Booth Review*: ESPN afternoon programming

From time to time, Fully Reconditioned will take a look at radio and television sportscasting.

In this installment, ESPN addicts Travis and Tyler have a liveblog-style chat while watching “The Mothership” through its afternoon block of programming: Rome Is Burning, Around The Horn, Pardon The Interruption and SportsCenter.  

*Technical issues erased the middle of the chat.  We’re talking most of  Horn, all of PTI, and the first few minutes of SportsCenter.  In other words, the bulk of the conversation.  Nonetheless, Fully Reconditioned are confident enough in the remaining material to post this, an annotated installment of Booth Review.


Tyler: a/s?

Travis: 13/f/willing to learn

Tyler: My name is Dave. I live in Milbury Heights with my mom Charlotte, she’s a total bitch. You sound hot.

Travis: …hey Dave. Have a seat. Why don’t you have a seat over there?

Tyler: Awwww Ah’m just bein’ stupid I guess!

(After initial shenanigans, discussion of ESPN begins.)

Tyler: I think Kiper’s deliberately leaning into the camera to make Todd McShay look like a pipsqueak.


Travis: I don’t know if you wanna officially begin our sports chat a little early, but if so, how fucking absurd is it that NFL Live is on every day during the offseason?

Tyler: I hate it. Why am I not watching highlights from baseball? Or playoff basketball or hockey? Or anything else?

Travis: “Hi, I’m Mel Kiper, Jr. I change my draft board every day so I’m bound to have made one that’s sort of right.”

Tyler: God. This is essentially a rerun of “SportsCenter Special,” which aired immediately before this.

Travis: In other news, Trey Wingo is a former St. Louis sportscaster, and when he was there he’d sing national anthems at Cards games sometimes.

Travis: He was strangely pretty good at it.

Tyler: …really!

Tyler: I like Wingo. He sticks to the facts as best he can.

Tyler: “Marcellus Wiley” just sounds like the name of somebody in Obama’s entourage.

Marcellus Wiley

Travis: He’s not bad. I’d also watch a buddy cop movie starring Marcellus Wiley and Schlereth.

Mark Schlereth

Tyler: “Marcellus. We’ve gone over this before.” “Mark, you need to have yo’ head examined! This is the case!”

Travis: I will not watch the alleged sitcom being made about Sclereth’s wacky life trying to raise teenage daughters

Tyler: ….no. That’s being made?

Colin Cowherd

Travis: Yeah. Deadspin had a leaked script of the pilot.

Travis: There is also a Colin Cowherd-based sitcom in potential existence.

Tyler: That is terrible, terrible news. Colin Cowherd is a human stain.

Tyler: What was the name of that Jason Alexander abortion based on Kornheiser? With Malcolm Jamal-Warner as Wilbon?

Travis: I didn’t even know that existed. Horror.

Travis: Colin Cowherd is the Rush Limbaugh of ESPNRadio personalities. And SportsNation, since we’re not covering it directly, should be noted is ultimate death.

Tyler: How much you wager he flames out and has to leave the network, a la Max Kellerman/Stephen A. Smith/etc.?

Travis: I would not be surprised about that.

(Rome Is Burning begins.  Host Jim Rome is absent, replaced for the week by Jason Smith.)

Jason Smith

"Jason Smith"...the guest host for Rome

Tyler: Welcome to Rome Is Burning, I’m….THIS guy.

Travis: I guess I’ll be able to tell now whether or not I actually think Rome is funny or it’s just his writers, based on what cueball here says.

(Smith makes a reference to Frank Vincent’s character in GoodFellas.)

Travis: Maybe a combination, based on that little opening salvo. Rome could have made that Billy Bats reference work more. That said, I’m surprised at myself I’ve come to like Rome

Tyler: I’ve warmed to Rome as well. It took a long time. One of the things that bothers me is that this schlub thinks he can be as abrasive without any intro.

