john sterling yankees
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Brendan Burke is a deserving heir apparent to John Sterling in the Yankees’ radio booth.

That said, he should only step up to the microphone when Sterling is ready to step back.

Burke has emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Sterling, according to The Post’s Andrew Marchand. Which makes complete sense. The Islanders’ television voice is the most prominent of the Sterling fill-ins who have received spot work this summer, and he has acquitted himself well. The Yankees and WFAN need to prepare for the future at some point, too. Sterling is 84, after all.

That said, it does feel like something is a bit off here. Sterling’s move to skip most remaining regular season road trips made sense when it was announced a few weeks ago. He has made it clear he doesn’t like the travel, the Yankees are running away with the AL East and a busy October awaits. But Sterling seemed a bit overeager in justifying the move at the time. And then this passage in Marchand’s latest report stood out:

While no formal plan is in place, Sterling could potentially do just the home games and some road games going forward, though, Sterling may not be fully on board just yet.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Sterling again confirmed that he doesn’t like traveling anymore, but said he feels good and plans to continue calling a lot of games, even raising the possibility that he will return to a full 162-game slate.

“I’m really happy and I will do as many games as I want to,” Sterling told The Post. “I have to see the schedule.”

This could be much ado about nothing. There have been no formal talks between Burke and WFAN, according to Marchand. His national NHL duties for Turner Sports would also have to be figured out. Sterling is expected to have a say in this all. But, Marchand reports, “the beginning of a transition to Burke could happen in earnest next year.” And once a transition begins, it’s hard to hold off the inevitable end result. And when you consider the air of dissent in the above quotes …

Sterling is a local treasure. Yes, he misses some calls. It’s baseball on the radio. Not war reporting. Phil Mushnick and a handful of cranks on the internet need to get over it. The man belongs in Cooperstown. And he is one of the last few remaining special qualities that reminds you the the Yankees are the Yankees, and not just another ballclub.

You have to let Sterling (and Suzyn Waldman) go out on their terms. Anything less would be shameful. Hopefully the Yankees and WFAN understand this. But it’s fair to wonder if they do.

James Kratch can be reached at

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.