HANK AZARIA, 53, grew up in Queens as a Mets fan, watching bad baseball but listening to great broadcasters. Those men helped inspire the title character he plays in the critically acclaimed comedy Brockmire, which airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT on IFC.
SI: Where did this idea come from?
Hank Azaria: This is a voice I've been imitating since I was a teenager. [Late Mets announcer] Bob Murphy was maybe the closest, but it just seems like the default announcer setting. I try to find vocally interesting characters to flesh out, and I've always thought a baseball announcer would be a funny jumping off point for a comedy.
SI: Did any actual broadcasters tell you what they thought?
HA: I sent it to some baseball guys who I thought might get a kick out of it. Bob Costas, unsolicited, called it what I always did: the generic baseball announcer voice from the 1970s.
SI: Why baseball and not another sport?
HA: Baseball is a national treasure, so it seemed like the most hilarious juxtaposition. I insisted that it be really funny, but Joel Church-Cooper, who writes the episodes, saw more depth and darkness in the character than I had.
SI: Speaking of hilarity and darkness: How do you feel about the Mets?
HA: They have a lot of heart and fight. It's not pure optimism—there's no such thing as pure optimism with the Mets—but the last two years have healed fans of their instantly negative, glass-half-empty way of looking at the team.
SI: Apu, one of the dozens of characters you voice on The Simpsons, tries to pass himself off as a Mets fan. Was that put in as a favor to you?
HA: That was just a coincidence, but I do still use his line with my friends: "The Ny Mets are my favorite squadron."
THEY SAID IT
"I'M GONNA CHECK THE RULE BOOK AND FIND OUT IF ROBOTS ARE ALLOWED TO PLAY IN THE NBA."
David Fizdale // Grizzlies coach, commenting on the unnatural calm of Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Cowboys CB Anthony Brown, apparently still miffed at being picked 189th last year, got a new tattoo—a potato chip. On his shoulder.