This happened: Derrick Rose received his MVP trophy from David Stern and poor ol' Dick Stockton called Rose, "David".
David Stern to Derrick. David Stern to David... Derp. I can see how you might make that mistake - David to another D name and you're still thinking about David in some small capacity? Or maybe old-timer Dick Stockton had the American songwriter on his mind? Either way, I think it could've been worse - he could've said "touch it, Dave!"
This does raise a very serious discussion question, though. Do you prefer announcers to stop and correct themselves (assuming they even catch it) or do you prefer the ol' theater approach - carry on and hope nobody heard you miss/screw up your line(s)? ... I'd probably say it depends on the announcing situation. With something this big - the presentation of the freaking MVP trophy, which has a chance of being replayed over and over again - an announcer better be pretty darn sure they're calling the MVP by the right name. Or at least conscious enough of what they're saying, so they can stop themselves if need be and say, "oh, pisssss, I meant Derrick ... Derrick Rose with the MVP!"
The LA Angels and Boston Red Sox played 13 innings on Wednesday/Thursday, in a game that lasted nearly eight hours and ended just before my bedtime at 3 a.m. EST, thanks in large part to Sox tradition and a two-plus hour rain delay in the middle of the game.
As you might imagine, everyone who opted to stay for its entirety got a little stir crazy by game's finish, announcers included. I mean, things really started to get weird - fans' eyes were bleeding, heckling was getting audibly meaner as cuss words were getting picked up on both broadcasts, some fans were begging Nomar Garciaparra (who was up in the ESPN booth) to come down and pitch, and a few others of the hundred or so remaining Sox fans were even chanting "Yankees Suck" despite the fact the Sox were playing, you know, the Angels. And Brick killed a guy.
Meanwhile, up in the Angels broadcast booth, announcers Victor Rojas and Mike Gubicza decided to put on wrestling masks for an entire inning to ignite a rally that would end this test of endurance once and for all:
I was getting kind of nervous because I didn't know what was going on, but Bobby Abreu dressed like Gene Simmons from Kiss and knocked in two runs on a two-out single to cheer me up. He's the sweetest person in the world.
Back in January, ESPN announced that they were joining forces with the University of Texas to form the Longhorn Network. The deal was groundbreaking in the sense that no sports entity had gotten behind a singular university with the size of investment that ESPN was making with Texas. The deal also raises some major questions. Can viewers of ESPN take their analysis and coverage of Texas seriously knowing that the Bristol machine is pumping 300 million dollars over a 20 year period into Texas and the Longhorn Network??? This isn't some flea sized endorsement deal by some sideline reporter creating a supposed conflict of interest. These are major league dollars we're talking about here that ESPN isn't investing into Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, or any other university... except Texas. (There's the whole special branding of the SEC on ESPN, but that's another story for another day.)
Well, a new report about the Longhorn Network from the Austin-American Statesman is cause for more eyebrow raising. You see, not only is ESPN devoting its resources towards the University of Texas and creating a network, but ESPN is also giving Texas the say over on-air personalities. From the Statesman...
According to the contract, "in the event that UT reasonably determines that any on-air talent does not reflect the quality and reputation desired by UT for the Network based on inappropriate statements made or actions taken by such talent and so notifies ESPN, ESPN will cause such talent to be promptly replaced (and will in any event no longer allow them on air following such notice)."
On Tuesday, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz explained in an email, "This is not common in ESPN agreements because this UT network is so unique/new for us ...The provision does not allow for random replacement of commentators or reaction to critical comments... it's more about potential situations where a commentator makes completely inappropriate comments or gets involved in inappropriate actions."
ESPN, which owns the network, will build a multi-million dollar studio in Austin, and hire network personnel... is handing over to the University of Texas the power to terminate any talent that "does not reflect the quality and reputation desired by UT for the network..." Consider me flabbergasted! ESPN is basically wrapping their integrity in a burnt-orange gift box and burying it in Austin. The response from ESPN is nonsensical. Is ESPN not capable of disciplining its own talent for completely inappropriate comments or actions on their own?? Does Texas justice imply something different? The issue is that what Texas considers inappropriate comments or actions, what ESPN considers, and what fans consider will be markedly different. Will a critical interpretation of a loss be considered inappropriate by the university? ESPN says no, will Texas say yes? How about a report on an arrest or NCAA violations? Why can't a company as massive as ESPN decide for itself what inappropriate comments or actions are fireable offenses for its own employees? Will these reporters and on-air personalities actually be working for ESPN or Texas, or does anybody even know?
