"That ball is high, it is far, it iiiiis [short pause]... gyawn!"

That is the famous home run call of Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling. The radio voice of the Yankees, Sterling is known for many things, but certainly he's known for his home run calls. The Sterling home run call contains two separate and distinct parts. The first is the "it is high it is far" part. It doesn't matter if the ball is indeed high or far. That's just window dressing. The pertinent part is that it is "[short pause] gyawn!"

That would be enough by itself, and many may argue that it is, but Sterling's call doesn't end there. Each Yankee homer is personalized, if you will (or even if you won't), with a player-specific exclamation. The elements of the exclamation are simple; one or two short sentences or phrases that incorporate rhyme, puns, plays on words (often the player's name), or plain old alliteration. As for the organization of said exclamation, there are the three basic rules that a Sterling home run call must follow:

  1. Having anything to do with baseball is unnecessary
  2. Making sense is unnecessary
  3. Cultural and historical sensitivity is unnecessary

For example, first-year Yankee Jacoby Ellsbury received the standard "That ball is high, it is far, it is gone!" (TBIHIIFIIG) followed by "Jacoby Ellsburies it! A jack by Jacoby!" The first... I hesitate to call it a sentence, but the first part is a play on Ellsbury's last name, though I'm not completely clear on what 'burying it' has to do with hitting a home run. If it did have anything to do with homering though, wow, it would be perfect! Then, for an exclamation of the exclamation, Sterling offers the second sentence. That one centers on alliteration, as both Jack and Jacoby start with the letter J! That's just juicy! Hey, I think I got the hang of this!

Let's look at another one. Take rookie and Yankee sensation Yangervis Solarte (please!). When Solarte hit his first major league homer earlier this year, Sterling was ready. Of course we got TBIHIIFIIG'd. Then, like Ellsbury, we got two more bits to drive the point home (that Solarte had homered). First came, "Never nervous Yangervis!" Like the Ellsbury comment, this works better the less you think about it. Nervous and Yangervis rhyme, so… wait! I'm thinking about it. Oops! Silly me. Then Sterling sang the first bit of Dean Martin's "Volare" but replaced the title word with "So-lar-te" which sounds vaguely similar. As someone who can't sing, I have no grounds to criticize someone else's singing, so considering that, we'll just end this thought right here.

You may have noticed Rule 3 above (cultural and historical sensitivity is unnecessary) and thought I'm just being mean. Actually, this has been a criticism of Sterling. The most striking example of this was his call of Alex Rodriguez's home runs. Sterling would bellow, "An A-bomb… from A-Rod!!" Sure, they both start with "A" so there's that, but the history-astute will recall the actual A-bombs dropped on Japan that preceded the end of World War II ended the lives of, conservatively, over 200,000 people. So there's that, too.

But most of Sterling's calls are just silly or nonsensical. In the video below, you can see a few more from this season just so you can get the gist, with calls for Kelly Johnson, Dean Anna, Brian McCann, Brian Roberts, Ellsbury and Solarte:

Sterling has been doing this for a while now. Back in the glory days of the latest Yankee dynasty he had calls for Bernie Williams ("Bern, baby, Bern!"), and Jorge Posada ("Georgie juices one!") as well. Some enjoy speculating on what Sterling's calls will be for the newest Yankees after they sign with New York in free agency. We already know those players are Yankees. Where's the challenge? Too easy, I say! Instead, we're going to write John Sterling's home run calls for players the Yankees haven't signed yet!

For the list below, I tried to select players who might conceivably become Yankees at some point in their careers, meaning I stayed away from older players and/or players signed to long-term contracts. I made a few exceptions though. In other words, I made up some arbitrary rules and then followed them arbitrarily. Enjoy the list!

Jason Heyward

  1. Sent skyward by Heyward!
  2. Jason jacks it!
  3. Greens and grits, Heyward hits!

…and my favorite:

  1.  Say hey, J-hey!

Notes: The name Heyward presents a lot of interesting possibilities, but J and Hey rhyme and often times (maybe more often than you'd like) the easiest play is the one called.

Manny Machado

  1. Manny mashes it!
  2. Oh man oh man, Manny!
  3. Oh me oh, oh my oh, oh Manny Machado!

…and my favorite:

  1. It's macchiato time for Machado!

Notes: There's something here about the Macarena but I can't get the bat off my shoulder. The great thing about Machado though is his name is alliterative, which opens the door to a whole bunch of laziness.

Brandon Belt

  1. Tighten your belt, Brandon!
  2.  Belt belty-belty belt!
  3.  I detect some bradon! (like "radon")

…and my favorite:

  1. Brandon belts it!

Notes: Brandon Belt will almost certainly never play for the Yankees, but oh if he did. [drools] I only included three rules of a Sterling home run call, but if I was to add a fourth, it would be that obviousness isn't bad and it doesn't get more obvious than a home run hit by a guy named Belt. Anyone listening for complexity will be disappointed.

