Earlier this month, it was announced that Jim Rome would be taking his talents to wherever the CBS Sports Network studios may be. His ESPN2 show Rome Is Burning had been moved from the mothership to the deuce and had subsequently been lost in the shuffle amongst new shows like Numbers Never Lie and Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable and the stalwart that is SportsNation. With Rome going to CBS Sports Network as their highest profile talent acquisition and doing work with CBS and Showtime, it left a hole in ESPN2's afternoon lineup.
Instead of trying something new or giving one of their many talented people at the network a chance at a half hour daytime show, ESPN has taken the easy way out by expanding The Best Of Mike & Mike from half an hour to an hour long show. (You can decide for yourself whether an hour of Mike & Mike's best is practical or not.) Here's the complete ESPN2 afternoon lineup with timeslot changes for a couple shows...
2-3: Best Of Mike & Mike
3-3:30: NASCAR NOW
3:30-4: Best Of First Take
4-4:30: Numbers Never Lie
4:30-5: Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable
*All times Eastern
ESPN says ratings for Mike & Mike In The Morning increased 17% in 2011, so perhaps that's their motivation for showering more Greeny and Golic on the masses. That's impressive, and as easy as it is to poke fun at Greeny & Golic for their stereotypical jock/nerd perspectives and overdone schtick, there are a lot less likeable people on television. Their morning radio show is solid, but an hour long replay in the afternoon just seems uninspiring. It's not like families are huddled around the television for Stone Cold Lead Pipe Locks or yet another MVP song. Another uninspiring choice is 4.5 hours of Skip Bayless yelling "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" just to get attention.
ESPN has literally about 789,000 potential possibilities for interesting shows that could have replaced Rome Is Burning that could seek to improve the quality of programming on the network or at least provide something fresh. That's why, love or hate Dan Le Batard, at least his show looks and sounds different than what you see on ESPN2 for 9.5 hours of Mike & Mike and Skip Bayless. It's ESPN trying to do something outside the box. That's why Numbers Never Lie has been a disappointment, it's the same old formulaic debate/discussion show with different window dressing. What about a half hour college basketball daily show? What about a show that looks at subjects that aren't talked about on SportsCenter everyday? What about bringing back an in-depth interview series like Up Close and giving an anchor a chance to spread his or her wings? What about expanding the excellent work of Outside The Lines? ESPN could even bring back Stump The Schwab!! Whatever the case, the self-proclamied Worldwide Leader in sports should be able to give us something beyond reruns.