There’s nothing better than listening to Bill King when he’s cranky.
Listened to the game on the radio this afternoon, and King was in fine form. I was doing some dishes in the middle innings, and only sorta paying attention to the teasing banter going on in the booth, when King suddenly said to one of his radio mates, “Don’t be an ass.”
There was a moment of silence, as everyone (including me) was rather stunned that King would say that on the air (especially considering that KFRC is now a religious station). Then, just as suddenly, you could hear people bursting into laughter in the background.
If this were someone else, they probably wouldn’t have laughed, as the announcer might be looking at some trouble. But this is Bill King. You laugh because you know he can get away with it. After all, this is the guy who four decades ago got away with the infamous “Mother’s Day” incident, when, while still on the air, he shouted down an incompetent NBA ref, using a compound word that would get bleeped even today on cable TV.
Bill King can say whatever the heck he wants. If they couldn’t stop him before, they can’t stop him now, when he’s an institution. He can use a phrase like “Katy, bar the door” as he did in the post-game show, and when his younger collegues look at him in confusion, he can just refuse to explain what it means. Bill King answers to no one.
I once heard an interview with King, where he was asked what advice he would have for young broadcasters. He suggested working on expanding your vocabulary, because the more ways you have to describe something, the more ways you have to describe the action in accurate and interesting ways. That’s obviously helped King, as I doubt that any broadcaster can match his vocabulary.
When a guy with Bill King’s ability to turn a phrase goes on a rant, there’s nothing better. Come to think of it, maybe Sandy Alderson took his firm stance and busted the umpires’ union, just because he had listened for years to Bill King’s colorful opinions about how horrible the officiating was, and became convinced something had to be done. The umps are better now, and King complains less often about them. While baseball is better for it, the broadcasts are not. I miss those umpire rants.
But all is not lost; there are still things that irk King, such as interleague play. A couple weeks ago, Ken Korach mentioned on the air that MLB was considering reversing where the DH was used during interleague play next year: in the NL parks and not in the AL. It was the first King had heard of it, and his reaction was classic:
That sounds just like Selig logic. And that’s an oxymoron.