06.03.07

Keeping Up With Current Events, Mushnick Style

Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Gridiron, Sports TV at 6:13 pm by

While hailing ESPN’s installation of Mark Jackson (above) as one of the three talking heads with Knicks connections calling this year’s NBA Finals (the other pair being Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy), the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick cannot resist taking the Worldwide Leader to task.

ESPN, for whatever reasons, eventually got this one right. And in just two years.

Consider that for the last 18 years, ESPN was of a mind that America was eager to have its NFL telecasts – ESPN’s most valued property – dominated and destroyed by the insufferable omnipresence of windbag Joe Theismann. Eighteen years!

No offense to Theismann, but most genuine football fans would have instead done one of three things: 1) Coached him, starting with Week 1 of 1988, until he improved. 2) Replaced him after one season. 3) Never hired him in the first place.

ESPN has attached its baseball telecasts, another big-ticket and cherished property, to the fractured, nonsensical and protracted observations of Joe Morgan. But that has only been going on the last 17 years.

Does ESPN really believe America enjoys listening to Morgan wreck baseball games any more than it enjoyed listening to Theismann ruin football games? Or does ESPN’s plan call for an 18-year wait before fixing big holes in its roof?

For nearly 20 years – an entire generation – ESPN, America’s all-sports network, created and sustained a year-round sense of fear and loathing when tuning to two of ESPN’s proudest and most expensive properties. Crazy, ain’t it?

Absolutely. Though it might’ve escaped the notice of Newscorp’s New York based sports media columnist that Theismann was recently demoted — the former Cathy Lee Crosby paramour having been pulled from “Monday Night Football” (certainly the network’s “proudest and most expensive property”) for exactly the reasons Mushnick describes.

I’m not suggesting ESPN is above reproach. But Bristol University’s decision to rescind Professor Theismann’s monday night tenure is neither a small nor particularly arcane fact.

In stark contrast to Phil’s moralistic tone, Newsday’s Neil Best would like you all to know that’s recently enjoyed the transgressive pleasures of an R-rated movie.

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