jays' 2004 season opens on Monday night against the Detroit Tigers. Roy Halladay will be on the mound for the Jays and it's a 1:05 pm start so I'll be following the game online while I work. I'd prefer to listen to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth calling the game online, but they want $14.95 USD for a season of that privilege.
I've given this up coming season a great deal of thought and I've studied our pros and cons closely. Here is my prediction as to how the American League Eastern Division will finish in 2004.
- New York Yankees
- Boston Red Sox
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Baltimore Orioles
- Tampa Bay Devil Rays
In a previous blog entry, I complained about the delay between the play by play on the radio and the visual on television during Blue Jay games. I prefer the call from Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth to the television commentators so I wanted to mute the tv and listen to the radio. It was impossible because of a four second time difference between the two mediums.
Last night I tried the same thing during the Leafs game. This was strictly an experiment because I lack the same sentimental attachment to Leaf radio commentators Dennis Beyak and Jim Ralph. Again, there was a very annoying four second delay between the radio audio and the television audio.
Moments ago I tried the same experiment during the Raptors game. The funny thing is the television and radio feed for Raptor games on Sportsnet are identical. They simply simulcast Chuck Swirsky and Leo Rautins on The Fan 590. This is a cheesy move in my opinion as you can't call a game on television the way you'd call a game for the radio, but I digress... There was a delay, but this time the radio was only about two seconds ahead of the television.
Can someone explain this delay to me? Is this the result of my digital cable terminal? There must be a technical explanation for this phenomenon. Please share your theories because it's driving me nuts.
My mother recently asked me why it takes so much for my brothers and I to get excited about something. I paused to ponder the question and realized that men in their 20s and early 30s rarely appear particularly jovial. Immediately I thought of Bart and Lisa's response to a similar question: "We're the MTV generation, we feel neither highs nor lows". When I thought about it further, I managed to localize this reaction (or lack thereof) and came up with another theory.
Just to clarify, we do get excited about things and feel positively about certain events and occurences, it's just that to an observer, we appear to shrug everything off as pure happenstance. Why are we so jaded? Blame Joe Carter.
Ten years ago Thursday, Joe Carter came to the plate in the ninth inning of game six of the World Series. My Toronto Blue Jays led the series 3 games to 2, but trailed in the game 6-5. With Mitch Williams on the mound for the Philadelphia Phillies and Ricky Henderson and Paul Molitor on base, Joe hit a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall at SkyDome to give the Blue Jays their second World Series in a row. Earlier this month, I posted Tom Cheek's call of this moment as my quote of the week.
I can't accurately describe how my brothers and I reacted to this moment. When that ball cleared the fence, the feeling was ecstatic. The joy was overwhelming and we all shed tears. Heck, just thinking about that moment is causing my eyes to swell.
Joe Carter's World Series ending home run for the team I had worshipped since the summer of '83 is the reason it takes so much to get a rise out my brothers and I. The bar was raised to such an extreme height, that feeling may never be felt again. Many of you reading this are probably thinking I should have had a similar reaction watching my wife give birth to my son. I was extremely happy when I first met James, but it's different. Although we had hoped and prayed Carter would pull through, he could have struck out on that pitch and we could have lost the series in seven. Instead, he created a moment in time of unmatchable intoxication. When my son was born, I saw it coming. There was joy and relief, but not a split second of "Yah!!!". My brothers visited James at the hospital that night, but there was no pile-on as there was that night of October 23rd, 1993 when Joe "touched them all".
Thanks Joe for providing an entire city with a moment of collective elation. Until the Leafs win a Stanley Cup with an overtime goal, I fear it may never happen again.
"Touch 'em all Joe. You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life."
- Tom Cheek
A common pastime for Jay fans is to turn down the volume on the TV and listen to the play by play of Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth. Tom and Jerry have been calling Blue Jay games for as long as I've been a fan, and they've always been far superior to the commentators on television. It had been a while since I've done this, but with a couple of Jays pursuing team records, today seemed the ideal day to revisit this old custom.
It didn't fly. For some reason, there was a lengthy four second delay between the call on the radio and the visual on the television. I would actually hear the results of the play before seeing the pitch delivered. I remember a subtle half-second difference between the two as a kid, but never anything close to this. Such a delay on the television side made it impossible to enjoy Tom and Jerry's call of the game. Write your MP and demand an obliteration of this sinful four second delay.
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