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Last season, Mike Hall outlasted 11 others to win the holy grail of sports fans' dream jobs... a one-year stint at the Sportscenter desks.

Now the dream continues for 12 more potential sportscasters.

Recaps by Chris Wolvie, GSNN


FACT FILE:
Host:
Stuart Scott
Judges: Al Jaffee, Stephen A. Smith, Kit Hoover, Woody Paige
EP: Mary-Jane April, Mark Shapiro
Packager: Jumbolaya Productions, EOE
Airs: Tuesdays/Early Wednesdays at 12am ET on ESPN


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Episode 4 - October 5/6
 

We're down to eight anchor-wannabes looking for the shot of a lifetime: a one-year ESPN contract as a "SportsCenter" anchor and a Mazda 6 5-door SUV! It's their Dream Job, and the only ones standing between them are four sports-oriented judges... and the American viewing audience that's still awake at 1am ET/10pm ET.

Unlike last year where they cut two more people at this level, they're only going to cut one tonight (thanks for letting me know beforehand, ESPN).

This week's "My SportsCenter" task is a new one to the line-up: "NFL Countdown". Every Sunday morning from 11am to 1pm ET, Chris Berman and his crew preview the week's pro football games. The Dream Jobbers will be paired into teams and preview one such key game coming later in the weekend. Each anchor must do a story on one of the teams, using graphics and highlights of their choosing. Then BOTH will interview ESPN NFL analyst and 6-time Pro Bowl cornerback Eric Allen LIVE in the studio. They watched their teams LAST Sunday to work out the right story and typed up their stories and lead-ins on their laptop computers. Tonight, they'll be judged on storytelling, chemistry, interview skills and, as always, writing.

Our first pair of unlucky contesti are Arnish Shroff and Winston Bell.  They're game is the Monday Night Football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Green Bay Packers. Anish has a bit of trouble knowing which camera to look into during the lengthy intro into his talk about the Packers' woes. He talked about how the Packers broke down on defense against the New York Giants last weekend and Brett Favre's injuries and lack of offense at their home, the "frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field. Winston's starts HIS story with an old "Remember the Titans" reference. He then goes into talking about the TITANS' lack of energy thanks to free agency (using a LOT of acting references) and even talks about other teams in the past that went 1-for-5 to start a season and still made the Playoffs. Their talk with "E.A." (who MUST be "in the game") is about the loss of the "Lambeau Magic", the hopes of these 1-4 teams going into this game, if the teams cut corners getting back-up QBs and how to use the running game against Green Bay.

The twosome then schlep to the "Circlet O' Doom" and faces the foursome who can make or break them to get the breakdown of their performances.  Woody Paige liked the way the two worked together and asked great questions... but needs to be more interesting and "turn realism into romance". O.... kay... moving on to Kit Hoover, who expected a little more team and a little more fun and Winston's pacing needs to be better. Stephen A. Smith says Anish was too blunt again and Winston is slow and should've followed up on Anish's question about the Packers. And VP of Talent "Big" Al Jaffe thought it was "blah". Anish needs to come up with new question and they BOTH need to be original.

Going into the second quarter, we have Whitney Scott and Wendy's Wild
Card Winner David Holmes doing some previewing of the Oakland Raiders/Indianapolis Colts game this Sunday. David talks about the Raiders being #2 in passing behind - you guessed it - the Colts... and stumbles through his voice-over about QB Kerry Collins and how proficient he's been over the last four-and-a-quarter seasons compared to the likes of Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. Speaking of Manning, Whitney talks about him in a SHORT intro to her V.O. work. Her "graphic" deals with their DEFENSE and how poor it is and what other poor defenses actually MADE it to the Playoffs (including 2001 Super Bowl winners the New England Patriots, 24th in the league that year in offense). They then speak to Eric Allen about Colts' drop in ranking against the pass from last year, who are the right wide receivers for the Raiders (which Whitney pauses through asking), the match-up between them and the COLTS' WRs and how the Raiders' defense prepares for the Colts' killer offense.

