Saturday, November 14, 2009

Take A Good Look At Marty Reid

Saturday's Nationwide Series race gets underway at 4:30PM ET. Turn up the TV a bit to hear the play-by-play call offered by ESPN's Marty Reid. His voice may just be something you'll hear a lot more of in the future.

Reid has already worked on both the IRL and NHRA packages for ESPN. He also founded CORR, an organization that sanctioned off-road racing. Needless to say, Reid has been around all kinds of motorsports where TV coverage is concerned.

This season, Reid was eased into the NASCAR on ESPN line-up to take over the Nationwide Series races in late July. The weekend of the NASCAR race from the Brickyard marked the beginning of ESPN's Sprint Cup Series coverage.

Reid coming on board allowed Jerry Punch an opportunity to focus his efforts on the Sprint Cup Series races. Earlier in the year, ESPN produced two Nationwide telecasts without either Punch or Reid. It was an experiment to allow a group of four analysts to talk casually with the fans. On both occasions, it failed miserably.

This season, ESPN has discovered that Allen Bestwick is money in the bank when he hosts the pre-race show from the Infield Pit Center. Bestwick remains live during the race, handling everything from in-race recaps to rain delays and red flag periods. In addition, Bestwick has established himself as a strong presence hosting the Monday night one-hour edition of NASCAR Now.

Although previously used in a play-by-play role by other TV networks, ESPN made a decision to keep Bestwick in his current position and bring Reid into the NASCAR world. Those decisions are not made lightly.

ESPN has a problem and they must fix it. In 2007, the network took a man who had spent many of the previous years on various college football sidelines as a reporter and put him in the high-profile position of a NASCAR play-by-play announcer.

The television package Punch took over was massive. The entire Nationwide Series season and seventeen Sprint Cup Series races. Many of those weekends included practice and qualifying sessions for one or both series. In addition, ESPN used his talents for programs from SportsCenter to NASCAR Now on a regular basis. It was clear to many at the end of 2007 that this was just too much for one person to handle.

Instead of bringing in additional help for that position, a change was made in the Lead Analyst role as Dale Jarrett joined the team. Rusty Wallace moved to the infield with Bestwick. As is usually the case, avoiding the obvious problem did not subsequently make it better.

Reid has brought a different level of excitement and enthusiasm to the Nationwide Series telecasts. He calls out the start-and-park cars, speaks freely with his analysts and enjoys the irreverent Randy LaJoie in the TV booth much more than the politically correct Dale Jarrett.

At times, Reid has expressed his displeasure with the ESPN Producer right on the air by talking about where the racing is and the camera is not. TV viewers have seen Mike Joy do the same on Fox. The fundamental belief is that the TV viewers deserve to see exactly what the fans at the track are watching. That is usually the best racing on the track, regardless of the position.

When Reid and Bestwick are teamed up on a Nationwide Series race ESPN serves up a very different final product. Despite the continual efforts by the Producer and Director to stick to a pre-scripted storyline, both announcers regularly change that focus by pointing out something going on in the race. The TV cameras must then follow.

The final weekend in Homestead is always overblown, overhyped and full of all kinds of distractions that affect the final TV product. The telecast focus swings from the leader of the race to the leader of the Chase and the only other thing viewers see a lot of is commercials. There are so many ESPN management cooks in the Homestead soup it winds up never tasting very good.

Instead, it will be this Nationwide Series race in Phoenix that may give NASCAR fans a sneak peek at what they may be hearing a lot more of in 2010 as Reid calls the event with Jarrett and Andy Petree. Bestwick will be in the infield with Wallace and Brad Daugherty.

While not all those personalities may be in exactly the same place for next season, it certainly is likely that with only a handful of IRL events on the 2010 ESPN calendar, Reid will be taking a much greater role in the live NASCAR telecasts.

TDP will be live blogging the Nationwide Series race, so please feel free to join us on Saturday afternoon as we watch this event together.

