Saturday, June 30, 2007

Musburger Leads ABC's Red Sox Love Fest

When Brent Musburger was added to the ABC Sports line-up for the Busch Series race in Loudon, no one really paid attention. Musburger had been "the telecast host" on ABC before this season. This time, however, Musburger was personally hosting NASCAR Countdown, the pre-race show.

Over the past several races, when the coverage was on ESPN2, Allen Bestwick and Mike Massaro had been hosting. Now, on broadcast TV, those two apparently were not good enough for the big time. Suzy Kolber, who will host both the Cup and Busch pre-race shows for ESPN/ABC eventually, was nowhere to be seen...once again.

Musburger's famous line, "you're looking live at...Loudon, New Hampshire" led into the rocking opening of the show, which served to recap the last several races and the season. ESPN's pre-produced features and opens continue to be outstanding.

Then, a strange thing happened. The Red Sox love fest began. On Sunday, in the NEXTEL Cup race on TNT, Carl Edwards will be racing a car with a Boston Red Sox logo on the front hood. Back in February of this year, Roush Racing merged with the Red Sox parent organization. But this was the Busch Series, and Edwards drove a car with lawn care products on the hood. Apparently, that did not matter.

ABC showed Jack Roush and Carl Edwards throwing out the first pitch at a Red Sox game. Musburger talked about the pitches and the funny things that happened, including the fact that the Red Sox catcher missed the ball. Edwards then drove a NEXTEL Cup show car onto the outfield warning track at Fenway Park. With the NEXTEL Cup race on TNT, and no Red Sox car in the field on Saturday, what connection this had with the Busch Series was not clear.

Later in the show ABC ran a feature on Roush's "Fenway Day," complete with first pitch footage again. To say the least, for NASCAR fans who could care less about the Red Sox, this entire topic was awkward. It had absolutely nothing to do with the Busch Series race at hand, or the track in New Hampshire. I bet there were many Busch teams in the garage that would have loved this type of free publicity for their sponsor.

Musburger then recapped the Denny Hamlin "non-story" of last week, and actually tried to hype as an "issue" what was really a sponsor obligation. Luckily, Hamlin was interviewed by Allen Bestwick, who straightened things out. A telephone follow-up from Aric Almirola was nice, but certainly not necessary seven days later.

On the set, both Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree put things into perspective in about two minutes. It was about sponsors, obligations, and money. Nothing about personal relationships or drivers was ever an issue. Petree said if not for a car parked on the helipad, there would have been no issue. Now, that's a summary.

Jamie Little has been enjoying her first year as a pit reporter on the ESPN NASCAR package, but she should not have been given the assignment of speaking with Tony Stewart in this show. Tony ate her naive and timid line of questioning for lunch, with a smart-aleck smile on his usual. Make sure you have your ducks in a row before you wander into Tony territory.

Since the start of the season, The Daly Planet has been asking ESPN and ABC to put one or both of the "booth analysts" down on the infield set for the pre-race show. This week, Brad Daugherty was missing from the set, and both Jarrett and Petree were alongside Musburger. This made all the difference in the world, and gave Musburger the kind of credibility and firepower that Daugherty and a weekly on-set guest could never match. Once Suzy Kolber hits Countdown, she is going to need every bit of support she can get.

The big problem with NASCAR Countdown again this week is that ESPN/ABC is just obsessed with NEXTEL Cup. In the field at Loudon was young Stephen Leicht, fan favorite Marcos Ambrose, and veteran Bobby Labonte. There was also Ward Burton, Scott Wimmer and Jason Keller all trying to re-kindle their racing careers.

Perhaps, more attention to the Busch Series drivers would allow fans to re-connect with this series that has often times become nothing more than NEXTEL Cup practice with a checkered flag at the end. Fans deserved much more eighteen races into the Busch season than the ESPN crew fawning over the Red Sox NEXTEL Cup car. But, I guess that all depends on where Musburger's box seats are located.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for stopping by.


vroom said...

The Red Sox angle was beyond overkill!

So you think Smoke was a little smirky with Jamie? I think he was just flirtin'!

Anonymous said...


