For those unfamiliar with his famously withering diatribes, Craig Carton is New York City's barking, bombastic, loudmouth AM sports DJ (alongside Boomer Esiason) on radio WFAN, where he makes his living educating listeners. In the Big Apple, that usually means tearing into the Mets' stingy owner, or the Knicks' waifish defense, but often also entails calling out poseurs and callers to the show who simply do not know what they are talking about. The 44-year-old native New Yorker, whose upcoming book, 'Loudmouth,' comes out in June, is a veritable and imposing encyclopedia of sports arcana.
On the eve of March Madness and all that it implies – bouts of hysteria and depression, dramatic loss of productivity, obsessions with brackets by the general populace – it's a rough time for those gawking novices who would love a spot at the water cooler, but lack the sports knowledge chops. We caught up with Carton at a recent Guinness Happy Hour Event (to benefit the Leary Firefighters Foundation), where he revealed to us a secret to the art of talking sports smack: Half the battle is just sounding like you're smart. With a little prep work and some time on the Internet, any schmo can fake it till they make it, says Carton (though, he cautions, "if you're not a good memory guy, you're fucked."). Here are Carton's cramming tips for talking the talk, even if you can't tell a triple-double from a double dribble (and if you can, these tips are still pretty good for faking you way through almost anything).
When in doubt, double down.
For the most part, sports chatter does not get beyond light badinage, but there is always the risk of getting busted as a poseur and then things can suddenly turn grim. When caught red-handed for knowing nothing more than what is written on Wikipedia, the only way to save face is to back it up with cash. "Put money on the table: 'I got $100 that that really happened!'" Caton suggests. Crucially, you have to go all-in or risk losing both your rep and your wallet. "You got to make it enough money where the other guy ain't got it in his pocket either," Caton insists. "'I got $500 right fucking now that it happened in the third inning in '62!'"
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