In the meantime, perhaps you could share with us your opinion of Reid this season on the Nationwide races since July. To add your TV-related thoughts, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

You are hinting that Reid is being groomed to replace Jerry Punch. And while Reid brings a long list of bonafides into the booth, like Punch I don't think his on-air abilities live up to his resume.

Andy seems like a nice guy, and I have nothing but respect for Dale Jarrett... but I really think ESPN needs to jettison their entire NASCAR project and start from scratch. Simply moving around the personnel already on payroll isn't going to do it.

The Loose Wheel said...

I have been very pleased with Marty Reid this year with the Nationwide Series. He has been a breath of fresh air to a series that has seemingly been swept under the rug by the "A Team" and used as a preview for Cup. With Marty heading these telecasts the races tend to be more about the actual race being run and not just a 200 mile preview for the Sunday event. I would love to see a Reid, Randy (maybe Rusty) combo next year for the full NW schedule. Now, Marty on Cup? Like the annon poster I have skepticism about that due to his experiences with DJ and AP this year. The three have struggled together and never developed any kind of chemistry. Now, you hinted earlier in the year that Andy may be wanting to do something different next year which would be a great opening for someone to step in and take that role. Who that might be is a question though. I love Ray Evernham but honestly his personality best fits radio and not television mainly for his sense of humor. Once he is relaxed he is great, but getting him to that point requires a tremendous relaxation of limits I think. NO on Brewer!

Maybe Craven gets a look?

The standard PxP, CC, Driver combo that FOX started and everyone else has copied is not a MUST follow, the NW package with the 3 R's has proven that time and again.

Going to be at the race so for once I can't comment on the race, hope you all enjoy it though. Will have some pics after if Kyle clinches early hopefully. Will have batteries in the camera too rather than cell phone pics lol.

Homestead is must certainly over-hyped though JD. Thats why I mostly miss the race and entirely tune out the post-race stuff.

bevo said...

Marty Reid is exactly what ESPN needs to lead the tv team. I disagree with calling DJ "politically correct". He's Ned's son and was raised to conduct himself in a professional manner. Viewers can tell that this year has been really rough on him.

My other on-air suggestion would be to get Ricky Craven involved on race weekends. Bestwick, Evernham and Craven would be an excellent pre and post-race team.

Vicky D said...

I think ESPN needs to revamp their on-air "talent" for 2010, although we've been saying this for a long time. I like the way the three R's work the NW races maybe put MR in some cup, along with AB for the rest, and I think they would have a good team in the booth for all the cup races. For some races I find either AP or DJ sound tired so maybe they need more vacations. It was clearly shown to us when Newman and other drivers have bad wrecks that Doc is a better suited for pit road. JD why is so clear to us and ESPN can't see it?

50 yr. fan said...

Marty is great, but I think until
the production people get a clue
about what racing is about the
announcers will the scapegoats.

majorshouse said...

I think that Marty Reid has broght some real freshness to the Nationwide telecasts and ESPN desperately needs to do something to bring the viewers back and like AB, he is not so scripted or politically correct that he is actaully enjoyable to listen to and would not mind necessarily seeing him as the ply by play announcer for the cup series if ESPN actually keeps the tv contract. Personally I still would like to see the Speed Channel get the entire contract and do every race like they do the truck series and Formula One, they bring real excitement with much fewer people running the show and really give us fans what we are looking for.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's only me, but, I would think that an obvious improvement would be to actually allow the race to be the script.

Sure be ready with your sub plots, secondary script, but, follow what the race dictates as number one. Isn't the actual race the real product?

It ain't rocket science, it's just racin!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Reid is the answer to anything. The elephant in the room is Bestwick-use him!

Anonymous said...

Marty Reid would be a welcome change in 2010. However, I am worried about his dynamic between Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. The three R's were informative & fun. Marty, Andy, & Dale are awkward together. I have hope in Andy, but Dale Jarrett is lost. He is still a confusing mess of play-by-play & an analyst.