Travis: Hey, I might write for sbnation or yahoosports or something, here come my opinions, deal with it!

Tyler: Rome’s guests are a weak link, so I suppose this dud isn’t a surprise. Remember when Rodge Lodge was his regular “panelist?”

Travis: Oh man, yeah.

Tyler: Baffling. I feel like they were coke buddies or something. “Yeah, come on the show, it’ll be great!”

Travis: And the part where he brings in the sportswriter to chat in “the forum”, those people are always some ninth-tier wackness.

Tyler: Absolutely. Though they’ll fly in Adande sometimes out of nowhere and I miss half of a decent chat

Travis: i also like Bomani Jones, he’s been on recently.

(Rome talk turns to baseball.  MLB’s takeover of the woebegone Dodgers franchise is in the news.)


Tyler: Just wanted to go on record with that. 

Travis: Is it just me, or does the name Frank McCourt mean “Angela Ashes” author and not inept Dodgers owner getting reamed by his shrew of a wife?

Tyler: Me too!!

(A commercial break approaches and dawns.)


Tyler: I like that the ticker stays up during the commercials. Point, ESPN.

Travis: Yeah that’s a good touch.

Tyler: I do not like these Subway ads.

Travis: The chick whose bikini top pops off isn’t even fat. I’d grab them bitties.

Tyler: So would li’l Red there.

Travis: I know it’s more popular and gains more ratings or whatever, but it’s a disgrace ESPN has NASCAR and not NHL. 

Tyler: I saw that NBC re-upped with NHL for another decade.  Quick thoughts on their coverage?

Travis: Yeah. 200 mill a year instead of 70, which means they’ll pour a lot more effort into it.

Travis: A lot of people complain about Versus because they don’t show every single playoff game, but there’s literally 7 straight hours of hockey on every night during playoff time. I can’t complain.

Tyler: I liked it, too. A rare wise move by NBC. Niche audiences are audiences.  And hey–Versus is basic cable, which is huge. I get it; I don’t get NFL or MLB or NBA.

(Non-Rome returns for an interview with Grizzlies star Mike Conley Jr.)

Tyler: This interview is obviously going to be terrible.

Travis: This interview = sports interview.

Mike Conley, Jr.

Tyler: “I have really prominent orbital sockets.”

Travis: “If we play hard we’ll have a good chance of winning. If we don’t, we won’t.”

Travis: This guest host guy looks exactly like my sophomore year poetry writing teacher at Emerson, Peter Jay Shippy.

Tyler: I was thinking more that one boyfriend from Sex & The City. Or a gay Matt Pinfield.

Travis: Matt Pinfield: “Up next on Jim Rome is Burning, an interview with Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse.”

Travis: I’d love the Grizzlies to beat the Spurs, won’t happen though. Cool they won their first playoff game though.

Tyler: I read an interview that detailed Pinfield’s road to sobriety. He felt compelled because he was drinking “a bottle of wine every night.” Pffffft

Travis: Amateurs.

Matt Pinfield! You don't remember this guy?

Travis: More like Fat Pinfield.

Travis: That’s how good this interview is, we’re talking about Matt Pinfield.

Tyler: Sprat Linshield?

Tyler: This is really bad. Every time I tune back in I shudder. “Do you think a win would be a good thing for you and for your teammates?”

Travis: We need some Lakers-Bulls contests. Young upstarts against grizzled vets.

Tyler: That’d be fantastic. Great for the game, too

Travis: Pau Gasol’s terrible facial hair vs Jo Noah’s horrible facial hair.

(The interview with Conley ends.  A forum discussion is promised after the commercial break with Kirk Morrison.)

Tyler: Kirk Morrison! I…haven’t heard of him.

Travis: Breaking down the NFL schedule that will not exist. That deserves airtime.

Tyler: Yep. Plus the hour of NFL coverage that preceded this show. It is April 22nd.

(Commercial break.)

Tyler: Mike and Mike: Adequate!

