Dean Shutt

Say it ain't so Brent!

Hello all and welcome back to Fun & Games. It is April again, and that means it is time for baseball to begin. Time yet again for me to carefully examine the Boston Red Sox lineup from top to bottom and make my confident prediction that this is indeed the year. Time once more for me to throw out years of heartbreak and futility and insist that those damn Yankees are finally within reach. I suppose I could just pull out last year's column and update the names and dates and be done with it.

I could do that, but that would be cheating you, my dear readers. Besides, I have bigger fish to fry. I feel the need to speak out on the one issue that every man in America cares deeply about, Monday Night Football. I know, it's April and the birds are singing and the sun is shining and baseball is in the air, but MNF is a year-round thing folks, we must always be watchful of our favorite primetime sports show. After all, Boomer was hired in the off-season. They made the boneheaded move to 5pm PST in the off-season. You have to keep an eye on these guys or you will be screwed come next September.

At any rate, I have been listening to the fallout from the Boomer firing. It seems universally accepted that this was a good thing. Boomer, nice a guy as he is, simply is incapable of stringing two or more coherent thoughts together in the three hours given to him each week. Maybe it's all those years playing on turf, maybe he was always an idiot, who knows, who cares, he's gone and that is all that matters.

The other half of this conversation always involves who is going to replace Boomer in the booth. Some favor three, some two, some say rotating analysts, some say bring a different comedian each week to call the games. The breadth of opinion on this issue is wide indeed, save one factor. Everyone, and I mean everyone, thinks that Al Michaels should be the play-by-play announcer for MNF. This I do not understand, as a matter of fact, I will go so far as to say that MNF will not be watchable until the plague that is Al Michaels is gone from the booth.

Al is not the greatest play-by-play guy ever (as I have seen him called in several magazines) he is not even the best play-by-play guy working today. Hell, it's a stretch to call him competent. There was a time when Al was pretty good at calling a football game. When he first started on MNF, he called the game and kept his mouth shut, letting the two analysts break down action. Of course this was really just doing his job, but nonetheless, in the culture of incompetence that is televised sports, he was hailed as a genius behind the mike. Naturally, if you call someone brilliant long enough, eventually they will start to believe you. Al is no different than anyone else in this regard; he's gotten a tad full of himself.

You see in Al's world he is the pillar that MNF rests upon. First, they hook him up with Frank "Geritol" Gifford and Dan "Help! I can't stop talking!" Dierdorf and he is the only moderately competent voice in the booth. Then they remove Frank, leave Dan and add Boomer "uhhhh" Esiason and poor Al is worse off than before. To top it all off, they remove Dan (kudos to MNF by the way) and Al is left with the prospect of talking to Boomer for an entire season. Add to that the fact that MNF's schedule usually blows and you can't really blame him for phoning it in for the second half of last season.

The problem is will he be able to stop? I remember a game last year that was reasonably close by MNF standards. Al spent an entire offensive possession talking about playing golf that weekend. I mean he didnít even bother to pretend to care about what was going on the field. He prattled on about his golf game while the offense drove down the field on several fairly exciting plays. True to form, Boomer said "uhhhh" pretty much the whole drive. It was a sad and distressing spectacle; thank God I was watching it while drinking beer.

The point is Al has lost it. He has become the Brent Musberger of his generation. A man so full of his golden tones that he has forgotten how irrelevant he really is to the process of watching professional sports. They can change the analysts as often as they want. They can bring in Bill Murray to provide color commentary (a move which has my blessing) and it won't mean a thing if the play by play guy is more interested in proving how witty he is rather than calling the damn game.

I hope the changes work, I really do, I hope that Al can get back to "Do you believe in miracles?!?" instead of "Do you believe how funny I am?!?" But I am not holding my breath; I figure that much like the original Musberger, this one is going to have to be fired from his high profile perch before he rediscovers his humility. I just thank the lord that Howard David and Matt Millen are going to return for another year of MNF on the radio, I would hate to have to listen to the whole season in Spanish again.


Dean's House of Pain Joy

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