We live in an era of television where today’s great moment is tomorrow’s distant memory. There’s just too frequent a cycling of information and pictures for most broadcasts to burn a place in our consciousness. But according to SBNation, the most compelling television moment in sports during 2011 appeared on MASN’s airwaves, where Orioles color commentator Jim Palmer didn’t hide his emotions while discussing the shocking suicide death of former teammate Mike Flanagan, a fellow MASN broadcaster.
For many O’s fans, this unpleasant memory will be one of the most enduring of the past year. On Aug. 24, while play-by-play man Jim Hunter and Hall of Fame pitcher Palmer were calling the action of the Orioles’ game in Minnesota, news started to filter out that Flanagan had taken his own life. During the “O’s Xtra” postgame show that followed, Palmer found it difficult to control his emotions while discussing the breaking news as he tearfully shared recollections of the lefty known as “Flanny” and tried to process what had happened and why.
SBNation contributing writer Jon Bois noted the poignancy of the interview and the heartfelt connection between Palmer and O’s fans in naming the sobering display his top broadcasting moment of the past year:
As I watched Jim Palmer follow up a superhuman evening of broadcasting with a heartbreakingly human moment, I thought of who sportscasters really are to us. We knock them all the time for their factual errors and their biases and all sorts of things, and I think that’s okay, because that will always be a component of our relationship.
But it is a relationship. Collectively, sports announcers hold an enormous amount of real estate in our lives. Suppose you watch four games a week. That’s, what, 10 hours of sportscasters extemporaneously talking to you.
It’s a startling realization: do you listen to anyone else in your life for half that long? It’s a one-sided conversation, of course. But surely there’s a friendship in there somewhere.