Friday, January 05, 2007


I'll get back to the episode reviews shortly, but I wanted to post the morning column link and ask a question about "Pardon the Interruption" for those of you who watch it.

The column deals with the continued lameness of "The Apprentice," plus the debut of MTV's "I'm From Rolling Stone" and the cancellation of "The O.C." A snippet:

New city, same blowhard.

Donald Trump's empire has been largely built on hype and an ability to outmaneuver his creditors, and in an attempt to hide from the rapidly-dwindling numbers for "The Apprentice," he's moved season six to Los Angeles. But the location wasn't the problem. The Donald was.

To read the full thing, click here.

Meanwhile, "PTI": While I usually shudder at the appearance of guest hosts, I've developed a weird fondness for Dan Le Batard since he started regularly subbing for Tony on Tuesdays during football season. His knowledge base is much better than Tony and Wilbon's combined, he doesn't mind playing the clown but can also be very thoughtful, and he and Wilbon have good chemistry.

This week, however, it's been him and Tony, and things have, I think, started to get ugly. I started listening to the "PTI" podcast a few months ago as a time-management solution (makes the commute go faster, gives me a chance to watch other stuff at home), which means I may be missing out on some visual cues, and what I'm interpretingg as ugliness could just be more banter.

Anyway, on Wednesday's show, Tony and Le Batard were already approaching "Around the Horn" volume while discussing Nick Saban's departure from the Dolphins. Then they moved over to the legal problems of so many players on the Bengals, and Dan suggested that in a violent sport like football, you need a few guys on your team who will live on the edge of lawlessness. Tony flipped out, and got so loud and angry that Dan even said, "I'm not in love with your tone right now" (though you could hear crewmembers laughing off-stage), and there was a hostile undercurrent to the rest of the show. Things seemed a little calmer yesterday, but Tony was still yelling a lot more than usual.

So am I misreading this, or is there a feud going on that StatBoy can't moderate?


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this one Alan. I've been watching PTI for almost all of its 5+ years on the air. I too like Le Batard with Wilbon. He is, IMO, the best sub host that they use. But, it does seem to me that Tony either really doesn't like the guy or that Tony's worried about his "turf". Although, I think the visuals somewhat mitigate the hostility between them, I certainly still sense it.

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched the show for some time because the format's lost its freshness and the ubiquitity of sports reporters and talk radio types screaming at each other has become a pet peeve. However, Kornheiser does have a reputation for being thin-skinned. I'm not sure if you followed this or not, but he really blasted a writer from his home paper, The Washington Post, for criticizing his performance (mildly, it should be noted) on Monday Night Football. (He called the writer, Paul Fahri, "that putz from Style.") Kornheiser also blasted Slate's Stephen Rodrick for a 2005 article that criticized print journalists for taking gigs at ESPN and getting lazy in their day jobs. That he would blow up in his co-host's face with little provocation isn't much of a surprise.

Eric said...

There's probably a few things going on. LeBatard needs to vilify Saban in order to maintain his sources inside the Dolphins (He's a Miami Herald reporter.) And his comments about needing some thugs on your team brought up a generation gap issue, which Tony never minds pointing out, but hates to be called on by anyone else.

I think Tony may also be stressed by either uncertainty about MNF or the need to make a decision. (On Sportstalk 980's Sports Reporters on Tuesday, he was asked about a report from the NY Daily News that whether to come back next year to MNF is his decision, and if he decides no, the seat will go to Tiki Barber. He said it was the first he'd heard of it, that nothing's been decided about next year.)

The interesting thing to me is if he decides to quit Monday Night Football (or is fired.) He absolutely wants to go back to radio, and may have at least 2 and as many as 4 possibilities.

1) Sportstalk 980, his old station will undoubtedly try to get him back. He's got a lot of loyalty, and it would reunite him with Andy Pollin, his long time radio sidekick. But they likely can pay the least.

2) Red Zebra/Triple X-ESPN, the radio network owned by Dan Snyder will undoubtedly make a play for him, and probably back up a dump-truck full of money to his house. The questions here are whether he'd be willing to work for Snyder, whether Snyder would bring Pollin over, what timeslot Tony would get, and and where Red Zebra's studios are. (Tony ain't commuting out to Loudon County every morning.)

