Sunday, September 2, 2007

ESPN At Fontana: Too Many Voices In My Head


In sports television, some announcers are legendary. Most of them have earned their stripes by being closely identified with either one team, or one network. Just as Harry Caray was identified with both baseball and ultimately the Chicago Cubs, others like Frank Gifford came from professional sports and then transitioned to a franchise like Monday Night Football.

Over the years, NASCAR fans have fond memories of hard-working TV announcers like Ken Squier, Eli Gold, and Bob Jenkins on the play-by-play side of the business. Others, like the late Neil Bonnet, Ned Jarrett, and the late Benny Parsons came directly to the TV world from racing.

In NASCAR, the play-by-play man used to control the action. He was the big fish in the small pond, and everyone else played second fiddle to him. He often had a designated partner, with whom he will forever be identified. He was the focus of the TV coverage, and the face of racing for his network. Not any longer.

This NASCAR season, Fox Sports returned their veteran announce team. TNT threw together a patchwork team from freelance announcers that were the remnants of the NBC package. It was ESPN, however, that faced the toughest task of starting from scratch and putting together a totally new crew for their race broadcasts.

As the Busch Series season began ESPN rolled-out a disaster. The column on The Daly Planet from February 17th was entitled "ESPN Implodes At Daytona." The network debuted with Brent Musburger in the special "host" position. We said at the time that "Brent Musburger in the NASCAR Fan Zone looked like Rush Limbaugh at an ACLU meeting." ESPN actually roped the fans out of the Fan Zone. Nice touch.

Believe it or not, Chris Fowler was the Infield Studio host, seated alongside Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. After almost losing his patience on the set, Wallace fled the infield to join Jerry Punch and Andy Petree in the booth. Add in four pit reporters, and things were interesting. Then, add in Tim Brewer in the Tech Center and things were a little confusing. Basically, it was over-produced chaos with ten announcers in the broadcast.

As the season progressed, Musburger and Fowler were gone. Hosts came and went in the Infield Studio. Eventually, the network allowed Allen Bestwick to step-in and bring some calm and order to the infield. His presence also calmed down Punch and the gang, and allowed the network to concentrate their efforts on the racing...at last. Then, ESPN stepped into the NEXTEL Cup world, and things got off-track again.

Sunday's NEXTEL Cup race in California might have been exciting on the track. Perhaps, for fans listening on the MRN radio network or DirecTV's Hot Pass it may have made sense. Unfortunately, TV viewers trying to both watch and listen to ESPN were in for a challenge. They heard eleven voices talking to them endlessly for the entire broadcast...eleven people.

The death knell for this event was the presence of Brent Musburger, Dale Jarrett and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Studio. Jarrett is the star of the show every time he opens his mouth, and ESPN allowed him to converse openly throughout the race. Then, everyone decided to get in on that act.

If you have watched ESPN recently, you have seen that they are virtually destroying many of their venerable sports TV franchises by adding too many voices to the programs. What the network has done to shows like Mike and Mike In The Morning and SportsCenter is just criminal. Even as these new age shows like Cold Pizza and Quite Frankly fail spectacularly, the network just plows ahead un-phased.

Sunday in California, ESPN opened all the microphones and just let everyone talk. The result was pit reporters who suddenly knew everything, an Infield Studio gang who had their own inside information, and a very frustrated trio of booth announcers who were no longer the stars of the show. Anything that was said by anyone was suddenly up for "one up-manship" by anyone else. What an on-air mess.

The casualty in all this endless conversation was both the race and the viewers. ESPN's nice pictures in both daylight and at night were over-shadowed by the coverage jumping around between Brent Musburger's on-camera inserts, SportsCenter cut-ins, and the use of production elements when returning from commercial.

No one is saying that ESPN's information was wrong, or that the staff in-place was not capable. But, as with so many things on ESPN these days, there was too much "TV stuff" packed into this race. Just like SportsCenter, it had no focus.

ESPN again showed the top twenty cars cross the finish line, and did a solid job with the winner interview and follow-up with other drivers. The good coverage is there, its just buried under eleven different voices, the Tech Center, Draft Tracker, Full Throttle, SportsCenter cut-ins, NASCAR Icons, the In-Race Reporter and the Infield Studio. Did I miss anything? Oh, yes I did.

Next week, Suzy Kolber returns to the coverage as the full time host of the Infield Studio. If Musburger continues as the "show host," ESPN on ABC has the possibility of having twelve announcers on their next race. That's right, twelve voices on a three quarter mile bull-ring in Richmond at night. Make sure to set your DVR, it might just be a classic.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.


51 comments:

Matt said...

John, like I said in the other discussion, I liked it, especially at the end. I think what this underscores in the (here's that phrase again)lack of chemistry in the booth. Maybe if those 3 could actually stay on top of everything and have insightful conversations, we wouldn't need input from Brad, Dale and the pit reporters as much.

haus20 said...

Thank god for Hot Pass!

