Hair Balls likes to listen to sports radio. We aren't exactly sure why, but we do. We've got a bunch of stations to choose from in Houston, which gives us lots of opportunities to hear interviews, analysis and banter, some good, some bad, about all things sports.
As syndicated host Jim Rome is fond of saying, "The show is always better when there is more of me and less of you." The "you" he is referring to are the callers. Callers drive sports radio, but they are, by and large, predictable at best and downright embarrassing at worst. Occasionally, someone who has a good take calls in and things go well. That is rare, however, and we should know. We've been annoying sports radio callers ourselves. We're not proud of it.
For all of us who enjoy sports radio but wish that the smart people who we assume are listening would call in and save us from the crazies, here is our list of the nine most annoying types of sports radio callers.
9. Interrupting Guy Sports radio hosts can be boisterous, obnoxious and even downright stupid, but understanding the ebb and flow of how they handle calls saves all of us a lot of awkward wincing when the caller keeps trying to break into the host's response. The result is either a cacophony of random voices yelling wildly or a bunch of broken phrases like "and I..." "but..." and "uh, well..." in between every syllable of the host's chatter.
Every caller gets a chance to rant at the beginning of the call. Seize the moment, then let the host do his job.
8. Remember Me Guy We aren't talking about the guy who calls in to gloat (more on that below). This is the guy that either met one of the hosts at an event three years ago or called in six months ago to talk about NBA trade scenarios and thinks that because of those two-minute interactions the host should be all, "Hey, Bob! Man, I haven't seen you in ages. How's the family?"
Hundreds of callers make their way onto the airwaves every week. More show up at events. The chances a host will remember you are slim, so just say your peace and save yourself the embarrassment.
7. I Told You So Guy This is the worst of the "remember me" variety. This is the guy who calls in the day after his prediction, obnoxiously uttered on air the week before, comes true. He's a gloater. He's an asshole. What's worse, he's almost always a hypocrite because he would never call in and say, "Well, I guess I was wrong. I'm an idiot," when his prognostications turned out to be just the rantings of a moron.
There are very rare instances when guys call in to eat crow and we commend them for that, particularly if they were really smug on their previous call. But, normally, this is a jerk whose biggest moment in the last year came when he got the equivalent of one question right during the first round of Jeopardy. Congratulations, Nostradamus.
6. Conspiracy Guy Teams lose. Most of the time they lose because the other team was better. They also lose because they don't execute or have things not go their way. We're confident that the officials don't set the outcome of most games, even in the NBA.
And despite the rampant east coast bias in the sports media and big market bias among television networks, there is no legitimate proof any league wants a specific franchise to win so badly, they will tilt the scales in their favor. If that were the case, the Knicks wouldn't be the shittiest team in the NBA and the Cowboys would have won more than one playoff game in the last decade. 5. Old Guy Sometimes, it's just funny when grandpa dials the phone and starts talking about how things were in his day. Other times, it's just uncomfortable. Whatever the case, there is nothing like an old timer getting a moment on the radio and ranting about thugs, tattoos, showboating, sissies and reverse discrimination. Back in his day, kids didn't need no fancy plastic hats to protect their heads. They used meat helmets, and, damnit, they were glad to have them!
4. Blind Supporter Guy Blind fans are usually nothing more than minor annoyances, but they manage to put the needle in the red on our stupid-caller-o-meter when they give themselves nicknames like "Texan Mike" or "Yankee Joe." The same needle nearly flies off the scale when "Longhorn Bubba" calls out "Aggie Fan" on the air.
Hair Balls would like to lend you some advice. It's great that you paint your face on game day and own every piece of memorabilia you can find. It's sweet that your wife accepts the fact that she can't have a normal conversation with you during football season. But leave the fandom off the airways. It makes you sound like an idiot and even more than usual.
3. Insider Guy It's hard to understand if the guy who calls and tells the host, "My brother's buddy is the cousin of Andre Johnson's trainer's nephew and he told me that Andre hates Matt Schaub," actually does this to help fans or just because he wants someone to think he has a clue. We're guessing it's the latter.
It's amusing to hear his voice strain with incredulity when the host says he hasn't heard anything about that. We'd like to believe he gets so angry that his head explodes like that scene from Scanners, but our hope fades when we hear him on another station an hour later saying the same thing.
2. Business Guy When a caller says his profession on the air as a means of demonstrating his credibility, it is almost always a sign this is going to be a bad call. There are a few moments when it is helpful -- a lawyer explaining the basics of the law to better understand the legal predicament of a player, for example. Mostly, it is a way for the caller to make himself feel like he is smarter than most. He isn't.
The best example is the guy who calls in and says things like, "I'm the CEO of a financial planning company and I have some advice for Gary Kubiak because the coach is really the CEO of the team." Listen up, Zig Ziglar. Just because you push paper for a living and have a fancy title doesn't mean you know dick about football. Making yourself the metaphorical peer of a coach or general manager is not the Jedi mind trick you think it is. It only makes us think you are a douchebag.
1. Doesn't Understand the Seven-Second Delay Guy We'd like to clear this up for anyone who doesn't know. Live television and radio have a delay between what is live and what actually goes over the airwaves. This is done for all sorts of reasons including preventing profanity accidentally or purposefully making its way to the radio or TV.
What this means for you, dear sports radio caller, is that you cannot listen to your radio while you wait on hold because what you hear on your radio is as much as seven seconds delayed from real time. If you are a nerd, think of it as a rift in the space time continuum that lasts seven seconds. If you choose to put your phone down and listen to the radio while on hold, you are either really dumb or you don't care. In either case, we recommend you never use a telephone again, especially not to call in to a talk show.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.