I Miss Having Al Michaels And Cris Collinsworth In The Same Booth
NBC feeling the need to have Mike Tirico take over the Sunday Night Football play-by-play duties from Al Michael screwed up the sports TV landscape. It created a butterfly effect that might have left us all worse off for it.
Since we're roughly at the quarter mark of the NFL season, let's take a look at how the new teams are faring.
Thursday Night (Amazon Prime)
Al Michaels/Kirk Herbstreit
I don't follow college sports at all so this my first time regularly hearing Herbstreit. A few games in and I have no idea what all the hype is about. So far, he's been really boring and obvious. Maybe another voice in the booth could lighten the mood and bring some energy to this group. I was hoping that Amazon getting these games would be more adventurous with how they produced them.
I've been listening to Michaels my entire life and he's best play-by-play guy ever. He's 77 now and has lost a little off his fastball but he was still sharp and fun last year with Cris Collinsworth. Now, he just sounds bored. To go back to adding a third voice, when ABC added Dennis Miller to Monday Night Football, Michaels had a lot of fun with it. I know a lot of people didn't like Miller in that spot (I thought he was great) but adding an untraditional football voice could re-energize Michaels and loosen up Herbstreit.
Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen do a fine job. They were the best #2 team so you lose something having them move up but the thing I'm most upset about this shift is losing Joe Buck on baseball. Joe Davis will be calling this year's World Series for the first time. He's only 34 so there is room for improvement but he's been very dry covering games this year and as much as I love baseball, it's a game that needs levity in the booth more than any other sport.
Buck not doing any baseball for ESPN had me surprised. I can understand it must have been a huge pain in the ass flying all over the country each October but he seemed to at least sound like he was enjoying calling those playoff games all those years. He's only 53 but he called more World Series games on network TV than anyone else. It's strange to think he might have already called his last.
Sunday Night Football (NBC)
Mike Tirico/Cris Collinsworth
This is the night that had the biggest drop-off. At least the Michaels/Herbstreit pairing is better than the garbage NFL Network forced down out throats for years. With Sunday Night Football, it's like hanging out with your friend and the new girl he's dating but she's so boring that you don't even like hanging out with him anymore either. You just want things to go back to how they used to be.
NBC's obsession with Tirico is something I'll never understand. NBC grabbed him from ESPN six years earlier and gave him the Conan O'Brien treatment by promising him something the original guy wasn't ready to give up. It's crazy how NBC keeps doing this. At least Conan was wildly talented. Tirico is like having an android in the booth.
Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Joe Buck/Troy Aikman
In a perfect world, ESPN just would have stuck with the Manningcast as their primary MNF booth. Let them do it from their basements. Who gives a fuck? People like it. The Steve Levy/Brian Griese/Louis Reddick team was so rough that I can't imagine anyone would have been upset to get more Manningcast. Just have one channel not show them the whole time so we get football on the full screen and everyone would be happy.
Buck and Aikman are great but this overkill and as I mentioned, they ideally would have stayed at FOX. But if that happened we wouldn't great awkward interviews like this:
Some of the weakest primetime broadcast teams are gone so maybe the Al Michaels Amazon butterfly effect isn't all bad. Kirk Herbstreit seems like a smart guy so hopefully he can improve and maybe build a connection with Michaels. I don't have any faith in this guy though. He's always been boring.