Bob Carpenter Leaves, Ron Darling Remembers
From the Wash Times this AM:
Washington Nationals television announcer Bob Carpenter has been told by the club his contract will not be extended when it expires after the season, sources with knowledge of the situation said yesterday.'
Barry is more measured in this morning's Post, saying "the Nationals will at least pursue other options in the offseason." (Also in the Times, the news that the first 30,000 fans on Sunday will get commemorative t-shirts, "with a list of memorable moments in RFK history designed to look like a rock concert tour shirt." Aramark apparently made a special plea for a "Poison" reference of some sort.
Anyhow, this all led me to remember that I never discussed the recent Ron Darling story in Sports Business Journal, written by ace reporter John Ourand. The story was supposed to be about the launch of a sports network (since Darling--formerly of MASN, now of SportsNet New York--did two launches over two years), but instead Darling turned it into a retrospective of MASN's early days. A long, hilarious excerpt after the jump.
Darling said that he should have seen warning signals before he was even hired. Just two days before the 2005 season was scheduled to open, Darling was sitting in his home in Lake Tahoe when his agent called and told him that MASN wanted to hire him to do color commentary for the Nationals during the team's first season in Washington. Darling had to make a decision in two hours.
Darling never auditioned for the job. He didn't even have any audition tapes. But he decided to go for it, and caught the redeye to Philadelphia, where the Nationals were opening the season.
He arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel and went straight to bed. When he woke up, he called Proctor and arranged to meet him in the hotel lobby.
Darling had never met Proctor and says he did not know what the veteran play-by-plan man looked like. At noon, just three hours before the Nationals' first-ever pitch, Darling and Proctor met. The duo made a move to catch a taxi to the game, but were stopped by MASN executives who wanted everyone to take the same car to the stadium. They would have a production meeting in the car, Darling said.
Five men climbed into a Toyota Corrolla, rented by MASN's then-general manager Bob Whitelaw, and drove to the game. Darling remembers Whitelaw getting lost, causing the normally 20-minute trip to take more than an hour.
"We were like the Keystone Cops, with heads hanging out of windows," Darling said. "Our production meeting was held in a rent-a-car. What can I say?"
In some respects, Darling considers that first day the high-water mark of his tenure in Washington. He said he was so inexperienced that he sometimes failed to say anything when Proctor fed him lines, sometimes just shrugging his shoulders.
"That was our broadcast," he said. "It was, I'm sure, disturbing for many people tuning in."
The 2005 season had the Nationals on the road for the season's first 10 days. When they got back to Washington, Darling had no place to stay, so he crashed on Proctor's couch for three weeks before finally moving to the Wyndham Hotel.
Now, Darling wins Emmys while MASN very likely will be debuting its fourth Nats TV team in four seasons. All part of The Plan.
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