Friday, August 10, 2007

The Worst "NASCAR Now" In TV History...Again!

ESPN's "bi-polar nightmare" continued with Friday's version of NASCAR Now. Coming off two of the finest episodes ever produced by the network, the post-qualifying show was a disaster.

With rain cancelling qualifying at The Glen, NASCAR Now decided to abandon its "hard news" approach and return to the sports-talk radio land of "innuendo and hype." Somehow, it echoed the tone of the Mike and Mike Show heard earlier that day on ESPN2.

Boris Said wanted to race this Sunday, but his status of only being able to qualify on speed forced him to go home after the rain-out. Speaking with the "show host," Said was framed as a person "wronged" by NASCAR because of their rules.

The "show host" encouraged Said to complain, as any driver would, that the current rules kept him out of the race. Suggestions were made that NASCAR has "a problem" and they need to "fix it." There certainly was a problem. No one from NASCAR was interviewed, asked to explain the situation, or even referred to by name. Journalists call it "both sides of the story."

This key issue was "hyped" even though this situation has been beaten almost to death this season. NASCAR has said many times they are trying to find a solution and may make some changes for next year. It is beyond old news. With only a handful of races to go before "The Chase," things are not going to suddenly change for the sport rained.

Luckily, ESPN's own trio of Dr. Jerry Punch, Rusty Wallace, and Andy Petree came on-camera from The Glen to deal with this issue. There was only one little problem. They never mentioned it. Never referenced it. Never dealt with it. They did not even call the "show host" by his name or seemingly understand anything the show had just spoken about as the lead story.

This is the ESPN world of "two camps." Two rival fraternities that have all the fundamental problems you would expect with territory and ego. It is the "studio" fraternity vs. the "remote productions" frat. These two have been going at it all season long, with both this show and the NASCAR fans as the victims of their problems.

Jerry Punch and his crew never dealt with, acknowledged, or even gave a shred of credibility to what the "show host" and his production team had decided was the "top story" of the show. How does this happen? We know ESPN has plenty of cell phones available, and we have seen them used many times on NASCAR Now to actually communicate.

When Punch finished the "remote productions" advancer, he "wrapped" the piece without even "throwing" back to the "show host." This basically means that Punch and company sent one advancer that many ESPN media sources are going to use. One "generic piece" for everyone.

Somehow, in the twisted ego-driven world of ESPN, the "NASCAR announcing crew" at the track could not find the time to provide an advancer that was "cut" for NASCAR Now. Isn't that just simply hard to even comprehend?

In the end, it left both parties with egg on their face. The "NASCAR announce crew" looked like complete idiots, because they clearly had no idea what stories NASCAR Now would feature, and even how the "show host" would "lead into" their advancer. Remember the old saying about the left hand and the right hand?

Continuing that theme, reporter Shannon Spake came on with a feature about The Glen, and used "sound bites" from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch. Unfortunately, the interviews did not "match." Junior was speaking in a "hauler" directly on-camera while Kurt Busch was simply speaking on a single mic to all the press in the Media Center. ESPN was on-scene all day, is the official TV network, gets the first interviews automatically, and NASCAR Now gets "pool feed" video?

The funny thing is that Spake clearly put this feature "in the can" without the rain. She never mentioned the weather, starting by points, or how these two drivers felt not having a chance to race for the pole. Then, in the best part of the report, she "wrapped" the piece nice and dry in exactly the same spot NASCAR Now had shown as soaking wet only a couple of minutes prior.

As if things could not get more ridiculous, JJ Yeley was announcing he is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season. ESPN certainly would have him speaking with a reporter, possibly in the ESPN Infield Studio, and absolutely ask him questions since they had an entire production team on-site.

Incredibly, Yeley's comments were just "played back" raw with no ESPN reporter interviewing him. This was a big moment in the Kyle Busch saga, and there were many questions to ask about the rest of the season, changing rides early, and even how this finally came to pass. ESPN had over one hundred TV production people on-site in Watkins Glen in the rain. They couldn't even find a "reporter" to interview Yeley?

The "show host" then brought on-camera reporter Angelique Chengelis who talked about what Yeley had done, had said, and how this came about. Chengelis was standing on the front-stretch at Watkins Glen. Can you see where I am going with this one? Maybe if Chengelis and Yeley could walk over to the same place...she could actually ask him these questions and we could hear him answer.

Chengelis was then asked about Kyle Busch, and responded to questions about his future with Gibbs, his feelings about his 2008 team mates, and the potential change to Toyota. Again, can you see where this is going? Kyle Busch was sitting in his motorhome within walking distance. Perhaps, with a little coordination and effort, fans might have heard these topics Kyle.

Finally, poor Clint Bowyer was interviewed live by the "show host." The first question was "what do you guys do all day at the track when it rains?" While Clint was polite with his answer to this ridiculous question, NASCAR fans might not be so friendly to ESPN with their questions about The Glen.

After watching this edition of NASCAR Now, fans have a right to ask the network "what did you TV guys do all day at the track while it rained?"

We can assume the answer was not "work on stories for NASCAR Now." The proof was right on the screen.

