January 17, 2005

TV Commentator Awards from Dr. Z: Some may say this is just a crotchety old guy playing the part, but I appreciate his calling out the BS and shortcomings of many announcing teams and some of the negative trends (talking over the action, hyping superstars/superteams, etc.) in NFL broadcasting.

posted by holden to football at 12:45 PM - 22 comments

I'm impressed at the effort made to preserve content on the SI site. Twenty years from now, I'll be able to go back and look at Dr. Z's 2002 commentator rankings, and that makes me happy. Muhsin Muhammad is having a big day for the Panthers. ... "Well, he's in his contract year," he says. My kind of announcing, folks. Cute.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 01:06 PM on January 17, 2005

I can't think of anyone who adds less to their broadcast team than Tony Siragusa. Was anyone else annoyed as hell when he wouldn't stop singing 'She Bangs' during some American Idol promo within Saturday's broadcast? OT: Did the commercial breaks during the Pats/Colts game seem longer than usual to anyone else?

posted by crank at 01:49 PM on January 17, 2005

I can't think of anyone who adds less to their broadcast team than Tony Siragusa. I'd rather be locked in a cell with Dick Vitale, Bill Walton, Michelle TaFoya, and half a kilo of pure coke than hear one more idiotic word that spew from Siragusa's maw.

posted by Ufez Jones at 02:01 PM on January 17, 2005

Crank -- in the Pats/Colts game, coming back from commercial, CBS missed the Tom Brady touchdown (QB sneak) that really iced the game. They also came back late into at least one kickoff. Absolutely amateurish.

posted by holden at 02:02 PM on January 17, 2005

Was that actually CBS that missed it? I was watching the CBS feed through a local Saskatchewan channel (in a Toronto bar, no less), and just assumed it was the local feed that bungled it. Yikes.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 02:09 PM on January 17, 2005

Great link, but he lost me once he got below 2.5 stars. Some of the negativity seems misplaced: who gives a crap about ball spotting? I never trust the announcers on that and look for myself: I've got a better seat than they do. And I think the ESPN guys do a decent job. I only saw one game done by Steve Tasker, but he did an excellent job providing what I want: insight. Same for Troy Aikman.

posted by yerfatma at 02:09 PM on January 17, 2005

I've canceled my cable and stopped watching TV. I thought I'd miss football the most, but I don't at all. I remember getting fed up with ten seconds of action (a kickoff, for example), followed by three minutes of commercials. The idea that the action is stopped in the stadium until the commercials finish is just absurd if you really think about it. Add in the bad-and-getting-worse announcing, graphics taking up a third of the screen, constant product-placement, etc., and football is no longer watchable for me. Having said that, I still catch portions of interesting matchups and the playoffs in the bars downtown. The football itself is as exciting as ever - I just can't take the TV presentation. /rant

posted by dusted at 02:17 PM on January 17, 2005

Wow. I pretty much second dusted's rant word-for-word.

posted by LionIndex at 02:19 PM on January 17, 2005

From the article: "But I will mention one thing about a trend I've noticed in the regular game telecasts, something that was just raising its head last season but now seems to be spawning: Talking through live action. Failing to describe or even notice it." A-freakin'-men! I call it "ESPNing" a game. I spend about a half game doing something else in my house. Cleaning, cooking, working on some stupid thing, but I still want to know what is going on in the game. I want to kill Theismann and that other doofus when they start squabbling about something incredibly trivial. It always happens at the expense of the game too. And that shit is happening more and more in baseball as well. I think this is the year that I finally start paying for the privilege to listen to ball games on the Internet. Nothing beats a radio broadcast of a game. Well, that and actually being there at the stadium. Which I pledge to do more often. Durham Bulls, Carolina Mudcats, Kinston Indians, etc.

posted by NoMich at 02:30 PM on January 17, 2005

To those of us in the rest of the world, American football is just a weird, weird game. Don't get me wrong, I've followed it closely for 20 years, but it's still a weird game.

posted by salmacis at 02:31 PM on January 17, 2005

You mean football doesn't need transformer robots tackling each other on the intro and explosions and mega spectacular halftime shows and a ticker running 8 ways across the screen? The game is not incidental?

posted by chris2sy at 02:32 PM on January 17, 2005

Watching the ESPN games is like watching Theismann and Maguire do their version of My Dinner With Andre while an NFL football game is playing in the background.

posted by chris2sy at 02:56 PM on January 17, 2005

I will third dusted's rant, and second Ufez's while I'm at it.

posted by chicobangs at 03:14 PM on January 17, 2005

Ufez: are you sure that's enough coke? dusted: that's why I love EPL, MLS, Futebol Brasiliero and the like so much more each year.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:16 PM on January 17, 2005

