Wanted: For Gary Thorne, a Helping Hand
Each of us has been there, more often than we would like. We call "yesterday" "tomorrow," misuse "before" for "after," misstate a name, score, or date. It happens. We are often last to know that the last laugh is on us.
At such a time, we need a nudge, a knowing wink, some signal to correct us. The helpful, not harsh, assist saves us from ourselves. Where was ESPN Television Gary Thorne’s helping hand last (August 16) night?
Thorne broadcast ESPN TV’s "Wednesday Night Baseball" (Red Sox 6, Tigers 4) from Boston’s Fenway Park: to the native Downeaster, akin to coming home. Gary was breezy, erudite, and crisp, his baseball intuitions in tune.
Thorne had one problem: The calendar kept eluding him. On Friday, August 18, the Sox begin a five-game series with New York. ESPN will air three of its set-tos, including Friday afternoon’s. Literally, Gary couldn’t wait, errantly hyping "tomorrow’s" non-existent Thursday game. A minor gaffe? By itself. Repetition made it worse.
At least half-a-dozen times Thorne touted "tomorrow"’s Sox-Yanks opener that in fact begins Friday. At home, a viewer grew embarrassed — or wondered what he meant. Inexplicably, Thorne never corrected himself. Whose fault? Not his: I misspeak daily. The fault lay with those who could have helped — but didn’t.
Analyst Steve Philips might have alerted him between innings. Surely the production truck knew of Gary’s serial faux pas. From Bristol’s ESPN Center, a cell phone could have reached the booth: Fellas, wake up! It’s Friday, not Thursday! Instead, oblivious to his blunder, Thorne twisted slowly in the wind.
Gary has an offbeat, keen sense of humor. (After all, that Sox connection.) He could have forged tongue-in-cheek apology — if only he had known. The empire that calls itself the Baseball Network failed itself — and us — last night.