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 and leaving your opinion.


SophiaZ123 said...

I happened to turn on my tv after turning it off earlier due to rain and did not wish to LISTEN to the dunderheads, I saw boris saids interview before turning the tv OFF when I heard/saw it was ERIK hosting.

IIRC (If I recall correctly) he basically asked Boris the same thing about the problems with top 35 locked in after Boris just explained the PROBLEM.

He basically asked Boris what he would do to ask NASCAR to change things. DUH..did he NOT just listen to the obviously frustrated Boris?? He turns right around and asks a "follow up??" question that made no sense.

THIS is why I turned my television off.

This show is MORE than bipolar john, it is almost "Sybil" (woman with 16 personalites from old book and movie of the same)

John, if I did'nt know better, I would think you are MAKING ALL THIS UP about NASCAR NOW.


Thanks for filling me in on what I missed.


Matt said...

My favorite part of today's show was trying to hear Angelique over the PA system they decided to place her next to. Apparently, "insiders" are not allowed to step into the "state of the art" studio ESPN has at every track. Instead, they must be stuck out in the elements next to every distraction possible.

Anonymous said...

Someone please get Angelique some Aquanet or something to hold that flopping piece of hair/bang in place.

She is going to put her eye out with that thing flopping around in her face.

But she is a decent reporter!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for educating us. You have now done this long enough to become very good at it and it must be painful to watch with such a trained eye. It is like watching the evening news after you have been educated to it's bias and agenda. I will postpone the purchase of the new big screen until after ESPN's tenure so that I don't risk throwing something through it.

Anonymous said...

Personally I hope ESPN doesn't change a thing. Maybe that way the ratings will continue to drop and NASCAR will become less popular and it can go back to how it was 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

spot on again! thanks for representing us fans

Ron P said...

Dude, "I hate to tell you I told you so" but.... That blind squirrel I wrote about on Thursday, must have lost that acorn.
It is a shame that SPEED decided not to have a nightly NASCAR show this year at lease we would have had a real news show to watch every night.
Way to go ESPN, keep stinking up the show, may be King Brian will throw the Black Flag with the White Cross and pull you guys off the track, but I doubt it.

See ya'll Monday with comments on ESPN's Train Wreck coverage of Sundays Race at the Glen.

Anonymous said...

John, after the two previous shows were so well done I expected you to hammer on the negatives of the the show the next time "he" appeared even if the show was done well. I can only remember one or two positive articles that you have written when "he" hosts the show. So, why do you do that?

I'll tell you why...

As usual "he" and the show deserve it! "He" was bad and the show was the same.

It's such a sad case of Jekyll and Hyde. I think we all know what... or who... causes the ugly transformation.

Kevin in Indy said...

I gotta hand it to ESPN, they are consistant. Two good shows hosted by true professionals, getting our hopes up, followed by a televised train wreck hosted by a blathering, shouting fool. (MENSA? He looks more like a member of NAMBLA to me. For those who don't know, "Google" nambla). I should also thank espn, I was able to turn the TV off and spend time goofing around with me boys.

Kevin in Indy said...

Sorry, should have said "my boys" not "me boys". Sounds like we're pirates.

Anonymous said...

Since the outset of the 07 NASCAR season, it seems obvious that there has been a tug of war between the "We know television" group vs. the "We know racing" folks at ESPN. The resulting cultural clash is playing out in front of us in a very public way. Unfortunately for the "We know racing" contingent, they are not at the Bristol U Campus where they can whisper in the appropriate ears.

The racing folks at ESPN are as knowledgeable and competent as anyone in the business. Unfortunately, the Bristol insiders seem to generally consider NASCAR as a second tier sport that caters to rednecks. The snide comments about racing fans that one hears on other ESPN programs is revealing. The ESPN racing experts are therefore the country cousins, twice removed, who get a courtesy invitation to family gatherings, but nobody will be upset if they don't come to the party.

When ESPN is on their game, they are as good as it gets. Unfortunately, there must be some highly placed producer back at the home office that has "a refuse to lose" attitude in the weekly production meetings. When that "We know TV" producer wins the argument, racing fans are the losers. What a tragic waste of ESPN's racing assets and talent.

rh said...

I don't find the question of "what do you guys do all day when it rains" that ridiculous. I've watched alot of NASCAR coverage over the years when it was raining and have heard some type of question like this asked many times. It can make the drivers seem more relatable to the fans. Maybe it was how the question was asked that you didn't like?

Steve from MD said...


How come you chose not to name the host in this article? Did they get to you? Or should I just assume it is "Segway Man"?

Anonymous said...

In light of the massive amount ESPN has invested in carrying NASCAR, it is obvious now that the problems with NASCAR NOW and some other NASCAR coverage is at the top of ESPN. Their NASCAR debacle could not continue without being OK'd at the highest level. It is time for George Bodenheimer to go- right after he fires Erik the Butcher, who demonstrated his bipolar skills by ruining Mike & Mike earlier Friday.

Anonymous said...

I was highly dissapointed with the decision to run the races on non-network TV, not all of us have cable/sattelite. Thanks for letting me know I'm not missing much!