Hello, Ken? This is Bill in Washington. Look, I don't have a sports question, really. I just want to say that I don't care about all that stuff they're saying about you in the papers.
I don't care that you never played linebacker for Boston College, or that your "scouting organization" may be a figment of your imagination or that your doctorate is from an extince diploma mill. Hey, I don't even care that your facts aren't always on the money.
The only facts I'm concerned about right now are: 1) you've got the best sports show on radio, bar none, and 2) you're about to let them chase you out of town.
We don't listen to you because of your hoked-up credentials any more than you read a newspaper article because it was written by a "prize-winning journalist." Hey, we're all prize-winning journalists, if only because our mother's garden club gave us a plaque, and it doesn't matter. It's just something to jazz up the bio.
Is it cheating? I don't think so, not in any real sense. I mean it's not like a swimmer popping anabolic steroids, or a kicker using a weighted shoe. Those things change the quality of the performance. Your perhaps nonexistent scouting, which you insist you do "as an avocation," doesn't affect your performance.
It's your performance, not your alleged background, that makes yours the most popular sports show on radio. You are interesting. And you know more about sports than virtually anybody else. Even Bob Ferry of the Bullets said that. You think he cares that you played linebacker for the Park League or that you got your doctorate through the mails?
No, sir. The only thing he cares about is that you know your stuff.
A psychiatrist would probably say that we like you because you represent certainty in a world full of doubt. Maybe he'd be right. I spend all day talking to people who either hedge everything they say or else say things that flat don't make sense to us. ("Reagan's tax cuts could prove inflationary unless they result in renewed business and investor confidence. . . ." "U.S.-Mexican relations could be severely strained by Mexico's population growth, which, based on current trends, will reach 100 zillion by the year 2000. . . .")
You listen to this kind of stuff all day, and you're grateful when the guy on your car radio says flatly that the backup left tackle at Mudville State (a hair under 6-3, 229 pounds, turns the 40 in 4.9) projects as a right outside linebacker on a pro team that uses the 34.
Incredibly often, it turns out that you're right. The sportswriters love to point out the times when you're wrong, but what do they know? Does anybody ever call them to ask whether Buck Williams is a natural strong-side forward or
More to the point, does anybody ever call them to find out what they think of Ken Beatrice? No way. The only opinions of your work that matter to us are our own. We think you're out of sight.
We also think you're not a quitter. Let these newspaper guys take their best shots: we'll keep listening. After all, your ranking with us does not depend on how many points they score against you, only on how many you score with us. Remember, they didn't like Warner Wolf either.
The official word is that you're on vacation until Thursday. We know, of course, that you're thinking about throwing in the towel, waving your hands and saying no mas.
Don't do it, Ken. Don't pay any attention to the writers. I mean, one of them actually compared you unfavorably with another guy he described as "lighter, wittier."
But your job isn't to impress the writers; let them listen to the other guy.
Your job is to impress us, and the fact that your ratings are twice the other guy's should tell you that we're impressed. Two-to-one. Not too shabby.
Hey, Ken, I'm going to let you go now, but let me say that we're awfully glad we made your acquaintance. And puhleeze get back to us. Real soon.