John Sterling just needed a breather.
The Yankees’ radio play-by-play voice told NJ.com’s Randy Miller a busy personal life, followed by a case of bronchitis, has sidelined him for the last few weeks. But Sterling said he is close to full strength and reiterated he will be back at work next week.
Sterling initially missed a couple games to attend his triplet children’s college graduation, then right after that he started feeling under the weather.
“I don’t know if it’s good, bad or indifferent; I had a case of bronchitis,” Sterling said. “I had a lot to do, the graduations and all, and I ran myself ragged. I have a program director and a general manager who are unbelievably nice to me. And so they said, ‘Take this week off and get ready.’ So I’ll be back Tuesday.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Sterling said. “I will be 100 percent by Tuesday, and then do a majority of the games. Don’t forget, when I come back there will be four months left in the year.”
Sterling, who turns 85 next month, is expected to return to the booth June 6 when the Yankees come home from their current West Coast trip and open a series against the White Sox. Postgame show host Justin Shackil, who has seemingly been positioned as Sterling’s heir apparent, will have called 23 straight games in his absence.
Sterling’s praise of WFAN executives — presumably Spike Eskin and Chris Olivero — is noteworthy. Last year’s sudden schedule change, when Sterling began skipping road trips midseason, could have been interpreted as the Yankees and Audacy beginning to push Sterling out the door. But it sounds like that is not the case. Although the palace intrigue will continue.
As we have said many times: Sterling belongs in Cooperstown and deserves to be in the booth as long as he is capable and willing. No, he’s not perfect. But it’s baseball on the radio. Not air traffic control.