Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nationwide Series TV Experiment Misses The Point

When the ESPN portion of the Sprint Cup Series television package rolled around at the Brickyard in July, there was a lot of fan interest in what may have changed since the 2008 season. After the Monday telecast from Watkins Glen, the answer continues to be...nothing.

Click here to review the fan comments from all over the nation about the race. There are no comments on the linked column except for those offered by fans. Here are some excerpts:

SalB said...
Trying to make sense out of how any race is unfolding since ESPN took over from TNT is almost impossible. Overusing bumper/in car cameras is irritating at best. Covering only the top runners is completely disorienting. If you can't see the race as a whole, it's just so much noise. Their coverage has been a big disappointment. DJ and Andy in the booth are good, but seem limited by what the director is willing to show on screen. All in all, an embarrassing effort from 'The Worldwide Leader in Sports'.

philg said...
Ok, so we're used to Jerry Punch and the boys in the booth sounding bored by what's in front of them. Nothing changed, even as Ambrose closed in on Stewart and even as questions lingered over who would have enough fuel to finish. The opportunity to build drama and suspense was right in front of the ESPN crew and like so many other things, they missed it. But more than any of the normal shortcomings that we're forced to suffer through each week, the most shocking and downright pathetic thing was ESPN totally missing Ambrose's pit stop on lap 55 (kind of like they missed Harvick's pole-winning lap Saturday). Since practice, ESPN made Ambrose a focal point of its coverage. He was the in-race reporter, his car was crawling with cameras and the booth repeatedly told us how flabbergasted they were by his team's pit strategy. So when Ambrose's pit strategy comes together and his makes his last stop, ESPN is clueless and doesn't tell us until eight laps later. Unforgivable. If you're going to build the man up as a story line for four days, someone should have had eyes on that car at all times, period.

bevo said...
There is a focus that is lacking with ESPN. The broadcast has the feel of an effort run by committee. Every aspect has to be used - in-car cameras, in-race reporters, foot cam, tech center, "cool" camera shot of the week, "the" stat, "the" feel-good story. All of these must be used whether or not they help describe the race for the viewer. I feel sorry for all of the long time technical people behind the scenes who I am sure want to produce a great broadcast and are faced day in and day out by bosses who have no idea what they are doing. Monday was a train wreck of epic proportions.

These are just three of the comments offered publicly by fans. Several hundred more arrived by email. This weekend, SPEED is handling the practice and qualifying coverage for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series from the Michigan International Speedway.

The NASCAR on ESPN team will telecast the Nationwide Series race on ESPN2 Saturday afternoon and then the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday on ESPN. While the Sprint Cup Series telecast will have the same on-air personalities as Watkins Glen, the Nationwide Series race will have something completely different.

In the heart of the season, ESPN is removing the play-by-play announcer from the live Nationwide Series telecast. Instead, four NASCAR on ESPN analysts will sit in the broadcast booth and make conversation. Here is ESPN's description:

ESPN’s “Backseat Drivers” telecast will engage NASCAR fans with the authenticity and experience of analysts Tim Brewer, Ray Evernham, Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree and Rusty Wallace.

Here are some additional quotes on this upcoming event from a Tuesday conference call:

Andy Hall, ESPN Media Relations Manager: This whole idea came about from our Vice President of Motorsports, Rich Feinberg and his experience going to dinner with these guys over the last few years and just listening to the stories that they could tell and knowledge and experience that they have in NASCAR racing. So, the idea was born of doing what we're calling "backseat drivers" and just having these four guys in the booth commenting on what's going on with the racing and sharing their knowledge of the sport.

Rusty Wallace: It's a pretty cool idea that Rich Feinberg has come up with. Myself and Ray and Andy and DJ, we've probably got a lot to talk about, that's for sure. We've all won at Michigan before and we've all got stories to tell. I guess my biggest concern is that I don't step over the top of each other and we don't keep interrupting each other and stuff like that. It's going to be a different process for sure; instead of saying here they go, here they come, this guy is passing this guy or whatever, we're going to be able to comment on how the race is going and from our past experience what we thing we should do to do win is race or what I would have done or what Ray might do. I'm excited about it, and when it's all said and done, it's either going to work or won't work and we'll see what happens.