Travis: They start around 3am my time. It’s good if I have insomnia.

Travis: Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there! With a call girl.

Travis: Local commercial: Hollywood Park horse track opening with celebratory concert by Plain White Ts.

Tyler: Hey there Delilah, sherba verba gurpa derfalerf

Travis: You know your career is in the shitter when you open up the second-best track in the LA area.

(Non-Rome returns.)

Travis: “We’re here with Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker What’s His Name. What do you think of the Miami Heat?”

Kirk Morrison. Wearing some kind of tie.

Tyler: This Morrison can’t even dress like a man. Hershey-brown and pink? Eugh.

Tyler: Yep, it’s Rome. The appeal to the show is Rome. I call it. We have eleven minutes to go.

Tyler: NBA lockout: does it happen?

Travis: God, that’d be so stupid, but it seems like it.  This has been the best season in forever

Travis: Time to waste all that goodwill!

Tyler: It has. They have a generous crop of new superstars. Rose, Durant, Paul, Howard…

Travis: I understand small market teams wanting to be able to keep their superstars, but let’s be real, that’s never been the case.

Tyler: Baseball is having the same issue, but I think the Pujols situation is going to be a bellwether. Basketball…has an inconveniently-timed CBA expiration date.

Travis: The Spurs are the exception, and that’s only because they won right away after getting Duncan

Travis: I could see an NFL-like franchise tag working, but i don’t know the players would agree. Dwight Howard doesn’t wanna be stuck on the Magic for the rest of his life. Deron Williams with the Nets, etc.

Tyler: I think it’s too late in the game for that. Like adding a salary cap in baseball. It’d be great, but it ain’t gonna happen. Deron Williams needs to spend some time purgatorying it in New Jersey

(One of the day’s stories is an apparent cell phone chat between locked-out NFL wide reciever Chad Ochocinco and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.)

Travis: Did Goodell muddy the waters? Flerm squip weebo?


Travis: Well we gotta be able to figure out where his fantasy rank might be in next year’s nonexistent season.

Travis: I will take this commercial break to comment on a previous Rome forum guest: Amy K. Nelson.

Amy K. Nelson

Tyler: Go for it.

Travis: I guess she writes for or something. She’s late-twenties early-thirties, kinda cute, not like TV star hot, but like if you worked in the office with her you’d make sure to time your coffee breaks with hers.  When she was on, Twitter blew up about her. It was either “Women shouldn’t be on Rome talking about sports” or “Amy ur so hot I wanna jerk off on your stockings.”

Travis: Basically what I’m saying here is the world is a cold dead place.

Tyler: I wasn’t listening to anything she said.

Travis: She was just as knowledgable as most of the second-tier guests. She did fine.

(Non-Rome wraps up with Jason Smith contributing the usual “Final Burn.”)

Travis: Guest hosts should not do the same trademark things as the main host. My poetry teacher/Matt Pinfield should not get a “final burn.”

Telly Savalas as Blofeld. (On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969)

Travis: Another take on this guy: effeminate Blofeld.

Tyler: I like it. He’s got those Savalas brows. Savalas: underrated Blofeld.

Travis: He is one of two great Blofelds.  The other is Donald Pleasance.

(Non-Rome ends.)

Tyler: “I’m out.” Thank God.

Tyler: Not Jim Rome Is Burning, you’ve been Reconditioned. KAZANG

(Jim Rome Is Burning leads into a SportsCenter update)

Tyler: I do like that they’ve added this little between-show update. And they’re actually showing baseball highlights!

Travis: 8-0 Dodgers over Cubs. HAHAHAHAHA!

Tyler: I was watching this game earlier. Choke Cubs choke

Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade

Tyler: Mike Quade is a gift from God. I wish I could show you yesterday’s spread in the Sun-Times.  The guy has a head like a dried mollusk.

(Around The Horn begins)


Tyler: Here we go. What’s our panel?

