Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Does the Heavy-Duty Sports Fan Think About Norm?

I'm trying to accommodate Confessors who get to hear more ot The Ticket than I do, or perhaps listen at different times.  We did a BaD segment a couple of weeks ago, so now I'd like to give Norm's show some attention.

I am not a heavy-duty sports fan, so I don't have an answer to the question posed in today's headline.  I got to Dallas in 2004 and began listening to The Ticket shortly thereafter.  I was under the impression that Norm was a fairly revered sports broadcaster in DFW.

In recent weeks, I've been surprised by some comments and other Internet postings I've happened onto that treat Norm with something less than sportsy respect.    One blogger has offered three articles in 2007 and 2008 positing that Norm is, in fact, an asshole, mainly based on the way he treats callers and colleagues.  (Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

Personally, I have always liked his show, and from time to time he'll have some original reporting or sports theory that at a minimum shows that he thinks about the subjects on which he broadcasts.   He seems like a pretty good sport about pranks and, despite his age and infirmities, hangs in there pretty well with the Compound and Campout stuff.  But I've also heard that he's a difficult colleague, death on interns, and the like.  (The Norm/Dan dynamic is of particular interest.)   His short fuse with certain callers is the stuff of legend, of course. 

But the product that emerges during his two hours has always struck me as pretty darned good personality-driven radio.  The Ticket has even managed to make show-biz hay out of his grandiosity -- they've turned him into a drop Vesuvius and, to his credit, he doesn't seem to mind.

The one thing I've always wondered about Norm is whether he is actually much of a sports analyst.  It seems to me that despite his repuration for grand pronouncements, he has a hard time taking a position on some fairly clear-cut issues -- the one that comes to mind is Wade Phillips's competence, where he was all over the lot. 

And for all his analytical efforts, his skill as a prognosticator would seem to be in considerable question.  When I pondered this before, I heard from a commenter who said that he'd been with Norm at a horse race where Norm gave out his tips, and the commenter came out ahead, so maybe racing's his thing.  But didn't I hear this week that Norm's brackets were almost dead last in the pool, and that that is usually the case?

As I say -- I like Norm's show a lot and I think he brings a lot to The Ticket.  He's a first-rate radio broadcaster. 

But what do people in the know about sports think about Norm as a sportsy guy? 


James said...

One night in July 1994, I was watching a Rangers game on TV. Norm was the TV analyst. Kenny Rogers was pitching, and he went 3-up, 3-down the first two innings. Norm said something to the effect of "You know, the Angels aren't hitting well lately, and Kenny has a good record against them historically. We might see something special tonight.
It was because of that comment that I stuck with the game and never changed channels. As you know, Kenny became the first Rangers pitcher to ever throw a perfect game that night. And Norm called it in the middle of the 2nd inning.
Doesn't really answer your question, but the point is that Norm has something. Not sure what it is, but he has something.

Uwe said...

There's little doubt that Norm Hitzges has a blistering sports acumen and has clearly forgotten more about professional sports than most of us will ever know.

No one disputes this.

However, it's the stories about him inexplicably giving customer service-type people grief over being inconvenienced, running interns ragged and his demeanor and attitude with callers, who he willingly takes. It just seems his sports brain is huge and his social brain is very tiny.

I listen to his show. I'll switch it if he's oging to twist off on some idiotic caller.

DRW1961 said...

I think that Norm has some Asperger Syndrome tendencies. Not full blown, mind you, but his social interactions and his tendency to stick to what he's familiar with and what he knows exhibit some aspects of A/S. Additionally, he's probably borderline savant and savants tend to show some A/S tendencies as well.

Anonymous said...