Ray Evernham: As much as we've done together, we still have different opinions on things, and it's great to be able to spar back and forth, and you've got DJ and Andy in the booth, and they're kind of you know, they're one way, more conservative, type of approach, and then you've got Rusty and I, we're wide open, do, whatever, gamble, two tires, no tires. So I think it's going to be a great deal and I'm really looking forward to it. Unlike Rusty, I really believe that we're going to be talking over one another and stopping and saying, no, man, that's not the way it is. But I think that's what ESPN wants, and I think that's what the fans are really going to enjoy.

The disparity between the comments of the fans and those of the ESPN folks is quite clear. Rather than address the TV issues lighting up the Sirius phone lines and filling the Internet chat boards, ESPN is instead removing the critical function from the live race telecast that provides the information, builds the excitement and coordinates the on-air traffic flow.

This is the first Nationwide Series season where ESPN has brought in motorsports TV veteran Marty Reid to call the play-by-play down the stretch. Reid recently handcrafted the best telecast of the season from O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indy. He has brought the series profile up considerably in only a handful of events with his enthusiasm and personality.

Now, Reid will not be at MIS and in his place will be conversation. ESPN's analysts had plenty of time in the rain at both Pocono and Watkins Glen to break out the old stories and fill hours of time on the air. At a big track like MIS, Reid's ability to generate excitement in the play-by-play role will certainly be missed.

What is your opinion of this TV experiment? A creative idea for a series that needs something new? A self-indulgent moment from ESPN? Perhaps, an audition for Dale Jarrett as the leader in the TV booth? How do you see this idea from your perspective? Will this TV twist make you tune-in to a Nationwide Series race?

TDP welcomes your comments. Just click on the comments button below and follow the easy instructions. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. Follow TDP on Twitter at


Brian said...

I must say I am very disappointed to hear this is for the Nationwide series. That isn't were the problem was, that isn't where they needed a change.

Trying to find a bright side maybe this will work and ESPN will put Marty Reid as the play by play for the cup races...? (I know its just wishful thinking)

Thru it all I really do feel bad for Dr. Punch. He is an awesome pit reporter and he deserves better from ESPN.

Karen said...

Don't think Ray E is a very good ad libber. Don't know about Tim B. This is going to either be a great idea or a monumental flop; no in between.

Anonymous said...
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Frankie said...

Anon 3:21, I think you missed the subheader in the title block: "WHERE NASCAR FANS TALK TV ALL THE TIME".

Delenn said...

I only hope this stance of ESPN is out of loyalty for Doc, and this doesn't mean this is what ESPN really thinks needs to be done.
Stories are good. In their place...
Whilst the guys are telling stories, there will be a race going on. It will be interesting to see if they notice.

Delenn said...

Anon @ 3:21 am.
I thought this site was about (Nascar Racing)Not a version of (The View tv show) on what ESPN or TNT were doing to hurt Nascar!!
Read the banner at the top of the site. This site is Where NASCAR Fans Talk TV All The Time. The fact it may appear to be that broadcasters are doing to hurt Nascar shows exactly what the problem is.

SalB said...

Frankly, this worries me. One of my problems with the Fox coverage is the amount of time spent by the 'guys in the booth' talking about what they did, or what they would do, rather than talk about what is actually happening on the track in front of them. Adding more bodies in the booth doesn't solve the problems ESPN is having making the races coherent. Especially since the Nationwide coverage has been outstanding the past coulpe weeks. Are they. like Nascar, trying to fix something that ain't broke?

Anonymous said...