Travis: This is a pretty bad group. Woody Paige needs to die.

Tyler: I HATE Paige.

Travis: Jones, Cowlishaw, Paige, Blackistone?

Tyler: Oof. You mentioned earlier that you’re okay with Jones. I’m still uncertain.

Tyler: Blackistone isn’t…bad.

Woody Paige and his chalkboard

Does anyone like this dude?

Travis: Woody Paige: props and senility.

Tyler: Let’s get it out of the way: nobody likes this show. Not us, not anybody. We’re just biding time until PTI. Fin.


Tyler: The Blackhawks are not going to come back.

Tyler: They are going to lose the next game.

Tyler: This is a bullshit last-gasp run.

Travis: They’ve only been winning because there was nothing to lose. Now that they can be close, Quenneville will choke it off by playing “Smart, hardworking hockey.” Aka boring no scoring bullshit.

Tyler: I found it notable today that the Blackhawks got the back page of the Sun-Times. The Bulls got a six-page wraparound that included the REAL back page as well as the front. This was a correct editorial decision.

Travis: Well the Bulls are better this year.

Travis: Woody Paige’s chalkboard should read “Travis and Tyler wish they were dead.”

Travis: This Habs-Bruins series is one of those things that people give way too much credit to. It’s just two mediocre eastern conference teams not really worth considering but for their lengthy franchise history.

Travis: Do you think Tony Reali hates doing this?  He seems too smart for this.

Travis: And I really doubt one gets “Around the Horn” groupies or anything.

Travis: “Come here, statboy. I’m feeling Around the Horny.”

"Reali," AKA "Statboy"

Tyler: I think he recognizes the value of the position and has as much fun as he can with it. I bet he still prefers doing PTI.

Tyler: I LOVE referring to him as “Statboy.”

Tyler: And the lady thinks he’s dreamy.

Tyler: Aside rant: tomorrow’s Reds-Cardinals matinee will be blacked out in Chicago as Fox airs the White Sox-Tigers game locally. This makes sense, but Fox demands exclusive rights to any broadcast, and so the game is not available on Extra Innings.

Travis: Oh man, that’s dumb

Tyler: In this day and age, that is a petty bottom-line move that does nobody any good.

(ATH talk turns to the first-round NBA matchup of Dallas and Portland.)

Travis: Mavs/Blazers…teams I often forget exist.

Tyler: Same here. I got nothing.

(Talk turns to the NHL playoffs.)

Tyler: More hockey talk! Hat tip, ESPN.

Travis: Oh, this soundbite from Colin Campbell.

Travis: Colin Campbell needs to lose his job.

Travis: He should have lost his job ages ago, when he refused to suspend Matt Cooke for hitting Marc savard and basically setting him on the career-ending concussion path, then got caught emailing about it how Savard is soft.


(It was at this point that the conversation was lost.  We resume mid-SportsCenter, some forty minutes later, as they count down great performances in Madison Square Garden history.  The number-one choice is Willis Reed.)


Travis: Willis Reed: A great African-American male name.

Tyler: Reed Willis: A great daughter of Demi Moore name.

Travis: More more more Celtics-Knicks. 18 mins, no hockey mentions.

Travis: And still no highlights?

(Commercial break)

Tyler: I do love seeing John Slattery in car ads. And not just because of Mad Men.

Travis: Mortal Kombat kinda makes me wish I still played video games.

Tyler: The Most Interesting Man In The World remains interesting. For now. His time will come.

Travis: I also like the Old Spice commercials.

Yeah. THIS guy.

Travis: 5 Hour Energy commercials, on the other hand. Full of smug, awful actors.

Tyler: I would rather drink raccoon blood than a 5 Hour Energy.

Tyler: Coffee? Maybe a soda?

Travis: Just man up and take speed, people.

Tyler: Right? Or drink fucking coffee, as it’s everywhere and in every variety these days.

Travis: NASCAR promo, who cares.

