Curt Schilling bleeding through his sock, limping through the most iconic start in Red Sox history. Michael Jordan grinding out a 38-point masterpiece in Utah after barely being able to get out of bed. Kirk Gibson making World Series magic on not one but two bad legs. While Scott Van Pelt may not land on the Mount Rushmore of sports ironmen, that doesn’t make his turn on Wednesday’s midnight edition of SportsCenter any less memorable, fighting and clawing his way through the gutsiest performance of his broadcast career.
Sounding as hoarse as Doc Rivers in the fourth quarter of Game 7, Van Pelt warned his audience ahead of time that Wednesday’s show would be an adventure, running on fumes amid a biblical wave of allergies. But, like the late Willis Reed coming out of the tunnel or a hobbled Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, the Bristol veteran played on, admirably pushing through highlight after highlight, reading the teleprompter like his life depended on it.
A gamer if there ever was one, you won’t find a more polished anchor than Van Pelt, a consummate professional, even with his voice abandoning him like Jayson Tatum’s jump shot in the NBA Finals (too soon?). Perhaps that’s why, headed into another round of layoffs, the 56-year-old, along with company face Stephen A. Smith and the Monday Night Football booth of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, is viewed as “untouchable,” among the few “sacred cows” on ESPN’s current roster.
Van Pelt apologized profusely on Twitter, lamenting his phlegmy “mess” of a voice throughout Wednesday’s show. We forgive you, Scott, but maybe have a lozenge or something.
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