3) ESPN could offer him a new national radio show, maybe even giving him back his old timeslot. (I have no idea how Colin Cowherd's ratings are. I can't stand the guy.)

4) The Washington Post owns a news/talk station in the DC market that could really use a boost and an identity. I think going after Tony and letting him range around Politics and Culture as well as Sports for a couple of hours a day could draw the local audience away from NPR, which so far hasn't happened.

Anonymous said...

I haven't noticed the tension, but then again I've only been half-watching.

What I don't get, though, is why Wilbon is on vacation during one of the biggest sports news weeks ever.

Adam said...

There was also tension on Thursday regarding Saban. I think it's about 20% authentic from Tony.

As I wrote on my blog a month ago (as Alan knows) I really wish Le Batard would be on tv as thoughtful as he is in print, and not play the role of the preening asshole so much. Given all the bam!ing, I'll take Bob Ryan.

D. Bones said...

The tension on the Saban topic reached a pinnacle yesterday when Tony wouldn't let up about LeBatard calling Saban a vacuum salesman for telling the same false stories even after leaving Miami. There was no twinkle in Tony's eyes as he fulminated.

It was uncomfortable, but genuinely intersting. Because LeBatard can be so smug, and Tony is clearly thin-skinned and not as cuddly as his image might imply.

The "I'm not in love with your tone right now" comment was a reference to that Geico caveman-on-some-cable-tv-show commercial. And it was in direct response to Tony's set-up about something being so easy a caveman could do it. Which shows how quick LeBatard can be.

Great blog, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure that there is a deep affection between LeBatard and Mr Tony. LeBatard has stated in the past that he considers Tony to be one of his mentors.

That being said, it certainly seemed like something was going on with Tony and Dan this week. When Tony "ignored" the bell and came back to the previous topic to continue to blast Dan and his opinion, I thought he crossed a line.

I was really happy for Tony when he got the MNF gig, and being an aging, folically challanged, non-athlete, jewish sportscaster myself, I consider him a hero. That being said, I hope he gets off MNF. The show is terrible and he cannot save it. The format just doesn't suit his talent, and there is just too much going on during the broadcast that is out of his control.

I hope he goes back to his radio show on 980 which was great.

Bill from Delaware

Anonymous said...

I didn't recognize the Geico reference with "I'm not in love with your tone," so points to Lebatard for that, I guess. But he was making a completely asinine argument in that segment about how football teams need felons to be really good, and deserved all of Tony's wrath.

I'm a Bob Ryan man myself, and to me it's a shame Jason Whitlock burned his bridges with ESPN. He was my favorite fill-in host.

But I'd still take Lebatard over Woody Paige any day.

BF said...

There's a whole phone book of people I'd rather have than Woody Paige. Plaschke and Mariotti either. Can you tell I hate Around the Horn with a passion?

Much as I love PTI, I have to admit that Tony's act has crossed the line from "clever rascal" to "annoying". And MNF this year was atrocious. Tony might benefit from a sabbatical to recharge and get away from the rhetorical crutches he's been using for the last 6 months or so.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of PTI, did anyone notice the "Trampoline Bear" incident recreated on Earl last night with Randy playing the bear?

Anonymous said...

I used to listen to TK's radio show religiously, and whenever Le Batard was on, Tony would eventually start screaming at him (which I find endlessly hilarious). So I've kind of always read into as antics as being primarily theater. I feel like PTI, unlike the rest of the sports/talk wasteland, has a pretty good sense of ironic detachment.

Anonymous said...

That was the first time I've ever seen Tony start a new question, then just drop it and go back to the previous "discussion" regarding NFL outlaw players. I've never seen him care that much about a topic, or seem so frustrated. It was an odd scene for sure. Tony might need a vacation right now.

I must admit that LeBatard is starting to grow on me.There are a lot of times when Wilbon is on when I can't stand him.He always seems to be the guy going totally against popular opinion, no matter what the subject.These are the kind of guys that I usually try to avoid in the real world.Who needs to argue about everything all the time...
Happy New Year Alan!

