If you see an Islanders fan pulled over at the side of the road and they are laughing uproariously, chances are they are not listening to Howard Stern, O and A or the Best of Foreigner. They are, however, listening to the most hilarious thing to hit the airwaves in months.
The latest radio spot promoting the sports section of the New York Daily News - it's a knee-slapper!
In the radio commercial, the announcer extols the virtues of the News' sports section, twice giving star billing to sports editor Leon Carter. Here's the part that has Islanders (and Devils) fans rolling in the aisles: "Sports editor Leon Carter makes sure that all New York sports teams have the best coverage in town."
I'm telling ya, folks: it only gets funnier with each listen. I'm at the point now where I volunteer to go to Dairy Barn during my Yankees games, praying Robby Cano makes the third out so I have a chance of hearing the Daily News commercial.
If only it were a joke.
For the record, the Daily News covers most Islanders home games once baseball season is over and does not send beat writer Peter Botte on the road. We get the occasional off-day mention, usually in that box where they lump in somone breaking the pole vault record and golf tournaments Tiger doesn't play in. Sometimes, when the Islanders do something of moderate interest, like fire Neil, give Ricky a landmark contract or trade for Captain Canada, we even get a couple hundred words.
It wasn't that long ago the Islanders received regular coverage in the Daily News. Anthony McCarron, now a baseball writer there, was on us every day. So was Ralph Vacchiano, now the Giants beat writer.
Besides the obvious - losing coverage in a major NY tabloid - the dropoff is an even bigger shame because Pete Botte is one of the best sports reporters in town. Islanders fans know this because Pete used to cover the team for the Post. Back then, he had plenty of space for his wicked commentary and exclusive reports. He was so good.
No one knew how to get more out of Mike Milbury than Botte. How did he do it? Simply by listening. When it looked like Mike might be done with his rant, Pete would make eye contact with the other writers on the beat as if to say, "Don't ask another question"! There would be about ten seconds of silence and then Mike would continue on, always delivering his A material. Botte has those kind of instincts.
Pete still does that today - he has the pride in his work to get to as many practices as he can, even when he knows he probably won't have space - but it's just not the same. Garth and Ted usually put periods on their sentences and well, even when they get off a zinger, Botte usually doesn't have the room in the next day's paper to get it in.
I continue to hope the Daily News changes its position and gets Pete back on us full-time. And then when it happens, that son of a gun Botte will probably make me regret it!
I know I'll get some emails wondering if it's smart to go after the Daily News. Fact is, I wouldn't if it weren't for the absurdist comedy of the radio spot. That's just asking for it. The marketing staff at the Daily News should not insult Islanders fans. You can't NOT cover the team and then run a commercial like that.
And I certainly don't blame Leon Carter for the spot. I knew Leon briefly when I did a short stint a long time ago at Newsday, where he was a up-and-comer at the sports desk. I deal with him from time to time as I push for more coverage. Leon doesn't strike me as a guy who would walk into a board meeting and declare, "Hey, I think we should do a radio commercial where you talk about me like I'm Woodward and Bernstein!"
For now, if you're an Islanders fan who likes the Daily News but you're angry Pete Botte isn't with us at least five days a week, I guess you could do two things: don't buy the newspaper and contact Daily News editor-in-chief Martin Dunn with a polite note of disappointment.
Make no mistake: we want the Daily News back covering us. We need the Daily News covering us.
Please just change that radio spot. My stomach can't take it.