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
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
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
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
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
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
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?