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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Woop!

I've done a lot of complaining (mostly not in this forum) about the quality of announcers and talking heads on television in recent times. I was raised on old-school Philly announcers like Harry Kalas, Merrill Reese, and Gene Hart, so I'm partial to their no-nonsense, call-it-like-it-is approach to games. In Los Angeles now, I don't listen to Vin Scully nearly as much as I should. He's perhaps the best I've ever heard. Those are the guys I really like.

On the other hand, there are the uninformed out there, which FireJoeMorgan.com does an excellent job skewering. Its namesake, in particular, is the chief culprit. In fairness, he didn't refute the notion that Vin Scully is the best announcer in one of his ESPN.com chats (dissected here), but as is his wont, he also didn't answer the question as to who the best announcer is.

There are also those whose shtick has worn so thin you can see through it. Chris Berman is the prime example of this, although there are many others. (Stu Scott, and to a lesser extent, John Madden and Woody Paige come to mind. Yes, I know ripping Madden is almost heresy, but his video game makes him much more of a legend than his announcing, or even his coaching, at this point.) I was not looking forward to seeing Berman at halftime of the late Monday Night game last night, because I knew we'd be faced with "Woop!" and "The Rrrrrrrraaaaideeeeehs" and myriad dumb nicknames. Admittedly, as my mom was eager to point out in Berman's defense, I used to love the nicknames. That was also in the early '90s, when I also wore sweatpants to middle school on a daily basis.

The well has run very dry for Berman and his nicknames. For example, he called the Redskins' Ladell Betts "Ladell 'Dickey' Betts" tonight. That is not a nickname. That's just taking someone else's name (Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts) and putting it in there. That's about as creative as if I called Donte' Stallworth "Donte' 'John' Stallworth." For god's sake, at least call him something like "Place Your" Betts. At least that's a commonly used phrase. It's no worse than "Jake 'Daylight Come And You Gotta' Delhomme," which is particularly stupid, because the lyrics to the Banana Boat Song go "Daylight come and I wanna go home." Not "You gotta go home." Woop!

And finally, although I like Tony Kornheiser very much on PTI, I'm just not a fan of him in the broadcast booth. Why? Because it's gimmicky, just like it was when MNF tried to put Dennis Miller in the booth. What's wrong with some actual football analysis?

This is why I loved tonight's MNF B-team of Brad Nessler, Ron Jaworski, and Dick Vermeil. Nessler called the game straight. Jaworski and Vermeil are terrific analysts, and they were much more articulate than certain other athletes-turned-color-men. (You talk about awful color analysts, Joe Theismann is an awful color analyst. If you noticed, in tonight's game, sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein said "You talk about..." as she led into a report - and Jaws and Vermeil had actually been talking about the report's subject! I was stunned to hear the phrase used appropriately.)

Apparently I wasn't the only person who was impressed with the Nessler-Vermeil-Jaws team. I really hope ESPN gets enough positive feedback on that crew that the trio gets some good announcing gigs.

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