At the time of George Michael’s 1986 resignation as regular sports anchor from Washington DC’s WRC, I wrote, “Once upon a time, cable TV was unavailable in large chunks of lower Manhattan and Queens (thank you, Donald Manes), and as such, rather than bask in the dulcet tones of the young (well, younger) Chris Berman on a late Sunday night, Michael™s œSports Machine was the only game in town for the highlights-starved.” Michael, a DC sports media fixture for more than a quarter century, and a national name/face thanks to his syndicated highlights program was once described by The Couch Slouch as “the only guy in town who can show you five minutes of tape in a four-minute sportscast.” Michael, a former disc-jockey turned sports mouthpiece, passed away yesterday at the age of 70.
“Growing up,” recalled Mr. Irrelevent’s Jamie Mottram, “my friends and I cherished the times we were able to stay up late enough to watch Sports Machine. Along with Saturday Night Live, it was our favorite show. I think a lot of sports-obsessed kids felt that way.”
I’m a little longer in the tooth than Mottram, and I always associated watching “The Sports Machine” with the end of a weekend with the oncoming dread of a Monday morning. And make no mistake, this was a pre-blog / pre- PTI / well before WFAN became-a-ratings-juggeranut era in which guys like Michael, Boston’s Bob Lobel, New York’s Warner Wolf and Jerry Girard were hugely influential in establishing just what the next morning’s talking points would be. If even said chatter wasn’t nearly as loud (or as easy to find)