Now, let's be real. Is what the Longhorn Network does in the grand scheme of things a big deal to most sports fans outside of Texas? No. It's no mystery that personalities on the Longhorn Network should be pro-Texas. It doesn't take a chemical engineering student to get that. However, the real issue is how deeply ESPN is climbing into bed with the University of Texas (insert that's what she said joke here). This is a new frontier for college sports. If ESPN is giving Texas the power to fire people hired by ESPN, what impact will that have on the company at large and the way it treats the university? I don't care if it's the Longhorn Network or not, that's a disconcerting step into uncharted waters. Let's say Kirk Herbstreit isn't too fond of Mack Brown's coaching - can he be truthful without upsetting Longhorn Network, and thus ESPN brass? Let's say Mark May comes on the LN to cheerlead... does he then go back to giving real analysis on College Football Live? On second thought, maybe we can permanently banish Mark May to the Texas channel. Will any negative criticism on College Gameday towards Texas hurt the brand of the Longhorn Network in the eyes of ESPN? Will the SportsCenter theme be replaced with this??
As many may know, we here at AA not only delight in announcing from here in the good old USA, but also around the world. But, I think it's safe to say today may bring us the first, and last announcing highlight from the world of cricket in Great Britain. Apparently cricket commentator Edward Bevan was announcing your standard, boring cricket match in Wales when a ball was crushed by Somerset's Peter Trego. Listen to the clip below as Bevan announces the flight of the ball heading for the commentary box, realizes it's about to hit him, and then does!
I don't know about you, but I'm not surprised a British cricket commentator was able to hold his poise when facing his own near-death experience at the hands of a wicked cricket shot. Can you imagine a more excitable announcer like Kevin Harlan or Gus Johnson (although he's come close before) reacting to a ball heading right towards them? Although Bevan was shaken up for several minutes after being struck, he was able to continue, after all, he's a cricket commentator! Just tape that baby up and get back to work! Suffice to say this show of poise and grit might even start to change the stereotype surrounding cricket commentators. Although, judging by the clip below, maybe the stereotype of British cricket announcers isn't what it used to be!
As the play by play man for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, Dan Shulman relayed one of the most important news stories in a generation to millions watching that Osama bin Laden had been killed by United States military forces. By all accounts, Shulman was masterful in his handling of the situation. In this interview, Dan talks to AA about how the information was relayed throughout the booth, breaking the bin Laden news, and other questions about his broadcasting career including what it's like to work with one Dick Vitale. Make sure to click "Read More" for the entire, amazing story.
Q: Before we get to the big news, the first question we always like to ask announcers is how you got your start in sports broadcasting?
A: I'm Canadian as you may know and I went to the university of Western Ontario. I actually graduated as an actuary. While I was at university just for fun as an extra-curricular kind of thing I worked at the campus radio station broadcasting the university's basketball and football games. When I graduated I worked as an actuary for six months and decided it wasn't for me. I had my mid life crisis early when I was 22 years old and decided to give broadcasting a try.
I got a job at a small radio station 50 miles north of Toronto, eventually got to Toronto and worked at the all sports radio station, and then eventually was hired to be the Blue Jays play by play announcer on TSN. One thing led to another, and some people at ESPN heard some of the work that I did and I got lucky and wound up there. When I got the Blue Jays job, which was 1995, I did the Blue Jays in the Summer and college basketball for ESPN in the Winter. Then, I went full time to ESPN in 2001.
Q: I have to ask, what's it like working with Dick Vitale?
A: It's great. It's a fun ride. It's always exciting and unpredictable, but it's fantastic. He's a ton of fun to work with and we're very close and become great friends. There's never a dull moment when you work with Dick. I enjoy every minute of it and I always look forward to working with him.
Q: You're the new play by play man for Sunday Night Baseball, how has the transition been filling in the Sunday Night booth, which is a big topic amongst a lot of baseball fans?
A: I'm so honored and flattered that my bosses would offer me the position on Sunday Night Baseball. Jon Miller is a Hall of Fame broadcaster and one of the best in any sport. It was definitely on my mind when I accepted the job that I'm following in the footsteps of one of the all-time greats. I try not to dwell on it because I don't want to put more pressure on myself. Every Sunday when the game begins I treat it like every game I've ever done and I hope all the viewers like what they're hearing and see.
ESPN puts so many resources into the Sunday Night show providing research and stats and we have so many bells and whistles that enhance the telecast, it's really fun. Anything a broadcaster could ever think of asking for is at our disposal. It's great to be a part of such a talented team.
Q: Tell us about how the Sunday Night booth is coming together and your chemistry with Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine.
A: I guess we've done about five or six games, we're very comfortable with each other, but the chemistry develops over time just like anything. This past week obviously was a much different situation because of the news that broke when we were on the air. Both Bobby and Orel see the game so well and so intelligently, I can throw anything at them and they've got an answer for it. They're such smart baseball guys. What's really nice and what's really important that your readers may or may not realize is the chemistry you have on the air develops from the chemistry you have off the air and all three of us get along great.