DRW1961: With all due respect, Norm does not have Asperger tendencies. (Which, by the way, is the "new" ADHD in the psychology game.) If he's a savant, then so is Bob Sturm; so is nearly every research scientist, medical student, Ph.D. candidate, and orchestra musician; and so's half the guys I hang out with at the bar down the street from my house. Norm's just a guy who is passionate about everything he does. And he happens to earn a living at what he's most passionate about. His social skills are highly developed (unlike someone with Aspergers or Aspergeresque tendencies). One only has to recall his sociability with his fellow coworkers at the Muser's Camp Out to see evidence of this. Not too mention his journeys to foreign destinations (often isolated) with others.

While Norm might commit some rather prickish acts, he's just a passionate oddball at heart.

Anonymous said...

To add on to my last post... I'm a fan of Norm's. But even I have to turn the dial when he dons the robes and powdered wig of the barrister. I've said it here before, and I'll say it again: He is the worst amateur lawyer I've ever run across in my life--and that's saying something! In his efforts to discredit others' opinions, he will parse words until he confuses himself, change the argument until the caller is exhausted (and then declares the caller to have had the same opinion as he all along, only the caller wasn't articulating it well), and commit one logical fallacy after another in service of his position (all the while smugly acting as if his reasoning is both sound and valid). In short, it's maddening. Oh that and the smacking of his gums... that drives me nuts, as well.

cancer monkey said...

The gum smacking, the sniffing and the periodic willful ignorance to the facts drives me absolutely nuts about him. I have great respect for him and his immense body of work, but when he gets on his soapbox and gets his serious voice going, there is no bigger tune-out to me.

If not for his latest backing band, I wouldn't listen to his show at all. I listen to the Musers when driving to work in the morning and will stream once I get to the office, but as soon as I hear Little Miss Can't Be Wrong, I switch to Pandora or Rhapsody. Norm's still on when I head out to lunch, so I'll catch the last few minutes of his show, but that's about all I can stand. I respect him hugely, I just can't listen to him.

Anonymous said...

One thing I love/hate about Norm is his "I am now going to speak for another person as I would like for he/she to speak" shtick. One one hand it damn near brings me to tears with laughter, while on the other it makes me very frightened to think that he actually believes that he might, in some way, influence the individual to do what he perceives to be the right thing. And I say the latter because nearly every instance of this phenomenon is prefaced with the following qualifier: "If X is listening..."

Amazing stuff, for certain.

Scott said...

Hmm, Norm... So many thoughts.

I will start with the eating on air, gum smacking, etc... Did he do that 20 years ago, or is this a new, "I will do what I want because I am old" bit? I was in the DFW area then, but the last thing on my agenda was talk radio, especially when you could listen to the greatness of Q102 and Kidd Kraddick's "Burn your buns"

I had the fortune to attend one of Norm's "classes" at Lonestar several years ago. I will say this, I know as much about horse racing as I do flower arrangement, maybe less. And, that was the first and probably last horse race for me. BUT, Norm did sound as though he knew a thing or two. If he does not... he presented it well, and had passion.

In the end, I would rather have to punch out of a segment because of misguided passion, than stick with a loud d-bag broadcast while looking at his biceps in a mirror.

And, BTW, while thinking back in my mind to recall a memory of Norm from the good ole days, I went all the way back to "Bowling for Dollars" with Verne Lundquist.... Good times.

Scott said...

And, in defense of my Kidd Kraddick reference, he was good once upon a time. And, with the exception of the little one, wasn't DFW radio better back then, speaking of the 80s here.

P1 Steven said...

I have listened to Norm basically my entire life. He use to be on 5-9(?) on KLIF. He is ingrained into my sports life. Yet, there are still times I tune out (his soap box sessions). I enjoy his interviews. He is very good at getting the guest comfortable to ask a tough question. In addition, I met Norm at one of his road shows. He was very nice, and went out of his way to say hello.

P1 Steven said...

Which reminds me... Does anyone know about the prank some listener/caller getting an interview about overcoming cancer & doing some great feat? I am pretty sure it happened, but the on-air crew is very hush hush about it. (Probably since it was such a below the belt prank)

Anonymous said...

People, please, for the love of all that's good... it's "shtick" not "stick."