Monday, December 12, 2011

NBA Announcers In The Wrong Places?

While many anticipate the NBA season opening on Christmas Day with 5 games being televised nationally, it will likely be one to remember for the primary announcing team of Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. Whether or not they remember it positively remains to be seen. That Breen and Van Gundy will call the ABC telecast (game 2 of the day) with the NBA Finals rematch of Miami at Dallas at 2:30 PM ET is hardly news. But the story that ESPN's telecast of Golden State hosting the L.A. Clippers in Oakland at 10:30 PM ET that same night is scheduled to also be described by Breen and Van Gundy is.

ABC/ESPN is hopeful that the weather and the airlines allow the pair to fly out after the Dallas telecast and be in Oakland just over 5 hours later to make it their own personal doubleheader spread over 2 time zones. I suppose this is an attempt to call attention to the Clippers vs. Warriors game being on national TV since I can't think of any other reason to do this. Maybe the NBA should have stayed with 4 games on opening day and not included such a comparatively weak matchup be included. They are counting on fans tuning in to at least the start of the game to find out if Breen and Van Gundy made it on time. If the 2 games for a single announcing team to call were geographically close I could understand, such as a Knicks game and later a Nets game, both Los Angeles teams at home, or a Chicago and Milwaukee (90 miles apart) combination.

Let's face it. Breen and Van Gundy will be better prepared, and understandably so, for the Miami vs. Dallas matchup. Calling 2 games involving 4 different teams on the same day is a tough assignment for anybody, even without the traveling. There is no reason for an NBA telecast to be so understaffed. For some reason, the NBA seems to go along with this. For example, Doris Burke does a good job as an analyst on several NBA telecasts for ESPN during the regular season. This wouldn't bother me if it wasn't that ESPN/ABC, TNT, and NBA-TV all seem to have dozens of studio analysts on at the same time who were all former NBA players. There are only a limited number of opportunities for each of them to comment sufficiently and even fewer to disagree. Less diplomatically, there is no need for all of these studio commentators. Yet, here ESPN is using the same announcing team for 2 of its telecasts on opening day. And they use Doris Burke at games while "extra" analysts who actually played in the NBA sit in the studio. It doesn't make sense.

Just in case, ESPN will have Terry Gannon and Chris Mullen ready to go in Oakland on Christmas night. If Breen and Van Gundy can't make it at all or on time, they will handle the call. If Breen and Van Gundy arrive in time, Gannon and Mullen will have lesser roles in the telecast.

It will also be a busy couple of days for Mike Tirico. He will call the ABC telecast of the Lakers hosting the Chicago Bulls at 5 PM ET on Christmas and then head out for New Orleans to call the Monday Night Football game just over 24 hours later between the Saints and the Atlanta Falcons in a game that looks to be a ratings bonanza based on the playoff implications.

NBC-TV continues to dominate with its Sunday Night Football ratings, again winning the night on Sunday (12/11) with the Giants vs. Cowboys telecast, with early numbers showing it to be the 5th highest rated Sunday night (actual Sunday) telecast for NBC. Interestingly, all 5 highest rated Sunday Night NBC telecasts have featured the Cowboys, with Sunday's game making 2 of those telecasts vs. the Giants among that top 5. It's the Cowboys that are the draw, as local market ratings show that the top 3 markets around the country watching on Sunday night were Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin.

Two long-time MLB announcers have been named to halls of fame within the past week, although reaction is different about both. Bob Uecker, the 41 year voice of the Milwaukee Brewers as well as several seasons nationally for ABC-TV earlier on, has been named to the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and will be inducted on April 17th in Las Vegas, and the majority of fans are happy for Uecker. Especially after his having had health issues that have taken him away from games over the past couple of years.

Tim McCarver, national telecast analyst for Fox and for CBS-TV prior, has been named to the Baseball Hall of Fame and will be honored in Cooperstown next July. However, McCarver has come under fire by many fans and media critics over the past few years.

Fox Sports Radio continues to make some unique pairings of hosts for its weekend programming. Now the network is teaming up tennis star Andy Roddick with Austin morning host Bobby Bones for its Saturday 1 to 4 PM ET spot. The pair did some fill-in work together this past summer and impressed the network.

CHICAGO: Bulls basketball will remain on WMVP ESPN 1000 for another five seasons, extending their current contract through the 2016-17 season.

DENVER: Musical chairs continues with the city's all sports stations. KKFN Fan 104.3 has announced its local schedule to begin by the first of the year to replace ESPN programming. Joel Klatt and Mike Evans will host mornings, with (former NBA player) Scott Hastings and Drew Goodman (voice of the Rockies) hosting from Noon to 3 PM weekdays. Sister station KEPN 1600 is also replacing the ESPN lineup, although it will run syndicated shows (such as Dan Patrick) and Yahoo Sports Radio instead.

SEATTLE: The Mariners' broadcast booth will once again be well attended for the 2012 season, as a cast of thousands will continue to call the games after the passing of Dave Niehaus following the 2010 season. While Rick Rizzs, Dave Sims, and Mike Blowers will handle most of the duties, Ken Wilson and Ron Fairly are among those returning for part-time broadcasting during the season. In addition, Ken Levine, Dave Valle, Dave Henderson, Dan Wilson, and Jay Buhner will also be in the booth at various times. Wonder if the players will be able to tell the announcers without a scorecard!

MINNEAPOLIS: Let the speculation begin about the future location for Twins broadcasts. KHTC 96.3 is about to change call letters to KTWN and become "K-Twin" radio although the Twins broadcasts are currently under contract to KSTP 1500. Yet, there is a good reason for this speculation. K-Twin is owned by the Pohlad family, which owns the Twins.

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