Q: Of course, all eyes were on Sunday Night this week. Your phone has probably been ringing off the hook with interview requests since then I can imagine.
A: Yea, it's been a crazy couple of days. It's certainly a moment that I'll never forget. It's not something you can prepare for in any way, shape, or form. It's one thing if it happens at 3 in the afternoon and you've got a few hours to think about how you want to handle it during the telecast that night. We weren't even in a commercial break, we were on the air when I found out. Bobby sits beside me and he nudged me with his elbow and I look towards him and he held up his cell phone...
Yes, we all want Manny Pacquiao to fight Floyd Mayweather, and the fact that it hasn't happened yet is an embarrassment to the sport of boxing and the seven fans of the sport that remain. However, Pacquiao will step in the ring with another one of the sport's big names, Shane Mosley, this Saturday. The 39 year old Mosley, who lost to Mayweather in a unanimous decision last May, may not be the most glamorous or most intriguing matchup for boxing fans. Pacquiao is a massive -600 moneyline favorite, which is an enormous number (you would have to bet $600 to win $100). One aspect of the fight that might convince more fans to watch though, is the presence of one Gus Johnson as the fight's play by play man. Gus will be working with Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver on the call of the fight. Here's a quote from Gus during a conference call from BoxingNews24...
The two guys are in there and at the top of their game and taking risks. Everybody knows it and everybody can see it and feel it. And that’s what makes boxing so special; the anticipation and not only the anticipation but of the actual moment coming together for these two men who are in the ring. There’s nothing like a championship fight like James Brown said. As far as Pacquiao-Mosley, I’ve got to pinch myself to realize that I’m working this fight. I have a lot of friends and people who come up to me and say, ‘Hey, are you going to watch the Pacquiao-Mosley fight?’ I have to chuckle and say, ‘No, I’m not going to only watch it, but I’m going to call it.’ So I’m just so happy to be a part of this event.”
Gus may not be the superstar announcing boxing like he is doing the NCAA Tournament or the NFL, but it may be a reason for some folks to tune in to a fairly predictable fight. If Pacquiao dominates Mosley the way most fans believe, it'll take all of Gus' hyper-enthusiasm to make the fight exciting.
In case you missed it earlier, check out our article earlier today chronicling Dan Shulman's live announcement regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden. As Ben Koo pointed out, Shulman breaking into the late stages of a close game to deliver the jarring news compares to other moments in sports broadcasting history when sports and real life mix. Like many broadcasting greats before him, Shulman was more than admirable in his handling of the situation, even encouraging viewers to change the channel and watch the news as it unfolded. Our full analysis is available at the link, but here is the actual video of Shulman's realtime announcement. A huge tip of the hat to @LevityNYC for uploading and sending us the clip.
I had the pleasure of catching up with friend of AA and NBA on TNT play by play man Kevin Harlan today as he was flying to Miami to cover tomorrow's Game 2 of Celtics/Heat. Harlan is one of the most popular announcers in sports and last time we talked with Kevin in February, he was preparing to announce the Super Bowl for Westwood One radio. In this interview, AA chats with Kevin about that experience, the NCAA tournament, and these NBA Playoffs. If you'd like to read more of my interview with Kevin, you can jump over to the other half of the Q&A at Bloguin's outstanding new NBA blog - Crossover Chronicles.
Q: Last we talked you were getting ready for the Super Bowl. Can you take us back to that game and your experience?
A: I guess I just felt more anxious than anything else. From the moment I opened my mouth to sign on the air until we closed I was very happy with the strength of my voice, happy with the call, and very happy that my superiors were happy! (laughs) I worked with Boomer and he was just terrific, the game was great, you have these two NFL franchises that were meeting with a ton of star power in the game... it just lived up to everything I had hoped it would in terms of a broadcast. I usually leave a broadcast picking out a thousand things I wish I would have done differently, and I came away feeling overall pretty good, not perfect certainly, never feel that way, but pretty good about how everything turned out.
Q: Staying with the NFL, the fear of a lot of fans is that we may miss some game. As an NFL broadcaster for CBS, would that affect you and others that broadcast those games if we do miss games, or even a season?
A: I'm not sure exactly what will happen to us at CBS. We're all basically under contract, but there has to come a point if the lockout cancels multiple games that the network would come to us and even ask for a little release. I'm not certain where that stands. I certainly hope that none of us, and I speak for broadcasters, stadium employees, members of organizations, and the fans that we never cross that line. It seems like there's some pretty important things going on that may not be resolved as quickly as we'd like. That possibility always exists that there might be a time when the networks come to their broadcasters and say, "we've missed multiple games, we need some relief here" and I don't know a broadcaster that, as incredibly good as these jobs are, how anyone would balk at that.
