Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Put Marty Reid's Name In The ESPN Rumor Mill

This season, it has been veteran ESPN announcer Marty Reid who has stepped-in to handle the substitute NASCAR play-by-play role. When the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are racing at different tracks, it has been Reid and Randy LaJoie who have provided the commentary with good success.

Allen Bestwick has also filled this role for ESPN since Reid has been assigned to the IRL TV package for the last several seasons. In order to move Reid over to the IRL, ESPN removed him from its very popular NHRA coverage and replaced him with Paul Page.

As television motorsports contracts continue to shift, the latest victim of the ESPN space squeeze is Tony George and the IRL. After a long relationship, ESPN told the IRL that it wanted the Indy 500 for ABC and only a few other races for ESPN. Take it or leave it was the offer.

In an ironic twist, George needed to keep the ABC coverage of Indy as the anchor of his entire IRL franchise. So, he took the ESPN offer. The entire remaining IRL schedule wound-up moving to the Versus TV Network. Owned by Comcast, it used to be called the Outdoor Life Network.

What this essentially did was free up Marty Reid from his 2009 TV commitments. This left the door open to include Reid in the upcoming NASCAR efforts on ESPN and ABC.

Before the 2008 season, ESPN VP of Motorsports Rich Feinberg made a series of bold moves. Almost all of them paid-off in spades. Moving Dale Jarrett into the announce booth as the Lead Analyst proved to be just what ESPN needed to stabilize that position.

Rather than release Rusty Wallace, Feinberg shrewdly put him downstairs in the Infield Pit Center. In order to give Wallace the type of professional TV support and structure that he needs, Feinberg brought-in Allen Bestwick as the full-time infield host.

The results were great as Bestwick used Wallace and Brad Daugherty all season long to handle everything from the pre-race show to red flags and rain delays. Having this element handy changed the tone of the coverage.

Now, Feinberg is going to have to handle the one change he did not make before last season. That is addressing the play-by-play assignment for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series coverage. This one is going to be tough to tackle because unlike the other changes, this one has an odd man out.

Should Marty Reid step-in for Dr. Jerry Punch, it would mean removing a long-time friend of NASCAR and a future NASCAR Hall of Fame broadcaster. The problem is that Punch is primarily a reporter and struggled with the lap-by-lap call of the races.

What ESPN desperately needs is a versatile play-by-play announcer who can breath life into the live races. It appears that may well be Marty Reid.

What role Punch would fill leads us into a very interesting discussion. ESPN produces the final seventeen Sprint Cup races, including all ten Chase races for ABC. The high-profile Sprint Cup Series events certainly demand an Infield Pit Studio and a Tech Center. The question is, does the Nationwide Series need the same level of TV production?

Word is that ESPN is trying to cut NASCAR production costs for next season to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars per event. While the NASCAR Media Group controls the TV compound at the races, the TV networks bring-in their own TV trucks and specialized equipment like the Tech Center and Infield Pit Studio.

When Feinberg looks over at SPEED's coverage of the Truck Series, he sees only five announcers with no TV toys. SPEED has no Tech Center, cutaway car or infield studio. The pre-race host stands alone with one camera to set-up the race.

It should be interesting to see what changes Feinberg makes for next season. As TV logistics go, those changes are actually being made right now. Contracts, schedules, travel, crewing and other duties have to be buttoned-up before the new year.

While Fox and TNT produce their slice of the Sprint Cup pie and then leave town, it is really ESPN that bears the deepest production costs in terms of producing the entire Nationwide Series and the final seventeen Sprint Cup races.

When February rolls around, TV viewers may see some new faces and less of the bells-and-whistles that have come to define the ESPN coverage over the last two seasons. TDP will keep you posted if and when any on-air changes become official.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.


Lisa Hogan said...

Just my opinion:
Reid is just one notch above Punch covering the play-by-play.

Switch Punch and Bestwick and they would have a winner.

Anonymous said...