Last two weeks, we got great stories during rain delays. Enough for the rest of the season... Gut feeling says this kind of talk DURING A RACE is a bad move, and will further depress the TV ratings because if it goes the way it sounds, most people will look at the picture and wonder what the heck the commentators are talking about!! For me, I like seeing the racing and hearing PxP but the talking (ORP excepted) has become just noise so on goes the MUTE button and the radio. AGAIN.

Anonymous said...

This is just another idiotic move by ESPN, but at least we know the dolt behind this on-going debacle is a guy named Feinberg.
No doubt, Mr Feinberg saw the comments from fans responding positively to the stories from ESPN announcers while they were filling for a rain delay, so here we have another knee-jerk ESPN reaction "hey, it worked during rain delay, it'll work during a race"
What we'll get is guys talking allover each other, and ol'Rusty will try to dominate the airtime.
Keep drinkin' the kool-aid, ESPN. Everything is just "Fine-berg"

Ghost of Curtis Turner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
glenc1 said...

I can't really complain about something that we haven't heard yet. But...I'm not optimistic. This in no way addresses the issues of camera angles, direction, and the information on screen that we think makes coverage poor.

But I also think anon 3:41 said something interesting..."To me the coverage is as good as It has ever been!" We are here because we pay attention to the way a race is covered--we're active viewers who have very strong opinions about broadcasting, and yes, that's what this site is about. But I think we at least have to acknowledge that such fans exist--I think of them as 'passive' viewers....people who, as long as they know who is in the lead and who's been in a wreck, really don't care about the rest of it. Clearly, these people are out there. We have no way of knowing how many, but if they're the ones who end up giving their opinions to ESPN, does make our job harder. Just thinking aloud. I truly do not believe that the ratings slippage is primarily about the coverage; I think it's the normal level off you would expect in a sport that's been growing so quickly.

I want Marty back in the booth doing what he does, but if this is an experiment they may take to Cup....I'm willing to keep an open mind.

Vicky D said...

Marty, Randy & Rusty did a great job in the booth for a couple of races. Why is ESPN upsetting this great combo and putting those guys in there to tell us stories and you know Rusty & Tim will go back 20 years. Well maybe it'll work out but I'm not very hopeful.

50 yr. fan said...

Just what I expected. Rusty putting "myself" at the start of
a comment. What an EGO. I really
don't care what any of the participants have done in their
past. The job at hand is to
SHOW THE RACE in the best fashion
possible. ESPN catch a clue. No one
wants the hype, banners, and dumb-
down presentations.

Anonymous said...

How many Red Headed step children can ESPN juggle at one time?

That how I feel about ESPN "experimenting" with NW broadcast and how they treat NASCAR in general.

No Stick, No Ball? Screw it, let's turn it into the bedtime story show, the lemmings will like that!

After all, We're the only show in town! They HAVE to tune in.

Maybe they need to go back into the Way Back Machine and try NBC's method of NFL broadcasting.

No one in the booth.

Dave in Milwaukee.

Anonymous said...

Ann 7:33

This was announced by ESPN before their rain delays there for your point makes no sense. Interesting

Anonymous said...
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GinaV24 said...

Conversation? During the race broadcast? I'm sure that all of these men have very interesting stories to tell, but NOT during the broadcast of a race. Get some rocking chairs and pour us a few cold ones, we'll sit back and tell you how it was done in MY day!

Good grief, ESPN. Well thank goodness, there's always my trusty Sirius radio to tune in for the race broadcast.

alex said...

I don't mind that they feel the need to experiment on occasion, but why experiment with NOT calling the race? They've already been doing that all year.

alex said...

I also predict that I don't think they'll be able to avoid talking about the race or what is happening on track. When there's a big wreck or yellow flag pit stops (anything of importance), how can that not be called as usual play-by-play?

Unless the action on the track is completely ignored, I'm thinking that the commentary will slowly drift toward race coverage.

Anonymous said...

This is clearly ESPN's "solution" to JP's inability to call PxP.

"We'll just have them talk racing" instead of having someone actually call the race.

