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WC 2006: ESPN says they're great
2006-06-28 09:22
by Bob Timmermann

ESPN's ombudsman, George Solomon of the Washington Post says that he's gotten lots of complaints about ESPN's announcers.

But Solomon says he's talked to everybody at ESPN and they all say that everything is just peachy!

Solomon also wrote that he couldn't tell which guys were live and which guys were in a studio. Apparently, he has never watched a soccer match before on TV. Calling soccer matches off of monitors has been going on, since there have been satellites. It's rare that a match is actually announced by someone at the site. (MLS games are a notable exception.)

This passage shook my faith in Solomon's judgment.

Scanlan takes exception to that, pointing out ESPN's commentators are experienced broadcasters and had extensive briefings before the competition. Still, more background on the players and coaches -- such as the way Joe Morgan dishes out inside baseball to viewers on Sunday nights -- would help. Shelley Smith's features, though, are good and do add to the coverage.

Emphasis added by me!

Soccer commentators like Joe Morgan!


Make the bad man stop!!

Once ESPN's soccer announcers turn into Joe Morgan, you'll find me curled up in the fetal position underneath my kitchen table.

I'll stick with Jorge Pérez-Navarro and José Luis Chilavert then.

Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News had a scathing criticism of O'Brien and ESPN.

2006-06-28 09:40:09
1.   Sam DC
"So the guys in the front, it's their job to score the goals. The guys in the middle, they've got to get the ball up to the guys in front. The guys in back have to stop the other team from scoring goals. So if your team scores a lot of goals, and stops the other team from scoring a lot of goals, you're going to be in a good position to win the match."

"What I love about soccer is no smarmy know-it-all statheads acting like they invented the damn game in the first place. Thank god, Billy Beane didn't write that book soccer."

2006-06-28 09:56:57
2.   Ken Arneson
1 Just wait. The A's just bought a MLS expansion team. Billy Beane and the rest of the A's upper management just spent two weeks in Germany following the World Cup. The know-it-all statheads acting like they invented the damn game are coming. They can't be stopped!
2006-06-28 09:58:50
3.   Bob Timmermann
It's sort of hard to find underpriced MLS talent, since, by definition, all the talent in the MLS is underpriced.
2006-06-28 09:59:56
4.   Sam DC
And obviously the missing "about" was clear to you smart people.
2006-06-28 10:06:41
5.   Bob Timmermann
I believe Beane's new book is called "Moneyfoot".
2006-06-28 10:17:50
6.   Penarol1916
I haven't watched much, if any of the ESPN/ABC coverage of the cup. Not so much on purpose, but primarily because I never seem to be home when the games are on live.
I just want to take this opportunity to say that I really don't like George Solomon as the ESPN Ombudsman, his criticisms always seem incredibly mild and most of what he writes is defending ESPN and its personalities against the readers. It's fine to do that on occasion, but he does it for almost every complaint brought in. I prefer the Washington Post Ombudsman who really seems to mix it up with the writers.
2006-06-28 10:23:18
7.   Greg Brock
"According to what I read in the Times, Beane is smarter than anyone else. I don't think it will make him popular with the other GMs or the other people in soccer."

I can't wait until he finds the Chad Bradford of footie. That should be fun to watch.

2006-06-28 10:59:23
8.   Ken Arneson
What would the Chad Bradford of footie look like? Nothing but bicycle kicks?
2006-06-28 11:11:42
9.   Bob Timmermann
And back injuries.
2006-06-28 11:18:16
10.   joejoejoe
When US soccer can produce retired players in their sport as great as Joe Morgan was in his I'll gladly put up with the bad announcing. As it stands we have to listen to third tier international players Marcelo Balboa, Eric Wynalda and John Harkes criticize Ronaldo for being fat. Let these hacks cover the Fitness American pagaent if they're so concerned with training. Two World Cup championships and more goals than any player in history say Ronaldo is just fine. It's the same kind of criticism that Rickey Henderson used to get for not hustling when he was scoring 130 runs a year. Sheesh.
2006-06-28 11:41:26
11.   dianagramr

I (heart) you!