(Back to SportsCenter, which returns with a story about Derek Jeter’s early-season struggles, including commentary from former competitor/peer Nomar Garciaparra.)

Tyler: Fucking Derek Jeter leading off.

Travis: Yankees and Orioles rained out, but because they’re the Yankees we still have to talk about them somehow.

Tyler: You know who’s also having a rough start? 93% of baseball superstars.

Case in point.

Tyler: Nomar of course defending Jeter.

Travis: Nomah!

Tyler: Remember when Nomar, Jeter and A-Rod where the SS gods in waiting?

Travis: I do remember that.

Tyler: “He’s on the downside.” Well, yeah!

Travis: “New wave of intelligentsia” not really citing any stats.

Tyler: We knew his productivity was going to decline. Hence the HUGE FUCKING DRAMA last fall.

Tyler: It’s not “Ops,” Nomar, it’s “O-P-S.”

Tyler: Nomar says 89-90. Keith says 92 wins for the Red Sox.

(SportsCenter throws to an NBA playoff breakdown.)

Tyler: Jalen Rose sounds drunk right now.

Maybe it was just this one time?

Travis: I enjoy Jalen Rose as a basketball analyst.

Tyler: “Thurr crad wull be jacked!”

Tyler: “SMART!”

Tyler: “Jamarlr Crawford.”


Tyler: He really does sound fucking drunk!

Tyler: Can he play! We’re only a half-hour away!

Travis: Hey…is Amare gonna play?

Travis: Note, halfway thru sportscenter and we have covered NFL and the non-playing Yankees but no NHL playoffs.

Travis: I’m getting a commercial for ICDC drug counseling college featuring Todd Bridges of Different Strokes.

Tyler: Pah!

(SportsCenter addresses claims of a beating by the guy who poisoned Auburn’s trees.) 

Tyler: The tree poisoner is a bastard. He deserves an ass-kicking.

Travis: Poisoning the oak trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner.

Tyler: You poisoned a beloved landmark!

Travis: I hope he dies from AIDs from jail rape.

(For the forty-fifth time in forty minutes–figure approximate–SportsCenter wonders whether Amar’e Stoudamire will play.)

Travis: Hey, is Amare gonna play?

Tyler: Who’s Amar A?

Travis: Hey, you think Amare’s gonna play? Did you know it’s been a long time since the Knicks have won a playoff game?

Travis: I mean, I know that they’re hyping this game because it’s on next on ESPN, but Jesus.

Tyler: Oah, I recall when I was just a boy and the Knickerbockers were in the big game! That’s just what we called it then, the Big Game!

Tyler: I don’t know, I guess I was about on twelve. My paps took me to the game on the 593th street trolley.

Travis: The paperboys were sayin “Extree, extree! Knickerbockers for the pennant!”

Travis: You’re right, Jalen is drunk.

Tyler: I just changed into Reds gear in anticipation of a brief early night at the bar watching a game that is a last-minute addition to my schedule. Fully Reconditioned, everybody.

(Movie previews inspire the last gasp of wit.)

Travis: If Fast and the Furious Five were made in 1994, the villain would be played by Jeroen Krabbe.

Jeroen Krabbe.

Tyler: I must admit I don’t know who that is.

Travis: Bad guy in The Fugitive.

Travis: Also bad guy in The Living Daylights.

Travis: And the original Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren.

Tyler: The Living Daylights rocks.

(Things start to fall apart.)

Tyler: You look like A.J. Green…bitch don’t call here anymore.

Travis: Still no mention of NHL playoff. They will be shoehorned in in SportsCenter top plays, maybe.

Tyler: “Matt Kemp On Fire” will lead into “Dodger Debacle.” Yep. No hockey forthcoming.

Travis: Hey, did you know it’s been 10 years since the last playoff win for the Knicks?

Travis: I don’t know that Kobe is greater than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when you’re talkin’ greatest Lakers.

Travis: Okay I think I can take this no longer.


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