I wonder why ESPN doesn't start this with MLB games first, if it's such a great and innovative idea.

Lucky we still have MRN Radio.

Joe Dunn said...

I have doubts about this experiment, but I will give it a chance. ESPN has missed the boat on NASCAR race telecast since they came back into the sport a few years ago. It's sad that have had the best play by play announcer in their stable the whole time and instead have relegated Alan Bestwick to the Pit reporter role.

chase said...

JD - can't believe this -- it's a race for crying out loud! Perhaps a SEPARATE program of the Backseat Drivers would be better. I don't need or want to hear ad libbers during a race -- I want professional PXP, the removal of JP immediately, and let the Backseat Drivers enjoy their dinners with the ESPN honchos and LEAVE IT AT THAT. If for whatever reason ESPN cannot deliver professional race coverage, then they should not cover it at all. Thanks JD!

Nan S said...

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Tracy said...

I'm out of step with most of you, but I'm willing to give the new format a chance. At the very least, it can't get worse than it is right now. It might even be fun!

As to grammar and syntax, (Rusty's "myself"), it's a lost cause for most of these veteran racers (Dale Jarrett excluded). I just have to laugh when all the current drivers call themselves "us" and "we" as if they're the royal "we." "Myself" for "me" or "I" seems to have crept in because no one knows how to use the proper subject/object. Honestly, who cares? I don't give a fig for how they speak, I care how they drive.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The point of this column is not to complain, but inform. This is a bold move by ESPN to remove the person who is responsible for keeping the viewers informed on a lap by lap basis.

Imagine SPEED asking Rick Allen to step aside, Fox giving Mike Joy a race off or TNT putting Wally, Kyle and Larry Mac in the booth.

In one article, it was suggested that if this works, ESPN may try this same approach with a college football game.

Stepping back from the intensity of the racing to let it play out while the commentators tell stories about their own experiences is a risk.

The reason this experiment does not really make sense IMHO is because Marty Reid has come in and made the Nationwide Series exciting again for TV viewers.

Now, Reid is out and no one will call the action. Allen Bestwick will host the telecast from the Infield Pit Studio, so it should be interesting to see how it unfolds.

As usual, we welcome comments on this topic but would like readers to direct comments on other issues to

Daly Planet Editor said...

Mr. Turner's Ghost,

You are welcome to come back and repost without the Simpsons reference. The points in your comment made a lot of sense.


kbaskins said...

It's weird, but several weeks ago while Dr. Punch was doing the play-by-play for the ESPN Nationwide races I welcomed this experiment as a way to get the good doctor out of the booth. This new format could not have been any worse than what we had, and might have been a huge improvement.

But that changed after a few races with Marty Reid in the play-by-play position. His experience, professionalism and excitement changed the face of the Nationwide broadcasts in a profound way. Now I just want Marty at every race, and see this new format as just an intrusion.

It's funny how my perspective about this new format has done an about-face. Pre-Marty, I was all for it. Now, I'm hoping it will be short-lived so Marty can get back in the booth.

I'm so fickle. :-)


West Coast Diane said...

Rusty said:

"instead of saying here they go, here they come, this guy is passing this guy or whatever, we're going to be able to comment on how the race is going and from our past experience what we thing we should do to do win is race or what I would have done or what Ray might do".

Earth to Rusty and ESPN. There is your problem in the booth. You don't say "here they go, here they come". That one line speaks volumes. A new approach in the booth is not needed. Just watch races from back in the day or how about this year on TNT.

While I would welcome AB or Marty Reid in the booth (trust me I'll take it even with no other changes) the major issue is the overall production of the race documented in this blog for the past 3 years.

The best guys/gals (Wendy, Krista someday") can only do so much if the cameras are stuck on tight shots of 4 or 5 cars for the majority of the race.

Photojosh said...

I'd rather have seen this happen for the Sprint cup telecasts. The Nationwide series was really getting a lot better with Reid in there. I liked the job he did as PxP man.