Anonymous said...

I prefer Dan LeBatard to both Tony and Mike, but I missed this week's episodes. That said, Tony is very very thin-skinned: the WaPo incident is just the tip of the iceberg in that regard. Tony is almost certainly stretched too thin, and living on the road for most of twenty-one weeks as he did doesn't seem to be his comfort-zone. (I once was on an Amtrak with Tony between New York and DC, and he was an unhappy camper the whole ride.)

Anonymous said...

Kornheiser isn't coming back to MNF, he has said so numerous times in Novemeber and December. Funny how he was bleating and shrieking about how he was the best choice for a color man and as soon as he gets the gig he starts bitching about how much he hates it and can't wait for the season to be over.

As for his being thin-skinned, it goes way, way, way beyond that. Kornheiser has had a guy literally run out fo the newspaper reporting business simply because the guy had the gall to critique some columns of Kornheisers. Kornheiser was so apoplectic he actually confronted the guy at a party and said, "I should beat the shit out of you....You're a dead man, you listening to me, you're a dead man."

The guy went into the office the next day to find that he'd been fired.

Blankity-Blank said...

It's definitely been weird this week. And maybe it's just my love of uncomfortable television, but I want more.

There seems to be a lot of Kornheiser resentment posted here, which is pretty odd considering it'd be difficult to be a fan of the show and not like him. While I've generally loved LeBamitard no matter who he's been paired with (especially other B-teamers since that meant he was actually in charge), his repetiveness has reached new heights this week (and considering he was berating Nick saban for repeating himself, you'd think he'd know better.) The inability to let a joke go has been grating on my nerves, and I'm just watching. So I can't blame Tony at all for getting aggrevated.

Anonymous said...

Anyone watching today's show? They started it by mentioning this tension and their "dislike." Good stuff.

They did get heated again, though.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why this is so surprising to people. Tony and Dan aren't doing anything that Tony and Mike don't do. It's just that we're used to seeing it with Wilbon and not so much with anyone else. We've seen Tony and Mike shout, and tell each other to shut up, go to another topic only to go right back to what they were yelling about, etc. It's all par for the course. I guess knowing that Tony and Mike are friends somehow makes it more palatable.

Let's not forget that they used to call Dan "The Hateable Dan Le Batard" so the shtick of being more hostile with him isn't exactly new.

All that said, Dan is the only guest host that won't make me change the channel. I like him. My only knock on him is that he seems to pick the contrary opinion just to annoy whomever he's hosting with.

Anonymous said...

Tony's been major supporter of Le Batard, he had him on his radio show years ago and even let him live down his idiotic "That's why people fly planes into buildings" comment from a few years ago.

The "battles" the two of them have had on radio come far surpass what's gone on this week, mostly it's been Tony playfully jabbing at some of Danny boy's knee-jerk contrarianism and DLB hitting Tony for some hypocritical and inane defenses of his "boys."

As long as they don't pair DLB with Jason Whitlock, I can tolerate him, but give me Bob Ryan any day. His chemistry with Tony on the radio was magical.

Anonymous said...

To echo a few of the other commenters, I'd love to see Tony go back to the radio. His show was the best, though while I revere and cherish Mike and the Mad Dog -- whom Tony calls the "gold standard of sports talk" -- his show was smart, funny, and mean, and he could discuss anything.

The best aspect was that he'd bring a guest on right after the break, pose a question, and then let them talk. He didn't do a five minute pre-amble ala Dan Patrick, or go rapid-fire around-the-horn like Cowherd [who is unlistenable], he had conversations. Listening to him talk to Peter Gammons about music for 10 minutes was on a day with no baseball news was so great.

ESPN's not giving him another radio show, too much baggage after the Dennis Green and Dennis Horgan incidents and being pulled off of ESPN 1050 in NY after only a few months. Management hated him and he hates management. His last show was heart-breaking.

Anonymous said...


Your copy editors missed a big one. Rapidly-dwindling shouldn't be hyphenated.