SophiaZ123 said...

Well, it really stank how they RUSHED OFF THE SHOW without interviewing more folks?

Good Grief...they can't put off fricking SPORTSCENTER?

It was bad enough they blew off the Busch race for TAPE DELAYED DRAG RACING....(No offense to those fans)

NASCAR is nothing but an after thought and a way for ESPN to run off the fan base of the sport they now can control.

I thought there were too many voices and I just listened on the tv about the last hour at most.

And indeed, what was up with Stevie Wonder in the booth during green flag??

And the graphics over use and all is annoying...when they went to interview one driver in a split screen during a race, my room mate thought another car had caught fire (this was after Waltrip's fire) due to the YELLOW GLOWY thing around the 'changing graphics' crap.

And also, did ESPN comment on the LOUSY FIRE CREW that made it to Waltrips car?? They stood there like a bunch of Key Stone cops as smoke rolled out of the 55 car?? We were STUNNED.

Only NOW is Jimmy Spencer addressed the HORRIBLE crew response to that. Did the Stooges in the booth address that? We missed it if they did?

Years ago, Waltrip had the roof latch to get out of the car due to his excessive height? That needs to be addressed.

With all the voices on ESPN did anybody mention that or were they too worried about Jr and the Busch brothers.

Even with the 7 second delay with our cable, I will listen to MRN anyday. Those guys are GOOD and obviously LOVE what they do.

Also, I can't get over Wallace STILL SAYING Brad "Limped away" from that horrible wreck last night.

On my tv they held him off the ground and carried him off on a back board.

Thanks John for another column about the most crassly commercialized station on the planet, AND the most CLUELESS to what the fans want and deserve.

ESP U stinks to high heavens.

I did not listen to them much but the HORRIBLE FOCUS on the same cars when LOTS was happening in the back, D +.

David said...

MRN did an amazing job tonight. I watched the race via nascar.com and listened to it via SIRIUS...it was nice having the video but aside from DJ and Bestwick, it was useless to have the sound up. This new television package doesn't work with what NASCAR is now-a-days. The late starts don't help ESPN any, putting together a group of people that have never worked together before hasn't helped either.

I have to agree with a sentiment I heard earlier this week and was re-reminded of it last night. Watching the intro to ABC's College Football last night, Brent sounded excited, intelligent and engaging. Tonight on ESPN he sounded confused, overwhelmed, and out of his element. It hasn't changed one once from Daytona. Drop the gimmick of "pre-race host" and get to making your coverage concise, yet interesting. This starts in the booth. Where is the emotion? Jerry Punch can be both professional yet excited but has failed to show many examples of it this season. Rusty and Andy are a perfect balance for each other if Jerry can engage the viewers better in my opinion. The infield set should be 2 people max. Brad and Brewer. Let Brad and Bestwick do the pre-race show, then have Brad and Brewer take care of business downstairs during the race. 11 people is overkill, heck, 8 is overkill.

Lastly, on the Waltrip note: They abandoned the roof hatch idea as it was an added weight issue, because it wasn't mandatory it wasn't a good performance sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I actually really enjoyed the Stevie Wonder segment. They asked the right questions, without being crass. I can only imagine the power of the sound of NASCAR to a blind man. Stevie also had a sense of humor.

Sophiaz, why would they put off Sportscenter? It's their moneymaker.

Just because you don't like the way they're doing things, doesn't mean NASCAR is an afterthought. They spent upwards towards $1 Billion to get the NASCAR package. You might not have liked tonight's coverage, but the fact that they have 11 people there, as crazy as it was, it means they're putting a lot into it and spending even more money.

Say what you want about the announcers, but when the sun went down, that was by far the best looking NASCAR HD feed I've ever seen.

I also love how ESPN brought the MNF "behind the QB" camera and put it up ahead of the finish line rather than using a giant crane shot. Again, you might not like the coverage, but it's definitely not an afterthought.

Finally, I don't see why everyone is mad that ESPN covers Dale Jr so much. I'm not a fan, but face it, he's the face of NASCAR drivers. He's the most popular. He sells the most stuff. He's a crossover athlete in that he's appeared in other areas such as music videos. He has the most endorsements and commercials. Oh, and he just happens to be taking his multi-million dollar marketable behind and going to a new team. Add to that the fact that he may not even make the playoffs unless there's a miracle. That's why they're all over him.

You know, if I may compare for a second, people always complain that ESPN has an "east coast bias." People point to the way they cover A-Rod on the Yankees. Well, A-Rod is the best player on the most popular sports team in the country. That's why they cover him. Jr is the most popular driver in the most popular motorsports series. He deserves to coverage he gets. Let's face it, he's won before. He may not have won a championship, but Anna Kournikova he's not.

Finally, I don't know if anyone saw it, but tonight's post race 1am NASCAR Now was one of the best they've done in a while. Burr and Compton on set. A quick half hour recap like they do every Sunday night, but this time it was so close to the end of the race. Really sets up tomorrow's 1 hour race recap edition.

shinnery said...

