Thursday, December 01, 2005

Reasons ESPN Sucks

There was a great post on http://everydayshouldbesaturday.com/index.php about all the reasons that ESPN sucks! They compiled 52 reasons, and were followed up by http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/ with reasons 53 through 84. And 85-100 are posted here http://markhasty.com/archives/2005/11/29/shooting-for-an-even-hundred/. I though I would put them all together for one complete list. So, enjoy!


While not strictly a college football issue, we all as sports fans consort with the many-armed devil that is Disney/ESPN/ABC in our attempt to digest as much football in the precious time we’re allowed each season. And in doing so–either in watching the games, searching for highlights, or zoning out after downing five beers in front of the television–you will come across much, much, much to dislike. Actually, we thought of fifty-two things we don’t like.

1. Synergy. Promo the games you have the rights to while barely mentioning the big games on in other places, no matter how important they might be. Push your product over THE GAME. Vile corporate entertainment thinking that yields little but viewer disgust.

2. Regional broadcast fiascoes. No shit here–the Tampa Bay area enjoyed the Rutgers/WVU game on the weekend of the Texas/Oklahoma game because…well, because the evil spider god in charge of everything decreed it, we suppose. Here in Atlanta we frequently got the Tar Heels getting knocked around the yard instead of a better matchup across the country.

3. Stuart Scott. His poetry slam two days ago didn’t happen, because if we did admit it, then we’d wake up crying in a ball in the corner struck by the sadness of what has become Sportscenter.Boo. Yeah, boo.

4. The absence of Keith Olbermann.

5. The continued, painful obsolescence of Keith Jackson. Yeah, that’s more of a complaint with God, but pending a response from the Deity himself, we’ll blame his corporate masters who act as accomplices.

6. Sportstainment! The next few are attached to this umbrella concept of the idea that sports isn’t entertainment all by itself. Consider them pieces of evidence in one long indictment of Disney’s attempt to force ESPN into becoming the story, not the medium.

7. Nick Lachey, interviewer.

8. ESPN Hollywood. Lower ratings than “Christopher Lowell, After Hours.”

9. “The Hot Seat” segment. Nothing more excruciating than watching former partial qualifiers attempting to think against the clock.

10. Dream Job.

11. Stephen A. Smith. Mark Shapiro, the prime mover behind Sportstainment! and former head of ESPN, said he just HAD to hire Smith after every focus group detested his ass. Well, there you go. Would love to kick the ass of the editor of Highlights magazine for bewitching him with those devilish puzzles all these years. Makes a sport we already don’t care about all the more ignoreable–and isn’t that what a great spokesman for the sport is supposed to do?

12. Tom Berenger’s horrible old man prosthetics in The Junction Boys. Bear Bryant as burn victim, evidently.

13. WHOOSH. Fox shares some blame here, but we’ll still fault ESPN for jumping on the bandwagon by putting sound effects to every gesture.

14. Chris Berman’s “WHOOP!” noise. Berman will make several appearances here, since he’s one of the worst things about the network, so we’ll just list the offense and the death strike we think is appropriate. In this case, we think the two hand spiral neck snap, an old Seagal move, would be perfect.

15. TomBob Ley’s banishment. Outside the Lines, one of the best shows on ESPN, is relegated to the status of “Sunday Morning Boring Old Man News Thing.” How Ley stays at the network when he could be at HBO’s Real Sports is a testament to his loyalty–or his laziness, perhaps.
16. Dan Patrick’s hair dye. Has now moved squarely into Wink Martindale territory.

17. I…love…highlights without shtick…songs that don’t suck dick…and twins!!!

18. Speaking of songs that suck…Big and Rich have made their way onto our Orbital Death Ray list, along with Mark Shapiro. For a long time college football existed as a fiefdom apart from the Sportstainmenttastic! world of ESPN–pleasantly stodgy, frills-free coverage of a sport that allowed you to soak in the atmosphere of each game through the screen. Now we have Nick Lachey interviewing people and Big and Rich suggesting that we need more Ying with our Ying Yang. Two old pieces of redneck jerky–including one who one of our readers pointed out, bears a striking resemblance to Phyllis Diller–who were pulled out of a hat at random by marketing schmucks in New York who were like, “Okay, people. Red state sport—we need us some edgy country!” Total, horrid, absolute fecality soiling the last show we watch on the network.
We’re coming…and we’re shit-tayyy!!!

