[size=85]CLOWN PRINCE OF PUCK: Remember Max Patkin, the Clown Prince of Baseball?
Well, the Rivermen hit one out of the park over the weekend when they booked a broadcast comedy act, Ashley Scharge, and had him do play-by-play for their home games Friday and Saturday.
Regular Rivermen radio voice Brendan Burke hooked up all the equipment for Scharge â€” weâ€™re not sure if thatâ€™s his stage name or real name â€” then did the pregame and postgame shows so Scharge would not have to talk to any players or coaches.
But the game broadcast was all Schargeâ€™s, and it was hysterical stuff.
For two nights, he repeatedly butchered the names of Rivermen players Nicholas Drazenovic (â€œDreznovitch,â€ â€œDraznick,â€ â€œNickâ€), Steve Regier (â€œRay-ger,â€™â€™ â€œRegiearrrâ€) and Jonas Junland. In his name, the Jâ€™s are pronounced as Yâ€™s, but Scharge called him â€œJune-land,â€™â€™ like the month.
There were plenty of other mispronounciations, too. Desperate to help, Burke resorted to tape-recording the proper pronunciations. Scharge held the recorder to his ear and listened during the broadcast, but he still botched them.
Thank God the Rivermen traded Andy Wozniewski earlier in the week.
Anyway, a lot of Rivermen fans didnâ€™t get it. The team got some angry e-mails, while others switched over to the visiting teamâ€™s broadcast â€” which, of course, is a disservice to Peoriaâ€™s corporate sponsors, who pay for a presence on the home broadcast.
They heard Scharge confuse backchecking with forechecking, the Rockford zone with the Peoria zone, goaltender Manny Legaceâ€™s right with his left and endured 3-5 seconds of dead air between most sentences because he couldnâ€™t keep up with the action on the ice. He even credited Rockford with picking a player in the NHL draft.
This made a lot of customers believe it was just an incompetent, bush-league broadcast.
Now everything I just told you was true, except for one thing. Iâ€™ll reveal it later in this space.
TIP OF THE DAY: The Rivermen have revised upward their earlier estimates on the amount gathered for Childrenâ€™s Hospital of Illinois last week from the teamâ€™s inaugural â€œTip-A-Rivermenâ€™â€™ charity event at Gracieâ€™s Sports Grille and Pizza in Washington.
The event â€” at which Rivermen players served as waiters for more than 100 fans who booked tables, and later led the diners in songs and an auction â€” raised $5,478.
All sides had a blast, and the Rivermen plan to do this again next season.
Check my Cleveâ€™s World sports blog at www.pjstar.com
for pictures from the event.
SHLAGEE, SCHLUDGE, SLARG? OK, the Scharge radio guy I just told you about earlier in this space?
He was not an act. His was an official audition. Yep.
Oh, everything detailed up there really did happen. But he was in Peoria for what was supposed to be a serious radio tryout.
Seems SCP Worldwide â€” the New York-based owners of the Rivermen and St. Louis Blues â€” yanked Burke off the broadcasts Friday and Saturday so they could fly in Scharge for a two-game tryout.
Never mind he lasted five games on the air at ECHL Wheeling this season before, well, â€œleavingâ€ that job.
Never mind he lasted two weeks doing play-by-play for Northern Michigan University hockey before, well, â€œleavingâ€ that job.
Never mind this was an insult to Burke. Or to the Rivermen players and coaches, or the franchise tradition that has produced broadcasters like Norm Ulrich and NHLers like Matt McConnell and Tom Callahan.
Never mind it was an embarrassment to the fans, and to the teamâ€™s radio sponsors, and that this self-serving stunt came in the midst of the most important weekend of the season.
â€œSCP Worldwide and the Rivermen are very happy with Brendan Burke,â€™â€™ Rivermen chief operating officer Josh Morin said Monday night. â€œHeâ€™s our guy and weâ€™re committed to him long-term.â€™â€™
Morin declined to answer any other questions, and Burke had no comment.
I wonder if SCP would pull this stunt with the Blues broadcasts? Or is it just Peoria the ownership seems to disrespect?
I think SCP Worldwide owes an apology to Burke, and to Rivermen fans and sponsors.
Oh. And can I join the coaching staff for a couple games?