A couple of times early in the race they went to Jeff Burton's in-car camera. The graphics they used down below Jeff's name had AT&T in a little box, hope $print/Nextel was not watching. Also the Crew Chief's Challenge question (sponsored by AT&T) used a graphic of the 31 car in the leadin and exit.
My mute button sure gets a workout during all the commercials, out here in west Texas I cannot get any NA$CAR radio programs and my computer is in another room.

Anonymous said...

No improvement over last week. Once again, I enjoyed having MRN and RaceView available, because, with them, I was able to follow the action.

Note to ESPN: When you miss a re-start (because you're running promos we've already seen six times in previous breaks!), don't bother to have Jerry Punch pretend like you didn't. We know the sport and know you screwed up again.

Anonymous said...

I always like listening to Dale Jarret, I was annoyed that they refused to mention the fact that David R was moving up and was in the top ten, running 8th or 9th before they pulled away from the front guys to feature him, also thought the fire response team was alittle slow, one guy was banging his tank on the ground trying to get it going, shessh and please leave Suzzie home next week, now SHE is annoying.

Anonymous said...

I saw a great profile/interview of "Fatback" McSwain on SPEED while ESPN was bumbling through its pre-race show.

ESPN proves that throwing a dozen people at a event doesn't help one bit if those people aren't experts on the sport.

Anonymous said...

To "anonymous" who posted at 3:53 am, you write as though you are an ESPN employee. Here's a headline for you- MORE is not BETTER! The fact that ESPN sent 11 announcers to California is of no consequence to the production, UNLESS THEY ARE USED JUDICIOUSLY TO ADD INFORMATION TO THE VIEWER!!! All of this " I just spoke to..." non sense is just crap that clutters up the telecast. The studio desk is unneccessary. Brad Daugherty may be a nice guy, but he adds NOTHING of value to a race fan. DJ, as a driver only duplicated the role that Rusty has tried (but failed) to fill. I want them to just SHUT UP and let the pictures drive the need for supporting information. Here's a simple fix.
Put Punch back in the pits, Bestwick as play by play, keep Petrie, replace Rusty with Terry Labonte or Ken Schrader and we're halfway there.
Its almost time to organize a viewers boycott of ESPN.
OH! by the way, according to an ESPN press release, the knucklehead in charge of motorsports at espn JUST GOT PROMOTED!!!! Huh????

Anonymous said...

PLEASE!!!! Bring Allen back to the booth. Keep DJ and Jerry. Can Rusty, Brad, Suzie and maybe Andy. Rusty, I can't believe you didn't have an opinion on the reaction of the safety crew to Michaels crash. You're sanitized brother, the network has gotten to you!

Commish said...

Thank God for HotPass indeed. If it hadn't been that I wanted to hear if Ricky Rudd were all right, I wouldn't have shifted to ESPN at all during the race. Between HotPass, TrackPass, and MRN, who needed the babblers?

However, I will say that after the race, Jaimie's questions hit a new level of ignorance. She's working up to Miss Teen South Carolina level.

Anonymous said...

Between HotPass, TrackPass, and MRN, who needed the babblers?
Agreed. And I'm thankful those options exist.

Oddly, I never needed to use them during Fox Sports' coverage of NASCAR.

Huh.

Karko 11 said...

11 voices is way too many, Jerry Punch seems overwhelmed and as a previous comment noted...the play by play guy used to control the action. ESPN might have spent alot of cash on NASCAR, but it doesnt seem to showing up. Cut-ins, cut-outs, clips of last nights race, overusing graphics, it makes your head spin. Fox is no better or no worse in that regard, but for someone watching the race that understands the sport its overkill. Ive always been a Rusty fan, but dude, I thought youd come in and have some more opinion than that. what happened to the Rusty that spoke his mind after races?? Petree is good, Bestwick has always been good, the rest all seem to blend into one sound. Was I the only one that watched Windtunnel with MRN on?? Delay or no delay the radio will be the only voices I hear from now on, sure they have as manybreaks and commercial tie ins as TV, but the people calling the action seem to actually enjoy being there.

bevo said...

Thank goodness I missed the audio on ESPN. This week I just watched the video on ESPN360 and synched it up with the MRN call on Sirius. This was the first time I didn't watch HotPass for a race. The video part of ESPN did a pretty solid job. Can't say I'm a big fan of the "grass cam". They do seem to be slow switching to the right camera when there's a wreck.

The best lineup for ESPN -

Infield and studio - John Kernan and Rusty(since he's under contract and they have to do something with him) but better for next year Kyle Petty

Booth - Bestwick, Petree and next year DJ

Pits - Punch (he can teach the others how to do it right), Little and Musarro

Busch Series Fan! said...

