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The Dish: Nothing Korny

Article by Christopher Harris

When ESPN announced Tony Kornheiser would man the Monday Night Football booth, I smiled.

I used to watch Pardon The Interruption all the time, and while its formula has gotten old and tired (perhaps primarily because the wizards at ESPN Original Entertainment have sucked the life out of it by trying to apply it to just about every other show on the network), Kornheiser was and is its unquestioned star. Plus, Tony the Tone-Deaf had a great radio show on ESPN Radio, on which he mostly refused to interview idiot jocks, and had actual, y’know, opinions on stuff. While the Dennis Miller experiment didn’t work (I hardly thought it the disaster many others did, however), surely the more sports-savvy Kornheiser would bring true goofball sports humor to prime time.

Um, not so far.

Last Monday’s debut, which featured the Oakland Raiders at the Minnesota Vikings, was one of the worst telecasts I’ve ever seen. Mike Tirico gets a pass, because while he’s the ultimate jock-sniffer, he’s the play-by-play guy, and as such has little opportunity to inject his own personality (of which, incidentally, there appears to be precious little). But the combination of Kornheiser and the insufferable idiot Joe Theismann (my favorite Theismann quote: “Nobody in the game of football should be called a genius. A genius is somebody like Norman Einstein”) had me reaching for the mute button faster than you could say “Mike Patrick and Paul Maguire.”

First off, could someone please tell Tony to affix the headset more securely against his noggin? While Tirico and Theismann sounded as though they were, y’know, actually inside the building, Kornheiser seemed to be broadcasting remotely from a Washington-D.C.-area fish tank. Next, here were the first two things Tony the Tongue-Tied said: “You fumble a kickoff on a nationally televised game on the opening kickoff, and you want to crawl into a hole!” and “Reggie Bush is the kind of player people will pay money to see.” Wow. Way to go out on a limb there, Tone! Theismann, a broadcaster who never met a dead horse he couldn’t pummel, looks like Norman Einstein by comparison. (By the way, did you know that Theismann played the game? Of course you did, because he reminds you every 30 seconds.)

Kornheiser was going to be a breath of fresh air in a profession — color commentary — too long dominated by the jock-ocracy: ex-players who’ve learned the 11 cliches necessary to sound competent to anyone who’s only half-listening. (Tune into a Fox broadcast someday; without fail — and with the possible exception of Troy Aikman — the gorilla stuffed into a network blazer will say “he plays hard!” at least ten times.) So far, though, Kornheiser has swallowed his personality, and is caught halfway between being amusing and having anything relevant to say. At least Dennis Miller went balls-out, and talked about the Plantagenets.

Any important conclusions we might draw from the first full weekend of preseason football?

Bodog.com Bookmakers, BoDog.com: Let’s start the conclusions with a direct quote from Clinton Portis: “I injured myself in a game I have no business playing in.” You said it, Clinton! Stars are no more than sitting ducks in these games. So even though anyone who bet on Philly in the Hall of Fame Game was throwing darts at Andy Reid posters (do they even make those?) can you blame him for playing his fourth-string QB Timmy Chang for a large part of the second half? Pre-season football is dangerous. Coaches will be coaching scared until Week 1.

What in the world is up with the St. Louis Cardinals? Can you see them missing the playoffs? Do they have any shot at all to go to the World Series?

BDB, BoDog.com: The Cards definitely still have a shot at the World Series. Yes, they are 4-6 in their last 10, but the Dodgers are 9-1. That’s just crazy, as is anyone who doubts at least a Wild Card spot for the Cards. Just look at who is in the hunt.

Can you give us a glimpse at who you think will wind up being the MVPs of the American and National Leagues, and tell us why?

BDB, BoDog.com: Close MVP races are usually decided in September, but who doesn’t like Big Papi right now? Ortiz and his legend-building clutch play will likely walk away with it, as should Pujols in the NL. If only he hadn’t been injured this year, we may have seen a run at the record books. Still, 35 home runs, 95 ribbies and 87 runs isn’t too shabby with a.329 average halfway through August.

What are your thoughts heading into golf’s fourth major this weekend, the PGA at Medinah? Is it Tiger and everyone else? Are people crazy for betting on guys who aren’t one of the top few golfers in the world?

BDB, BoDog.com: You’re never crazy to take the big payouts in a golf tournament, but when it comes to the PGA Championship, the big boys definitely come to play. Tiger, Phil and Vijay have split five of the last eight.

About the Author

Christopher Harris is a featured writer for the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at www.procappers.com

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