Michael Schiavello May be the Best Announcer You Don’t Know

Watching Strikeforce’s coverage on Saturday, you had to switch between two different networks to enjoy the entire show. The prelims were available on HDNet while the main card was on Showtime. Though the fights and names on the main card were obviously the big draw, I have to say the broadcasting on the prelims was fantastic. Play-by-play announcer Michael Schiavello had me cracking up at every other punch, while former fighter Bas Rutten was outstanding on his commentary like usual.

Honestly, listening to play-by-play voice Michael Schiavello describe the action was like watching a comedy show. The veteran MMA and K-1 broadcaster works his assignments with genuine enthusiasm that engages the viewer, and he does so with a brand of original humor complemented by a good voice.

Seriously, where else are you going to hear fantastic lines like this?

Schiavello described a punch as “stiffer than a honeymooner’s package” and a fighter’s submission attempts as having “more triangles than a band camp.” When one fighter began to rally in the last 20 seconds of a round, Schiavello declared “He might go kleptomaniac and steal the round here.”

Then, my absolute favorite line was when one fighter was getting punched repeatedly and Schiavello said he was “taking more hits than a Dutch stoner,” which was slightly ahead of “Tagging him up more than a graffiti artist.”

Some people will complain about his commentary because no matter what, people love to criticize broadcasters (believe me, I’ve been there before, I know how it is). But Schiavello was original, quick with his quips, and his similes were fantastic. I enjoyed his broadcasting and hopefully you did and have been too throughout the years. Networks should continue to reward such on-air brilliance with more prime gigs; the Australian man deserves to show his talents to a broader audience.

Phil Simms Supposedly Wanted to Hit Desmond Howard Over Criticism of Son

Former Giants Super Bowl-winning quarterback Phil Simms apparently got somewhat confrontational with fellow former NFL player, Desmond Howard this weekend. Both players are current TV analysts — Simms for CBS and Howard for ESPN. Simms saw Desmond at the NFL Xperience at the Super Bowl this week, and brought up an insult he heard Howard make on TV during the college football season. From Howard’s twitter via MK Rob:

“At NFL-Xperience and Phil Simms just threatened 2 hit me b/c I said his son was 1 of the worse QBs in the SEC. I told him “LET’S GO! … I am DEAD serious about the Phil Simms thing. We all thought he was joking, but he kept going and said he wanted 2 take a swing at me!! During the season we talked about the Tenn v LSU game and I said “u will see 3 of the worse QBs in the SEC” That’s what Phil did not like.”

Even though Phil is a former player who’s endured criticism and understands the role of playing an analyst on TV, he’s still a father, and that would make sense if he got defensive. He also must have a memory like LeBron to raise that issue with Des. When reached by phone, Matt said he was unaware of the incident. We’re awaiting word from Phil on the story.

UPDATE: Phil issued a statement through CBS via Richard Deitsch “”Desmond and I were having a private conversation that became heated. But at no time was there ever a chance of any physical confrontation, or that I felt the police officer assigned to me by the event planners for my appearance needed to separate the two of us.”

Simms’ wife, Diana, told LBS “that’s not normally like us,” regarding her husband’s actions. She also says she thinks her son Matt is proud of his father for defending him.

For more on this story and much more, keep up with LBS on twitter

T.Ocho Show on Versus Still Struggling in Ratings Department

The T.Ocho Show talk show featuring Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens on Versus garnered headlines when either one of the players popped off. For instance, there was the time when Owens said Jason Garrett was the problem in Dallas, and he was quickly proven to be wrong when Garrett went 5-3 as an interim coach. Then the topper was towards the end of the season when Owens said the Bengals were underachieving from the top down — a direct implication of the coaching staff.

Neither player will likely be back with Cincinnati next season, and their antics have helped lead to Carson Palmer demanding a trade. You figure with all the controversy surrounding the team that many people would want to tune into their TV show to watch the weekly proverbial train crash. That line of thinking has not manifested.

The T.Ocho Show opened to embarrassingly low TV ratings — a 0.1 for their debut back in October. Sure, the ratings need to be taken in context compared to the audience the rest of the programming on Versus receives, but it still came in much lower than hockey on the network, for instance. There have been 16 episodes of the show, and the latest version registered a 0.1 with 123,000 viewers — a dropoff from Hockey Central before it, which had 184,000 viewers. What really commanded my attention was that their show did a 0.0 rating with 29,000 viewers the next night, but that was a re-run.