I guess ESPN doesn't realize that less is more! We Tivo'd the race and missed the last 10 laps I guess they ran over. Hope Ricky is doing ok today too.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Hey Guys,

Great comments so far, let me add my two cents:

Stevie Wonder has a great sense of humor, but he should have been interviewed in the pre-race hour.

Guidelines for transitioning to SC or any live event should be standard. The stories of the race do not end when the final car crosses the finish line. There was no pay-off to many on-going stories Sunday night, and none were carried over to SC or ESPN News.

NASCAR was not an afterthought until college football, which rules the network. Techical problems, late starts, and endless college football references and promos are showing this to be true.

The most important person who is pissed-off at ESPN is Dale Earnhardt Jr. You could see it in every forced interview, every slow purposeful answer, and every time he looked at the pit reporter. Its ESPN that has upset the biggest stars in this sport with their tabloid reporting and ridiculous questions.

Finally, no one saw the 1AM NASCAR Now because that show has been horrible all year and the network will not change it because of their ego. We have tried to encourage, be supportive, and suggest that viewers write-in and help, but to no avail.

NASCAR Now is lost for the season, and with the Internet just a touch away, they might as well just cancel it. Ryan Burr full time on this show would have been an instant solution to ESPN's problems, but it never happened.

Anonymous said...

I hate to beat a dead horse, but ESPN is not the same network it was when they lost out to Fox & NBC. That move seemed to have a profound affect on the way ESPN operated. Suddenly they seemed to go out of their way to out glitz Fox and they've never been the same. Gone is the best place to get sports scores and highlights. It's been replaced by a network that could care less about a program's quality and class. Now it's all about the flash and their own concept of "breaking news" no matter how they get the news. They bait athletes or just plain make up stories. Now they've basicly ruined my favorite sport. It's an ordeal watching a race now. And losing the feed in the last 3 laps was abominal. hope NASCAR is happy . I could see this coming. You get what you pay for/ Unfortunately racing fans are the ones who pay in the long run. Micah

Ari said...

Brent Musberger belongs on a NASCAR broadcast like Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace belong on a PGA golf broadcast.

Anonymous said...

I liked ESPN's broadcast. But of course, you being you (John), you bash ESPN for their coverage and once again praise SPEED Channel for their trucks coverage.

So you think ESPN had too many people talking? Big deal. Thats one mishap. The broadcast was fantastic. You always find something to complain about. Maybe you should go back into the TV business since you think your so good at it.

Sean said...

I think ESPN will eventually kill Nascar, but that's just my opinion.

-THE GOOD-

Andy Petree did very well like usual, just wish he would talk over Rusty once in a while.

I think ESPN is glad DJ is missing races, because they need him dearly. He gave more insightful information in ten minutes, than Rusty did in 4 hours.

Tony Stewart keeps talking to AB.


-THE BAD-

The Dale Earnhardt Jr. show was on display last night. I'm a Jr fan, but this was just hard to watch. What will happen when the chase comes around and he's not in it.

"DRAFT CRAP".

Stevie Wonder interview during green flag racing.


-THE UGLY-

Empty seats. I live an hour out of California Speedway, and I knew the attendance would be this bad. And it's not because of the heat like ESPN thinks. It's because the races are boring.

ESPN's obsession with the heat. The Prerace show was basically about the temperature, and Paris.

Brent Musberger. This guy does not belong covering NASCAR. I understand that he's the only long-living Multidimensional sports announcer that ABC/ESPN have, but he knows nothing.

Rusty Wallace. Continues to add no knowledge to the race, just the basics.

2 MISSED RESTARTS. Will ESPN ever learn? I doubt it.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Interviews. This is starting to get really ugly. He ws much more comfortable with the FOX guys and it shows. I remember earlier in the year he was disappointed ESPN was coming onboard. "Will I guess ESPN is going to be doing some races or whatever", then let out a long sigh. The saga continues.

The Doctor. He is the BIGGEST problem of the three men in the booth. Every time he speaks he is asking a question to either Andy or Rusty. So guys "How do you handle a car that is that loose?" He used to know something about the sport, but now he's struggling with his knowledge, and monotone voice. Swap Bestwick and Punch, replace Rusty with DJ, let Musberger retire, put John Kernan on pit road, and put Massaro in the infield studio replacing Suzy. Then ESPN has a solid lineup.

Bruce said...

Your picture say's it all. I was screaming at the TV for them to "shut up". Seems like ESPN has to show us that they have everything and more that the other networks have - graphics on screen, talking heads, famous hosts, celebrity interviews, cutaway cars, in the drivers face pit reporters, and lots of commercials.

Oh, by the way, there was a race, too.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anonymous 11:17AM,

There are a couple problems with your comments. I left ESPN in 1989, and do not want to go back, but thank you for the thought.

The reason we praised SPEED's Truck coverage is because it was outstanding. The reason we are talking about ESPN's NASCAR coverage is because it is different all the time.

Shut-up-and-drive at Pocono, focused on racing at Bristol, and now the "announcing by committee" in Fontana. How is this hard to fix?

