Simply put, no sports TV exec can claim to know borscht about basketball and dump Jim Spanarkel as his or her primary basketball analyst, not short of his conviction for murder.
But Spanarkel, for years the best thing about watching Nets games on YES, last week was dumped despite a clean record — he doesn’t litter, pays his taxes and hasn’t committed a felony since breakfast.
Even during the Nets’ most meager times, Spanarkel could sustain interest by seeing and speaking sensible, applicable basketball. He left us with at least one good lesson a game.
For example, not all long rebounds are the result of not boxing out near the basket — the easy, common take — but by everyone blocking out, thus by good basketball.
He didn’t shout, he didn’t make up nicknames or try to draw attention to himself with neo-hip expressions. His substance was his style. He was the guy who surpassed the lucky ticket test — the one you were grateful to be seated beside at a game.
But in these days of sports and TV teaming to destroy our sports for no good reasons, the Spanarkels of the world are no longer welcomed, appreciated, no longer even sought.
Consider that Fox, this week, selected retired CB Aqib Talib, talented but expendable — five NFL teams — as an NFL analyst.
Talib’s bio reads like a dark-alley mugging, from punching out a teammate, to an arrest for assaulting a cab driver, to a four-game illegal drugs suspension, to an arrest for aggravated assault with a gun, to filing a false a report for having been shot when in fact he had shot himself.
Talib even ignited an on-field brawl over an in-game chain-snatching!
Once unfathomable, he is the kind of bad dude TV now rewards. The biggest sports cheat and liar in recent history, Alex Rodriguez, was quickly hired by two networks, Fox and ESPN. On and on. They can’t do better? Or is it that they don’t want to?
Why? Why are they doing this to sports, to us, to kids? What’s the upside?
And so Spanarkel joins the list of those lost to us due to executive neglect, ignorance or imagined populism.
I’m still trying to figure why CBS this season dumped measured, informative, no-hype Dan Fouts. And if Jon Gruden fell asleep on Sean McDonough during “Monday Night Football” before Gruden returned to the NFL, why did they demote McDonough, among TV’s best play-by-players, replacing him with terribly miscast Joe Tessitore?
Just as I wonder if YES’s shot-callers ever had the ability to recognize Spanarkel’s valued, intelligent approach, I wonder if a Vin Scully, today, would get past his first audition, rejected for not being gimmicky or loud enough. Would Alex Trebek today be rejected as too clean, too square?
Networks are Masters of misleading viewers
The Masters: All those chirping birds that fly in from here, there, and everywhere, normally heard during CBS’s telecast? Must have been self-quarantining.
As ESPN showed and told, Thursday morning, it was raining on Tiger Woods. No one else, just Tiger Woods. The telecast theme was psychological: Woods’ relaxed, pleasant demeanor.
Never saw Augusta National play as “easy” as I saw it, yesterday. That early rain removed the risk out of those normally crazy-fast greens. Putts that normally ran forever braked short.
That computerized shot-tracker TV uses continues to confuse. Yesterday, Woods hit a tee-shot that appeared to be sliced into a tree line. The CBS commentators gasped in horror. It landed and stopped in the fairway.
Don’t know how we’re going to get through today’s Masters without Mike Francesa watching it for us — but mostly for himself.
What does Rutgers have that Ohio State doesn’t? Answer: CB Tre Avery.
During Saturday’s RU-OSU, BTN play-by-play man Brandon Gaudin explained: “Originally, he signed with Ohio State, back in 2016, but he never got here due to academic issues. Then he wound up at Rutgers.” Hmmm.
Not that CBS will ever listen to me, but in James Lofton it has the kind of understated analyst we want and need. Reader John Busacca was in Phoenix, Sunday, where he watched Lofton call Dolphins-Cards on the CBS affiliate.
“You are not going to believe this, but after a [self-evident] two-yard dive play, he allowed the play-by-play man [Andrew Catalon] to give the gain while he remained quiet.” With nothing to say, he said nothing. Radical!
Shucks, Moose Johnston would have made a three-credit lecture series of such a play.
Why did his ascension to “Monday Night Football” provoke Brian Griese to speak — and mostly nonsense — until we scream for mercy?
He’s the latest master of modern trite. “New England is a north and south football team.” Forwards and backwards? As Lou Costello asked, “How can a mudder eat its fodder?”
When Cam Newton, 6-foot-5, 245, scored on a keeper from the 1 against the Jets, Griese praised offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for “a good discipline call.” Huh?
Bombers’ budget concern feels fake
Yanks bolted on their Trenton and Staten Island minor league teams, their ballparks and their communities. They were not cost effective — not for a franchise that this season committed to carry a player payroll of roughly $250 million.
After the Ravens returned a Colts fumble for a TD, CBS aired a reel of Ravens defensive TDs, this season. Doesn’t matter, those points will be thrown into the add-and-divide bin to reflect the Ravens’ average points scored on offense.
Fox’s Brock Huard is another football analyst who talks a lot before he thinks even a little. “When the defense bring pressure it affects the pocket.” Who knew?
Graphic of the Week: Fox, during Arizona St.-Southern Cal, posted that this was the first time USC, after being down 13 or more in the fourth quarter, took the lead since the 2017 Rose Bowl. How many times during those two seasons was USC down 13 or more in the fourth? None!
Many, including, I suspect, many of his players, liked the way Joe Judge handled the Golden Tate episode. Old-fashioned, team-first standards. Now get all the families, wives, friends and girlfriends to stay off Twitter!
I know he talks too much and is too often indiscernible but Tony Romo, at least once per telecast, makes me laugh. It’s his stream of semi-consciousness. Sunday during Steelers-Cowboys, Jim Nantz read a Masters promo that three times included “on CBS.” Out of nowhere and to no one, Romo, stressing the “S,” said, “CBS.”
Unreliable sources tell us that Old Crow bourbon, in concert with a cut paid to MLB, will include a Tony La Russa replica World Series ring in every bottle.
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