I have a solution. Move Marty Reid in, take Punch out of the booth, move him to the pits. And lose that girl (forgot her name) that Dale Jr. keeps snubbing.

I hope ESPN makes some changes. Despite all of my complaints this year, I think their coverage did improve over 2007. Still has a ways to go before it gets to Fox's level.

Unknown said...

Another vote for Bestwick here. Not that ESPN has said Punch is out, but Dr. Flashcube needs to be a pit reporter, something I think we all respect and liked him in that roll.

Reid is ok, he knows motor sports, and the half dozen or so IRL races I watched he did not annoy me. However not giving AB a shot at the PxP next year would be criminal.

I stopped watching nascar late last season because of Punch. If hes in the PxP position again next year MRN PRN will be how I follow the sport once it moves to ESPN-ABC.

TexasRaceLady said...



majorshouse said...

I could live with Mary Reid and he is definitely better than Jerry Punch, but would even be better is to put Marty Reid in the pit studio and Allen Bestwick in the booth where he really belongs. I say get rid of the cut away car and many of the other gimmicks that ESPN, Fox and TNT have been using and just show us the racing like the Speed Channel does.

Delenn said...

I would be interested to see Reid if, for example, he would have 20+ Nationwide series races. Given he was rather thrown in the deep end last year, he made a creditable performance when he did appear.

Having said that, I agree with Lisa. Switch Punch and Bestwick is what they need to do, plain and simple.

As for cost savings, they can fire the script writer for a start, you know, the one that decides what the story of the race will be before the green flag falls. They also need to re-think the whole tech center. I feel it is rather patronising to see the same demo time after time. You never hear them explain how to get a first down every third football game. Shame though - I like Brewer.

I think though that using Reid as, say, practise day commentator when ESPN do practise, would also keep the lead announcer fresh.

stricklinfan82 said...

If a change is made in the ESPN Sprint Cup play-by-play position I will be extremely disappointed if Allen Bestwick is passed over.

ESPN has a great play-by-play announcer with 20+ consecutive years of NASCAR experience already on their payroll, sitting in their NASCAR studio host chair as we speak. It should be a no-brainer to go in that direction if a change is made, in my opinion.

Geeze said...

s a money saver, lose the tech center and Tim Brewer, get rid of the flashy graphics, lose the infield studio and do the pre-race ala Race Day. Perfect.

Anonymous said...

My opinion: Please just put Allen Bestwick in the booth and I'll overlook BSPN/ABC's shortcomings.

The TV audience deserves Allen Bestwick. Then, maybe I'll give the sport another full time shot.

Vicky D said...

I always thought Marty & Randy handled the Nationwide stand alone races great. When they put Rusty with them it was too many people in the booth, particularly with Rusty's yelling I don't like. Put AB as the PXP man and move Doc to pit road for cup races and we've got it all set for 2009.

Anonymous said...

If I had my choice, I would have Marty R & Allen B split the Nationwide race announcing, Allen B do all the CUP race announcing, and Allen B and Jerry P split up the infield announcing for all the races and the Monday night N-Now roundtable. I really do not want to see Jerry P left out, but Allen B is clearly one of the very best PBP announcers - and I feel that is more of a compliment to Allen than a knock on Dr. P. As much as I do enjoy Allen's work, he cannot do everything - and Dr. P is too valuable a resource to not take advantage of.

JD, thanks again, very much, for the very best blog on the Net.

Anonymous said...

I say that Marty is way ahead of AB. I hope Marty does get the gig.

Kohl said...

Heres my opinion, Marty Reid to Nascar so us open-wheel fans dont have to suffer through his horrible ramblings along with Scott Goodyear. I would welcome Paul Page to come back but please no more marty!!!

Anonymous said...

It really would be heavenly if ESPN decided that dutting back on the stupid bells and whistles that only distract from the racing. However, I can imagine them using even more of the 'high tech' crap so they can cut back on their on track cameras, and the men required to run them. I did like the suggestion that they rife the script writer!

Put Allen in the PxP, Dr. P back on pit road where he shines, and things get better immediately.