19. Making the story, not reporting it. Two words: Terrell Owens.

20. High school kids committing live on the network. Recruiting’s creepy enough with Tom Lemming involved. Upping the ante to national coverage only adds to the ick factor.

21. Ron Jaworski’s backseat role. His explanation of schemes and coverages is pure, elegant analysis. So he’s forced to do it at 11:30 with a concussed madman and a very cute lesbian. That’s a push, we suppose.

22. Berman’s lack of preparation. He’s ad-libbing half the time and doing so badly, stuttering and stammering while barely concealing his head-tracking reading of the teleprompter. Appropriate death strike: spinning heel kick, Walker, Texas Ranger- style.

23. Desmond Howard. We just hear happy music while he blabs on about whatever he’s talking about. Mostly bossa nova, actually.

24. The Outdoor Games. In a typical move, ESPN takes our insomniac treats–including the World’s Strongest Man competitions–and packages them into Sportstainment!. What they fail to understand is that we liked them because they were on when we got home from the bar drunk enough to find them entertaining.

25. Lee Corso. Not so fast, my friend! His analyses come down to “Ooh! They’re tougher than the other guy!” or “Kirk said this, so I’ll disagree with him and put on this mascot head!” Makes the already superb Herbstreit look like a bona fide savant in comparison, which may be his role.

26. Mike Gottfried. America’s most dyspeptic college football announcer. Frowns at babies and accuses them of lack of discipline for shitting their diapers. Misses calls frequently. The opposite of fun.

27. Berman’s clip of him throwing a football to catching the ball from Doug Williams. Yes, you were skinny once. Now you’re fat and an easy target. Appropriate death strike: run over with Brinks Truck, chase him down with a lawnmower.

28. The forced animosity between John Clayton and Sean Salisbury. Team Under Armor vs. Goliath has more verisimilitude.

29. Wide angle shots, fades, and pensive shots of young athletes recounting the trauma of growing up poor/fatherless/in Bosnia/stricken with acne/slightly nervous/average/motherless/with rickets/etc in puff pieces. Adversity, dear ESPN, is boring. Show us how long it takes for Matt Leinart to pick up a girl in a bar–now that would be Sportstainmenttastic! Hey-yo!

30. Woody Paige. In our hometown, this guy cleaned your septic tank. On ESPN, he’s an “expert.”

31. The rape of Buster Olney, a fine sportswriter.
32. Fake news conferences.

33. Flavor in our broadcasts. Yes, Dan and Keith did it very well. But show us a goal, td, basket, point, or homer without a “SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND” once, and we will send you a shiny dollar in the mail.

34. Mark May. The youngest disciple of the Gottfried school of broadcasting, a nasty, choleric presence on the screen whose vagina-pelt-looking goatee only added to his dislikeable on-air demeanor. Makes pure evil presence of Lou Holtz seem agreeable in comparison. Oh, speaking of…

35. Lou Holtz. You have a speech defect, and should not make a living talking on television. Oh, and you’re a cheater. Would be entertaining only if they made him speak from behind his own salad bar shield; we’re guessing it would look like those shots of cobras striking at people behind plexiglass in zoos, with spit flying in gobs all over the surface.

36. Chris Berman’s nicknames. Appropriate death strike: in honor of their upcoming Big 12 championship game, how about a dim mak Brown shot to the throat?

37. Beano Cook. Beano’s visage just plain scares the hell out of us. Plus, he’s been trying to kill us for years, with the last incident being a failed stabbing on the streets of Singapore in 2003.

38. World Series of Poker. Not bad in an hour’s dose. Unbearable in four hour stretches.

39. 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story. Find us someone who thinks anyone actually calls their father “diddy” in the South NOT named Bowden, and we will show you an actor two years out of drama school.

40. ESPNU. Not even sure what this is, but it’s unknown and strange–therefore by instinct we must hate it.

41. Chris Berman referring to himself as “The Schwam.” Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck you. Appropriate death strike: cruise missile while singing onstage with Huey Lewis.