The judges... are mixed. Kit thought the teamwork was fine and the highlights are good though not flowing. Whitney needs to work on not "reading" questions and David had decent energy and good questions. Stephen A. says Whitney was absolutely uncertain about her questions and
was slow with it... but David was solid and was impressed with him. Big Al, as almost always, agrees with Stephen A. about how David recovered from his disaster last week...and about Whitney choked (especially the "good lead-in" part between them) and gave too much info. And Woody laid it on them by saying "the chemistry was sincere but the finish was very, very weak". Whitney's graphic was excellent and David's was predictable... but, other than that, Woody has to agree that David was great... and Whitney was "ick".

And there's the gun for the end of the first half. The challenge for these people now is "Four Bases". The Major League Baseball Playoffs are finally here and the anchors, four at a time, will discuss certain topics about them. One person will make their point about it... then ANY of the other three can cut in (just like ESPN's Sunday morning tradition "The Sports Reporters". They will be judged on knowledge of baseball, clarity of argument and persuasiveness of their points and counterpoints. The judges will proclaim a best and worst after all eight have a stab at it.

The first four are the four that have yet to do "My SportsCenter" tonight: Grant Thompson, Jason Ashworth, Brian Startare and Jason Horowitz. To quote that traitor Max Kellerman, "FIRST TOPIC!:" Is Ichiro Suzuki's breaking of the single-season hit record overrated? Brian says it isn't because it stood for over 80 years (but says it was "260-something hits", showing a lack of knowledge)... but Grant says it's not important because the singles didn't produce runs, Jason A. says he also broke the single-season SINGLES record and Jason H. said it's downplayed because the Mariners, the team Ichiro is on, went "65 and 90-something" this year. Jason A. says the Chicago Cubs' collapse was worse than the Oakland A's since they had the division wrapped up, Grant agrees about that but thinks the A's line-up failed them down the stretch, Jason H. says the Cubs "found new ways to lose every day" and Brian says the A's had more to play for and they choked.

Jason H. says Curt Shilling of the Boston Red Sox will not win the Cy Young Award (award for best pitcher in the league) because Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins will get it for have 21 straight starts giving up 3 or less runs... but the OTHER Jason says Schilling had a great second half, UNLIKE Santana. Grant agrees, saying Schilling had a 1.18 Earned Run Average to carry the Red Sox to the post-season, but Brian says Santana had a better YEAR than Schilling. Finally, Grant starts off the topic of "The New York Mets should bring Bobby Valentine back to manage" with "I don't care" since they "misspent" in the off-season on their team... but Jason A. retorts that NEW YORK cares since Valentine took them to the World Series in 2000, Jason H. says there IS still talent on the Mets and Brian says the time Valentine took off from the Mets after he was canned will do him well.

David, Winston, Whitney and Anish step up to the plate now, and host Stuart Scott throws out the first pitch to Anish: Texas Rangers' pitcher Roger Clemens will have a better postseason than Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez. Anish says yes because Clemens is healthier and Martinez didn't have a good September on the mound... but Whitney thinks it's more MENTAL than PHYSICAL with Pedro, David says Pedro relies on the rest of his pitching staff and Winston says Clemens has much more playoff experience than Pedro. David says Jason Giambi should be on the New York Yankees' postseason roster because he's better than "the other guys" (WHICH "other guys", dude?!)... but Winston tells him "slam on the brakes, Jeff Gordon" and that Giambi hasn't done anything all season, Anish says the Yanks will only play the best players in the postseason regardless of salary and Whitney thinks the "other guy", John Olerud, will be better because of what he's done.

Whitney does think the Minnesota Twins have the best home-field advantage in the playoffs because of how LOUD the Metrodome is... but Anish thinks the "mystique and aura" of Yankee Stadium is MORE than enough to rattle opponents, David thinks the Twins are comfortable with their home and their style and Winston disagrees, since that "style" only worked on ONE TEAM. Finally, Winston says the Cubs should trade their long-time home-run hitter and outfielder Sammy Sosa because his value has never been higher (not to mention his being liked by management has never been lower)...but Anish wonders who Sosa CAN be traded for since no one else is as good, David says Chicago "loves Sammy more than Oprah" and Whitney says NO ONE will take a player on the descent like Sosa.