Dot said...

Why can't Marty do the NW races and AB the Cup races? If BSPN got rid of the dead weight (Brad, Rusty) they would already save money. Let JP do practice and pits. It just seems so simple from where we sit.

I just have a "feeling" that we're not gonna get what we want.

Anonymous said...

Cut back on the BS centers. Have one place that has announcers. You don't need analysts to analyze the ongoing race that will be analyzed at the end of the race etc. The tech center to reinforce the explanatino of the explanation is a little over the top. Nascar coverage grew from the racing and coverage. Now both are overbloated and painful to watch.

And one HUGE pet peeve that has risen during the ESPN coverage. What is the point of opening up ALL the radios on a restart???? What is the point? Its just awful. I can't find the mute button fast enough.

Again watch the trucks to learn what people want. Their coverage increased throughout the years. Can't say that about the cars. Something to be said there.

Anonymous said...

Why hire a new guy when you can just swap Allen and Jerry?

Sophia said...

I am with Lisa...Reid is barely a notch above...i have not thoroughly enjoyed him on the IRL races.

but BSPN cares not what we want.

SonicAD said...

BTW, since IndyCar broadcast teams were mentioned, the rumored team for Versus is Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis, and Jack Arute.

Anonymous said...

If Mr Feinberg cant clearly see the qualitative difference that Bestwick has over Reid and Puncg, then feinberrg should be moved out of HIS job!!
For crissake, this is so freakin obvious!!!

Statboy said...

I enjoy Jerry Punch. I was very happy when ESPN said he would be on their broadcast team when they started back last year. But for some reason Jerry was much better at the Play-by-play when he filled in for Bob Jenkins back in the late 90's.

I agree... put Bestwick in the booth and Jerry in the infield.

Anonymous said...

All of the comments have pretty much covered everything but Mike WAltrip in the truck booth.I can't stand him.He talks (screams)to loud and talks over the other guys plus he continually touts the Toyotas.When he is in the booth I mute the TV and just watch the picture.

Anonymous said...

I have spoke about this before, and I will again: There has to be a back story with Allen Bestwick. When he broke his leg playing hockey off the clock at NBC, they pulled him altogether. I'm wondering if there is still some backlash of sorts that came from his former employer, as to why he is still the odd man out as far as play by play. What does anyone else think?

Anonymous said...

Eh, I'm not a big Marty Reid fan. Sorry, but if you are going to switch out Punch, it had better be for an announcer that brings an entirely new dynamic and style to the booth. Reid is just Punch with two cups of coffee. I hope ESPN puts someone else in the lead play-by-play role, but I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Hmmm. So where is Ray E. in the discussion? Maybe Marty and Ray for Nationwide. Marty isn't the greatest, but NW & Cup announcing should be 2 different sets of announcers. Switch JP with AB for Cup.

And, most important....no bells and whistles...save your money....just racing.

Anonymous said...

Espn needs to bite the bullet and do the right thing: Put AB in the booth to run the show, Move Dr Punch to the infield.

Marty Reid is not a NASCAR guy the move with him should be: Paul Page out to pasture and Marty back to NHRA coverage.

Anonymous said...

Cutting costs to cover Nascar on TV should be easy. Get rid of half the useless talking heads and pit reporters.Leave the cutaway cars at home along with some of the cameras. When they show all the monitors in the control booth,its easy to see how they miss so many key moments. It takes them forever to find the action. I can recall one wreck where the damaged car was coming down pit road before the booth could find it on the race track!Bestwick is head and shoulders abouve Reid.

Anonymous said...

I just read on SPEEDTV.Com that Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear are most likely sticking with the five IRL races on ABC. So I dont see Marty moving over to ESPN for NASCAR as the main announcer. This is being reported by Robin Miller who is usually very credable. He broke the IRL / Champ Car merger.

Intersting enough he reported Bob Jenkins, Robbie Buhl and Jon Beekhuis in the booth for VERSUS. So dont expect Bob Jenkins back at NASCAR either :(

Daly Planet Editor said...