However, if this is the decision they have made I guess I'll give it a try. Who knows, maybe it will be the next great thing in race broadcasting. You never know until you try. That having been said, I'm not real confident that it won't just be a train wreck of boring stories and people talking over each other (and over the race).

It's a shame that we can't just get Racebuddy and MRN as a subscription service from That would solve all of this junk.

Anonymous said...

Stinks for Marty and stinks for the Nationwide Series. I was hoping that BSPN would do more with Reid but apparently they want to kill the Nationwide Series all together and make the fans suffer even more through their broadcasts. Monday's race was unwatchable. Saturday will be as well I think. Thank the good lord for MRN.

Anonymous said...

I always have time for DJ and Andy, but I wish Rusty (and Wrecker) would just go away. I could care less about years old 'war stories' and inflated egos!

Anonymous said...

Why so much coverage showing wallbanger steve wallace,he's never even won a race. Lets see if I can guess,oooohhhh its rusty's son

Sophia said...

So many made comments i was going to make.

NW races have OFTEN been better broadcasts in the last year than CUP.

I care not one whit who is in the booth and how much fun they are if the camera work is clueless/poor/randome.

We need NASCAR Broadcast Director Czar ala TNT to IMPROVE the home fans viewing imho.

The end.

Statboy said...

I think it would just be confusing for the casual viewers of the series. They see cars going 4-wide down the backstretch but hear the guys in the booth talk about a race they won here in 1996. Weird.

Delenn said...

It will be interesting if someone assumes immediately, or drifts into the play-by-play role. It may also be a case of who gives up on the no play-by-play idea first, AB or DJ. Boring it won't be.

Steve L. said...

This sounds like something you would do as post-race coverage, not while a race is in front of your face.

Think we've been 'race-lost' in the past, we'll never know what's going on during the actual race.

"Pig in a poke", you just don't know what you're going to get...

West Coast Diane said...

A follow up. Last night I finally had a chance to watch "Feel Your Heart Race". Wow! In just 30 minutes they were able to convey the essence of the racing experience. I loved the guy that said, "If I'm not here I'm dead or in the hospital" and his description of the experience of being at a race. Perfect!

We were lucky enough to be at that Daytona race. This show reminded us of why we drove 3000 miles to be there.

The people, sights, sounds, smells are all a part of the experience.

Other than the smell part (fuel, smoke, food, etc) this is what any telecast of a race should embody. While it can't replace being there, somehow once upon a time, TV was able to bring some level of all those factors into your home.

It's a lost art, evidently, for ESPN (and FOX unfortunately).

Anonymous said...

Backseat Drivers and backseat views of the race. Oh the irony.


bullitthead said...

This experiment by ESPN is the second dumbest idea in sports telecasting history, only exceeded by NBC's idiotic 12/20/80 Jets vs. Dolphins broadcast sans PxP personnel. I find it interesting that Don Ohlmeyer, the mastermind of the NBC debacle, was recently hired as the ombudsman for ESPN.

For Pete's sake, ESPN, just put AB in the booth already and get it over with. We'd all be a lot happier if you did.

bevo said...

I'm going in with an open mind. Who knows maybe each person will be keying in on something different and the result will be less focusing on a handful of drivers and more on the whole race.

Lesley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Richard in N.C. said...

Well I'm intrigued - and it is just 1 race. I do wonder whether this could be like an "out of town try-out" to see whether DJ might be able to eventually step up to doing PXP. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Geeze said...

I would be the last person to critique a race broadcast. I don't notice half the thing's wrong that most of you do. To busy watching the race I guess. I'll wait to see this new concept before I pass judgment. Sound's a little like TNT :)

Lesley said...

JD! What was wrong my comment MR?

Patrick said...

This just doesn't sound fundamentally right.
Does "back seat driver" imply a positive idiom?