I am also worried about the future of Dr. Jerry Punch & Allen Bestwick. If Marty becomes the full time play-by-play announcer, where will Allen and Jerry go?

Donna DeBoer said...

The NNS series telecasts have well and away definitely been the better of the two top NASCAR this year, and much of that is because of Marty. He's done a great job.
My fave trio in the NNS booth, hands down, is Marty, Randy LaJoie and Rusty Wallace. (bias disclaimer: Rusty drove my beloved Blue Deuce and I hated the guy) This group works for me because I love the easy camaraderie which elicits the occasional joking and banter, much of it at Rusty's expense, as well as interesting talk and keeping TV viewers engaged with what's going on in the race AS IT HAPPENS, and properly doing resets and such.
I only wish I could say the same about the Cup telecasts.

Anonymous said...

Marty would be a good choice to replace Jerry, he's got what it takes to keep the audience informed without putting them to sleep, Personally i like Jerry, but he's not a play by play talent, and his support group needs to quit trying to convince the audience how smart they are..."Nobody Cares"...There's two basic things about a race care..."Either it won't turn or the back end tries to come around....This rounds down or up and 2 pounds of air in a tire is confusing to the novice race fan...They need to remember most people don't know anything about what makes a car run on the interstate little on a race track...Keep it simple...I don't care how smart you are....


Anonymous said...

Reid's good. Bestwick is better. But Rusty? Am I the only person that can't understand what he says? Garbled words, prefaces almost every statement with some stupid saying: I'll tell you what, or that's for sure, or racing his brains out, etc. ESPN needs to send him to annuciation school. It's like he has a mouth full of rocks. Please ESPN, take him off the broadcast.

Andrew said...

I'd love to see Reid, LaJoie, and AP in the booth next year. They'd be a great team. (Not a fan of Rusty, honestly.) Of course, putting AB in the booth would be even better. :D

I hope that they move JP back to pit road - ESPN desperately needs better pit reporters, and that was always one of JP's strengths.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:12AM,

They tried Rusty in the booth for one season, but on the longer Cup races he was unable to handle all the duties of the analyst role.

Moving him to the infield allowed his experience to be used, but in a tightly controlled atmosphere with Bestwick in charge.


Strangely enough, I heard one of the pit reporters will be a mom soom. No clue on what that might do to schedules next season, but I'm just sayin....


Tom said...

I too have enjoyed Reid and think he brings a new vision of racing to the telecasts that seems to be ABOUT the racing. I might have a reservation about him doing cup, but the I think of Ralph Sheheen and realize that they share many similarities in terms of previous experience. Both have been PXP for numerous series that are less well known, but both have always been very professional and interesting. TNT brought in Ralph and he far exceeded any expectation I had, and easily became someone I want to see again. I am thinking perhaps we should give Marty the benefit of the doubt...I think he may surprise us.

Inverness, FL

The Loose Wheel said...

I have to agree though with prior comments that unless something changes with the production team, this potential/desired/rumored change falls short of expectations and would do little to quiet me with ESPN's issues.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Marty Reid is a big improvement over Jerry Punch on pxp, but that should not be the deciding factor. The question that should be asked is "Who is the best person available to ESPN for pxp?" For me, the answer is clearly Alan Bestwick.

I have watched AB in a wide variety of roles in NASCAR coverage over the years, and he has been great in all of them. He seems to have a genuine love of the sport combined with extensive knowledge. His on-air work also shows that he has done thorough preparation/research that others are lacking. This preparation allows him to follow changes and surprises wherever they lead.

AB is also a great pxp guy with the ability to bring true excitement, not hype or sugary cheerleading. But that may not be his most important asset. He also has that rare ability to bring out the best in those around him and make them look better in the process. In the end, the entire broadcast improves greatly.