Did you really think the ESPN broadcast of Cup at Fontana was fantastic?

If you take a look back at my archives, there are plenty of good stories about ESPN shows, including Ultimate NASCAR, NASCAR Now with Ryan Burr, and the racing events with Allen Bestwick involved.

I'll say it again for all the newcomers. No one is more surprised at this NASCAR season than me. I fully thought we would be praising ESPN for innovation and returning the focus of the coverage to racing. Instead, its glitz and hype. Who knew?

Anonymous said...

Junior was the first post-race interview? What a shock!

SportsCenter headline on the pre-show tease: "Junior in Jeopardy?" I'm floored!

The story wasn't Jimmie Johnson won the race. The story wasn't Ryan Newman is eliminated. The story wasn't (insert driver here) is now locked in the chase. The story was Junior STILL isn't in (and isn't getting in).

I've said it before and I say it again to ESPN: POPULARITY SHOULD NOT DICTATE NEWSWORTHINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Junior is not more "important" just because he has the most fans.

And War Kevin Harvick for bitching out ESPN for asking him the "Junior Question" after the race

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, ESPN did a C+ to B- job. The camera work was good. I agree that there were too many voices, but that is not the fault of the individuals speaking, it is the result of a director's decision. The anonymous, faceless folks in the production truck control the flow of the broadcast. I feel sorry for Jerry Punch. He was put in the driver's seat, but the steering wheel was relocated to the back seat. It is the back seat drivers that deserve the criticism.

I used to really enjoy Mike and Mike in the AM. They were still pretty good when they were simulcast on ESPN News. After they went to ESPN2, the show went nuts with shtick and promos. In my opinion, they went from being a unique personality driven show to becoming just another one of ESPN's pointless contrived drivel shows like Cold Pizza. It was like watching your lovable kid grow up and become a drug dealer.

I go a little crazy when I read various blurbs in the paper or on the 'Net about how ESPN directors are "upgrading" the quality of NASCAR broadcasts. You know, I think they actually believe that. I guess they need to train NASCAR viewers to appreciate how cool the pro's from Bristol CT really are. Where else would you get to hear Brent Musburger wrap up a long broadcast with such eloquent confusion.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice Brent refer to the race as the Nextel Nascar Cup race? And why was the race never referred as the Sharp Aquos 500? Also, am I the only one who likes the tech center but think that a paper bag has more personality than Brewer? I also noticed three times Brad used his "inside info" from Tony Eure Jr. to say the same things(not going to quit/give up on the season) wow thanks for the useless insight. I used to take the time to watch the race live but now I just DVR it and fast forward through the useless drivel. i.e. Draft track, Infield studio comments, commercials, non NASCAR related interviews...

SophiaZ123 said...

Ok...somebody made a camment about WAR harvick about a Jr comment? What did you mean?

Ok..I love Dale jr...have read about his childhood, guess folks who hate him due to his name think him a spoiled brat. Had jr WRECKED or blown an engine, with all the MEDIA HYPE AND PRESSUE, I thought he might jump off a bridge and take an ESPN reporter with him (NOT bestwick) He was OBVIOUSLY HOT, dehydrated and exhausted on ESPN and by the time SPEED got to him could hardly talk. ENOUGH.

YES he is a big story and the more popular fan (I also adore others, Schrader, B Labonte, Stewart, and mainly just have 5 or 6 I ROOT AGAINST!!) but it is sad folks forget he is HUMAN.

HE DOES NOT ASK FOR THIS SCRUTINY.

Off that soapbox. :-)

HEAT:

It was a HOT, STEAMY, HIGH DEWPOINT at Bristol which was just as bad as CALIF. PACKED TRACK!

We turned on the TV momentarily when Waltrip car caught fire, and then immediately went back to MRN except when we saw Mikey interviewed on TV(Then he was immediately on MRN)

NOBODY went around the car to use the fire extenquisher as Mikey had to take off his helmet to GET OUT OF THE CAR due to lack of head room (Due to being so tall, no MW jokes please! :-0 ) We are ALL lucky asa is he the car was sealed so well...his backside or face could've been seriously burned up.

And not a word from the ESPN folks huh? I can't believe Rusty did not have something to say on that.

The in car driver thing has worn off alreayd. Oh, and STOP using so many graphics for SO LONG ON THE RACING SCREEN!? ABC did it on the IRL race with the HUGE TELEMETRY on the screen for way too long.

Most of us know the CARS GO FAST DURING RACES! I will take the announcers word.

We can always tell when the Bristol, CT crew starts posting can't we??

There were numerous lead changes and I thoroughly enjoyed the race. Next time I will bring the boom box back to my room at the end of the race. i would've like to have heard if MRN did more of a wrap up than ESPN did.

There is just TOO MUCH STUFF on the SCREEN and that stupid chase, on the bubble colors is irritating....JUST SHOW US THE CRAWL. The less junk and color, the better.

