I don’t know if this is an experiment, or the network is trying to ramp up for the new Sports Center format in August, but today’s absence of PTI and Around the Horn definitely caught me off guard. I tuned in for my nightly fast forwarding, er viewing of ATH and noticed a random Sports Center Special with Chris McKendry airing. My first thought was that something crazy in the Sports World had gone down, but that wasn’t it. I next assumed that I was on ESPN2 for some reason….nope. Lastly, I figured that they had finally cancelled ATH! No such luck.

So what the heck was up? There hadn’t been an official press release about the “Special” Sports Centers, but I figured I’d go back and check. And there, buried in a week long “this week in ESPN” release (that mainly includes NASCAR News), was this tidbit….

ESPN will present a week of special one-hour SportsCenter programs Monday-Friday, July 21-25, at 5 p.m. These SportsCenters will feature elements from different ESPN platforms, including ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Fantasy Sports and content from SportsCenter. Hosting the specials will be Chris McKendry (Monday), Dari Nowkhah (Tuesday-Thursday) and Josh Elliott (Friday). Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption will return Monday, July 28.

I also did some searching and found this little message from Michael Wilbon about halfway through the 5pm show….

Hmmm. That’s curious isn’t it? Since when does a show that replaces both of its regular hosts with random people on a regular basis take a hiatus? Tony Kornheiser has been absent for weeks from PTI and that press release is dated today. I’m not going to make a ton of conspiracy theory type guesses about things (you’re welcome to do so in the comments), but just in case someone is reading…..two hours of Sports Center in the evening is waaaaay too much. Hell an hour is too long, but let’s just focus on this “Special” Sports Center.

Chris McKendry seriously counted down plays #50-41 of the “year so far”. No no….not Baseball. The ENTIRE year of 2008. Tom Brady to Randy Moss in the Super Bowl was #48 and Josh Hamilton’s HR Derby performance was #49 (which isn’t even technically a “play”). I’m not sure what the experiment is, or what is going on, but I’m not a fan. I need Dan LeBatard talking about David Hasselhoff’s crotch every night or I’ll go crazy.

It’s an interesting choice to say the least, and I’ll try to keep you updated.

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