View Full Version : ESPN-bashing and the departure of David Aldridge

Slick Pinkham
07-27-2004, 07:41 AM
Apparently loudmouth Steven A. Smith is taking over as the solo NBA "expert" on ESPN. A shame...

Also a shame to see ESPN morphing into MTV.




July 26, 2004 --
FACT or Fiction: Put ting a band on SportsCenter" is the best idea ESPN has ever had?

Fiction. It is the worst idea!

This week, SportsCenter will have musical performances by Alanis Morissette, The Roots and Five For Fighting, among others.
With them, SportsCenter will officially jump the shark. It is downhill from here.

"I don't think it is going to be the end of the world as we know it because we are going to try it," SportsCenter managing editor Norby Williamson said.

It definitely isn't the end of the world as we know it. It is the beginning.

This is SportsCenter.

Formerly the best sports show on TV, it now antagonizes the addicted, die-hard sports junkies as it seeks to lure the casual viewer. So there are more HotSeats, Hearsays and "experts," who seem to know a lot about yelling.

It apparently works. GimmickCenter ratings keep rising. The new beautiful high definition set should be gold-plated, because the show brings in millions (a source said $50-60 million for the 2002 fiscal year. It is probably more now, but ESPN won't comment.)

After blowing Fox Sports Net and CNN/SI out of the national sports news business, ESPN is in a rumble for viewers with MTV, E! and the History Channel. How do you steal their audiences? You add music, movies and entertainment, knowing diehards are on the sports' wagon.

With the rockers scheduled for this week, Williamson gallantly tried to play down the ratings factor, but, in big-time TV, it is always about the ratings.
Face it, if viewers stick around extra long for the music segments this week, Ryan Seacrest could be seated next to Stuart Scott by Friday.

The goal is to use SportsCenter to sell other ESPN programs, more than it is to inform. For heaven's sake, even the Bottom Line is about the bottom line.

On Wednesday evening, the Bottom Line, the ubiquitous sports ticker, took a break from news to read, "Coming up on SportsCenter: Why Tony Hawk thinks Charles Barkley should not ride a skateboard." Bristol, hello?

On the beer sponsored Hot Seat, the appropriately named Hawk promoted the upcoming X Games. Then viewers finally got the pay off, Hawk said Barkley's feet are too big and he is too heavy for a skateboard. Scintillating.

On Thursday evening, host Dana Jacobson who seems like a credible anchor introduced that night's Top 10 by embarrassingly saying, "Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, it is not. But the battle between Happy Gilmore and Shooter McGavin is a golf classic; at least on the silver screen."

She droned on, introducing the Top 10, which featured real two-sport athletes. As for the make-believe Happy Gilmore, coincidentally, his movie was on ESPN Thursday night.

SportsCenter still has positives. The attention to detail should be admired. The production is awesome. Giving bigger games more highlight time is effective. If you sift through the garbage, there is some news. On big stories, SportsCenter still shines, snaring a Shaquille O'Neal or a Kobe Bryant for sit-downs.

The show breaks some news, but not nearly as much as it gives itself credit for, as Kenny Mayne hilariously used to note by saying, "David Aldridge is reporting the Nets beat the Knicks, 82-81." By the way, the soft-spoken Aldridge's ESPN career is done next month.

Loud is in. As Stephen A. Smith quickly morphs into caricature of himself, he seems like the face of the new SportsCenter. Good for him. The more of an act he develops to rope in casual fans the richer and more famous he'll become. The band plays on, quite literally this week.

Williamson said the singers are just a tie-in as part of a five-part series on music and athletes. He said he doesn't expect musical acts again any time soon. Whatever.

It is still on SportsCenter, where there used to be only the sweet sound of, "Duh-duh-dah . . . duh-duh-dah."


Three words to start a personal revolution: I'm boycotting ESPN.

(For as long as I can.)

Starting with this morning's "SportsCenter" rerun and lasting until I suffer from a piercing bout of Dick Vitale-deprivation or the network publicly disavows the entire run of "Around the Horn," I'm boycotting ESPN, ESPN2 and any other part of the ESPN broadcast empire.

(I feel better already.)

I'm boycotting ESPN because it's the only game in sports-TV journalism and, like all monopolies, has gotten bloated and maddeningly self-absorbed. I'm boycotting ESPN because I want to know if I can. I'm boycotting ESPN because it has become as omnipresent and dangerous as Microsoft, and it takes a conscious effort to avoid the brand.

