I mentioned the ending of Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio; so, I decided to take that as an opportunity to check out its new competition on FS1. First Things First is a morning sports talk program with the standard format; it features the trio of Jenna Wolfe, Chris Carter and Nick Wright. With an admittedly much too small sample size, I would say that the show is good but not nearly as good as Mike and Mike was. Yes, I know that Mike and Mike was on the air for almost 20 years and these guys have been at it for less than 3 months. So, in the spirit of acknowledging that the program needs to and will improve over time, here are a few critical remarks:
- Jenna Wolfe does not participate to anything near one-third of the time. When she does interject a comment or make an extended remark with her opinion, it seems to be cogent and clear. I think she needs to be a more active/vocal part of the program.
- Chris Carter was always good as a guest on Mike and Mike before he changed employers. He continues to be informative and entertaining and – candidly – he is carrying this program at this time. My only “gripe” about Carter is that he does not allow his guests the latitude to express themselves the way he was able to on Mike and Mike. He needs to hone his skills as an interviewer and to share the microphone more with his interviewees.
- Nick Wright does not do it for me. From what I have seen – and it is a small sample indeed – he comes across as a hot-take-know-it-all who will respond to a critical remark by saying what he just said – – only louder. He needs to evolve.
Since I am on the subject of sports programming/broadcasting, let me say a few things about the NFL pre-game and post-game coverage on the various networks:
- ESPN: The pre-game coverage is cringe-worthy. There is so much “cutesy crap” it has become unwatchable. Regarding the post-game coverage, how badly do you wish for the return of Chris Berman and Tom Jackson to do the review of games around the league on Sunday night? Just the two of them with extended highlights beyond the scoring plays…
- CBS: I like Nate Burleson a lot – particularly the way he and Phil Simms interact. I am getting tired of Bill Cowher because he has about three different analytical commentaries to make about every game played. I tired of Boomer Esiason several years ago.
- FOX: When Terry Bradshaw is on his meds and under control, this is the best pre-game and post-game show on the air.
- NBC: They have a mother lode with Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and Mike Florio. Too bad they don’t give them a lot more air time at the expense of some of the “features nonsense”. [Aside: Al Michaels and Cris Colinsworth are The Best!]
As December approaches, sports fans can anticipate the start of action in the Hot Stove League as baseball owners convene in December to do whatever baseball owners do in December. Often, that is the catalyst for trades and free agent negotiations and things of that nature. In the spirit of anticipation of MLB news percolating to the top of the pile in the coming weeks, here are a few thoughts about seven MLB teams and what they might want to focus on in this offseason:
- Astros: They must find a way to avoid whatever happened to the Cubs last winter after winning the World Series. The players will spend about 3 months in a world where everyone tells them they are the greatest thing since the macarena and that they are sure to be a baseball dynasty. Somehow, someone in the clubhouse has to dissuade them from those notions.
- Indians: I thought they would win it all last year – but they did not. However, they did win 102 games meaning there is plenty of talent to work with. Jay Bruce and Carlos Santana are free agents and could be “pricey” to sign. Interesting…
- Orioles: The O’s must find a way to get started on negotiations for a long-term deal with Manny Machado. He will be a free agent after 2018 and he is an outstanding young player the team cannot afford to lose.
- Yankees: They were much better last year than I anticipated. Yankee fans are certain that the team will make another strong run in 2018 and will then open the checkbook to sign Bryce Harper AND Manny Machado in 2018. Somewhere in the cosmos, George Steinbrenner is smiling…
- Cubs: These guys need to focus on baseball this winter and forget the euphoria they experienced last winter. The team played as if in a stupor until sometime in June. They have a great core of young talent; they could use some more pitching…
- Marlins: Are the Marlins really going to trade Giancarlo Stanton?
- Rockies: Nolan Arenado is the foundation for the team – and that is surely a good place to start. In addition, last year Charlie Blackmon led the NL in plate appearances, batting average, hits, total bases and runs scored. Can he do that again?
Finally, Scott Ostler has this comment in the SF Chronicle about the Oakland A’s and their continuing quest to get a new ballpark to play in:
“The A’s are talking about a new ballpark where most fans arrive by public transit and on foot. Should be a home run with Oakland’s Amish community.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………