Let me start off by saying I am acquainted with Ian Eagle, a veteran sportscaster who lives in our readership area and who has helped me out on a few occasions with his insight and comments. During our exchanges we have never failed to inquires about each other’s family and activities.
That said, I don’t think I’m being blindly in his corner when I say I don’t know what the heck people are going off about over an “uncomfortable” back-and-forth he and broadcasting partner Mike Fratello had on Saturday during the NJ Nets-Boston Celtics game (the Nets lost 94-82, but who cares?).
Fratello, a former coach, was doing the color analysis and starts in explaining a “slip screen” to the audience. As is often the case with analysts, they tend to talk to themselves, that is, as if they’re talking to other analysts. Their comments lean toward the technical. I imagine they can’t help it; they’re used to being among their own and probably figure everyone knows what they mean. According to several articles about the incident, Eagle took exception to Fratello’s “patronizing” and “condescending” tone. Maybe I missed that, but even if I did, so what? I suppose for the sake of argument, Eagle might have waited until they were off the air to tell of Fratello, who seemed shocked at the remarks.
From what I can tell, the original piece came from Deadspin, an outlet notorious for rabble-rousing, which called Eagle “whiny.” While it doesn’t give me pause as to the fact that the incident did happen — there it is on the video — they way they “spin” the story might not reflect actual events. “Whiny?” You say tomayto, I say tomahto.
USA Today asks readers to judge for themselves, whether the exchange was serious or tongue in cheek; I leave you with that. Me, I’m going by this from the USA Today story: “YES spokesman Eric Handler called it ‘much ado about nothing’ Monday morning. Says Handler: ‘Anyone who watches our Nets telecasts on a regular basis knows that Ian and Mike have a long history of this type of deadpan humor. This was all good-natured kidding.’”