Hey, we survived thousands of years before the ESPN era began in 1979 and Chris Berman started demanding that sports virgins be brought to his throne as tribute, right?

So I have to do something to avoid the inexplicable new "Stump the Schwab" game show, which is either a hoax or proof that ESPN programming guru Mark Shapiro has replaced Marlon Brando as America's most powerful loon.

The horror!

Something became clear to me recently amid the dopey "Home Run Derby," the repulsive ESPYs, the rewrite-history-as-schlock ESPN25 broadcasts and the mindless shrieking and whining.

(I was a member of the voting panel for ESPN25; I can't be the only voter horrified by the first few shows.)

Somewhere in the past few days, it dawned on me that Bad ESPN had finally gobbled up Good ESPN.

ESPN has always had a split personality: Good ESPN, with tremendous reporters, excellent game coverage and a sense of responsibility; and Bad ESPN, which believes that the only way to cut through the clutter is to SHOUT LOUDER AND LOUDER and produce dumber and dumber shows.

Good ESPN is "Baseball Tonight," "Pardon the Interruption" and "Outside the Lines." It's Tom Jackson, Bob Ley, Harold Reynolds, Linda Cohn, Chris Mortensen and Dan Patrick.

Bad ESPN is almost everything else, from Berman to the ESPYs to Stuart Scott to NFL analysts Sean Salisbury and John Clayton (two very nice guys off-air) yelling at each other like kindergartners.

Bad ESPN created "Dream Job" and its winner, new "SportsCenter" anchor Mike Hall, whose attempts at humor and highlight narration make him sound like a 5-month-old cocker spaniel doing the sports report: lots of high-pitched squealing, some drooling, playful pats on the nose by those nearest to him.

And he makes me think of that amplifier joke in "Spinal Tap."

We know that Scott and Berman are all-time "10s" on the annoyance meter. Now Hall has come along and, hello, we find out ESPN can pump it up to "11" when it really needs to.

Of course, remnants of Good ESPN survive. Only Wednesday, I was mesmerized by Ley's "SportsCenter" report on the doping charges leveled at Lance Armstrong.

I'd estimate I watch about 75 to 90 minutes of ESPN programming a day, either as background noise or to catch up on things by tuning in to "SportsCenter." And Bad ESPN is everywhere.

Over those 75 minutes, ESPN is a TV obstacle course: Whoops, watch out, blatant self-promotion, turn to CNN! Get back in time for the update on the Los Angeles Lakers' break-up. Oh no, it's an ESPYs replay, turn off the TV right now!!!

ESPN had two main NBA analysts last season - thoughtful, knowledgeable veteran NBA reporter David Aldridge and the infamous Screamin' A. Smith. Guess which one they just let go? Hint: It wasn't the guy who actually makes sense and doesn't harm your ears.

Look at what they're doing. What does that tell you about how ESPN sees its viewers? As children, you think?

It's no secret that Disney-owned ESPN is trying to transform itself into a mega-entertainment studio to rival Pixar. But instead, it's mutating into a particularly smarmy dimension of hell to rival, well, hell.

Eventually, there will be major ESPN backlash. I don't know if it's coming yet, but I know I want to be out there first, because I want to be on the side with a soul.

So I'm boycotting. I toyed with the idea of drafting my sports-crazy nephew - smack dab in the middle of ESPN's 18-to-25 demographic target territory - to make this a contest.

But I just want to test myself for now. It's not a crusade. I have no desire to become a martyr, squashed by the ESPN logo, though that might occur anyway.

I admit, I chose to start the boycott now, partly because I knew it'd be a relatively easy time to go ESPN cold turkey.

The Shaq-and-Kobe drama is done, the NFL isn't revving up until September, I can get my baseball fix from the Giants and A's local telecasts, and the Olympics, one of the few things not in the ESPN orbit, will soon blot out the landscape.

But it still will be difficult to keep up the boycott. For instance: Where can I get gossip about the upcoming baseball trade deadline? Fox Net's "Best Damn Sports Show" is not an option, because that's like boycotting Shell by buying a Chevron station.

I know eventually I will come back to ESPN. I need it, I hate it. I'm boycotting it, for as long as I can.

You can support me. You can belittle me. But I'm boycotting ESPN. I'll let you know when I relapse.