I actually sent an e-mail to Solomon complaining about Morgan a few weeks ago. I got a response a couple of weeks later from his assistant, thanking me for my interest.

blah blah blah ...

2006-06-28 12:15:19
12.   Suffering Bruin
Ah, a chance to talk about sports broadcasting...

I've watched many a minute but I'm still sketchy on the names of the PBP guys, so here goes...

The team of JP Dellacamera (?) and John Harkes: Dellacamera has terrific pace in his voice; he seems to get when to be excited, when to bring it down. He never sounds bored and you'd be surprised how rare that is any broadcaster. Harkes sounds like a rookie feeling his way. He's getting better but his weaknesses are too many generalities, cliches and not enough original thinking that could facilitate the game for the viewer.

Dave O'Brien/Marcelo Balboa: O'Brien needs to add to the game when he's not finding it exciting. He just doesn't get excited unless there's a shot or a goal. Basically, he's only as good as the game--if he finds it interesting, he's great. If not, oh well. Balboa is the master of the incomplete sentence. He's like the guy trying to make a layup on a sprained ankle: it's painful to watch but you find yourself cheering for the guy.

Shep Messing and the guy who works with Shep Messing: If they teamed up Dellacamera with Messing, I'd never turn off the television. More than anything else, Messing is into the game. He's talking about the game, paying attention to defensive plays, passes... the guy is interested in the game and because of that, we're interested. I can't say enough about him.

The studio folk: Foudy started off weak but got very strong with each passing day. She had her best day when she was away at a camp in Chicago and she was doing a remote. I haven't seen much of her since. Giorgio Chinaglia is what he is: a passionate Italian fan who no one seems to object to being on the set. Alexi Lalas needs a little more fire in his conversation; he just seems too nice.

The real firebrand has been Wynalda. I thought he was terrible his first week but man, has he come on strong. Agree or disagree he is interesting because he's informative, controversial and as yet, not a blowhard like many of the ESPN guys on that reporters show. If soccer in this country becomes Soccer, Wynalda will be a star.

I might add that I would rather listen to all of the above rather than Joe Morgan.

Rece Davis and Brent Musberger seem more like caretakers and not very interesting one's at that. Davis looks like he can't wait for it all to be over and Musberger's enthusiasm sounds contrived rather than genuine (though I believe he is genuinely enthusiastic).

2006-06-28 12:17:38
13.   Sam DC
I'd like to hear some commentary about this shocking leaked video of the Italians squad practicing.
2006-06-28 12:20:39
14.   Bob Timmermann
I added a link to a Tom Hoffarth critique of O'Brien.
2006-06-28 12:33:34
15.   Bob Timmermann
I think Harkes's biggest problem is his voice. It's too high and he's hard to understand.
2006-06-28 12:40:18
16.   Greg Brock
I'll take JP and Harkes over anybody else ESPN/ABC has to offer. And Dave O'Brien is a nightmare. Whoever told them that O'Brien and Balboa constitute the "A" team probably green-lit Quite Frankly and Bonds on Bonds.
2006-06-28 12:42:38
17.   Greg Brock
13 Sam, I think the most interesting part of that vid.....AAAAGGHHHHHHHH! MY KNEEEEEE!!!!!!
2006-06-29 14:45:41
18.   Voxter
What I find truly irritating about the ESPN/ABC guys has less to do with the presence or lack of knowledge than it has to do with the fact that they just won't shut the hell up. Many British soccer announcers have realized that it's not neccessary to maunder nonsensically all the time, because the game never really comes to a hault -- there's no blank time to fill with gibbering voices. Since American sports -- particularly American football -- consist of so much downtime, our announcers have understandably adopted a policy of blathering cosntantly to fill the space between the action. That's not neccessary in soccer. To me, a good announcer merely tells you who has the ball most of the time. The rest is superfluous.

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