Thursday, July 12, 2007

And That's The Way It Is

Dan Patrick announced recently that he is leaving ESPN. Now I'm not sure if this is really a sports story, but I felt like I had to say a few words about the end of the "Patrick era" at ESPN. He became the lead anchor of Sportscenter in 1989, which was just about the time that ESPN became my number one destination on my TV dial. To me, Dan Patrick was Sportscenter, so it feels a little like Walter Cronkite leaving the evening news.

Dan gave us the sports news in a very understated manner. He didn't go in for the screaming over the top hyperbole that many of his contemporaries seemed to favor. Where others would scream, Dan would whisper. His home run call was a simple, "gone", and the only catch phrase that he used was his "en fuego" reference to basketball players on a roll. Dan always let the sports do the entertaining. He never fell into the trap that anchors such as Chris Berman and Stuart Scott have. They seem to have forgotten that the teams and the players are the reason that people tune in. If I never hear another home run call by Berman, I'll be a happy man.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of having lunch with Dan and few of the other ESPN personalities at a family style Italian restaurant. While I won't mention names (Sean Salisbury, Rob Dibble), it was pretty fair to say that Dan was the most dignified and friendly of the group. He was, just as he appeared to be on Television. I don't really watch Sportscenter much anymore, but it was always a pleasure when I happened upon Dan Patrick sitting in the anchor's chair. He still remained a breath of fresh air on a network filled with ex-jocks and indistinguishable talking heads.

Sportscenter is still an occasional destination for me, but it won't be the same for me knowing that Dan Patrick will not be returning. I guess after being a Sportscenter anchor for 17 years it is time for him to, as he put it, try something different. I wish him luck in whatever his next endeavour may be. It is sad to see him leave ESPN however. Quiet and understated are not really the things that they are looking for these days in Bristol. It may be a long time before we see his like again on that network.

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