Sometimes less is more.

Still don't have a clue BRISTOL,CT? Dig out the old ESPN tapes...there was LESS JUNK on the screen, and folks KNEW MORE about what was going ON ON the track and SAW BETTER CAMERAS. I can see it when I used to catch the older races on CLASSIC.

Adding more "stuff, people, bellss and whistles" does NOT IMPRESS us.

GENUINE EXCITEMENT and KNOWLEDGE about the sport does impresss us.

Anonymous said...

I think Rusty is probably the biggest DJ fan....on qualifying day. If he continues to miss races and ESPN keeps asking him to join the broadcast (which I hope they do) it should make Rusty more and more nervous. DJ is just so much better - his mannerisms and ability to communicate are vastly superior to Rusty. Rusty was great in the car, but not in the booth.

Kevin in Indy said...

Hey Anonymous (11:58 AM),
I was watching HotPass and missed Harvick putting espsn down for the idiotic question. What was the question and what was his response?

Thanks,
Kevin

SophiaZ123 said...

Did you all see the Ricky Rudd update?

Separated shoulder and knocked BRIEFLY unconscious??? after the wreck.

Either I was busy logging on to my laptop or I missed any comments about Rudd being knocked out.

I DID noticed he seemed in pain and was holding his arm very still close to his body. He is one tough cookie and his status for next week not yet known.

Wow...I hope INC is on tonight to talk about that wreck as well.

Oh, John, I loved the photo for this column, too!

Funny, there are many voices on MRN and they bounce back and forth smooth as molasses.

Seiko said...

Kevin in Indy

Harvick was asked about the chase, how he felt that he dropped 2 spots down to 12th.

His response was something like this You idiots in the press make all this hype up so you have something to talk about. The chase doesn't matter were just trying to win races.

It was harsher then that but I only caught part of his ESPN bashing. What shocked me was I caught it on Sports Center Rundown today!! It was better then any Tony Stewart media rant I've seen :)


12 talking heads in the race and we still had no idea what was going on unless you used the live leader board or listened on the radio.



Four simple things ESPN can do to improve coverage.

Give us a field rundown after every other if not every commercial break. Let us know how they guys other then the top 5 are running.

Show more of the mid pack racing. Especially at these big tracks. I must have listened to the announcers say "Theres racing going on all over this track" 10 times last night. You know it was used for a segway to a commercial almost every time without ever showing that "racing going on all over the track"

Don't do interviews during Green Flag racing that are not race related. PERIOD. If the guy doesn't have a NASCAR License he shouldn't be on the screen during a green flag.

Lastly Pit Row rundown. Who on the lead lap stayed out. Who pitted. Show the spots won and lost graphic every time. When someone gains more the 10 spots on pit road TELL US WHY. This happened 2 times last night one guy gained 23 spots with no explanation the other gained 11 no reason given until 15 minutes latter when Rusty said "remember he only took 2 tires" No we don't remember you never told us jack.

This stuff is racing 101, but maybe ESPN needs to retake the course.

I think we all had high hopes of ESPN coming back and showing us all great stuff. I was real excited when DJ Copp started showing up on NN, I thought WOW there going to start doing more crew guy features outstanding. I think its something lacking for all shows. Now your lucky to see a crew chief on ESPN race coverage let alone a wrench monkey (unless he get hit by another car)

Oh well, ON WITH THE HYPE. How many time can I say Jr. or chase in a 30 second time span. that is what ESPN is now as far as nascar.

SophiaZ123 said...

Seiko

Thanks for the Harvick update. Wish I would've heard that.

I think most drivers are weary of the Chase talk. I just wish Jr had it in him to pull a Tony Stewart at this point and grab somebody's camera or mic and throw it on the ground. and I am not a violent person but as a Jr fan, if I have to listen to this ALL JR ALL THE TIME stuff I am gonna scream. Gee, why don't they go back to talking about JPM again...to give Jr a break. Heaven forbid they talk about the guys in back and what's going on.

I HATED this the last two years the CHASE FORMAT...if you ain't in the chase, you do not exist according to the media.

Cripes I have the golf tournament on and need to look up the PGA PLAYOFFS?????I had read last year they were going to do this. I remember France being flattered the PGA is 'copying' the NASCAR CHASE formula ?!&^%$#@!

What a gimmick ridden society we live in.
ADD/ADHD lives in the camera/production/directors crew.

They have had a crawl several times about a single engine crash locally and broken into this TOURNAMENT TWICE!?!?

The crawl would've done this just fine...we did not need to see the "scene" where a camera guy pointed a mile away behind the trees where the plane went down. They do this crap all the time around here.

Same with weather and a snowflake or lightening bolt.

SophiaZ123 said...

Ok...I purposely sat thru 11 minutes of NASCAR NOW just to see if I could see Harvicks' comments!! LOL.