Mike Trout has homered twice in Yankee Stadium, though his recent extension makes it unlikely he'll wear pinstripes soon. (Getty)

Mike Trout

  1. A rout by Trout!
  2. There's no trapping this trout!
  3. A shower from the Millville meteor!

…and my favorite:

  1. Sings from Schubert's "Die Forelle" ("the Trout"): "So lang dem Wasser Helle, so dacht ich, nicht gebricht, So fängt er die Forelle mit seiner Angel nicht." Hopefully this continues into the next hitter's at-bat.

Notes: The thought of Sterling singing Schubert over 40,000 screaming Yankee fans is almost enough to make me want Trout to sign there. Fortunately, the part of me that roots for silliness above all else has no say in Mike Trout's career decisions. Because if it did, Trout would demand a trade immediately.

Andrew McCutchen

  1.  Andrew McCrushes it!
  2.  A McCrush by McCutchen!
  3.  McCrash! A McCrush!

…and my McFavorite:

  1. Andrew McCrushes it!

Notes: You just know, whatever else is in there, it's going to include the word "McCrush." Run towards the light, my friends.

Paul Goldschmidt

  1.  I'm panning for Gold and I found Schmidt!
  2.  Put your money in Goldschmidt!
  3.  P'tcha for Paul! (P'tcha is a traditional Jewish jelly made from calves feet)

…and my favorite:

  1.  Goldysocks one!

Notes: If he hits a grand slam, Sterling could yell, "Goldysocks one and the three bears can all headed for home!" I'm going to owe the universe more apologies than I have breaths left to take after this article.

Xander Bogaerts:

  1.  X marks the spot!
  2.  The Arabian Assassin!
  3.  Xander Bo-gashes it!

...and my favorite:

  1. Blood, Sugar, X, Magic!

Notes: That last one is probably too hip, but hey, a guy can dream. And even though I noted it as my favorite, it probably isn't. I think I love the Arabian Assassin more because it fits better. First off, it's something you could yell, so that works. Then it's alliterative, so again, check. Then, it makes no sense. Hypothetical Yankee Bogaerts hit a home run, which is different than targeting and then murdering someone in cold blood. Finally, Bogaerts isn't Arabian, he's from Aruba, which makes him Arubian. So well done, made-up John Sterling, well done.

Most expect the Marlins to trade Giancarlo Stanton, so why not to a place where "Giancarlo SLAM-ton!" could exist? (Getty)

Giancarlo Stanton

  1. Giancarlo SLAM-ton!
  2. Stanton stands tall! Touch 'em all, Giancarlo!
  3. A casa correre, Giancarlo! (that's "a home run" in Italian according to Google Translate)

...and my favorite:

  1. It's high and far-lo for Giancarlo!

Notes: That last one is great because of course it starts with TBIHIIFIIG, which is followed up by almost the same thing. Job done! A side note: Can you imagine how many home runs Stanton would hit in Yankee Stadium? One of the unintended consequences of Stanton-on-the-Yankees would be a permanent case of laryngitis for John Sterling. "That ball is high! It is far! It is… cough cough[inaudible]"

Troy Tulowitzki

  1.  Take'n the train to Tulo-town! [makes train noise]
  2.  This one's no Trojan horse!
  3.  A blow-lo from Tulo!

…and my favorite:

  1. A hitzki from Tulowitzki!

Notes: The train noise thing is nice and maybe you throw that in once in a while just to spice things up, or on the off chance Tulowitzki hits a second homer that day, but I hope we all can agree there's just no way 'Tulowitzki' isn't getting carved up for this call.

Bryce Harper

  1. A harpoon from Harper!
  2. A bullet from Bryce! Right to the Heart-per!
  3. Cook some rice, Bryce!

…and my favorite:

  1.  He killed a mockingbird!

Notes:  I've not heard any literary references in Sterling's calls, but I haven't heard them all so it's quite possible I've missed the most erudite. In any case, no harm in trying to elevate the form. I might like the rice call best though because, rice? Why?

* * *

Some people get bent out of shape over Sterling's calls. They're showy, they don't add anything, they make the play about Sterling instead of the player. But whether you like them or not, they are the rare show of silliness in the middle of a sports broadcast. At the height of the game, in the moment when the game is the most serious, when the score has just changed, the game has been altered, and the players and fans are the most hyped, that's when Sterling strikes. If nothing else, that's worth noting.

And if you think the alliteration two sentences back was by accident, you're nuts.