Tirico unfazed by double duty
Mike Tirico is perhaps the most versatile among ESPN’s roster of play-by-play voices, which is why he sometimes finds himself in scenarios such as the one he will face this week: calling two professional sports in essentially the same city within 48 hours.
Tirico, who is in his 20th year at ESPN and his fifth season quarterbacking the “Monday Night Football’’ crew that includes analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski, will be in Foxborough for the Patriots-Jets matchup Monday night. Two nights later, he’ll be at TD Garden to call Celtics-Nuggets.
Such double duty might seem challenging to a less prepared or self-assured broadcaster. To Tirico, it’s practically a perk.
“It is a lot of work to fit into a short window, but what it comes down to is that I am still a sports fan,’’ said Tirico, whose résumé includes such high-profile events as the World Cup, the US Open (the golf and tennis), the BCS championship game, as well as the Ryder Cup, which he worked between “Monday Night Football’’ telecasts this fall. “The day that I stop being a fan is the day I stop doing this. I love watching games. If there’s a scoreboard and two teams, I’m drawn to it.
“It’s a Wednesday night in December in the NBA; that might be a dime a dozen to a lot of folks. But you sit front-row. You watch a guy who’s playing point guard as well as it can be played in [Rajon] Rondo. You’ve got one of the historic, all-time-best big men in Shaq [O’Neal]. You get to see Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] and Kevin Garnett and guys who have had Hall of Fame careers. You get Carmelo Anthony, all that drama and one of the elite scorers of his generation. Those guys are 5 feet from you. How you don’t enjoy that as a broadcaster, I’ll never understand.’’
Tirico, a Syracuse alumnus who on his day off between the Patriots and Celtics games plans to slip down to New York to watch the Orange men’s basketball team take on Michigan State at Madison Square Garden, said his enjoyment doesn’t come only from the event, but the preparation.
He said he spent the early part of the week “doing a little bit of both’’ in terms of research for both Patriots-Jets and Celtics-Nuggets, watching the Celtics’ victory over the Cavaliers Tuesday on television as well as the Nuggets’ win over Milwaukee Wednesday. Today he will visit with the Jets in New Jersey before heading up to Foxborough tonight to check in with the Patriots tonight and tomorrow.
“I kind of ping-pong back and forth when I have two games in a week,’’ said Tirico. “In basketball, you have more of the same guys, a familiarity of smaller rosters, so you just update yourself on what’s been going on the previous two or three weeks.
“Football is the hardest prep that we have in our business because you’ve got the 45 guys who are active, plus coaches, assistant coaches. Any one of 100 guys could be the story of the night. You have a good idea going in that it’s probably going to be [Tom] Brady, [Mark] Sanchez, [Wes] Welker, Santonio Holmes. There’s a probability list. But you’ve got to be prepared for all 100.’’
Good month for Hub The