Robin's quote is "I believe Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear will still call the five shows on ABC."

These five events do not prohibit Reid from being the primary play-by-play announcer on the NASCAR package, but we are all waiting to hear what ESPN has to say about their motorsports talent line-ups for next season.


Anonymous said...

Now that all the HotPass guys are unemployed, why doesn't ESPN pick some of these guys up on the cheap? Anyone who has listened to HotPass, even for a minute, knows that these announcers bring 20-times the excitement as Jerry Punch and Marty Reid combined.

I am tired of announcers who make an adrenaline-filled sport something you can nap to on the couch.

BToS JD said...

Your comment regarding next year's productions having fewer 'bells and whistles' sure rings my bell.

More 'racing' on screen and fewer bells and whistles is definitely the way to go. If it saves money too, even better; then cut back on some commercials while you're at it.

Unknown said...

I say swap Bestwick and Punch. Put Reid back with the NHRA and send paul Paige to the open wheel guys he likes so damn much

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Bestwick even wants to be the play-by-play announcer? I mean, he is there, he is under contract, he can do it, he has done it before, it is so obvious. I think there must be a reason Bestwick isn't in the booth otherwise he'd be there already. Maybe he doesn't want the job. Maybe someone else doesn't want him to have the job. But there has to be a reason. I've read over and over and over and over in this forum "Just swap Punch and Bestwick". Well, there must be a reason it hasn't happened. Which means I don't think it's going to happen.

Newracefan said...

I would be happy with AB in the Booth for cup and Marty for NW if AB doesn't want to do it but I NEED AB in the booth for cup races.

Anonymous said...

Cost savings for ESPN. The Tech Center travels to every race. It should simply stay home! It can accomplish the same tasks while not being at the track. It has no need to be at the race track, just ask Feinberg or Fredrickson. They will tell you, it is so Brewer can check things out around the garage, then report on it. He never has used that option. Or that it needs to be there so driver's or crew chiefs may stop by, hasn't happened. Oh yeah, they give tours to executives in it, and sometimes hold meetings in it when it is parked beside the T.V. compound. Expensive tour if you ask me. It could be in the ESPN Studio's in Bristol, Conn. The cost savings from it not traveling would be immeasureable. Now there's some cost savings for you ESPN.

Dot said...

@ Broomfield CO & Anon 7:00pm,

Good points about AB. We have never heard what happened to his booth days after he broke his leg. And that was years ago. How has this story never been broken after all this time? It's one of the best kept secrets in NASCAR. This has been bugging me for years.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...

Espn needs to bite the bullet and do the right thing: Put AB in the booth to run the show, Move Dr Punch to the infield.

Marty Reid is not a NASCAR guy the move with him should be: Paul Page out to pasture and Marty back to NHRA coverage.

December 10, 2008 12:20 PM

Agree. Plus, can we get good PxP and eliminate all the infield centers that add NOTHING?

I just want to see the racing. Not infield analysts or tech centers.

We just need pit reporters, GOOD booth announcers, and great camera people.

No wonder why my friends see why I'm fed up with NASCAR and other auto racing coverage.

Anonymous said...

I still think that AB should do the Cup races. The ESPN season is so long that they could use Reid and (if they really must) Punch during the N'wide races. Otherwise, I won't be happy unless AB is in the announce booth.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, if ESPN wanted to save TONS of money, they would put AB in the booth and Punch in the pits.

The prerace show could either be trimmed back to 30 minutes and operated like NBC's "Countdown to Green" used to be, OR ESPN could have Punch and Wallace and/or Evernham stand along the pits for the "infield studio" coverage.

The Tech Center can be shelved OR just originate out of Bristol, CT. No need to have it at every race, especially the N'wide races. That's a waste of money.

Anonymous said...

"The pre-race host stands alone with one camera to set-up the race."

JD, not to nitpick on the subject but I swear I have seen the SPEED pre-race show use at least 2 or more cameras. One jib and one on a tripod.