“One of the sportswriter panelists hears this, turns to Stan — we’re live on the air — and says, ‘What was that?’”
Barkann can’t help himself. His face fills with a full-blown smirk.
“Stan was furious,” he says. “Livid.”
Barkann attempts to look contrite.
“I apologized to Stan then,” he says, looking down. “And I apologize to him now, and I’m sure I’ll be apologizing to him some more in the future.”
Barkann, I may have neglected to mention, is 50 years old.
HE’S NO ONE-TRICK PONY, though. Barkann can be a wise guy, sure. But at the same time, he somehow also manages to be the most positive and enthusiastic sports broadcaster in the city.
Without the slightest irony, he’ll hit you with the bounciest of platitudes. Like: “This is a championship city! Do you know how great that is?” And: “Sports is the greatest thing in the world. You come in on a Monday and get to talk about all the great things you watched over the weekend. It’s like being a kid again.” And: “I feel bad for people who don’t like sports. They’re missing out on a real lifeblood.”
But Barkann is no fool. He’s been hanging around journalists for decades, so he knows all the tricks — including how easy it would be for a writer to parachute into his comfy Comcast sports world and paint him with a broad and unflattering brush.
Which may be why when we sit down for lunch at Gigi in Old City, a favorite of the professional sporting crowd, Barkann seems atypically guarded at first. He wonders aloud if one of us should have made contact with the Comcast public relations rep before this lunch, and if maybe she should be sitting with us now.