Column: Sports talk radio lends itself to hyperbole and make believe

By Tim Pattyson

He’s a ham and egger.” Immortal words of Don Romani, better known as the ‘Dandyman.’

You’ll hear this phrase spouted regularly if you listen to Dandy often enough.

Dandy and his partner James ‘Duke’ Ellingson, talk about sports every weekday afternoon for three or four hours on Ottawa’s sports radio station, The Team 1200.

The job of being host on a sports radio show is definitely not an easy one.

Duke and Dandy are required to fill at least three hours of airtime five times a week. If they don’t have a lot to talk about, listeners will be hearing a lot of hot air.

Instead of letting this happen, Dandy always saves the day with comments like, “Every time the Leafs lose, it’s better than sex for me.”

At the very least, they have to bluff that they know a lot about sports.

While sometimes they make witty or humourous comments, at other times they sound like drunks at the end of the bar shouting the first thing that comes to mind.

In Dandy’s case, “he’s a ham and egger,” is usually that first thought.

Evidence of this is a recent conversation they had after a caller suggested to Duke and Dandy that Ottawa Senators forward Mike Fisher might make the Canadian Olympic hockey team.

The conversation went something like this.

Duke: “Fisher doesn’t have a shot.”

Dandy: “I think he does. Are you telling me that Mike Fisher doesn’t have a shot at the Olympic team?”

Duke: “That’s what I’m saying.”

Dandy: “You’re telling me that he has no shot. That if everyone else gets hurt, he’s got no shot?”

Duke: “If that happens he’s still got about as good of a shot as you or I.”

Mike Fisher is a solid young forward but he’s no Rob Zamuner (another Senator, who made the last Olympic hockey team) and Zamuner’s best shot at the Olympics is if he finds a partner and takes up ice dancing.

Another thing you often hear on shows like Dandy’s is rumour. They like to call it speculation.

“Lindros will be a Maple Leaf by tomorrow,” or “The CFL will confirm Ottawa’s new team sometime this afternoon.”

Well, they’re not that far off; Eric Lindros might be wearing the Maple Leaf soon (for team Canada at the World Championships) and there is a winningpigskin team playing at Lansdowne Park (the Ottawa Gee Gee’s).

In an example of Dandy’s clear-as-mud view of journalistic principles, he recently quoted a supermarket tabloid as a source for a story.

Very reliable, but how about this for an Enquirer headline? “Dandyman has intelligent thought, still awaiting confirmation.”

So, what does “He’s a ham and egger” mean?

The expression comes from times when coal miners held boxing matches. The winners would get prize money and the losers would get a meal of ham and eggs.

There’s no denying that Dandy and other radio hosts sometimes have witty comments.

They also have interesting guests on their shows.

But when they say things like Mike Fisher could be going to the Olympics, there’s really only one thing to tell guys like Dandy.

You’re a ham and egger.