Sunday, May 25, 2008
Seinfeld's "Puffy Shirt" Lives On SPEED
TV fans certainly remember the episode of Seinfeld. Jerry did a favor for a friend and wound-up wearing something very memorable on national TV. This weekend, SPEED revived the "puffy shirt" concept in blue. It was just as memorable.
This season on SPEED where NASCAR is concerned has generally been outstanding. The choices in on-air talent and coverage of the Craftsman Truck Series have been fun to watch. The TV ratings are up on everything from the All-Star telecast to RaceDay.
One thing that has certainly been of interest to those watching has been the fashion choices. Early in the season, the "winter white" coats made an appearance on the NASCAR trail and spread to other SPEED series.
It was an interesting choice for a network that does a lot of outdoor TV to have their announcers in an off-white color. When the sun was out, those jackets certainly got the attention of the TV camera. This Fall, it should be interesting to see if that fashion choice returns.
When SPEED decided to end the Inside NEXTEL Cup franchise and begin another NASCAR TV series, there was yet another fashion decision to make. Without advance warning to the on-air announcers, SPEED asked the new This Week In NASCAR team to put on long-sleeve tan oxford button-down shirts. Unfortunately, on that day several of the announcers had worn khaki pants to the studio.
That led to one of Michael Waltrip's best lines. As the cameras revealed a six-foot five-inch man completely dressed in tan, Waltrip said "I feel like I'm in my PJ's." The entire panel was amused by the choice of attire in a TV world that demands careful choices in color and texture for any on-air announcer.
It was clear that no one had ordered a "tall" shirt for Waltrip, who could not button his cuffs. This was essentially because the sleeves ended about two inches above his wrist. Rather than take the time to deal with the situation, Waltrip was left sitting on the set looking like he was...in his PJ's.
This weekend on SPEED, the fashion situation got so bad that it has prompted this column. The reason is easy to understand. There is no need to make professional TV announcers look absolutely ridiculous on national television. That is what SPEED accomplished on Saturday.
Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond are professionals. They roll with the punches and present a wide variety of NASCAR TV programming for SPEED. Millions of dollars are spent on the TV equipment that it takes to originate the programs and events they announce.
There they all were on-camera from the Lowe's Motor Speedway in the heat of late May. The SPEED team was dealing with issues ranging from the Wheeler retirement to the seizure of two Sprint Cup cars by NASCAR. There was actually only one real problem on this day and it was very clear to see.
Big and puffy blue shirts with long sleeves possibly made for either Shaq or a future Seinfeld episode were downright embarrassing for the announcers. The sleeves on these shirts on national TV must have been five inches too long. On Sunday while this same group worked for Fox, they were all comfortably attired in jackets and ties of their own choosing. Perhaps, there is a lesson there.
Emails on this issue wanted to know if it was a new West Coast fashion trend or if the NASCAR on Fox team had recently inked a fashion deal with the local Big and Tall Man's Store. My guess is that the tall shirts accidentally went to the track and the regular ones got sent to Michael Waltrip. Either way, things on-the-air for SPEED need some attention.
With only one more race to go for Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip, maybe SPEED can take a quick look in the mirror and send these TV professionals out in real style.
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