I LOVED IT! He said when pressed about the chase, after saying the press makes the drama up "I think your asking stupid questions" or something like that.

GO HAPPY!!

I was hoping that crumb EK would NOT be hosting NN so off went the tv.

I got nauseated at the drama already.

But so worth it to see Harvick tell those ESPN reports what IDIOTS THEY ARE!

From his mouth, to God's ear, back to earth and TPTB at NASCAR.

Sheesh.

I hope Jr will add to Harvick]s comments next week.

Anonymous said...

Here's what the ESPN reporters were "really" asking Harvick (if you read between the lines):

Don't you feel guilty that you are the only thing separating Junior from the Chase? Can you tank it next week so that we can get Junior in and we'll make more money and have something that "the people" want to know about?

Maybe ESPN can ask NASCAR to take Daytona away from him (and declare Mark Martin the winner) so that Junior has a better chance to pass him up.

Matt said...

Does it not bother ESPN execs that multiple drivers not only don't want to talk to them, but give them attitude when they actually do talk their reporters? We still have three months, ESPN won't last that long if more drivers turn on them.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that was an ESPN reporter that he went off on.

Anonymous said...

Yes I think it was an ESPN reporter Harvick was talking to, as you clearly see a hand holding an ESPN microphone on the right side of the screen. The same direction Harvick was talking.
Kevin in SoCal

cwebs said...

Wow! For once, it seems like I'm giving ESPN higher marks than everyone else. I was watching closely last night, and I actually thought there were some improvements in their efforts to keep up with events on the track.

While I agree with all of the negative comments here (regarding the use of too many voices, the over-focus on Junior, virtually ignoring anyone not in the Chase, missing restarts, Ridiculous Rusty Ramblings, Musburger, poor booth chemistry, etc.), I also thought some things were getting better last night.

After losing complete track of late-race pit strategies taking place at Indianapolis & Michigan (and Bristol too, for that matter), ESPN was actually in the loop for the most part at California. They made a complete mess of covering yellow-flag pitstop sequences in the Busch race on Friday night, but there were big improvements during the cup race. Most of the time, they did show the line of cars coming towards the commit line, and they almost always gave us at least a brief rundown of who gained or lost spots.

Somebody at ESPN must have heard about the outcry over the DAFT TRACKER, as they were quite restrained with it last night.

BELIEVE ME, I’m not saying that ESPN is perfect. They still have a LONG ways to go. Still, from my perspective, there were improvements in some areas last night. As opposed to the Cup race at Bristol, it seemed like there was more of an effort to capture and convey the flow of events as they developed on the track.


A note about the Stevie Wonder incident:

They did not interview Stevie under green. They actually did it under a caution, but their timing was still terrible. Under that caution, a bunch of the leaders stayed out, and a bunch of cars came down pit road. Kurt Busch (a pretty important car last night, right?) led the parade down pit road, but several other cars got out of the pits ahead of him. Instead of figuring this situation out and explaining it to us, ESPN decided to glam it up with Stevie instead. They didn’t even reset the field for us properly before the restart! The best they could do was having Punch say “the top five cars stayed out”. While that statement was technically true, there were actually more than five lead-lap cars that stayed out. They never bothered to tell us who won the race off pit road, either.

If it hadn’t been for that one moment of absurdity, I might have given ESPN a B or maybe even a B+ for the race. Just my opinion!

Note to ESPN – You have many problems to solve before your NASCAR coverage can be deemed a success, but how hard is it to properly reset the field for us before a restart??? Fixing that one problem wouldn’t take much effort and would be a significant improvement…


cwebs

Anonymous said...

I just wish Jr had it in him to pull a Tony Stewart at this point and grab somebody's camera or mic and throw it on the ground.

Junior's a little to mature to do something stupid like that.

James said...

I agree with Sean's replacement list for the ESPN broadcast 100%. Rusty and "Doctor" Punch contribute nothing to the race converage and I give Andy P. kudos for being able to put up with it. I consider the only real talent to be Andy, Alan, and Mike Masaro. Everyone else just makes my head hurt.

One other thing, did anyone else catch the numerous times that they would cut to a camera that was just panning around the track like it was looking for something. Sometimes you wouldn't even see a car in the shot. In addition to the normal miscues with crashes that were barely visible due to lousy camera shots.

Big Bob said...

Rusty HAS to go before the year is out; absolutely horrible. i'll give him twenty bucks if he stops pronouncing Matt's name as Kenthis.

I'm sorry but
Andy has to go too. He still pronounces "Race" with three "a"s.

"Dr" Punch is phoning it in; he used to be good but no more.

Jaimie Little is a bubblehead (she was still modeling in FHM two years ago...) and must go.

Hell, time to clean house and start over ESPN.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'll say it again for all the newcomers. No one is more surprised at this NASCAR season than me. I fully thought we would be praising ESPN for innovation and returning the focus of the coverage to racing. Instead, its glitz and hype. Who knew?

