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Kornheiser Out, Gruden in, Thank God

Man, I can’t imagine this having gone any better. I wasn’t at all happy with Tony Kornheiser in the Monday Night Football booth and now he’s being replaced by Jon Gruden, a guy I like. You know, I never really understood the Kornheiser hiring from the start. The guy is really good and enjoyable with Michael Wilbon on PTI. His delivery is smooth, their banter is pretty well-researched and well-supported, and the overall pace of the show is perfect. But just because he’s good on PTI doesn’t mean he has any place in a football booth. At a time where I’m just trying to watch and enjoy a good game and maybe get a few nuggets of analysis while I’m doing it, I had Kornheiser bringing in the journalism angle. My biggest complaint about him is that he was always trying to use everything to tell a story. Rather than letting us enjoy a game that by virtue of fantasy football, office pools, or spreads, nearly everyone watching already has a vested interest, Kornheiser turned each contest into column on TV. It was like he was trying to manufacture interest for games that were already interesting by themselves. That just didn’t work for me.

Needless to say I’m pretty pleased that Tony will no longer be annoying me on Monday nights. So now we have Chucky stepping into the biggest booth around. As I said during the NFL Draft, I liked hearing his commentary. The guy is concise, gets to the point, and has already said he doesn’t want to step on anyone’s shoes. That’s how I like it — the less is more approach. A couple of really interesting footnotes here. The hiring of Chucky shows us that the jockocracy of sportscasting is still very much alive and well. Secondly, ESPN obviously didn’t care that Gruden has ripped them thoroughly in the past (of course he did — he was protecting his player). Lastly, I have no doubt that Tony’s fear of flying is only a convenient excuse for relinquishing the job — Pro Football Talk points out that it didn’t seem to bother him last year. Hurray for Monday nights in the fall this year!

Remind Me to Never Piss off Cheryl Miller

Now I know why Reggie Miller was such a clutch player throughout his career. It’s pretty obvious that if you lived in the Miller household, there was no room for error. Check out Cheryl Miller take fellow NBA TV analyst Scot Pollard to task for being late to their studio show. It doesn’t get more uncomfortable than this …

I’m guessing that she regrets handling Pollard on-air like this. She should have kept things in-house and done that all behind the scenes. Man, now we know what it’s like to have been her teammate back in the day. Wouldn’t want to have missed a shot under her watch.

The Emmitt Smith Has Finally Been Fired by ESPN Tribute Video

I don’t have quite the scorn that Pro Football Talk and Awful Announcing have for Emmitt Smith, whose title of “NFL Analyst” with ESPN was always used quite lightly. I’m guessing I missed out on this whole Emmitt Smith thing because I didn’t watch as much NFL countdown as Mike Florio at PFT did, and probably because pointing out awful announcing isn’t my niche like it is for AA. Still, after reading the farewell post from AA to Emmitt, I felt compelled to share the video. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Emmitt Smith at his finest with ESPN. Get your dictionaries handy for this one.

I guess Emmitt is so bad that Awful Announcing had an entire Top 10 list of his best (worst?) screwups, so I highly advise you check those out. Now this is like a catch-22 for the Awful Announcing website. They finally get their wish that a horrible broadcaster is out, but now they lose a lot of good material. Thankfully there are plenty of others out there to pick on.

TV Ratings Show Dallas Cowboys Are America’s Team

You know, we’re just kind of taking Nielsen’s word for it, but since I have no way of measuring television audiences I guess we have to go with their figures. It was brought to my attention in an email from Nielsen that the Dallas Cowboys have consistently been the biggest draw on TV this year. I don’t know if it’s because of the Terrell Owens/Romo/Witten drama, or because Romo’s dating Jessica Simpson, or just because they have the reputation of being America’s team, but you can’t dispute the evidence. Check out the two charts provided by Nielsen Wire:

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Video: Barack Obama Wants a Playoff for College Football, John McCain Wants to get Rid of Steroids in Sports

The much-publicized Chris Berman halftime interviews with Barack Obama and John McCain finally aired Monday night. Funny they were promoted as the last one-on-one interviews each would do prior to the election when I saw sunlight behind each candidate and darkness in D.C. for the game. Anyway, here’s the one question Berman asked both men that would interest sports fans in particular: If you could change one thing in sports, what would it be? Obama’s answer regarded the lack of a playoff system in college football, McCain’s pertained to the preponderance of performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Here’s video of each interview:

I like the answer given by both candidates. With Obama, if we were to get a playoff, I would prefer a four-team tourney, but eight is fine. McCain’s response should not be a surprise since that attitude is exactly what got him on the radar of sports fans a few years ago. I hope he continues the pursuit of regulating steroids/drugs in sports whether he wins the presidency or not. And could Obama enforce a playoff if he does win? That would be sweet!

Radio’s so Easy, Team Vice Presidents Can Do it!

Ever power-tripping Redskins owner Daniel Snyder likes to have so much control of everything around him that he recently bought WTEM, the most powerful sports talk radio station in Washington D.C. Snyder changed it around and turned it into ESPN 980, ostensibly to control the perception of his team and hamper the criticism. That still hasn’t stopped local icon host Steve Czaban from taking Snyder to task, despite remaining as a host on 980. Well Snyder sure is taking some lengths to make the station more Redskins friendly, handing the team’s Vice President of Football Operations, Vinny Cerato, a two hour show twice a week.

Some of the hosts at the station think the whole idea is a joke and have already expressed their thoughts on the matter. Cerrato seems to be pretty pumped about the opportunity to reach out to the fans. As for me, though I know it’s not uncommon for team employees to host a weekly show, I can’t help but think this is a way for Snyder to attempt to control the media. If he wants open lines of communication to the team, there are many other ways to achieve it with the fans. Why not just have a one hour show a week instead of two hours twice a week? Do the radio hosts get a chance to act as team vice presidents a few days a week, too? Seems like an awful lot of time for a person with a seemingly important job title to be giving up to chat on the radio … just my opinion.

YES Network Letting Announcers Criticize the Yankees

When you’re running out a pitching staff that includes the likes of Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson, you can’t be very good. To be fair, with all the injuries the Yankees have had, they’ve become a shadow of what they have been every other year they’ve made the playoffs. Wang, Hughes, Joba, A-Rod, Posada, Damon, and Matsui have all spent time on the D.L. this year — that’s one heck of an All-Star team right there. Anyway, I’m assuming the 12-1 loss to the Angels on Monday sparked some negativity that emanated from the Yankees TV booth — the YES Network booth — a network owned by the team.

“At some point, somebody has to be held accountable,” [broadcaster Michael] Kay said during a lopsided loss to the Angels, blasting the team for its “glass jaw.”

Ken Singleton and John Flaherty jumped in, leading to a substantive analysis of the Yankees abandoning their trademark patience at the plate.

Kay’s boss, president of production John Filippelli, declined to discuss how YES will handle this lost cause [of a season]. But Kay said Filippelli told him after Monday’s rant, “I agreed with what you said, and you have every right to say it.”

I’m not sure how the Yankees fans are taking things with their team on the outside this year, but guessing by standard New York procedure, they’re probably dishing out a lot of criticism. What’s wrong with it coming from the broadcast booth? I think it’s more important to be credible than to be a blind homer. It’s also nice to hear that the Yankees aren’t power tripping over this, either. After all, we know they have their sight’s set on next year anyway.