What is a "Back Seat Driver"?
According to Wikipedia (I realize not always the most reliable source, but it sure is convenient):
A backseat driver is a vehicle passenger who is not controlling the vehicle and seems to be uncomfortable with the skills of the driver and/or wants to tutor the driver while the driver is at the wheel.
Some backseat drivers exhibit this type of behavior simply because they feel unsafe or out of control since they are not driving the vehicle and therefore are nervous and jumpy and overly eager to give suggestions and criticism about the driver's actions.

On the positive side, DJ (Dale Carnegie Course completer) and it is only one-time trial (hopefully).

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the NFL doing a game without announcers? In that experiment, they found people liked announcers contributing to the action viewers are watching.

So does this experiment add to what viewers are watching?

It runs the risk of having 4 Howard Cosells with no direction.

- RA Eckart -

Daly Planet Editor said...


If you could add your opinion of what ESPN is about to do this coming Saturday on the Nationwide race we would love it. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

I tune in to watch the race not listen to stories about the "good old days". While I do mostly enjoy these tales there's a time and a place... that place is not in the middle of a race! ESPN needs to pull their head out of their _____ (you fill in the blank.)

Anonymous said...

I think after more than a dozen races plagued by DIGGER, the executives of other networks hold a meeting and say: "Don't worry about planning anything, it's impossible not to do better than this." Guess what - you did it!

James said...

I think this is just another example that of how ESPN thinks they are bigger than the sports they cover. It doesn't sound like a lot of thought went into the decision and like it came from way to far up the ladder. It "sounds" good, but if you put any thought into it at all it doesn't make sense.

Richard in N.C. said...

If there were really good pictures - full field coverage, etc. - the PXP would be less important. One of the problems I have with the FOX baseball broadcasts is that the announcers seem compelled to talk constantly rather than ever letting the pictures tell the story.

red said...

ok, so how does this make sense: dink w/a broadcast that has been superior to the train wreck that is the espn cup broadcast and leave the cup broadcast unchanged? i'm not getting it.

n'wide broadcasts with marty reid have been sensational, partly b/c marty understands the role of a solid PxP person: call the action, throw to the analysts in the booth and keep a rein on anyone who's all over the map verbally.

so now, espn is taking out of the booth the guy who's been successful controlling both waltrip and wallace? and there will be FOUR guys in the booth?there's some adage about "shooting one's self in the foot" that springs to mind.

as we haven't seen it yet, i'm willing to give it a shot. but it makes me wonder if espn actually understands the role of PxP in a race broadcast. if they think this critical role can be replaced by "just us guys" talking around the race, then it's no wonder the cup races are such a mess.

good luck to dj: if this is an audition of some sort masquerading as something else, i suspect he's in for a long evening.

and even if espn decides "it worked": then what?

Anonymous said...

Folks its just a one race deal that was decided at the end of last year just chill out watch the race instead of all this complaining.

glenc1 said...

the thing is, if they're going to experiment, regardless of the quality of what the NW team was doing, they're not going to risk it on the Cup race. It's possible that they might try it in Cup of people respond favorably. Yes, I remember the outcome of the broadcasterless game. But as Richard said, if they had better pictures, we wouldn't need it so much (unfortunately, it doesn't seem like that's going to happen.) But I do try to keep an open mind. Afterward, there'll be plenty of time to trash it, lol. Or praise it. I just wonder like Delenn said, how easy it's going to be for someone to fall in to doing pxp (or not).

Anonymous said...

I greatly appreciate the ESPN coverage. As my kids have gotten older, I can't afford to spend an entire Sunday glued to the television watching a NASCAR race. Thanks to ESPN, I not only don't miss it, I'm genuinely pleased to have not watched a lap. I can get the highlights from the Web.

Lesley said...

JD..Isnt this so called format change what they have been doing all along! offering past experience of how a track can change,best place to pass,when to pit etc...I here RW talking about himself and his past all the time..I think thats what makes the LM,WD,DW. Team worth watching..They all and (I stress)all know what they are talking about!!I think this is where ESPN fails us..

David said...