Q: Another event you did was the NCAA Tournament. What is that first day of the NCAA Tournament like when you broadcast four games in the same day?
A: I wouldn't say it's the most fulfilling broadcast day that we have on our schedule for the simple reason that you can't savor a well-played game, a fun game to do, a close game, a last second shot because once that game is over, you've got to go to the next game. Almost immediately, once that game ends you're putting your notes for that game away and you're grabbing notes for the next game, and then the next game. You don't have a chance to reflect and thus make corrections or enjoy as a crew great shots, great replays, because they are quickly forgotten. From strictly a broadcast standpoint, it's a pretty unfulfilling day.
From a fan's standpoint, and to be a broadcaster you've got to be a fan, it's terrific because it's this non-stop conveyor belt line of interesting stories, colorful coaches, great plays, upsets, it's like it's a non-stop cavalcade of all those different things. So, as a fan and a broadcaster it's terrific. But strictly from a broadcasting platform it's a day you can't reflect on because there's so much volume to it.
Q: You also were at VCU's regional site and saw their run to the Final Four.
A: Their run was exhilirating and great, great copy. That made watching them enjoyable, Richmond was in that same group, as was Florida State. We had three double digit seeds and a one seed Kansas. As it turned out, that site had some really interesting games. That was a stunning performance by that team making it all the way to the Final Four and it was fun to catch a little bit of their story from one of the last teams in to one of the last teams out.
Q: How is the NBA Playoffs different from those other events that you cover like the Super Bowl or NCAA Tourney?
A: The Playoffs are different because it's an ongoing story. We have at least four games in a series and if you're lucky six or seven games. It's really like a chapter in a book because of the adjustments. You are constantly glancing at statistics, trends, because you can begin to really thread the story of Game 1 through Game 2 into Game 3. Something that happened in Game 2 may be relevant in Game 5. You are immersed in those two teams and you feel at the end of the series like you know every dribble, every shot, every minute played. You can somehow chronicle it because you've witnessed it and you've had to reflect on it and carry the significance into the next game or two or three games down the line.
That's what makes the NBA Playoffs so great. Number one, the best team always wins because you have multiple games to prove yourself and it's not just a one and done. Number two, trends develop, strategies become more clear, counter strategies become the focus. If you love the NBA, and follow it closely and know how much strategy goes in, you enjoy every second. The NBA Playoffs is just a thrill a minute and these Playoffs in particular have been incredibly entertaining.
Q: I thought we may have gotten a "With no regard for human life" call on Kobe's first dunk in Game 5.
A: Well, when LeBron did the no regard dunk, he came off of that thing with a look on his face that was just menacing like he would've gone through a brick wall, a ring of fire, anything to make that thing work, and basically did. With Kobe, what he did I thought was just incredible, but I did not see the expression after the dunk so that's why I didn't say it. I was so stunned that he did that because he's conceded he doesn't have many more left in his bag so you weren't expecting it, especially with the bad ankle. He soars, comes down, and does this incredible dunk. It was no more spectacular than a lot of other dunks he's pulled off, but because of the circumstances that one will stand out.
In 2010, ESPN pulled back the curtain on some of the behind the scenes scrambling that sports broadcasters endure when unexpected yet monumental news breaks during a live sporting event. Tonight Dan Shulman and ESPN were pressed into action again on this front as millions watching Sunday Night Baseball were informed of the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. Many people have praised how the matter was handled and it is in fact how I caught wind of the historic news.
While Twitter, text messages, IM, news channels, and the web also played a pivotal role in spreading the news, Sunday Night Baseball was probably one of a handful of programs that were being broadcast live and to an audience of millions. Looking back at somewhat similar moments in time when unexpected news and a major sporting event clashed, we know it's quite stressful to scramble to inform the American public that something unexpected and riveting has happened.
For the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, ESPN had a a great special on Howard Cosell's famous late game Monday Night Football announcement of the star's unfortunate passing. I highly recommend you check it out as it's on Youtube here.
1980 is ages ago, way before all things internet and the explosion of cable television. Cosell's announcement of the news which was an ABC scoop that no other network had, was the first announcement on the matter and one that millions watched. Below is that now famous call.
This special about the back-story of this moment was extremely telling, especially for those too young to have any connection to that moment in history. The news came in the final moments of the game, a game that was hotly contested all the way to the final seconds. Once Cosell had Lennon's death confirmed by ABC news, they had about a minute before going back on live air for the final seconds of regulation to determine if and how to break the news.