I enjoyed Dr. Z's analysis. But I think he let Phil Simms off too easy. The man never met a cliche he didn't love to use. Watching the Steelers-Giants game in Week 14, I was about ready to slit my wrists if I had to hear him call it a "classic trap game" for the Steelers one more time. The next original thing he says will also be the first. And while I am on this rant, I'll mention something else that ticks me off about just about all of these hacks -- they ALWAYS compliment coaches for taking the safer, more conservative route. ("It's really the right decision to punt here" or "always best to just put points on the board" or "if they miss the field goal, they'll be giving the [other team] great field position.") It's as if they think we, the fans, are a bunch of driveling morons who don't understand the game and always want our teams to do something risky and stupid. Not to mention, sometimes they're wrong. Perfect example the other night -- Chad Pennington takes a knee (losing 2 yards) right bfore his team tries (and misses) a field goal to win it at the end of regulation. Are there any circumstances in which it's a "good move" to take a knee and LOSE two yards before trying a game-winning field goal in a notoriously-bad stadium for placekickers?!? No, of coruse not. But that didn't stop Dan Dierdorff from telling us that the Jets just wanted to make sure the Steelers would have no time on the clock after the field goal. In other words, even though it's an incredibly stupid move, he's so conditioned to remind us that the conservative clock-management move is the *best* move that he ends up explaining to us why he thinks Herm Edwards made a smart move with the "Pennington takes a knee call."

posted by mossross at 05:31 PM on January 17, 2005

mossross, I totally agree with your point. I get sick of commentators praising the most conservative plays (especially in light of a study posted here a few weeks back which proved that less conservative play was generally more successful). But I have to take exception with your example—I thought Enberg and Dierdorf were very clear and realistic about the sheer distance and stadium statistics flying in the face of Brien's kick. After Pennington's knee, I recall Enberg wondering aloud, "I don't understand what that accomplished"—perhaps Dierdorf was trying to find any explanation for the knee? I didn't get a sense that either of them thought that they had a good defence for that decision. A bit of a digression, sorry—just defending what I (and some Newsday columnist guy, apparently) thought was a decent bit of commentating, which we can all agree is a rarity.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 06:02 PM on January 17, 2005

My perspective is that the work product, so to speak, of sports commentators is what it is for the same reason that certain shows get very high ratings, certain brewers sell huge quantities of beer and certain politicians get elected. The explanation is the same in all cases, and sadly I don't see much chance this will change: to attract the largest number of "purchasers" in a market as large as the US, a product must be as bland as possible while remaining identifiable as belonging within that product category. Pete Slosberg, now developing a high-end chocolate company called Coco Pete's Chocolate Adventures and who previously founded Pete's Wicked Ale, gives a very interesting presentation that lays this out in detail. He limits himself to beer and chocolate but I see that it applies much more widely and it also explains why individual afficionados (and political activists) are rarely satisfied with market leaders.

posted by billsaysthis at 07:16 PM on January 17, 2005

DrJohn, You may be right. My Dierdorf example may have been a poor one, and I do recall Enberg making that comment. But I'm glad you agree that, by and large, commentators seem to praise the "play it safe" call 99% of the time. The only exception, typically, is after a gimmick works (i.e. Bettis's TD pass against the Jets earlier this season).

posted by mossross at 07:31 PM on January 17, 2005

All at the expense of ... what? Story lines. Themes. Informal essays. Anything but honest reporting and a real interest in the panorama that unfolds on the field. The broadcast teams the network consider top of the line are most guilty of this. Hallelujah. And Doctor Z hits on a truth that doesn't just hold in sports but holds across the media. What's important is the story line, the grand narrative, not the truth. Behold your modern press corps America. I've canceled my cable and stopped watching TV. I thought I'd miss football the most, but I don't at all. I remember getting fed up with ten seconds of action (a kickoff, for example), followed by three minutes of commercials. The idea that the action is stopped in the stadium until the commercials finish is just absurd if you really think about it. You know why I love TIVO (other than the convience)? Because I'm convinced that help, in the form of TIVO, is on the way. I believe that in my lifetime we'll see professional football games played in under an 90 minutes. Eventually TIVo will force the NFL to replace commercials with logos embedded on the screen. And it can't happen soon enough.

posted by Mike McD at 07:38 PM on January 17, 2005

Dr. Z is right on. Theisman Maguire & Patrick are absolutely horrible. Ever notice how many times Maguire says "I'm gonna tell you something..." and then his analysis is dead wrong after reviewing the replay. Theisman does contradict himself from one sentence to the next. Bradshaw's segment is worthless. In San Diego we got Solomon Wilcots and Ian Eagle braodcasting Chargers games more then several times and they are pretty good. Finally, dusted is right on about the 3 minutes of commercials after every kickoff and change of possession.

posted by McLaw at 09:58 PM on January 17, 2005

I can't think of anyone who adds less to their broadcast team than Tony Siragusa. Let me say this for Siragusa... Actually, let me first say that I don't like him either. But what I do appreciate is that when the announcers throw down to him on the sideline, I know that I'm going to get some info from... down on the sideline. Every single other sideline reporter stands on the sidelines and reads off note cards compiled during the week. They talk about a coaches comments from Tuesday, how a player was reacting to a situation on Wednesday, or provide a usually useless injury report. At least Siragusa puts his sideline position to good use. He'll tell you which lineman are getting pushed off the ball and which coaches are pissed and yelling. He provides you with a general feel for how the game looks from his vantage point. And that, when it comes right down to it, is the reason for sidelines reporters. If they want to read off notes, stick them in the studio in New York.

posted by 86 at 08:38 AM on January 18, 2005

I am surprised Baldinger got such a high rating. He's no favorite in Chicago. I remember last season during the last or second to last game he spent the whole time lobbying for Dick Jauron to keep his job. I like to turn down the commentators on TV and turn up the radio commentators when I watch the Bears.

posted by Sister Havana at 10:24 AM on January 18, 2005

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.