Doug in CO
07-27-2004, 08:08 AM
I wish there was an alternative - how on earth do they get rid of Aldridge? Where is he going? I hope to NBA TV.

ESPN's 'personalities' are more than I can take - starting with Berman and Scott. Vitale used to be the exception to the rule - now he is one of dozens of jokes ESPN continues to play on us.

07-27-2004, 08:12 AM
Scott is the one I can't stand.

Man, that Booyah schtick is really annoying.

Along with Big Ups, and Dawg!

07-27-2004, 08:40 AM
YAY! More Stephen A......wait......that sucks....

:( :maniac: :beat: :suicide:

I think his opinions are always far from reality and the truth, oh well I guess its better than Walton.

07-27-2004, 09:13 AM
Two great articles.

I rarely watch Sportscenter anyway, but I do watch ESPN's NBA coverage because at least in the playoffs we have no choice.

ESPN does have some excellent NFL programming, or they did the last time I have watched it which now that I think about it might be a couple of years ago. But their Sunday morning NFL pregame show was always excellent as was their Monday night 90 minute NFL show.

I watch ESPN news as much as I watch ESPN

07-27-2004, 09:28 AM
Very nice articles. :thumbsup:

I'd boycott ESPN too, if it weren't for there's no other place to get decent highlights, quick stats, etc.

I too cannot stand Berman, Stu Scott, Stephen A., Dick Vitale, (former host) Max Kellerman, Tony Reali (new ATH host, who is also a Yankee fan :rolleyes:), and Sean Salibury, who had no business to be a "celebrity" at the Indy 500 this year. :puke:

07-27-2004, 09:38 AM
I hope Aldridge goes to TNT or something.

And I hate most of those guys, exception being Berman. I really like how he conducts things during the NFL season.

07-27-2004, 11:14 AM
Note, the "boycott" article was even from last week, before Aldridge got canned.

I'm sick of ESPN. Besides the above complaints, my biggest is they drove TK away from radio, then replaced him with that POS Cowherd. My god is he horrible.

But, after everything, I was thinking, "I've still got PTI". So, what happens? Tony and Wilbon are off this week, replaced by, brace yourselves, Skip Bayless and Screamin A. Oh, the horror. :suicide:

As for DA, while I'd love to see him on TNT, that's not enough for him. They don't cover the NBA year round, or even daily, just game coverage. He needs more than that. Hopefully, he'll go write for a national paper, and go to work for NBATV so we can see more of him. And by "we" I mean those who actually have it, myself sadly not included. :cry:

Also, UB, their football coverage has gone down hill since two years ago.

07-27-2004, 12:14 PM
You do know this is all taking place because of the Curse of John Madden. If people had only known, someone could have took him out years ago.:angel:

07-27-2004, 12:19 PM
Did you guys know that ESPN was originally mainly for sports betters? Odds, up to the minute scores, etc.
Ever notice the extreme attention that major betting events like horse racing, boxing, etc get. And now "live" pokerzz! :o:o:o
The fact that it became commercially viable to mainstream america had to make some hoods VERY happy.

Dr Huxtable
07-27-2004, 12:40 PM
ESPN are total idiots for choosing Steven A. Smith over DA.

The only good things remaining on ESPN in my eyes are PTI, ATH, Outside the Lines, and Dan Patrick.

07-27-2004, 12:49 PM

I just posted a couple of weeks ago either here or on the Indystar board that I'm done with ESPN.

Steven Smith is absolutely ridiculous. On top of that, he has the nerve to be smug. He's singlehandedly can make me turn the channel. Jagoff! :censored:

I never understood why they make Clayton and Salsbury take contrary stances on EVERYTHING. :grumble:

David Aldrige gone? David Aldridge!??:cry: :shakehead: WTF??!!

I don't know Mike Hall...cause...well...I gave up on ESPN. And what's that stupid show where athletes answer sports trivia? What is that? How is that entertaining??:pissed:

Why does everything have to be about gloss and danm the content.

Did I see ESPN showing movies the other day?:bs:

I'm with you. I'm holding out long as I can. I just got a jump start before you and not being a fan of baseball :sleep:, I'm sticking to my guns long as I can. It just sucks that there's no other real options.

You know what would be nice..and interesting? If someone started doing a sports network, or BIG block of sports programming that took the stance that sports was life or death. Not really, but by that, I mean, no quirky jokes, no nicknames, just really analytical, cerebral reporting. Treat it like political reporting. Tale a stance like 60 minutes.

