What a concept! Imagine a sporting event where the event is the star of the show! This to me is the TNT difference this year.
It seems someone out there has been listening to your complaints and relayed the memo to the network producers. Right off the bat, the broadcast team is committing themselves to "through the field" coverage. While it seemed they were trying a little too hard in the Pocono race, at least we knew the field had more than 10 cars in it. Since then, the happy medium has been reached.
I also like how the broadcast flow much better this season than last. This team of Ralph Sheheen, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Kyle Petty works, well...like a team. On numerous occasions throughout the Coke Zero 400, Sheheen would take note of the action, Petty would add analysis and Dallenbach would build off of it. The truly wonderful part is I wasn't hearing the same old, same old. I'm not sure why, but it seems last year, the announcers spent way too much time apologizing for stepping on each other. That's gone now.
Sheheen has done a commendable job jumping in to the play-by-play spot after the sudden "suspension" of veteran Bill Weber. I will refrain comment on Weber's reputation as a bit of a diva, but I will say this: Sheheen's insertion to the broadcast booth has been a good fit with his two partners. Whether it's true or not, I don't know- but I get the sense Sheheen's wants to be there, whereas Weber just didn't have the same energy.
With this network, Larry Mc Reynolds shines in his role as the "tech guy." Opportunity is also given for Larry Mac to chip in as needed throughout the race. I have no problem with his work on FOX or SPEED, I just think he's better in his role at TNT.
Memo to NASCAR, the networks and the sponsors: the "wide open coverage" TNT provided at the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona is what the fans want. Fellow fans, if I were you, I'd highly encourage dropping a line to the networks and sponsors telling them how much you appreciate them "signing on" with their commercials being broadcast in this fashion. As one who has spent a large portion of his radio and TV career selling air time- I can tell you they're paying attention to your comments regardless of whether or not they act on said comments immediately.
At the end of the day, people tune in to a race to watch the race. The day and age of the media superstar- if it ever really existed- is gone. The best thing a broadcast team and network can do is let the event be the star of the show. There will be plenty of opportunities for the broadcasters to share the information the viewer can't get by not being at the track, like they say in tennis "Let the game come to you."
FOX has gone over the top. I'm a generally pretty accepting sort, but the "huckstering" went over the top this year. I was beginning to think that Chris Myers had morphed into Bob Barker and that Darrell Waltrip had discovered a new career path as a carnival barker. Don't get me wrong: I am not a D.W. To me, he's kind of like a favorite uncle. I don't harbor the dislike for Waltrip that his detractors do. I just think a good thing has been "overtweaked" and perhaps an infusion of new energy and getting away from the gags that were old in 2006 would be a step in the right direction.
A lot of the blame for this I lay at the feet of David Hill. I often wonder how many races he's actually been to. Even at that, I didn't care for a lot of what he brought to the table with the baseball coverage either. Some of this stuff is akin to mom making you eat your vegetables. Actually, it's worse. It's like when mom would limit your intake of sweets, and then when she splurged, she bought you something you hated.
In this observer's opinion, ESPN could learn a lot from what TNT has done. Technically, ESPN is superior, and there's no doubt their "off-track" shows are great. Their productions are second to none. When it comes to their race coverage, I see three things going on that leave me cold: 1) They've got a lot of talent, but it seems like chemistry is lacking. I think what I'm trying to say is that while I don't need a lot of amatuer comedy, it WOULD BE NICE if the team acted like they actually enjoyed being there and they had some fun. 2) Perhaps part of the problem there's too many moving parts. Frankly, I just wish when the race coverage returned from break they'd just go back to the track. I've never really understood the need to transition from commercial to the studio, to trackside. It's the sportscasting equivalent of a guitar player needing a 5 minute solo on every song. 3) To me, it's a crying shame that after all this time of watching Nationwide coverage, I know quite little about series regulars Jason Leffler, Mike Bliss or even Steve Wallace for that matter. Can we get some back story on somebody besides the "Buschwhackers?"
Back to TNT, it will be sad to see them go after Chicago. While there's plenty of improvements to be made from a technical standpoint, I really thought they took their game to the next level. Speaking as one who has watched sports for 30 years and spent several others working "in the business" (admittedly on a much smaller scale), TNT's coverage had an "old school" feel I've really appreciated.
Now if they can avoid that silly gag where they sawed Larry Mc Reynolds in two, we'd be near perfect.
source: bump draft