(Kinda similar looking huh?)
So the Slate had this article about the so-called improvement of Dave O’Brien over the tourney, but it reads like a complete Simmons’ article. The title is there to grab your attention, but every point contradicts what the piece was to be about to begin with.
For example the title is “In Defense of the World Cup Announcers- They haven’t been that bad. Seriously.”
The title is almost immediately followed by this comment, “O’Brien has improved noticeably since the opening games. Yes, he started out overyapping, attempting to cram in everything he’d learned as he moved from the baseball diamond to the pitch. His first couple of games resembled the Opening Ceremonies at the Olympics, when reams of “fascinating” tidbits get dropped on the defenseless viewer.” That sounds pretty bad to me. Please excuse me if I like my Announcing sans-Cramming. I don’t think I’m alone in that category.
“He’s also been prepared, on top of shifts in tactics and momentum, and has a good sense for the tone of the occasion. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s got one of the best voices in the industry.” Really? Does this include the comment from the championship game in my previous posting AS WELL as calling Ronaldo “The Right-Footer from Brazil” in the Quarterfinals?….just checking.
“This was his charge, not to win over the hardcore minority who were going to watch the games regardless. A cynical maneuver by ESPN and ABC, perhaps, but that’s football—it’s the broadcasting equivalent of playing for a draw.” Of course it wasn’t his job to win over the hardcore minority…they were going to watch either way. His JOB was to win over the American sports fans, so they would watch the MLS on ESPN. People like me, who think soccer is boring, full of BS, and a very pretentious sport. There’s a reason why we watch certain sports in the U.S. Say what you will about the majority of Announcers, but there’s at least one/two good ones in each sport.
“O’Brien didn’t help his cause among the soccer cognoscenti by referring to them as a “petulant little clique.” ” Umm…no, no he didn’t. And it didn’t help when he said “They’re mean spirited”, or when he said “They aren’t the audience we want to reach anyways.” Really Dave? You don’t want Soccer in the U.S. to have the same passion that it does in Europe? I’m sure ESPN feels that way too. I worked for a league that took the family approach….you may have heard of it. The WUSA…..that worked well, seeing as I still have a job with the Philadelphia Charge. Wait, I don’t? And I don’t date Heather Mitts??? Crap.
“John Harkes, though, has stood out. The former U.S. National Team stalwart has a discerning eye for the players, knows where they ply their club trade, and has been properly aggrieved at the relentless diving and thuggery on display. Harkes and JP Dellacamera, a veteran of ESPN soccercasts who knows the game and doesn’t feel the need to talk for the sake of talking, probably should have been the lead team.” Yes, exactly. So doesn’t that mean that everything you just said about O’Brien and Balboa is now debunked? Harkes was the only bright spot besides Julie Foudy’s oddly endearing personality. I once met her at a bar after a game in Philly, and she was…well umm….let’s us the word “Non-receptive” to my advances.
“Perhaps football isn’t the world’s unifying passion; it’s announcer criticism.”
Okay that I’ll agree with. And with that said here are the Top Ten Awful Announcing Comments from Mr. O’Brien & Mr. Balboa over the past month:
10. “Robbins makes a reactionary save!”- Balboa, Reactionary is not a word. And the English Keeper’s name is Robinson. (Thanks for the heads up fact checkers!)
9. “Ronaldo, The Right-Footer from Brazil”- O’Brien, Does his footing matter at all?
8. “This is the World Cup! This is why you need a computer chip in the ball! It’s like if you’re watching the World Series, it’s only inches between a strike and a ball.”- O’Brien, What does that even mean?
7. “Lampard is a great holding midfielder”- Balboa, That’s not a real term either.
6. Commenting on England’s Peter Crouch: “He’s tall, like a skyscraper…”- O’Brien, THERE’S that “Story-telling” element you were referring to.
5. “If Costa Rica pulls this game back to tie, it will be one of the greatest victories in the history of the world cup”- O’Brien, Yea…..uh huh….riiiight….
4. “If they pull a goal back here, then the game turns around 360 degrees”- O’Brien, Close to a personal favorite there.
3. “A great chance there for Germany” (During England-Paraguay).- O’Brien, Seriously is he even trying at this point?
2. “We’ll stay for both overtimes and penalty kicks”- O’Brien, I don’t need to get riled up again, so refer to the previous post.
1. “If the ball’s in play, ONE/TWO sentence quips or info nuggets are ok ‘Cole to Owen, who’s only played 8 hours of competitive football this year due to injuries, lofted ball to Lampard…’Basically they started out on Radio. And if you can make it interesting on radio and still get across exactly whats happening, you’re onto a winner.If the ball’s not in play, witter on all you want but DON’T talk over replays with idle chatter.The ‘play-by-play’ commentator is *usually* only allowed to butt in on stoppages or replays and even then it’s only ‘what did you think of that shot?’ ‘it was poor, he should have hit it better’ or ‘that shot nearly hit the corner flag’ stuff.I know its a bit rich me attempting to tell ESPN etc how to suck eggs but maybe they’d better learn that it’s hold egg in lips and draw breath sharply.I logged onto the ESPN coverage via a P2PTV service today for the ITA-AUS game having nowhere else online to watch it and was absolutely gobsmacked, so much so that I emailed ESPN to complain.Australia ran the ball up the left hand side, crossed, it was cleared, Italy broke down their left, lost possesion, Australia attacked again and got a free kick. During all that time (about 45secs-1min) the two presenters were nattering on about a previous yellow card.That’s really not helping me watch the game guys…Sure the BBC isn’t perfect, some of it is boring, but hey – BBC, ITV and Sky are the main 3 networks to watch Soccer on in the UK, (the BBC have been doing it since 1964 at least) sure they all have their fancy graphics and virtual replays, offside overlays and other gimmicks to inform (even the 10yard circle for free kicks to show how far back they’re not). But NEVER do they use them during attacking play. If the ball is in the centre third of the pitch, then maybe a graphic 1/8th size of the screen can appear giving the score and scorers. All other fanciness is for offsides and breaks in play. Don’t clutter the screen or someone will throw their Pint at it.Even the ESPN banner at the top of the screen is annoying, it’s HUGE. Sure it’s semitransparent but why is it also BLACK (that lovely see-thru colour..).You have no idea how sorry I felt for you guys this afternoon trying to watch it. It’s not so much the references to other sports and perceived ‘dumbing down’ its the lack of attention.. there is a GAME happening here, who’s on the ball? is the player who just lunged already on a yellow? who’s coming on as a sub? (in fact today it seemed they couldn’t find notes as to who Aloisi was when he came on for Australia, 30 secs of ‘yeah good change, this should make a difference’ before the brain clicked and OH THATS WHO HE IS).Maybe I expect too much, but i’ve seen so many posts since the beginning of the Cup talking about how people are listening to internet Radio coverage and watching Univision just to get some decent commentary.”- Posted by a commenter “FoxHill” on the New York Times Blogging Site.