More Sports Media? Again?

Yesterday, I spent a little over a thousand words chastising the widely available sports media – The WASM – for blowing stories out of proportion.  Naturally, one might expect that I would be avoiding any more mention of sports media for a while.  After all, if their behavior(s) annoy me, it would be logical for me to focus attention elsewhere.

Well, here in Curmudgeon Central, logic is not a permanent resident.  And so, I want to look at sports media events again today – but from a different angle.

Programming changes are coming to ESPN.  Probably the most dramatic change will be to Get Up! – the new sports roundtable discussion vehicle that ESPN designed around Mike Greenburg.  The show is currently a 3-hour snooze-fest which is hugely ironic given its name; the show is going to be cut to 2 hours.  In addition, Michelle Beadle will be leaving the show in a maelstrom of contrived controversy and her replacement has not been identified.  Perhaps the suits at ESPN know who they will put in Beadle’s chair but think that keeping an air or mystery around the announcement will generate interest in the show.  [Aside:  If that is indeed their thinking the show is doomed because there are more fundamental flaws in the concept.]

If I were quizzed by the suits at ESPN about my perception of the intent of the program they created, I would be at a loss.  It does not fit with any of the other ESPN programming models and yet its variance from those other models does not identify it.  Consider:

  • SportsCenter programming:  This is “sports news round-up” programming.
  • Inside the NFL/The Jump programming:  This is “deep dive into a single sport” programming.
  • First Take/Around the Horn programming:  This is “contrived controversy” programming.

Get Up! Is nothing like any of those programs and yet it does not stake out a path or a territory for itself.  I began to wonder if the folks who “designed” the program conceptually had anything in mind for the program direction other than to throw three interesting folks on a set just to see what happened.

I am not a regular viewer of Get Up! But I have made it a point to tune in aperiodically to see how the show has evolved.  The opening days of the show were painful to watch, and I expected time to provide a measure of pace and purpose to the discussions there.  For the most part, I was wrong in that expectation.  I have watched enough of the program now that it has been on the air for about 3 or 4 months to say that I just do not like it.  The funny thing is that I do like all three of the hosts of the program individually.

  • Mike Greenburg is solid.  He is a sports fan in his core and that comes across in his TV persona.
  • Michelle Beadle has energy and very pointed opinions that she presents in unequivocal terms.
  • Jalen Rose has a great sense of humor.

For some reason, the three of them together add up to a dish that just does not work.  It would be like making an ice cream sundae using vanilla ice cream, tuna fish and mustard.  All three ingredients are very good but in combination it just does not work.

In another ESPN move, the good folks in Bristol seek to achieve a major warp in the space-time continuum.  According to reports, they are going to move High Noon to 4:00 PM ET.  While that may not be easily done with an atomic clock, it is very easy with the High Noon program featuring Bomani Jones and Pablo S. Torre.  Now, there is a relatively new ESPN program that works.  I think it is too long in its current incarnation going from 12:00 to 1:00 ET, but that will be remedied with the time change because it will then be a 30-minute show.

The aura that comes across on High Noon – ESPN is going to change that name, right? – is that these are two friends who are sitting around and talking about sports topics that both of them enjoy.  This is the same vibe that emanates from Pardon the Interruption where – in fact – Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon are indeed good friends off camera.  If Jones and Torre are not friends off the air, they are damned good actors on the air!

Just as I gave up on Get Up!, I have been drawn to High Noon even though noontime is not normally TV viewing time here in Curmudgeon Central.  With the time change, I will probably watch more of it.

Switching gears – and networks – I read a report in the NY Post that NBC and Bob Costas may part company.  Say what?  Those two entities have been conjoined twins for as long as I can remember.  In “sports media world” folks jump around from place to place and network to network but there are a few folks who identify with a singular media outlet;

  • Howard Cosell and ABC Sports
  • Chris Berman and ESPN
  • Jim Nantz and CBS Sports

Put Bob Costas on that list with NBC Sports and you will understand why I was very surprised by the NY Post reporting.  I guess I should not have been as surprised as I was after NBC decided to make Mike Tirico the studio honcho for the Olympics in place of Costas.  Meaning no disrespect to Mike Tirico who is a very competent member of The WASM, but he is not Bob Costas.  I will not pretend to know any of the backstory(ies) here, but I have to believe that there have been backstage incidents in the past year or so that have led to all of this.

Let me go on a flight of fancy here for a moment.  Bob Costas’ first love in sports is baseball; he is an articulate analyst of the game.  I can say the same thing about Keith Olbermann.  Imagine if the two of them came to your town in one of the large auditorium venues to sit down for about 3 hours to talk baseball with one another – – and with the audience.  I would pay money to be in that audience.  And they could take the show on the road and reprise the concept in different cities say once a quarter.  That would give them lots of fresh material to discuss and it would keep the idea fresh enough to continue to draw audiences in cities that are deeply into baseball.

Obviously, I think this is a great idea, so I will now invoke the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard:

“Make it so.”

Finally, consider this observation from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot relative to TV media:

“Tuning out: TV viewership of the MTV Video Music Awards dropped off sharply for the second year in a row. What happened? Did Madonna take a knee?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………