I never thought I'd say this...and literally with a copy of The Big Show: inside ESPN's Sportscenter literally on my desk (A good read of the early days, BTW)...but ESPN blows!!:tongue::snobby:

07-27-2004, 12:53 PM
The funny thing is, we've been calling out ESPN on this garbage for quite some time now. Nice to see more jumping on the bandwagon.

ESPN = sellouts

It is now BSPN. :shakehead:

Slick Pinkham
07-27-2004, 01:04 PM
Why does everything have to be about gloss and damn the content...

You know what would be nice..and interesting? If someone started doing a sports network, or BIG block of sports programming that took the stance that sports was life or death. Not really, but by that, I mean, no quirky jokes, no nicknames, just really analytical, cerebral reporting. Treat it like political reporting. Take a stance like 60 minutes.

Sort of like a TV version of the short-lived paper by Frank DeFord called "The National".

That would be GREAT. I've always HATED FoxSports and "Best Damned Sports Show" but ESPN is morphing into something annoyingly similar.

07-27-2004, 01:24 PM
It's interesting to see how ESPN's influence is spreading. Just the other day I found out (and I know I was late in this) that the former ATH host, Max Kellerman has a new show on Fox Sports called Imax. I decided to check it out just to see what the fuss was all about.

I was very dissapointed to see that the show was nothing more than a ATH ripoff.

And DA was one of the extremely few people that ESPN had that actually knew what he was talking about.
Bob Ley is still great though, I love outside the lines.

07-27-2004, 01:47 PM
They're adding band numbers to SPORTSCENTER?!?!

Good God that's pathetic and sad.

Lord Helmet
07-27-2004, 01:47 PM
Aldridge go to TNT.

Dr Huxtable
07-27-2004, 01:50 PM
They're not exactly adding bands to SportsCenter Hicks, it's just for this week.

They're in NYC and they're doing a special on sports and music, so they have musical artists perform each day this week.

Last night was Kid Rock. :rolleyes: They said "forget Aretha Franklin, forget Eminem, forget Ted Nugent" but they didn't EVEN MENTION Bob Seger. :mad:

Vicious Tyrant
07-27-2004, 02:37 PM
So long David, you deserve a better place.

Stephen A Smith is a big, nasty dangly.

07-27-2004, 02:58 PM
They're not exactly adding bands to SportsCenter Hicks, it's just for this week.

They're in NYC and they're doing a special on sports and music, so they have musical artists perform each day this week.

Last night was Kid Rock. :rolleyes: They said "forget Aretha Franklin, forget Eminem, forget Ted Nugent" but they didn't EVEN MENTION Bob Seger. :mad:


07-27-2004, 04:07 PM
I sometimes turn the Sports Center reruns on in the morning to catch the highlites from the day before. It seems that the show has become like the local news: 10 minutes of news weather and sports and 25 minutes of filler. I really don't watch much of it other than a few live events. My wife and I sometimes watch the Outdoor Games as well.

I watch Classic more.

Pig Nash
07-27-2004, 09:18 PM
? How are the news 35 minutes long?

07-27-2004, 11:12 PM
How can One Hate Chris Berman , He put ESPN on the Map with His Highlight Commentary:devil:

Roaming Gnome
07-27-2004, 11:19 PM
Honestly, outside ESPN's NFL shows that have all the highlites from the earlier games, I have not seriously watched ESPN since the advent of NBA-TV.

ESPN lost me a long time ago...

As far as DA, looks like he will have a spot next to his (brother?) Andre Aldridge. Not bad for us that have NBA-TV!

07-27-2004, 11:41 PM
? How are the news 35 minutes long?

I ment that to add up to 30, but now that you point that out, the 10 p.m. news here is 35 minutes long.

07-28-2004, 03:22 PM
I haven't watched SportsCenter in a long time. :dance: I love ESPNews though... :devil:

07-30-2004, 11:27 AM

"After being let go by ESPN, NBA reporter David Aldridge could be headed to TNT, according to sources.

Aldridge could work as an NBA insider or as a sideline reporter for Turner. The sides should meet shortly."

07-30-2004, 01:23 PM
I havent read this entire thread, just first few posts. So is DA gettin fired by ESPN and gettin replaced by Steven A.?