42. ESPN, the Magazine. Huge pages, fellatio-style coverage of the shittiest citizens of the athletic world, and very, very little content.

43. Mark Shapiro, the man behind the Sportstaimentization! of the network. Gone, but not forgotten.

44. Mike Lupica. Only makes two statements a year about college football, both atrociously wrong and dumb. Abrasive without insight. We’d say he represents the worst of Northeastern sportswriting, but Dan Shaughnessy still breathes in Boston.

45. Mel Kiper, Jr. We shouldn’t really hate on Mel–to be this wrong and still get paid for it bespeaks of a certain grandiose swindletude we have to admire. But that said–no one gets their assigned pundit beat wrong with greater consistency. Built entire reputation on saying Trev Alberts sucks, which, well, duh?

46. Not enough Sumo. The Bashos rule, and we have no idea when they’re on.

47. The ESPYs.

48. Rush Limbaugh, football analyst. Yes, it’s ancient history–but the shame remains.

49. The disappearance of Chris Mortensen. He’s your NFL insider, and you put him–literally–behind the set. Because he’s working back there during the show! It Sportstainmenttastic!

50. PTI. Not for the show itself, but for its shambolic impact on ESPN programming, which now features argumentative elements in even the least confrontational formats.

51. Jim Donnan. Looks like he rolled out from beneath an overturned fishing boat in someone’s front yard, put on a tie and and a coat, and rolled into the studio for a segment or two.

52. Chris Berman’s BACK BACK BACK BACK BACK BACK call. Appropriate death strike: kicking knee break, joint-lock arm hold, thrown into path of oncoming commuter train.

53. Michael Irvin. Probably another one of Shapiro's "this man is hated by all and thus deserves a job" hires, Irvin epitomizes everything that made the nation hate Miami during the 80s and 90s. His signature moment in my Detroit-tinted eyes was when the Lions picked Roy Williams two years ago. Irvin slammed Williams for returning to college for his senior year in order to get a degree. There's your 'Canes for you: the worst people in the universe.I mean, seriously: at the rate he talk and given the things that come out of his mouth, is there any possibility he isn't on crack?

54. Dick Vitale. My impresion of Dick Vitale eating lunch:OH MY GOD! THE MEATLOAF! THIS MEATLOAF REMINDS ME OF DUKE! I WOULD LIKE TO PLACE JJ REDICK'S SUCCULENT GROUND MEATY BITS IN MY MOUTH AND LET MY SALIVA WASH OVER HIM, COVERING HIM IN DUKE DUKE DUUUUUUKE.

55. Scoop Jackson, who has never met a black athlete whose penis didn't in some faint way remind him of Malcom X's magnificent schlong.

56. Jason Whitlock, who, uh... we covered before. Setting aside any mention of cards, he's one of those guys who intentionally writes idiotic things for notoriety. ESPN pays him to do this.

57. EDSBS mentioned the "Hot Seat," but they didn't mention the insult heaped upon the injury: the goddamn thing was (is? I don't watch Sportscenter any more) the "Budweiser Hot Seat." They sponsored it. Whores.

58. Bill. Goddamn. Walton.

59. The director of NBA Finals games on ABC who goes to commercial by using those stupid moving camera's panning OMG UP OMG LEFT OMG RIGHT around OMG CLAPPING FANS like it's a Hillary Duff concert with slightly older, faker-boobed jailbait. A flagrant symbol of sportainment(!!!).

60. Tim Legler, who actually defended Ron Artest's actions during Aubernica. Let's see: someone throws a beer at you, causing no damage whatsoever. In response, you attempt to kill some 5'2" whiteboy who--and this is key--didn't even throw the beer. This is okay to Tim Legler because Tim Legler is a former NBA player and a giant douchebag. (PS: OMG WIZZNUTZZ.)

61. Can I blame ABC for the fact that "Mexican" Manu Ginobli is allowed to charge anyone in the league with impunity and never, ever get called for it? No? Damn.

62. The complete obliteration of Classic Sports. Now ESPN Classic, it shows 90% cheesy, terrible "SportsCentury" reruns instead of the glorious games from years past it used to.