Well look who is running the show at ESPN. Neil Goldberg! I can't stand this guy since he was at FOX and now at ESPN. I place most of the blame on him.

Kristin said...

ESPN may be the #1 network on cable, but they don't have the #1 show on cable. Wan't to know who that honor goes to?

Disney Channel. The show? Hannah Montana.

Kinda sad that a cable sports channel that carries everything from baseball to football to NASCAR loses out to a show that my 8 year old daughter and her 12 year old cousin love.

stricklinfan82 said...

I hate to agree with any points made by anonymous posters that have big mouths and can't make points without personally attacking other posters but regretably I have to in this instance.

I didn't hear the Harvick interview but he should have to answer questions about the Chase without snapping at the media. He is the bubble driver, so he's a legitimate story. Should everyone just ignore him and not ask him about the Chase? Does he expect the media to swarm Matt Kenseth after finishing 7th or Tony Stewart finishing 13th and doing nothing to affect their standings in the Chase? The media is not "creating a story", they are following a legitimate story. I am getting very tired of drivers lashing out at the media for following stories. It seems like everyone is more than happy to brag to the TV cameras when they do well but don't want to talk to anyone when things aren't going their way. Harvick won't have to worry about media coverage for much longer though, because he'll be far out of Chase contention 3 weeks from now and no one will have any reason to talk about him.

Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are THE story and should be the focus of all the media coverage this week at Richmond.

Anonymous said...

The point about it being sad that ESPN loses out to Hannah Montana is ridiculous. ESPN carries a ton of sports which all have different audiences. Hannah Montana appeals to children, so it should beat out any one program on ESPN. But ESPN IS the highest rated station on cable. That being said, ESPN also holds a bunch of the top ten cable programs of all time with several of the MNF broadcasts last year. "High School Musical 2," also a Disney production is the current highest rated program of all time.

I also should point out that Hannah Montana is on Disney. Disney owns ESPN. So ESPN shouldn't be embarrassed at all. If anything, they should be thrilled that the Disney family of networks are dominating cable television.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the problem isn't w/Neil Goldburg since he was the director back in the day when espn was supposedly so wonderful.

Face the facts.. espn was never that great, and Jerry Punch was never as good on his best day as the Fox pit road reporters are on their worst day.

There is no chemistry betweem any of the espn reporters. They all have their own agenda...

Alan Bestwick is not, I repeat, NOT the second coming.. he's a radio guy. He reports the obvious and when in the NBC booth he never allowed Benny or Wally to get a word in.

There isn't one person on the espn line up who can be classified as even adequate.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anonymous 10:48PM,

You were doing great before your personal attack on another person posting comments on this site.

If you would like to delete that comment, your posts about ESPN and NASCAR are always welcome.

The purpose of this site is to spark discussion about a sport that we like and the way it is delivered to your home.

Pure and simple, it is a bunch of of folks, including me, expressing their opinion. Just follow the rules on the right side of the main page, and you are welcome to post yours. Thanks.

JD

PKRWUD said...

I was there, and because of the unGodly heat, I watched the first hour or so from the air conditioned comfort of the lounge inside David Reutimann's hauler. There was a monitor with the ESPN broadcast, and another with all the data from all 43 cars, updated in real time. I muted the ESPN coverage, and instead listened to my scanner, with the team channels for #00 and #55, as well as the 4 NASCAR channels active. As a result, I didn't hear any of the voices on ESPN, but I still became quite aggravated with them.

I read on Jayski that ESPN only missed one restart, and that's flat out wrong. I only saw one that they made! They missed restart after restart, some by as many as three laps!

I felt insulted by ESPN's coverage, even with the volume muted.

Joe from Philly said...

man there was alot about their coverage to hate.

ESPN really doesn't care about catching restarts as they're normally coming out of ESPN promos that wouldn't NEED to be run if they wished to actually show the restart. Guess we're the dumb ones for wanting to see restarts?

The crew is horrible. I don't even know where to begin so I'll just throw them all under the bus.

The production staff as well. I don't know how many times they pulled away from a shot right before SOMETHING was about to happen in order to show another shot with nothing going on!

And they really need to quit it with the google earth shots.

*sigh*

What scares the crap outta me is that Network TV race coverage is traditionally worse as the Networks tend to glitz it up. Can't imagine it getting worse but I'm quite sure it will.......

Anonymous said...

Normally the "In Studio" people can be ignored whit the mute button when they come on, but not this time. I really wonder if Brad Dougherty knows as much about NASCAR as he thinks he does. Every time he opened his mouth it was just to go over something someone else had already said, he didn't bring anything new to the conversation. Brent Musburger is a complete joke and doesn't know or care about NASCAR.
The other thing about the race was for the first half I thought only 5 cars were racing and of those 5 cars Junior seemed to be the only one that was doing anything. I was about to scream if I heard 1 more announcer say that Junior was "driving the wheels off that thing". Please make them go away, i hear enough voices in my head.