Sunday, December 16, 2007

Striking B-List Former Athletes Threaten To Cripple ESPN News

Network may be forced to use names that viewers have actually heard of as in-studio analysts

Bristol, CT (Dec. 16) -- A sudden and widespread strike by B-list former athletes is forcing executives at ESPN News to scramble in finding suitable replacements that no one has ever heard of.

The B-listers, who form the pool from which ESPN News plucks its in-studio analysts, walked off at 10:30 yesterday morning, seeking better benefits and wanting even more assurances that their anonymity will not be threatened by "consistent airing of our likeness on ESPN's broadcast air."

Spokesman and analyst Michael Honsbee, whose NFL career consisted of being the next-to-last cut by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998 and who now serves as ESPN News' NFL Insider during the 2am-4am shift, said the wildcat strike could "go on for days."

"We are very protective of our B-list, no-name status," Honsbee said, flanked at a press conference by fellow ESPN News analysts Pokey Mitchell (NBA, Minnesota Timberwolves, 10 games, 2002) and Marcel Gauthier (NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs, 4 games, 2001) -- neither of whom reporters gathered at the conference seemed to recognize, delighting Honsbee. "So we're prepared to take this regrettable action, in order to ensure it," Honsbee added of the far-from-household name status that the B-listers so fervently guard.

Television expert Matthew DeGroat, of the watchdog group People for Ethical Television Analysts (or PETA, The TV Version), says that the striking analysts better be careful.

ESPN News NASCAR analyst Jerry Thomas, who was a pit crew member for Jeff Gordon for three races in 1998

"Currently, there is no small supply of former professional athletes who viewers have never heard of," DeGroat warned. "So the B-listers better not be too smug or get too comfortable. Or else ESPN will have a field day replacing them with equally as unknown ex-athletes."

ESPN News, in a statement, called the strike "unfortunate and poorly-timed".

"In this day and age of information gathering, Americans want their previews of the New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers game from a trusty, unknown source such as (former Raptors center) Igor Haval," the statement said of Haval, a Cleveland Cavalier and Toronto Raptor for 24 games in 2000-01. "And we here at ESPN News are committed to providing that," the statement went on, adding in a not-so-subtle manner that if need be, ESPN News will not hesitate to "look elsewhere" for a new, fresh crop of fringe ex-athletes.

Former Mets catcher Rich Meese, who was called up by the team for 11 games in 2000, sees opportunity in the current wildcat strike.

"This might be it," Meese said of the chance that may be coming his way in light of the strike. "I hear Wednesday's baseball discussion might have an opening after the West Coast games air," Meese said, adding that he's already sent an audition tape to the network that was shot by his brother-in-law.

Meese is glad that he appears to have what ESPN News likes in a baseball in-studio analyst: a brief, nondescript career in MLB, an easy to pronounce name for the anchors, and an articulate way of talking about the game in a manner that makes viewers think he actually was accomplished as a big leaguer.

No comments: