Episode 8 - November 2
After a grueling day of voting for the next President (and we're not even
Supreme Court Justices), there's nothing like voting for something MEANINGFUL: which of four remaining men will be out of their "Dream Job!" A one-year SportsCenter on-air contract and a Mazda 6 5-door awaits either Anish, Jason (H., though I won't be using the initial now that Jason A. is gone), David and Grant at the end. At least it's back at a time where the East Coasters are actually UP... and it sure as hell beats out election coverage, doesn't it?!
FIrst things first, though. "Around The Horn" and "Cold Pizza"'s Woody Paige is "under the weather" tonight, so he won't be participating. That leaves only FOUR judges: Kit Hoover, Stephen A. Smith, Al Jaffe and, of course, Americans who aren't SICK of voting by now.
It's time for this week's "My SportsCenter" task...right after the hosts are once again isolated so that host Stuart Scott can tell everyone but them what the surprises for this week are. One of them is that they're going to go "Fact or Fiction" against Stephen A. Smith. But, for now, the task this time is called "Q & A". Each contestant will have to do two highlights for which they have NEVER seen the "shot sheets" or videos for. Also, the second shot sheet has only TWO plays on them...but the second HIGHLIGHT has THREE (the middle one is not on the sheet). After stumbling through the mistake, they'll have to interview an NBA or NFL player about opening night (they WERE given five minutes to prepare). Tonight, they'll be judged on interview skills, knowledge and (especially important tonight) improvisation. They wrote lead-ins to the highlights (all they were informed of were the teams playing) on their computers and are ready for the most intense "My SportsCenter" yet!
The tip-off goes to Grant Thompson. He'll be interviewing the Kansas City Chiefs' tight end Tony Gonzalez...though the highlights come first. It seems that "Election Night" is the theme here because Grant calls the Phoenix Suns' and Sacramento Kings' defense "in as much trouble as the Nader campaign"... and blasts the 200 election, saying, "the team who wins the most points still wins, right?" He goes through the Suns-Kings highlight... and does pretty well for not seeing the shot sheet or video. He then makes a short lead into the Indianapolis Colts-Kansas City Chiefs highlight. The first play is smooth but a LITTLE long. The second one (the one NOT printed on the sheet) he NAILS just by watching the monitor!
After the third play (with Gonzalez catching a wicked TD pass), Grant talks with Gonzalez. He asks him about how the Chiefs are doing so well (Tony gives a long interview), how they set up to get running back Priest Holmes into the open field and how bad the defense is doing. Gonzalez gives long and drawn-out answers even though Grant stumbles JUST a little through the questions. He gives great stats, though.
Kit Hoover thought Grant NAILED the highlight, especially with the missing play, thought the writing at the start was a LITTLE confusing and the interview questions should be a LITTLE tighter. Stephen A. Smith says the wirting was good and the highlights were fine...but the INTERVIEW was where he bombed, talking to much for himself than for Gonzalez and wasn't composed. And Big Al thought it was "really well", excellent with the missing play...but, again, too much "cheerleading" and "positiveness" during the interview.
Anish Schroff will take us to half-time and the surprise "Fact or Fiction". He will be talking with the guy who the last one voted out spent a day with last week: Charlotte Bobcats' Emeka Okafor. But, first, his highlights. He starts with the Baltimore Ravens vs. the undefeated Philly Eagles...or, more appropriately, Terrell Owens vs. Ray Lewis. He goes through the plays a little slow but without TOO much of a hitch (though he looks up a little late). He overextends his outro of that highlight as he goes into the Miami Heat vs. the Bobcats. He's late on his first highlight...and completely MISSES the second highlight (saying somebody was going for the slam when someone ELSE was shooting a THREE-POINTER)...ewww!
Then came the talk with Okafor. He asks if Okafor has a "chip on his shoulder" for being drafted SECOND overall (he doesn't), can he adjust to losing on an expansion team (he says that's his frame of mind anyway), what he wants to get out the season ("get the points when I can"), the biggest change from college to pros (the exploitation of his mistakes) and whether Anish's Syracuse or Okafor's UConn is the better Big East b-ball team (UConn, of course). Anish seems to be looking DOWN from the camera for most of the interview...but, at least, he has enough questions to make up for Okafor's short answers.
Stephen A. tells Anish "for the last time" to STOP MENTIONING SYRACUSE! Oh, and he flubbed on the highlights, gave questions that were too easy to answer quickly, though it WAS solid. Big Al presses about watching both the shot sheet AND the highlight tom prevent mistakes like the one he had, and the interview could have had better questions. Kit says that his SAVING grace during the missed play was that his pacing kept up throughout the mistake and spoke about him looking down during the interview.
OK, time for the half-time surprise: "NBA Fact or Fiction with Stephen A. Smith"! Just like the previous "Fact or Fiction", the anchor and Stephen A. (who is an expert NBA analyst and a prime part of ESPN's "NBA Shootaround" show) will
argue is a statement read by Stuart is "fact" or "fiction". The anchor will always get first crack, then Stephen A. will give rebuttal.
When David finds out it's his "least favorite NBA analyst" against him, he almost faints (along with the OTHER anchors) but Stuart says this is the chance to get BACK at him. The first statement: "Ray Allen vs. Kobe Bryant will be the Western
Division's most intriguing match-up". David says "fact" since Bryant against ANYONE is intriguing nowadays, but Stephen A. fires back with "fiction" since nobody cares about Ray Allen and cares MORE about Shaq vs. Bryant on Xmas Day. "Moving to point guard was a good switch for Allen Iverson"? David says "fiction" since he's the best at a shooting guard. Stephen A. says, "Good point...but you're wrong." It's "fact" because of the new coach Jim O'Brien has a system that A.I. will fit in well as a point guard. Next up is Anish, who gets "It's win now or win NEVER for the Sacramento Kings" (obviously referring to an NBA Title). Anish says "fact" since the team's getting old and Stephen A. says "fact" because they keep winning in the regular season but choking in the playoffs. "The Toronto Raptors will NEVER will with Vince Carter"? Anish says "fiction" since those AROUND him are good enough to carry him. But Stephen A. says it's a fact they'll never win...but it's not Carter's fault.
Jason shakes hands with the vocal Mr. Smith and comes out
swinging, answering "Jason Kidd will be traded by the deadline" with "fiction" since the New Jersey Nets NEED him to make a run for the NBA Finals. Stephen A. says "fact" since he's a BIG-TIME trade consideration and, besides, Kidd ain't HAPPY in Jersey. (Hey, who IS at the end of the day?) "The Utah Jazz overpaid for Carlos Boozer"? "Fact," says Jason because he only had one GOOD season for the $60 million the Jazz paid him. Stephen A. says "fiction" because they traded for players who can make him and the team much better. Finally, Grant steps up with a "fiction" for the statement, "Knicks' coach Jeff Van Gundy has a better chance of making the Finals than his brother Stan (coach of the Miami Heat)", stumbling into his explanation that the Knicks lack team strategy. But Stephen A. says "fiction" simply because of Shaq being on the Heat. Last statement: "The Minnesota Timberwolves SHOULD trade Latrell Sprewell." Grant says "fact" since "people around an unhappy Latrell get strangled"...oh, and they don't NEED Latrell with the scorers THEY have. Stephen A. says "fact" but only because of what he's asking for in a future contract.
OK, let's see who the judges feel is best and worst. Big Al
says they ALL did well, since anchors don't NORMALLY go up against analysts in this format (the anchor usually moderates between TWO analysts). The two best were David and Jason and Grant was the worst with Anish a CLOSE second-to-last. Kit thought they did great against "the master". Grant was worst because of his stumbling and Anish actually got said "master" to stumble a little. And the "master" himself? Grant was worst due to the stumble but he agrees with the others that he recovered well. And the best...we'll it's a three-way tie; he thought EVERYONE did a great job.
Back to "Q & A" is David Holmes, who has Tennessee Titans' linebacker Keith Bulluck to talk to after his highlights. Remember, the second highlight's shot sheet is MISSING the middle play, so let's see how David does with that. David ALSO goes with an election theme for his intro, saying the highlight will impress "both elephants AND donkeys" and calling the NBA Champion
Detroit Pistons "incumbents" en route to the Pistons-T'Wolves highlights. He throws in a catch phrase or two during the highlights, but runs smooth (he even makes fun, saying, "clichés can't DESCRIBE a shot that good!"). The second highlight is the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the aforementioned Titans. The first highlight was flawless. The second one...he blows, looking at his shot sheet instead of the monitor. He recovers though to do what he can of THAT play and THEN the last one.
Bulluck. David asks him about the difference with the defense during that game (Bulluck says they were able to take advantage of a young QB), if the team has a chance to make the playoffs (of course they do, duh...), about how to overcome the injuries (they need to believe in their team) and how important QB Steve McNair is (very important, since the coaches fashioned the plays AROUND the injured player). David is also the FIRST one to THANK the interviewee for his time! Will that help any?
Stephen A. says the highlights lacked information given on the shot sheet...but the questions were solid and he actually WAS listening (though he ended weak). Big Al says he fumbled with the extra play but agrees about the interview, including the last weak question. Kit says he did GREAT job, especially since he didn't get flustered.
After the final 60-second time-out, we have Jason Horowitz who gets an interview with Los Angeles Lakers' Caron Butler. Let's start with the highlights, though. First is the Pittsburgh Steelers putting an end to the New England Patriots' 21-game win streak on the arm of rookie QB Ben Rothlisberger. The first highlight has some clever phrases ("Tom Brady...is giving away more than Oprah!") As for the OTHER highlight, it's a pre-season game between the Washington Wizards and the L.A. Kobis...er, Lakers. It's here he makes the crucial error: he reads from the WRONG shot sheet! He's never able to recover quickly enough and blows the second play entirely.
Let's see if talking to Butler is any better. He asks about how to prepare for the season when the team's centered around one guy (Butler says it's a great situation for him and others), if the players still trust Kobi (they do since the trade for Shaq) and how the team gels together going into their first game. He fumbles through the interview, but HE thanks the interviewee as well.
Ohhh, it's nothing but bad news. Kit liked the highlights and the questions during the interview...but it was that darn confusion during the second highlight. Stephen A. says he "stumbled and bumbled" throughout. Bad questions, bad trip with the second highlight...thge only GOOD thing was the Oprah reference. And Big Al says he DID have a good intro...but the extra play was BAD, especially since he didn't even bother to IMPROVISE something to cover his ass.
Time for another cut. Each judge has a vote while those Americans who vote on their Verizon(TM) phones on online get one vote for the majority. And, like a state or two during the election, your votes DOES count!
Kit Hoover says the four are really good. But Anish and Jason were the worst during the "My SportsCenter"...but Anish saved himself with "Fact Or Fiction" So she cuts...Jason.
Stephen A. Smith says he REGRETS having to cut somebody. He says David's been consistant, and everyone else struggled. Grant blew it on "Fact or Fiction" and, against him, that's a cardinal sin. He cuts...Grant. One each for Grant and Jason.
Al Jaffe is poud of everyone. Grant was the ONLY one to ace the extra play they threw at him, so he's saved even though the "Fact or Fiction" bombed. Jason was unfocused and David's interview wasn't that good. So the Veep of Talent cuts...Jason Horowitz. If America votes for Grant, he's gone since that vote is the tie-breaker. Other than that, Jason is history
With 100% of the precincts reporting in, we can project that, with three votes, Jason is the loser. Back to... whatever he does in the real world. What the @#$% happened to him?! He says, "I picked a bad night to have my worse performance." (Hey, John Kerry can say the same thing, man.)
Three are all that's left! Who will be voted off next?