Thursday, February 5, 2009

If Doug Collins and Tim McCarver Were to Shake Hands, Would the Universe Survive?

Do you think television executives watch their own stations? For instance, do you think whoever decides who goes behind the mic for the TNT broadcasts watched the Boston Celtics host the Los Angeles Lakers tonight?

Do you think his/her/their counterpart(s) at Fox watch the World Series?

The reason I ask is this: I don't understand how you can listen to a guy like Doug Collins or Tim McCarver without wanting to dig your own eardrums out of your head. Honestly, I listen to either of and I lost a couple top layers of enamel off my molars.

If it weren't for TiVo in their more irritating moments, I'd probably be dead from an aneurysm or stroke.

McCarver's very human, very abundant flaws are well-beaten horses and rightfully so.

But if the same general opinion is held regarding Collins, I haven't heard it. That's entirely possible because I follow Major League Baseball much more closely than I follow the National Basketball Association. I sincerely hope it's out there and just hasn't reached my eyes/ears.

Because Doug Collins is terrible at his job. He may be a very likable guy and an altogether righteous hombre. That doesn't change the fact that he's on cable television, presumably compensated well for it, and stinks at color commentary.

Just like Terrible Timmie, you can just about close your eyes, hit fast-forward on the magic TiVo, and randomly hit play. Then cover your ears when Doug opens his yapper. As I've been writing this, here are some gems dropped by Collins:
  • Emphasized that turnovers are killing the Celtics—anyone watching the damn game can see that, what does that contribute?
  • Points out that Ray Allen is inbounding the ball so watch him because the inbounder is always the most dangerous guy—I love this comment because it immediately keys you to the fact that the speaker either can't communicate his/her knowledge of basketball or has none; everyone says it, everyone's heard it, everyone knows it.
  • Says that you forget how strong Paul Pierce is—who does? I certainly don't, at least not when I'm watching him run through rather large NBA players (not illegally).
  • As the Boston crowd starts chanting M-V-P with Pierce at the line, Collins says, "he was MVP of the Finals."—shaking my head in total despair.
This next part I simply can't handle adequately within the confines of a bullet point.

Apparently, Kobe Bryant sits at the beginning of the fourth quarter in most games to rest up his legs for the final push. Not uncommon practice for the team's best player—think Steve Nash with a towel over his knees lying down at the end of the Phoenix Suns bench. So this is a moment that someone with an open mic should probably see coming.

Incidentally, the Cs had a four-point lead (81-77) over the Lakeshow...

About 30 seconds in after Boston has squandered its first possession of the quarter, I give you Doug Collins: "And this is a time when this Laker bench...uhhh...much vaunted Laker bench has gotta step forward. I mean, Eddie House 16 points, the Laker bench eighteeeen [his emphasis], which is the difference in the game."

Oh goodness. Like I said, the man may be a very kind-hearted, gem of a human-being. In the grand scheme of things, being bad at his job will not cost any lives (perhaps mine) and Doug Collins isn't hurting anyone (intentionally).

But what in the name of Merlin's beard does that comment contribute? The bench has to step up with Kobe on the pine? As opposed to what?

Phil Jackson ambling his broken down body out there and schoolin' these young fools? Zen and the art of breaking every bone below your navel in the space of one shot clock?

Furthermore, 81 minus 77 is four. Eighteen minus 16 is two, which is not four. And the Lakers were losing at the time. So what exactly was Doug going for?

My guess is he was trying to indicate that the Laker reserves weren't doing their jobs and were almost being outscored by House almost by himself. OK, that's exactly what he was going for—he just cleared it up after a commercial break during which time I assume he composed himself.

That's an odd way to go about it. Even odder considering the Celtics have Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.

The Lakers have Kobe and, I guess, Pau Gasol. So the bench has to do a good deal more than counter Boston's bench (of which House is a member). The bench must do that as well as help make up the difference between the starters since there is significant disparity there.

When he's not confounding the audience with such prose, he may as well just be reading from a stat sheet—the Laker's schedule, reciting play-by-play from earlier in the game, or otherwise trying to wrest the title of Captain Obvious away from whomever owns it these days.

Unfortunately, my beef is not simply with Doug Collins' content. It's also his delivery.

He whines almost all of his lines out like he's pleading with the audience to believe him. If he's not doing that, then he's usually describing the action as if he's Sir Isaac Newton revealing the existence of gravity for the first time.

Good lord, you'd think Garnett was actually reaching into the hoop on his shot extension the way Collins was describing it. For Pete's sake, KG has long arms and didn't always use them when he shot. We get it Doug.

In fact, we got it the first thousand times people marveled at what an exceptional mid-range jump shooter the Big Ticket has become.

So I return to my original question: are these executives making informed decisions?

Or do they just look to the professional pedigree?

Because, just like Tim McCarver, Doug Collins gets paired with Marv Albert and Reggie Miller for TNT's flagship broadcasts. Neither Albert nor Miller is perfect, but they both have very obvious strengths. Collins does not.

Yet he pops up to rain all over the biggest NBA parades, just like tonights Boston-Los Angeles revival.

Of course, pedigree is one area where Collins has even McCarver beat. I'm pretty sure his most significant bullet point to anyone from my generation is the one that reads, "the coach who could never with with Michael Jordan."

That's not totally fair since he had the bookend MJs—too young and too old. Unfortunately for Doug Collins, 'unfair' is not a synonym for 'untrue.'

Even more so because, while it may be unfair to call Doug Collins the worst color-commentator this side of Tim McCarver, it isn't untrue.

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