AB is doing his usual fine job in his present roles; but in fact, these are essentially support roles. The most important presentation of all is the cup race itself, and everything else is secondary. Why confine your best asset to a support role just because he performs it well? I say move him up to the cup pxp role where he can have the most positive impact on the entire show.

Michigan fan

Bill Jordan said...

Well i guess anything is better then Punch. But to me Marty is a mistake. Allen Bestwick sitting in the bull pen used for 3 minuets a race is a shame.....

Whatever happens Punch goes or I do next year. Ive already left this year to the point I wont even watch anything on ABC or ESPN networks. Due to the shameful way they have treated my sport.

Sophia said...

50 yr fan

I'm with you. without BETTER CAMERA WORK CHOICES, the whole booth issue is moot.

Anonymous said...

Martie has been a breath of fresh air on NW broadcasts. He would be as good to watch if Seed was giving us the pictures to go with his sound instead of espn scripted shots.

Note to ESPN if you do not put AB in the booth on Sunday's I guarantee you the only ESPN I will be watching is the NW on sturday with Martie or AB if you are still that shortsighted.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with several others, Marty would be a huge improvement over Dr Punch. But The correct answer is Bestwick. AB in the booth would solve the PBP issue and he would also get the best out of Andy and DJ. It is sad to see DJ and Andy struggle to do a job they are not trained for or being paid to do.

Dot said...

I am not a Rusty fan but, I do like the three R's in the booth for the NW races. Randy busting on Rusty just cracks me up.

They need to put AB in the booth for CUP with DJ & AP. I don't know who to replace him with for the infield job. Maybe they can get rid of that all together. Remember, less is more.

With Shannon going to be a mom of twins, JP could move back to pit reporting. Now if they could find a pit reporter named Judy to replace Jamie. Oh the fun we could have with Punch and Judy.

Sophia said...

I had no idea "Pleased as Punch" saying came from old Punch and Judy shows. (Just googled the history of this show)

I also did not know Punch & Judy show roots can be traced to the 16th century.

Little before my time . . .

The things we learn on TDP.

They were used in Marxed brothers movies..either Monkey Business or Horsefeathers, forget which one. ;) Harpo was involved.

oh, back to Marty Reid, I gotta be honest, not that huge a many problems with the broadcast besides the peeps we see, as I said earlier.

I enjoy the Dulcet tones of Allen B better.

JohnP said...

50 yr. fan said...
"Marty is great, but I think until
the production people get a clue
about what racing is about the
announcers will the scapegoats."

BINGO. Right to the root of the problem. It's clear the people at ESPN don't know anything about Nascar and Nascar fans. We know a junk broadcast when we see it. Move the people around, but it will not help. The football announcers/reporters need to go back to football. ESPN needs reporters that knows and Nascar fans. The fans see right through their lack of knowledge. It makes for a sad product on tv. What I see here is a bunch of college kids trained in todays scewed version of "journilism" of "creating a story", but missing the big picture. Well, Nascar fans KNOW "The Story" is the race. So they need to show "The Show". It only makes sense.

webmaster said...

If I had my preferences, I would like to see Marty Reid do Nationwide PxP and Allen Bestwick cover the Sprint Cup series.

It wouldn't fix all of ESPN's issues, but having solid announcers would be a good start.

Anonymous said...

What broadcast are you folks watching?

The acclaim these comments give Marty Reid is unfounded and ridiculous.

ESPN's current lineup relegates their single best talent, Allen Bestwick, to little more than the moderator of a cut-rate three ring circus. ESPN's system neglects his savvy, on-air ability and undermines his true potential. Simply put, Bestwick is all they got.

Reid is inept. For those ready to hoist him into a position far above his capability, I ask if the name Bob Jenkins rings a bell. If Dr. Punch vacates the seat, bring back Bob and the NASCAR Speedworld coverage that brought the company to prominence in the sport.