What this really tells us, besides that Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens really don’t matter to fans anymore, is that the NFL can thrive without divas. They don’t need touchdown dances or celebrations to draw monster ratings in games, and they don’t need loudmouths like these guys. That’s bad news for 81 and 85 moving forward, as many teams won’t be interested in signing either one as free agents.

UCLA-Cal Basketball Game Relegated to Tape Delay in Los Angeles Market

It’s bad enough that some UCLA football games get tape delayed in the local LA market. It’s somewhat understandable when games against Montana on a busy NFL Sunday are delayed until later in the evening. But there is something that will not be acceptable regardless of the day, time, or issue: UCLA basketball should never be bumped off a live slot.

What is this, 1965 with Dick Enberg calling games on KTLA to be shown at 11pm after the local news? How can a brand name and fan base as wide and powerful as the UCLA Bruins get the disrespect of being pushed off live TV? It’s incomprehensible and quite frankly maddening.

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Stephen A. Smith Awaiting Word from Showtime on Potential Series

After passing along word that media personality Stephen A. Smith would be leaving his FOX Sports Radio daily morning show last month, we’ve received plenty of inquiries about his next step. Stephen A. wrote in December that we’d be hearing from him in a big way very soon. Naturally we figured he had a TV show in the making, so we decided to follow up on the issue.

Smith has been talking with Showtime about a potential late night show, even reportedly filming a pilot for them. When asked if there was any progress with the show, Smith informed LBS that “Showtime is expected to make a decision as to whether they’ll take the talk show to series” and that we would know when they make a decision.

A late night program with Smith as the host would make plenty of sense given Showtime’s new direction. An article in the LA Times Saturday highlighted Showtime’s future plans, saying “David Nevins, the network’s new entertainment president, said he planned to add more original fare and blend in sports and shows with “cool-guy” testosterone appeal to draw more men and younger viewers to the premium channel.” Seems like a Stephen A. Smith show would fit their desires.

As for any plans on a new radio show, Smith told us to “stay tuned.” We have been told that he may explore a show in a genre other than sports, perhaps something in the urban/adult contemporary category similar to Steve Harvey. To use Stephen’s terms, stay tuned.

Stephen A. Smith Leaving Daily Morning Show at FOX Sports Radio

About a year ago, Steve Czaban’s long-running morning show was canceled by FOX Sports Radio and replaced by Stephen A. Smith. The idea was to provide a different sound from the competition in the East Coast morning drive slot. Stephen A. did just that and did it well, but his style was not for some folks. Because of that reason, FOX wisely offered affiliates a second morning show option — the Zakk and Jack show with Dominic Zaccagnini and former Colts QB Jack Trudeau.

Tuesday it was announced that Stephen A. would be leaving his morning show and Zakk and Jack will become the network’s morning show. Stephen A. will play the new role of NBA analyst for the network, which likely means guest spots talking basketball.

Stephen A. implied on his twitter account that the decision was his, saying “3:30am wakeup calls, then traveling 80 miles 1-way to work everyday was very taxing.” He also added “you will be hearing from me very, very soon. In a big way, too.” Stay tuned for the latest development in the career of Stephen A., who likely is coming to a TV channel near you. And this should help explain why a future announcement won’t involve work for a newspaper.

Did Blog Comment Tip Bernie’s Crew Blogger Off to Zack Greinke Trade?

Late Saturday evening, we passed along word of a reported Zack Greinke to the Brewers trade. The report was met with skepticism because a fan blog called “Bernie’s Crew” published the news, while no mainstream reporters had any information on the deal. Between Greinke’s trade demands and Milwaukee’s candidacy to make a deal, we thought the report was significant and it turned out to be accurate.

Credit goes to Bernie’s Crew blogger Jim Breen for blowing away the competition when it came to the Greinke trade. He was ahead of information men like Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal, and even Brewers reporter Tom Haudricort. So how did Breen come out of nowhere to break the news? He told LBS in an email “I do not feel comfortable giving much information on my source, as I do want to adhere to his wishes as far as anonymity and the like. I was simply lucky enough to make the right connections at the right time.” His wishes to protect his source makes complete sense. But did he get tipped off to the news by a commenter on his blog? Sure seems like a possibility.

As D.J. Short informed us via Fantasy Fix, a commenter left this informative comment on a Bernie’s Crew post Saturday afternoon:

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