(finally, some year-end accolades for these two hard working broadcasters)
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from “‘Tits Out Teenage Terror Totty” author / Philly exile Steven Wells, and his final column of 2006 for the Guardian tackles a subject near and dear to many of our hearts (even if it’s been rehashed a thousand times) : ABC and ESPN’s painful coverage of the 2006 World Cup.
The Best We’re Not-in-Islington-Now-Toto Moment Award goes to … ABC/ESPN for explaining that “Ecuador are the Denver Broncos of world soccer.” This beat out literally hundreds of other entries, including: “If this was basketball, it’d be like Shaq vs. Kobe”; “Trinidad & Tobago – The George Mason of the World Cup”; “Is he going to use the driver or the pitching wedge?”; “Wayne Rooney is a little bit like an American linebacker”; “Nakata is the Terrell Owens of this Japanese team”; and “Australia don’t have many men on the end line”.
The Worstest Soccer Commentator Ever Award … goes to ABC/ESPN’s Marcelo Balboa for starting every single freaking sentence with “You know what?” and his relentless excusing of every single bit of diving, cheating and time-wasting as “part of the game”. Never has the Wells TV screen come so close to being booted in so many times.
The First Ever Ian St John Award for the Most Improved Commentator of the World Cup 2006 goes to … (hushed silence) … former play-by-play announcer for baseball’s Florida Marlins and New York Mets – ABC/ESPN’s David O’Brien (ecstatic applause). Dave started the tournament defending ABC/ESPN’ s deliberate dumbing-down policy and alienating every single soccer fan in America by calling them an “antsy mean-spirited … petulant little clique”. But after receiving an avalanche of antsy, mean-spirited and petulant criticism, (“When the US team boards a plane to head home in disgrace, O’Brien should be handing out the peanuts on the flight” – Tom Hoffarth, LA Daily News), O’Brien relented, easing up on the “volume of items” (the non-stop barrage of “facts” of the sort used to fill the long aching gaps between adverts in televised baseball) in favour of more “foot-to-foot action”. Well done that man.