If this is going to be a 2 and ahalf hour reminiscing show then it will be tough to watch. While this is a fun element of a rain delay, we are tuned in for the race and if cars are on the track that is what I am wanting to hear about. I love the stories of how the sport got to where it is, but there is a time and place for those discussions.

If it evolves from this "PR" push into 4 guys just winging it and calling a race with the script thrown to the wind then we should have a heck of a show.

Ray E. can actually ad-lib quite well, anyone that has heard him on SIRIUS during his weekly segment on "Speedway" knows just how dynamic he can be. That being said, satellite radio is a much different box than the much tighter box television plus ESPN puts him into. He just hasn't quite found his comfort zone with his place on TV yet. I hope it happens soon because when Ray is free to talk about things from his point of view and actually draw on his knowledge after being asked thought-out, educated, thought-provoking questions (none of this sounds like ESPN aside from AB) then he really shines. Generic, boring, typical questions generate generic, typical, boring responses.

I am curious to see how it goes, I'm sure Saturday and Sunday will again be VASTLY different telecasts in terms of dynamic and quality. Fair to say the Nationwide Series has become the diamond in a very rough contract for ESPN so far. At least with Marty Reid at the forefront.

darbar said...

Just a point to throw out here. Is there a connection between the Nationwide race coverage being better because the racing is better? Same with the Truck Series. While I know Speed does the truck broadcasts, is the coverage perceived to be better because the racing is better? Does the general boring racing in the Sprint Cup mean we see boring direction and race coverage?

Yes, I know that ESPN is in love with their technology, but does the director feel that the racing is bad, so therefore they NEED the bells and whistles? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

As disappointing as ESPN has been, in the past they "have" recognized problems and made changes, albeit waaaay later than we would have liked. Moving Brent and Susie out are examples. My theory: Saturday's Nationwide broadcast is an audition for either AB or DJ in the PxP role.

There's no way to "not" have a PxP person on the broadcast, no matter what ESPN says. "Somebody" has to go to breaks, throw the broadcast down to the pit reporters, etc.

ESPN knows what they have with Marty Reid, so I'm not surprised or disappointed he won't be on the broadcast Saturday. Here's hoping some permanent changes for the better come about from Saturday's experiment.

AndyPandy said...

Yesterday at 10:16AM, Anonymous said... I wonder why ESPN doesn't start this with MLB games first, if it's such a great and innovative idea.

They did. It's called Jon Miller, and although he is worshiped and adored as an announcing legend, I think I was the only person in Baltimore to celebrate his dismissal as our local PxP guy by Lord Angelos. He often seems to be bothered by the distractions of the actual game as he rambles on and on with his tired stories, lame impersonations, and fawning over in-booth guests. I see the same possibilites in this experiment.

In my dream, Bestwick sees the train wreck happening, bursts into the booth, grabs a mike and starts calling the race.

If only.

Delenn said...

I see Bestwick standing on the counter in the infield studio with a mike calling the race. ;-)

David said...

You know, the more ESPN is "promoting" this, the less enthused I am about this.

The "hype" network strikes again!

Anonymous said...

This experiment only magnifies the disconnect between the ESPN philosophy for coverage and the fans. To ESPN, what the announcers have to say is more important that what is actually happening on the race track.
Here's the key to winning fans back: Call the race. Lap by lap, pass by pass.
Bob, Benny and Ned called the race. There was nothing more important than what was happening on the track. That's what grew the sport, won the fans and drove up the ratings.
Here's an experiment that I would love to see happen. Bring in Leigh Diffey to do the play by play. He makes every lap of the Gran-Am series exciting, draws the viewers attention to the drama as it happens, and is not afraid to show emotion to match his knowledge of the sport. That's an experiment I would tune in for.
ESPN's racing coverage used to be produced by race fans in tune with race fans. I am sad to see what it has become.

PammH said...

I personally think this is going to be a cluster, but like a train wreck, I'm gonna have to watch. It's certainly not what we've been begging for..