63. And when they do deign to show Michigan games, the goddamn program director shows 3/4ths losses. Remember: Michigan, winningest college football team ever.

64. Those "hot" sideline reporters who all look like the kind of girl that's really appealing if you're 45 and married to someone who used to be thin. As a mid-20s wild and crazy guy, let me say: bitch, please. Go one of two routes:
people (men or women) who know football and actually add something other than "tee hee" to a broadcast
strippers.Either is acceptable. (Note that Michel Tafoya and her ilk are excepted from this, as they're as useful as other sideline reporters. That's "not very useful," but whatever.)

65. Pam Ward. Let me tell you as someone who attempts to chart games with a Dr. Z-level down-and-distance obsession: Pam Ward is either blind or Timmy from South Park. I was forced to pause the game, swear, and rejigger my Excel spreadsheet no fewer than a half-dozen times in a single half because Ward was off by as many as five yards. Combine that with a voice that is simultanoeously, inexplicably both irritatingly high-pitched and huskily, er, WNBA-friendly and you have a play-by-play announcer best suited for a vacuum.That's right, OSU fans: sound doesn't travel in a vacuum.

66. Trevor Matich. I don't know where Matich came from, but it's probably a place where the Offensive Linemen of the Corn kill you if you even sound like you're about to make sense.and that's just him. Put him together with his running partner

67. Rod Gilmore and it's whiskey and killin' time. Gilmore is the dumbest person associated with ESPN. The very dumbest. Let that sink in.
I know that's a bold statement. But it's true. Gilmore is summarized by his passive-aggressive douchestache, which screams "I am an effete twat who has no idea how other people perceive me." When not butchering color commentary with Matich on ESPN2, he writes an ESPN Insider column with insights like this one on Ty Willingham: "Notre Dame made the unbelievable mistake of firing Willingham in a misguided attempt to land Urban Meyer." Only $4.95 a month!I first noticed his ultimate dumbosity when he said this about replay: "I think it makes it a professional game. It's a professional game. I don't think this should be a professional game. It's a college game."Great. Go to hell.

68. Look, please stop pretending that the womens' NCAA tournament is something on a par with the mens'. It just isn't. I'm not watching ESPN to glory in the equality of women. You can show it and advertise it and stuff but please stop with the "We got next" mindless girl power crap.

69. Where did Kenny Mayne go?

70. And how did you kill Dan Patrick's will to live?

71. "I just want to race, daddy."

72. Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens

73. TERRELL OWENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

74. I'm probably the only person in the world who cares about this, but the Frozen Four game that gets played at 12 noon on Thursday pisses me off. I know college hockey is about as popular as women's basketball... but I guess that's my point. Women's basketball: copiously excessive coverage. College hockey: look! Beanpot! and that's it.

75. Dennis Miller doing "Monday Night Football." I used to think Dennis Miller was funny.

76. Around The Horn. Take the jackassiest sports columnists in America and then tell them to disagree with each other at a volume level loud enough to shatter the souls of anyone who stumbles across it looking for Magnum, PI reruns. These people put

77. TJ Simers and

78. Jay Mariotti, two of the ugliest people in the universe, on the TV. I'm at a loss.

79. Theisman and

80. Maguire.So, there's Dahmer-level evil. He's in Hell somewhere having snakes explode up through his groin and emerge from his mouth. There's Hitler-level evil. He's frozen in the lake Satan is stuck in. And then there's Woody Hayes-level evil. This is what Woody Hayes is doing right now: he is trapped in a room where the TV is always on, playing Sunday Night Football on ESPN.Shouldn't have gone for two, bitch.

81. Jim Rome. If only for financially supporting the man who has singlehandely foist "drinking the Kool Aid" upon our fair nation. Rome has probably done more to turn sports media into a festering lagoon of Down's syndrome-inspired "takes" that do nothing but prove that I can't possibly get my hands on a castration ray soon enough.

82. I pull this from the EDSBS comments thread because it cannot be improved upon: "The ABC CFB studio crew. Give the choice b/t talking football with John Saunders, Craig James, and Aaron Taylor and having shit shoveled on me by a Texas A&M calvary member, I’ll take the shit-shoveling anytime."

