I got lost once in the middle of the night in Laredo Texas. I was on foot in the dark and had 10 minutes to find the bus station. Panic set in. I spotted a Mexican man riding a bicycle with a big wooden box over the front wheel.
Recalling some high-school Spanish, I waved him down and asked, “Donde esta el estacion de autobus?” He seemed to sense my worry because he motioned me to get in the box. I hesitated, but finally climbed in and he took off, peddling furiously. We got to the station just in time. I climbed out, thanked him, and boarded the bus.
My high-school Spanish doesn’t go beyond that, but I’ve never forgotten some basic pronunciation rules regarding vowels: a is pronounced ah as in father; e as in hay; i as in teem; o as in oh; and u is ooh, as in ooh-la-la.
So, baseball broadcasters, listen up and learn: Betances is pronounced
Bay-TAHN-cez. It is not Buh-TANces. The middle syllable does not sound like DANCES. Got it? Get it? Good.
Mariano Rivera’s first name is not Mary-anno. It’s Mahri-AH-no. Almost all the Yankee broadcasters mangle Betances and Mariano, as do many other broadcasters. It’s lazy. I find it jarring and annoying.
There are exceptions. The last syllable of the last name of Tony Perez is pronounced ez as in edge. It’s Tony PER-ez, by the way. Habit and constant use have allowed pronunciation changes in some cases. For example, the Rod in Rodriguez is acceptable. And in some names the broadcasters get it right, as in Omar Infante: they say In-FAHN-tay.
They absolutely murder the name of Maicer Izturis, calling it May-sir, when it’s My-sair. There are a few broadcasters who’ve taken the time to get the names right. Jon Miller goes out of his way to pronounce all the vowels correctly and even rolls the rs. Vin Scully also makes the attempt.
Finally, I’m sick of hearing Mike Piazza’s name mutilated for the past 25 years. It’s not Pi-AH-za. It’s Pi-AHT-sa.