Patty Mills

Sports Talk Radio In Portland

The rise of sports talk radio, the sort found on the Portland AM dial at 620, 750, and 1080, gives a green light to fans who ought to have a yellow or red light.

In a ploy to reach across gender lines, radio stations employ high-talking hosts who could be male or female on any given day.

When the broadcasting teams consist of a radio professional and a former player, it gets awkward. Do we really need to hear former professional football players sound like Valley Girls?

Up-talking at the end of sentences used to indicate a question. Radio hosts use the same technique to show they’re tuned into the issues.

But what are they really saying to the rest of us?

Host #1: “This is the biggest test in recent Blazer history down in San Antonio.”

Host #2: “Yeah. No. It’s all that, but they need to bring their A-Game if they want to keep playing.”

We hear enough about that A-Game to last at least six seasons. You’d think professional athletes in a win-or-go-home game, or any game for that matter, would be cause enough to bring out the A-Game.

Imagine going to a school yard basketball court alone to shoot around. Another guy parks his car and starts walking toward you with a ball. The closer he gets, the bigger he looks, until you recognize him as a Trail Blazer, past or recent past.

Do you think in your wildest dreams that this man will lose any game you could play on a basketball court? They’ve been around the game long enough to hear players tell how they beat others when they didn’t expect to.

You’re not leaving that court with a story to tell your friends, at least not a story that includes you winning. Players say things like, “I’d run over my own mother to score a basket.”

It sounds funny, but it’s true. At some point in their development, athletes gain a degree of separation between their opponents, the game, and themselves. Would they run over their mother? Maybe, maybe not, but she’s not there and you are. Now ask, “Would this guy run over me?”

He would, and he’d probably help you up afterwards with an apology and a show of good sportsmanship. That’s the story he leaves you with.

Later, you call a sports talk radio show and tell them how nice the Blazer was, not how coldblooded.

Host #1: “So you got trucked by an NBA player? Can you tell us the difference between that and getting plowed by a normal rec-league player?”

Host #2: “You’d think speed and size are the biggest difference.”

You: “It was an honor to play against a legend.”

Host #1: “What was his name?”

You: “I didn’t ask, but he said he was a Blazer a few years back.”

Host #2: “Not a current player?”

You: “They’re too busy with their elimination game.”

Host #1: “You’d think so, right?”

You: “What do you think the Blazers will do in this series?”

Host #2: “We think they are deer in the headlights of the Mac truck that is the San Antonio Spurs. But we’d like your opinion. What do you expect?”

You: “The Blazers are learning the game at each level. They didn’t make the playoffs. When they did, they were supposed to lose, but learn from the experience. Except they beat Houston’s dysfunction and moved on.”

Host #1: “You’ve got dysfunction right. It’s a lot like this radio show.”

Host #2: “Hey, come on. I’m not that bad.”

You: “The regular season has its rules. So does the first round. The second round brings a new set of rules, shown by the scores of the first two Spurs’ games.”

Host #1: “Not pretty, for sure.”

Host #2: “Sort of like Charles Barkley’s comments on San Antonio women. Did you hear about that, caller?”

You: “I did not, but I wouldn’t put much weight behind Charles’ opinion of women. He seems to demean them with his attitude.”

Host #1: “Well, look at the time. We need to move on.”

You: “If Portland climbs the playoff ladder, it’ll be one rung at a time. This year it’s the first round win. Next year, a second round win. Two years out a third round win. Fourth year, a loss in the finals. On this schedule it’ll take five years to raise another banner in the Moda Center.”

Host #2: “A five year plan. I sort of like that.”

Host #1: “That’s a long ways away.”

You: “Longer than the odds of getting the Spurs to a seventh game?”

Host #1: “If I were a betting man, I’d say the window ought to be open quite a while.”

Host #2: “But we’ve seen how fast it closes with Roy and Oden.”

You: “One last question and I’ll take your answer off the air. Will the Blazers win if LaMarcus has a game like the first two in Houston? Thanks for taking my call.”

Host #1: “It’s an age old question. Is my best better than your best?”

Host #2: “And let me remind you, that’s why they play the games. We’ll be back after a station break with a more in-depth answer.”

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