83. Skip Bayless, who has never met an adorable puppy that he couldn't accuse of being a racist pedophile fattie.

84. Playmakers, for being the first salvo of Sportainment's evil grasp. It was on in prime time during the week, when there were NBA or NHL games to show. Hate on PTI or Around the Horn all you want, but they come on in the afternoon, when there's nothing else to do. Playmakers was the jump-the-shark moment: regularly scheduled fiction no different from that everywhere else on cable save for a sports theme. It was the final straw.

85. “The hhhhhRRRRaaayyyduzzz.” “The New York football Giants.” Stop it. It’s not funny, not in the “I’m offended you would say that” sense, but in the “seriously, Berman, it’s not funny” sense. It’s one thing if Boomer does it, but when almost every ESPN announcer starts talking about “the New York football Giants,” it’s cultural hegemony.

86. Regional broadcast idiocy, specifically, broadcasting nothing but Big Ten football games in the Midwest, even when these games turn out to be stinking piles of compost. Meanwhile, all the good Big 12 games? We can’t see ‘em here in Wisconsin, because Michigan State and Purdue are teein’ it up. Thanks. Orson and Stranko touched on this as well; I just wanted to let them know they’re not the only ones honked off.

87. “Cheap Seats.” I’ve been anti- that show since it premiered. It’s still not funny. “Randy, we’s so ironic.” “Jason, what’s ironic?” “I dunno, Randy . . . but we’s it! Haw!“

88. Showing SportsCenter 43 times in a row instead of showing something like, I don’t know, sports. Yes, I would rather watch, say, the CFL. Or a ping-pong tournament. But please, not the World Series of Poker. SportsCenter can be pretty good, but it’s not so good that I feel terrible if I miss it. Especially since I almost always miss it, because it’s almost always terrible.

89. Jim Rome. Brian also mentioned him, but he’s so profoundly annoying, a single mention isn’t enough.

90. Duplicity in the current Michael Irvin case. Did you catch Dan Patrick’s radio interview on Monday? I did. I can understand Patrick not wanting to challenge Irvin, since he still has to work with the guy. But if you can’t close, don’t do the interview. Don’t stop short of what we all want to hear from Irvin right now. Not “would you take a drug test?” but “will you?” Good grief, even Jim Rome would’ve gotten that one right.

91. Bill Simmons. What? Look, I love the Boston Sports Guy, but I am sick to death of all the Billy Zabka, Andy Dufresne, and Brian Austin Greene references. Dude, you can write. You’ve got to be making some decent geedus these days. Buy some new DVDs, already. You’re starting to sound like that guy from high school who stopped forming new memories three days after graduation.

92. Cold Pizza. It’s not working. If it weren’t for Skip Bayless and Woody Paige’s pointless bickering, this would be content-free, personality-free television. And if there’s anything harder to take than Skip Bayless first thing in the morning, it’s Woody Paige.

93. Bringing back halftime highlights on Monday Night Football, but thinking that Tim McGraw should somehow be involved in presenting them. Oh, right–by the time we get to Monday night, we’ve already seen every highlight 43 times on SportsCenter!

94. Refusing to acknowledge that Tommy Tuberville wasn’t entirely wrong when he went off about ESPN’s influence on popular opinion. Since college football depends on popular opinion for the bulk of its evaluatory tasks (i.e., there’s no playoff), Tuberville’s charge deserved more attention than it got.

95. Firing Gregg Easterbrook and deleting every last one of his columns from the archives, thus meaning that I can never prove I actually won the TMQ Challenge in 2001. (I got a Kenny Mayne bobblehead. By the way, where did Kenny Mayne go?)

96. Page 3. Does anybody read Page 3? If so, I just have one question for you: Why?

97. Just wanna say this: POKER IS NOT A SPORT.

98. The one really good show on ESPN–"NFL Matchup"–might as well not even exist for all it’s promoted. But that’s okay, because the NFL Network’s “Playbook” has surpassed it.

99. The total failure to realize that Brad Nessler should have Mike Patrick’s job, and Mike Patrick should have Brad Nessler’s job.

100. They’re keeping a chair warm for Terrell Owens on “Monday Night Countdown.” You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.

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