Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review - You Can't Make This Up by Al Michaels

You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television by Al Michaels with Jon Wertheim
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition/First Printing edition (November 18, 2014)

Al Michaels is one of the legendary broadcasters of our time.  A longtime sports broadcaster for ABC and NBC Sports, Michaels takes to print as he shares his memories of a career in broadcasting.

Michaels takes us on a highly entertaining and insightful behind-the-scenes tour as he takes us back through time through some of the most memorable sports telecasts of which he was on the call.  It isn't just the thrilling games that Michaels revisits, it's also those figures who had an impact on Michaels career.

Michaels has been on the call for eight World Series, two NBA Finals, nine Super Bowls, eight Olympics, and hosted three Stanley Cup Finals.  He's never taken his eye off the ball in forty years as a broadcaster.  He's never become jaded nor has he taken his career for granted.  It was almost over before it begun.  Michaels was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers as a broadcast partner for the great Chick Hearn but it didn't last at all.  This false-start would soon lead Michaels to broadcast Minor League Baseball games in Hawaii.

We all grow up dreaming of a sports career.  Not Al Michaels.  He knew from a young age that he wanted to broadcast sports for a career.  His career took him to Hawaii and that was followed by a brief stay with the Cincinnati Reds, where Michaels became friends with both Pete Rose and Johnny Bench.  From Cincy, Michaels moved cross country to broadcast the San Francisco Giants.  It was with San Francisco where Michaels would be hired to be a broadcaster for ABC Sports' Monday Night Baseball.  Working with ABC Sports later led to a full time career, including years on Wide World of Sports and two decades as the voice of Monday Night Football.  Working for ABC also meant working with Howard Cosell.  Cosell wasn't the easiest person to get along with and if you crossed him, you likely never talked with him again.

When NBC Sports won MNF, Michaels would go with them.  He's now been there for nine seasons but he shares his thoughts on what it was like to work with John Madden for seven years.  There was the brief Dennis Miller era and Michaels writes about those years, too.

Michaels' work at the Olympic Games saw him in the broadcast booth for the greatest hockey game ever played and it wasn't even aired live!  The 1980 hockey game between Team USA and Russia was aired live to tape and Michaels shares the stories behind his call of the gold medal run.

Michaels was in the booth for the 1989 World Series and he takes us behind the scenes of the earthquake that hit.

Because of the earthquake and O.J. Simpson, Michaels wasn't limited to just sports reporting.  He also did a bit of journalism, too.  He's no fan of the "You heard it here first" type of broadcasts, which often leads to misinformation.

Through it all, Michaels covers his broadcasting philosophy and the nuances that come with the trade.  He shares what it was like to work with Cris Collinsworth, Bob Uecker, Bob Costas, Jim McKay, Roone Arledge, Tim McCarver, Doc Rivers, Frank Gifford, and Dick Ebersol, to name a few.

This book is highly recommended for sports fans.

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