In my opinion, Bill Weber is an annoying distraction and an unworthy choice for a broadcast booth anchor. His voice is grating and his knowledge of NASCAR as well as his preparation and delivery of information are sorely lacking.
Is there any chance that race fans may be spared the pain of Weber's inadequacy? I listen to Sirius Radio (MRN) while I watch race broadcasts which Weber ruins.
I have written to voice my distaste.

Jeff M said...

Brent Musberger needs to go find a college football game, this is not his sport and it shows and the same goes for Jamie Little. Indycar racing is night and day to NASCAR and it's drivers.

I have no idea why Brad Daugherty is there sine he has ony "former team owner" to his credit and knows nothing about how the cars work.

It is to bad that the days of Ned, Benny and Bob are over at ESPN/ABC. They have some good people but in the wrong places, Dr. Punch, Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett are good in the booth. (ever notice how much Dale Jarrett same AHH or UHM) But Alan Betwick needs to lead the broadcast from there "Holleywood Hotel."

Hey, whatever happend to Rusty Wallace?

Daly Planet Editor said...

1 - Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett are both working the ABC/ESPN NASCAR coverage.

2 - Thanks to the readers who caught our spelling error.

Anonymous said...

I saw most of this. I thought it was good. I liked Brent Musberger doing the "you're looking live....". It adds a big-time atmosphere to the event. I thought he did a good job setting up the questions for Dale and Andy, and they seem to work well together. After he asked the questions, he backed away and let them run with it.

Maybe DJ does say umm and aahh a lot, but if you'd ever heard the late great Dick Brooks on MRN, you don't know an "umm or aahhh" until then. Dick was a real racer and a great racing character on the broadcasts-but he stayed on air for a long time despite not being a professional broadcaster. He was great. And isn't what NASCAR fans want anyway? Not a Eric or Suzy actually commenting on racing?

Brad Daugherty is there for diversity. He is agood guy, a North Carolina native with legit ties to racing, but he is Mr. Cliche when he is on. I like him, but not on TV.

I fell the Red Sox thing was to be expected. TV loves "a story" behind an event, any event, and this gave them one. I'm sure Jack Roush was happy they "over-killed" the story.

Anonymous said...

Be greatful that Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, never went through with his plans to have his own race team. If you thought the Red Sox display was bad, a Cowboys one would be even worse considering Jones ego and penchant for being a wanna-be head coach.

Kevin in Indy said...

I loved the blank look on Musberger's face when Andy and Dale were talking about the set-up of the race cars. They could have been speaking in jibberish and he would not have known the difference. Anybody know what was up with his hair? It went from white at the bottom to dark at the top. Hey Brent, bring back the straw hat you had at Daytona.

Bobby said...

Another thing also was Loudon does have heartbreak for Brad Daugherty, who also was part of the National Stock Car Racing Commission board that upheld NASCAR's $10,000 fine and 25-point penalty on Dale Earnhardt Jnr for bleeping.

Of course, on July 7, 2000, a former Daugherty driver, Kenny Irwin, was killed at NHIS Turn Three.

(And the other driver who drove for Liberty Racing, the team which he was part-owner, was Kevin Harvick.)

74 Jailbreak said...

Tony Stewart said it best at the end of the race. He was thrown under the bus a couple of weeks ago by ESPN programming for saying that he was going to go home and drink a couple of beers after winning a race. He was called a "bad role model", like he is the new Paris Hilton. I love the fact the he called ESPN out on the post race corverage by stating the he and his fans don't have to put up with that BULL....(stuff). ESPN's coverage was average. All of the new bells and whistles did not do much for me. I will say this, however. Larry McReynolds was on Tony Stewart's channel for DirecTV Hot Pass, and let me tell you...He really is the John Madden of NASCAR!!! He has the enthusiasm and the insight, and he is able to make you feel like he is talking to you from the other end of the bar. He really gets a chance to shine without Waltrip talking over him. For some reason, ESPN does not want that kind of announcer. They want "Controversy". That's why we have to deal with that awful Tony Kornheiser on MNF. Rusty Wallace doesn't do much for me either. He is dry, bland, and self-absorbing....which makes him a perfect fit for ESPN. If he could only come up with some nifty one liners like those anchor guys..... ahh only sixteen more races to go!!!!!