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ESPN Summit: Good Idea, Bad TV

Waiting for the second game of the College World Series to begin, I wound up watching a trial balloon show on ESPN that was sandwiched between the end of the 6pm ET SportsCenter and the 7:30pm ET start time in Omaha. After a few moments I realized this was the same program Dan Le Batard’s referenced in a chat that was picked up by The Big Lead a few weeks ago. I wound up trying to watch the program but had a difficult time enjoying it for several reasons.

Let me start by saying that the ironic nature of ESPN putting together their star players for a free agent summit was funny in itself. Secondly, assembling the hosts of PTI Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, along with two humorous debaters in Dan Le Batard and Bill Simmons would make you think the program had to be good. Unfortunately it wasn’t that good and it turned out to be a visual issue of “not enough basketballs to go around.”

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Darrelle Revis and Chad Ochocinco Now Partners? Plus LBS Contest!

Yes, despite going back and forth with words at the end of the season, Jets CB Darrelle Revis and Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco have now teamed up as partners. Revis has joined Chad’s OCNN, Ochocinco News Network, as one of their correspondents. In his first assignment, he even taught some kids how to riverdance and get fined by the NFL just like Chad!

As a bonus, we have a gift from the OCNN up for grabs that will go to the winner of our contest. All you have to do is predict which team will select Jimmy Clausen in the draft. Winner gets a prize from the OCNN sent to you. Anyway, here’s Revis’ debut as an OCNN correspondent. What do you think?

Shepard Smith Steps Out of Studio B to Work Sidelines of Cotton Bowl

Count me as a surprised viewer upon seeing FOX News host Shepard Smith act as the sideline reporter for the Cotton Bowl on January 2nd in Arlington. When Shep initially popped up on the TV for a report, my first question was if that really was the same Shepard Smith who hosts Studio B. My next question was why the heck is he doing the game and does he know anything about football. While he might not be a college football expert, Smith is an Ole Miss alum he’s apparently pretty connected with the program. He seemed to have a fine rapport with coach Houston Nutt during their halftime interview, but he seemed to have all his questions planned ahead of time and he wasn’t paying attention/responding to what Houston said.

My biggest issue with Shepard Smith doing the sidelines of the Ole Miss/Oklahoma State Cotton Bowl game is credibility and bias. Seeing him serve as the sideline reporter for a sporting event is a major turnoff because we know what he does five days a week and it’s not covering sports. I’m not saying he can’t comment on Ole Miss football, I’m just saying that his reporting can’t be too detailed or even given his bias. What insight could he possibly lend regarding Oklahoma State? Just because someone’s a fan of a program means we put him on national TV to report on a game? What’s next, Bill O’Reilly working the ALCS? Greta Van Susteren sideline reporting from a Packers game? Come on FOX, keep credibility in mind before you do this again; we want sports people, not news people. Or better yet, no sideline reporters at all.

Moneyball the Movie Not Happening, Yet

Moneyball is a book written by Michael Lewis in 2003. It was so well-written and influential that it caused many fans and media members to start viewing and analyzing baseball in different ways. It also gave other teams in the sport ideas about how to run their franchises. The book was so influential and controversial that it seemed to cause a rift between the newer stat-geek types and the older scout types. And it was such a successful book that some people decided it would be a good idea to turn it into a movie and even cast Brad Pitt to play the lead role of Oakland A’s GM, Billy Beane. Sounds great right? One huge problem: they were only about five years too late. Apparently someone else saw that because as Fanhouse points out, they’ve canceled production of the movie.

On Friday, Columbia Pictures topper Amy Pascal placed the picture into “limited turnaround,” giving the filmmaker the chance to set it up at another studio, with Warner Bros. and Paramount the prime targets.

The move came after Pascal read a rewrite that Soderbergh did to Steven Zaillian’s script and found it very different from the earlier scripts she championed. Pascal was uncomfortable enough with how the vision had changed that she applied the brakes.

Soderbergh and Pitt’s CAA reps spent the weekend attempting to get another studio to play ball.

I’m not too familiar with all that studio-speak, but from what I gather it’s set to be a high-budget film and it doesn’t currently have a home. That’s good news to me because I couldn’t see where it would fit in. By now the concept of “Moneyball” to a baseball fan is so old that it really wouldn’t be introducing anything new. Moreover, to the people intrigued by Moneyball because they’re learning it for the first time, there are very few remnants of it left in Oakland; most of the players on the A’s or drafted by the A’s at the time of the book are out of baseball, sucking, or on a different team. Furthermore, Billy Beane hasn’t built a successful team for three years and most of the high school players he ripped on in the book have become stars — the movie would just make him look like a fraud. So who was their intended audience? Sports fans to whom this concept is five years old or my sister who loves Brad Pitt but still thinks Rickey Henderson and Mark McGwire plays for the A’s? Good call in canceling production.

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.