The raving is over... now it's time for the ranting by the judges. Stephen A. says Winston was outstanding (though he ragged that nobody mentioned how much money Sosa would be making)... and Jason H. was the "worst" since he didn't do enough on Bobby Valentine... and I say "worst" because he actually thought EVERY was pretty good. Big Al calls Jason H. the best for backing his arguments with stats and says Whitney was the weakest. Woody says the first four "could do 'Around the Horn' better" than the usual set of reporters on that show, Winston was FINALLY enjoying himself, Jason H. didn't impress him and Whitney was worst. And Kit thought Brian closed strong with the arguments and was best and Whitney didn't go strong so, like Jim Rome says, maybe she should go home.

OK, let's kick off the second half of "NFL Countdown" with Grant Thompson and Jason Ashworth talking about the upcoming game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals... a pair of lousy teams with a total of ONE win between them. Jason A. talks about the 1-3 Cards with "abysmal" and "dismal" to start them off... but, then, he points out that they DID beat the New Orleans Saints thanks to running back Emmitt Smith's great work. Grant then equates the 49ers and their stadium, the newly renamed Monster Park, to San Francisco landmarks Alcatraz Prison and the many bistros. It's nothing but bad news for the 0-4 49ers... except that they HAVE stopped the run. They then talk to Eric Allen (remember Allen? There's a part about Allen) about how EITHER team can "create turnovers", how defensive coordinators can help, how long Emmitt Smith has with the team (and, indeed, with the NFL as a whole) and if the one win by Arizona while give them momentum needed to... get another, I guess.

It wasn't a very spirited interview (and the banter between them sounds VERY un-anchor-like), but Stuart applauds them for completing the tough task of making bad teams SOUND interesting. Big Al thought is was OK and the graphics were decent... but it wasn't very interesting. Woody thought the graphics were terrible, the questions were average and they sounded more like "morning zoo" DJs than actual sportscasters. Kit thought they were having the most fun and the best pacing. Stephen A. says Jason A. was solid (eh?)... but he had issues with Grant's interviewing technique (the first time he and Al disagreed on something)!

We're at the two-minute warning and the final play of the night will be Jason Horowitz and Brian Startare talking Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos. Brian says that the roar of last year's Super Bowl runner-ups "sounds more like a meow" with pitiful offense and even WORSE rating of QB Jake Delhomme. Meanwhile, Jason H. talks about the "stingy" Broncos' "D" with its new additions to counter the awful game with Indianapolis to end their postseason last year. He ends by saying the Broncos only gave up 3 total points in the fourth quarter. "E.A." talks to them about what Delhomme needs to do to shut down the Denver defense, how Carolina can run the ball against them, if the Panthers will use the same strategy against Jake Plummer that they did to successfully stop Michael Vick and will they stop Denver's running game.

The whistles sounds and the team reaches the goal line... but there's a flag on the final play and they're reviewing it. Woody says, "you told it, you SOLD it!" He was impressed all-around! Kit agrees with the "all-star performance". Stephen A. had a LITTLE problem with Brian looking down from the camera and Jason was a little better but, other than that, he has nothing bad to say. So we go right to Big Al, who loves Brian's "anchor voice" and the interview was great. It seems that only STUART has a real complaint: SOMEBODY should have asked E.A. about how it feels to be on a struggling team. Way to deflate them, Stu. After further review, the play stands: Brian and Jason H. ROCKED!

But who DIDN'T rock? It's time for the cut. Each of the judges gets one vote, as does America on the Web and on their Verizon(TM) phones.  Whoever has the most votes is sent packing.

America cuts... Whitney. No surprise there.

Woody Paige wants everyone to think about originality. Brian and David
stepped up... but one has downgraded from the first week. He cuts... Anish?! (OK, THAT's a shocker.)

Kit Hoover wants to KEEP Anish and though Brian, Winston and David brought their "A game"... but one brought a "Z game", obviously. And that someone is the one Kit cuts: Whitney. One more and she's gone.

Stephen A. Smith gives props to David... and was very disappointed in Anish. However, there was one worse. He cuts... Whitney.

Just for jazz, let's hear what Al Jaffe has to say. It was a night of reclamation. Winston and David improved.... Anish DIDN'T... and Whitney
was worst. He cuts... Whitney.

Here's some hot sports info for ya, Whitney; the next SportsCenter anchor will NOT be a woman... and it definitely will NOT be you. With four votes, you ARE the weakest li... oops... wrong recap.

7 remain...which two will be cut NEXT?

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