Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Joke 46 Years in the Making

My usual Saturday morning routine these days is to try to sleep late and fail – generally because the cats are ricocheting off my pillow demanding breakfast – and then go downstairs, feed the cats (even though this just perpetuates the problem) and then get breakfast myself since at that point I’m up and not going back to bed.  I make my Yorkshire Red tea, gather up the butter and my box of gritty Scandinavian rye crackers that I love so much, and settle in to watch whatever random English Premier League game is being broadcast that morning.

Other than the cat part, it’s actually a pretty nice routine.

Today’s game was a fairly lopsided victory by Liverpool over Bournemouth, which came as no surprise if you know where each of those teams stands in the table.  Bournemouth had some pretty good counterattacks, but they got worn down by a much better side and lost 3-0, which is a pretty thorough beating in soccer.

About midway through the second half there was a foul committed by Liverpool, and Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser found himself sprawled out on the pitch as a result.

“Down goes Fraser!” shouted the announcer.

I can’t be the only person listening who found that immoderately funny, can I?

Maybe I can.

For those of you not up on your odd sports references, this is – aside from the spelling – one of the most famous announcing calls in all of boxing history, word for word. 

Joe Frazier was the heavyweight champion of the world when I was a kid, back when people actually paid attention to boxing.  I have no idea who the heavyweight champion is today – haven’t for decades – and I expect that few people reading this know either, off the top of their heads.  There was a time when boxing was a weekly prime-time event and while that was no longer true by the early 1970s it was still a staple of Saturday afternoon’s Wide World of Sports broadcast.  I spent a fair portion of my childhood watching various boxing matches with my dad, who was something of a connoisseur of the sport despite not having done it himself.  He loved Sugar Ray Leonard and valued “boxers” over “fighters.”  Even now I can still tell who fits into which category on those rare, generally Olympic, occasions when I stumble across a few minutes of a match.

We loved Joe Frazier.  He was a local guy – not born in Philadelphia, but that’s where he lived when he was champion and we claimed him as our own – and even in my first-grade class we all knew who he was.  He was the Champ! 

We were all really bummed when he lost the title to George Foreman in 1973.  It was a short fight, and Frazier lost on a TKO.  Howard Cosell called it, and his amazed cry of “Down goes Frazier!  Down goes Frazier!  Down goes Frazier!” is just one of those things you know if you were around then.  It got memed back before memes were a thing.

I like to think that today’s soccer announcer had been waiting a long time to make that call – that he’d looked at the Bournemouth lineup many times over the last however long Fraser has been with the team and filed that line away for future use at the first opportune moment.

There were probably a dozen of us who caught that reference, but sometimes you have to make those jokes even if you’re the only one who gets them.


LucyInDisguise said...

Saturday Night Fights was an actual ‘thing’ in our house when I was growing up. Walking between my dad and the TV was an actual “putting your life in danger” moment. I still remember when that up-start Cassius Clay won the title from Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964, on my dad’s birthday. Said it was the best birthday present he ever got.

My dad was a bit of an asshole. <<<<[20th Century Understatement Award winning conteder]

The real story you should probably focus on is Cosell’s hyper-commentary. That guy would start talking and I’d leave the house and head out to the country …


David said...

Howard Cosell was just one of those things that happened in the 1970s, like Watergate or polyester leisure suits. I have never met anyone who liked the way he announced anything, and yet there he was on the air for every sporting event broadcast between 1964 and 1985, providing endless material for impressionists.

This is my favorite Cosell meme of all time, because I'm twisted that way.

LucyInDisguise said...

I have frequently thought that Disney missed a real opportunity by not placing an animatroic Howard in the Hall of Presidents to do the introductions and analysis of each of the Presidents' performances.

"Oh, the humanity ..."


Unknown said...

You know, you should suggest that to Disney.

"Down goes Nixon! Down goes Nixon! Down goes Nixon!"