“Who can explain it? Who can tell you why? Fools give you reasons, wise men never try.” — Lyrics from “Some Enchanted Evening”
Early in the Rams-Bills NFL opener Thursday, it became abundantly apparent that both NBC and Cris Collinsworth remain under the misapprehension that viewers were tuned in only to hear Collinsworth’s nonstop, all-knowing, all-seeing genius.
As reader A. Masliansky put it, “If Collinsworth is paid by the word, he’s underpaid.”
But with new, wildly illogical NFL announcer salaries — Collinsworth is now paid $12.5 million for his seasonal presence — that’s highly unlikely.
Having annually wrecked its “Monday Night Football” booth with bad ideas and rotten foresight — Jason Witten, Louis Riddick, Jon Gruden, Joe Tessitore, Brian Griese and the expensive unintended farce of placing Booger McFarland in that horizontally mobile Rubber Baby Booger Buggy — ESPN has turned to Fox’s longtime lead NFL team, which ESPN boss Jimmy Pitaro has called “iconic.”
Sustaining this duo will cost roughly $165 million over the course of their five-year contracts.
As Jimmy Durante said, “Money can’t buy you love, money can’t buy you happiness, but let me do my own shopping!”
Buck and Aikman jumped to ESPN for what is now known as “Tony Romo Money.” When Romo retired as the Cowboys’ quarterback (the same job as Aikman and, before “MNF” on ABC in 1970, Don Meredith), he was already in the throes of a bidding war to become a network analyst.
He signed with CBS for nearly $180 million over 10 years. He has a winning personality, but so, presumably, do you.
Yet though it’s known to all but those in TV that no game broadcaster can make the public watch without a game attached, in throwing crazy-go-nuts money at Buck and Aikman, they bought and maintained a duo that the public could take or leave.
Though Fox’s No. 1 team is assigned to the most appealing, higher-rated, late-afternoon games, it didn’t matter if the pairing consisted of Buck and Aikman, Jacoby and Meyers or Null and Void.
But good for Buck, Aikman, ESPN, Disney and perhaps, first and foremost, good for Fox, which like ESPN, doesn’t need help to make rotten broadcasting hires.
But in this case, it’s highly unlikely that Fox will suffer the loss of a single viewer for the absence of its 20-year team.
Buck can’t seem to shake his cultivated persona as a smarmy piano lounge act who feeds his own tip snifter for show. The pity of it all is that he’s a regular guy off the air, genuinely funny and engaging.
On the air, he tries too hard to be too slick, a counterproductive transparency that begins with his tired, redundant introduction of Aikman as “the Hall of Famer.”
Buck seems too eager to leave his personal mark on every telecast, which ill-serves him and us. And his recitation of misapplied and even irrelevant stats set before him often point to a poor grasp of football.
Aikman doesn’t seem any more relaxed and conversational than he did when he began as a slightly tongue-tied, cliché-ridden public communicator. He’s heard to operate in a gray mist, devoid of insights that he keeps to himself. He’s too often just plain uninteresting, as in just plain.
To tell us a player “plays with a chip on his shoulder” — ugh! — means nothing unless he adds why that chip formed on the player’s shoulder. Colossally stupid acts, such as penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct in close games, are left cautiously understated as in, “Not a smart play.”
Both Buck and Aikman apparently underwent little-to-zero expert coaching or advice at Fox, another network that has no day-after expert coaches or advisers.
But at the money they’re now being paid by shot-callers who don’t know good from bad and bad from worse, who am I to tell Collinsworth, Buck and Aikman that they’re doing it all wrong?
MLB to ‘shift’ rules in worst way
I’ve never witnessed a season in which more batters swing at pitches in the dirt. What used to seem a rarity — and a hilarity — can now be seen in almost every game, often more than once.
Then there’s Giancarlo Stanton, whose batting skills have eroded — as of Friday he was batting .213, even if analytics fantasists tell us batting averages are no longer significant — as he tries to uppercut every pitch at which he indiscriminately swings. Home run or zilch in every at bat, swinging so hard his body regularly rejects his method.
Me? I’d ban analytics before I’d ban the shift. Banning the shift is another form of banning strategy on behalf of those who lack the skills or desire to beat it. It’s a capitulation, not a cure.
It reminds me of a friend who told me that his son dropped freshman year Spanish in college, explaining, “Well, he doesn’t speak Spanish.”
Well, Mr. Roger “Good Investments” Goodell, neither the Jets nor the Giants have sold out their home openers yet.
And both have waived dubious tack-on ticket-purchase fees to try to move tickets from their own, shared home PSL stadium.
The sudden disappearance of long waiting lists to purchase season’s tickets, pre-PSLs, are long gone, Mr. “It’s All About Our Fans” Goodell. Greed kills.
Bad Nike dress gets addressed
Always follow the money:
Perhaps the most unintended comedy from this year’s U.S. Open came when Canadian Bianca Andreescu asked permission from the chair ump to change her hideous, movement-hindering, skirted, wind-altering, shot-altering outfit to more functional and practical tennis clothing.
“It’s not my fault, it’s Nike’s fault,” she pleaded. “This dress is so, so bad. … I need to go. This is really bad.”
The ump told her to, ahem, just do it.
After the match, which she won, she tried to make nice to Nike: “I could have definitely used a different choice of wording. So I apologize to anyone I disrespected. I love Nike and I hope I can be with them for the rest of my life!”
Though Dustin Johnson was quick to grab millions in Saudi mullah moola to leave the PGA, I wonder what would happen to his wife, the former Paulina Gretzky, if she wore one of her revealing outfits in, say, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Big lies, little lies: As channel-hoppers have noted, what MLB Network’s “Strike Zone” continues to call “Live Look-Ins” continue to appear on tape delay, several batters behind.
It has come to this: An Upstate New York fellow I’ve long known and trusted recently read a brochure published by a local high school urging parents and loved ones to not attend their kids’ sports events drunk or on drugs. “No guns, please,” is next.
Now NFL Hall of Fame and Notre Dame running back Jerome Bettis is pushing parlay bets — extra bad bets — to the young and vulnerable in TV ads for a sports gambling operation.
Seems everyone’s first name on WFAN is now Promo Code.
Spent the past few days watching networks’ “Live Coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s Death.”