Anonymous said...

for now I'm going to take a positive view based on this little gem I've seen on , Andy Petree and Rusty Wallace. With Brewer contributing reports and analysis from the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage, Evernham, Jarrett, Petree and Wallace will call the race from the booth. In addition to the five champions, the telecast will include pit reporters Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch, while Allen Bestwick will host.(ESPN)(8-13-2009)

Bestwick hosting!? granted it won't be from the booth. But with the need to direct traffic as JD alluded to, I predict we'll be hearing from him a lot more. This may be a new approach by ESPN of playing around with having the PxP annoucer in the trackside studio not the booth.

food for thought...

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just a heads-up, AB will be doing the same thing he does now during the race. Recaps out of break, quick cut-ins and updates.

The body of the race will have no play by play announcer being heard.

Just the four in the booth and Brewer from the Tech Garage.

Just FYI'ing....


Labbie said...

The only thing I want to hear during this broadcast is to have DJ say, "Hey AB, remember when you were doing the PxP at NBC? How did you handle {insert random situation here}."

Daly Planet Editor said...

This just in from ESPN PR Dept:

"Five-time Emmy Award-nominated comedian/actor Denis Leary will co-host all four hours of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning (6-10 a.m. ET, M-F) on Wednesday, Aug. 19. The show is simulcast on ESPN2 and streamed live on Leary, a big sports fan who says ice hockey is his favorite sport and the Boston Bruins are his favorite team, will join Mike Greenberg in ESPN Radio’s studios in Bristol, Conn. Leary, also a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, will be subbing for co-host Mike Golic."

Here we go...hold onto your hats.


Richard in N.C. said...

JD, Leary sounds to me like an upgrade from Skip Bayless, Call-in Cowherd, or more repeats of Billy Mays commercials.

Delenn said...

Quoting Daly Planet Editor said...
Just a heads-up, AB will be doing the same thing he does now during the race. Recaps out of break, quick cut-ins and updates.

The body of the race will have no play by play announcer being heard.

Just the four in the booth and Brewer from the Tech Garage.

Just FYI'ing....

JD. I know that is what they are saying. But I really can't see it happening. Someone *will* start doing play-by-play when stuff happens, no matter what the PR says. It probably will not be planned, but someone will.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Sports Nation: everything that is wrong with ESPN wrapped-up in a nice ego-centric package.


Anonymous said...

Be careful what you all ask for...the people here wanted Jerry Punch taken out of the booth and this is obviously ESPN's response. Really stupid IMHO...but then I don't have a problem with Jerry. I don't need a person in the booth "creating" excitement for me during a telecast. The race ought to speak for itself. It's a boring race, it's a boring race.

David said...

JD don't get me started on that garbage new show. Love ATH and PTI, but SN is a JOKE. I've never made it through a show. Can't stand either host.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:13AM,

Good to know you are the one who does not think Jerry is in the wrong place.

Names like Ken Squier, Eli Gold, Mike Joy, Barney Hall, Dave Moody, Rick Allen and Allen Bestwick have shaped our NASCAR world on both TV and the radio for years.

Jerry Punch has a great place in the sport on pit road and as a reporter/host. He continues to personally embarrass himself on national TV in the play by play role.

It is sad and painful to watch ESPN ignore this reality. Sooner or later, they are going to wake up to the fact that the emperor has no clothes.


David said...

Exactly JD. I love Jerry Punch! The guy is knowledgeable and passionate about the sport but unfortunately he just cant nail it in the booth. I'd love to see him in an appropriate role because he is a dynamic, likable guy. He just doesn't have "IT" in the booth. Shame to say but its true. They were trying this experiment in 2000 and I think it was working, but the 7 year layoff probably hurt JP more than anyone who got left on the sidelines by the network changes.

Richard in N.C. said...

As I would have expected, I thought JP did a super job on N-Now Thursday talking about Tim Richmond. He's just in a spot where his talents are not used to their fullest.