As a loyal ESPN radio listener, I've made peace with Mike & Mike in The Morning. It's never going to blow your doors off with intriguing critiques or controversial opinions and it's never funnier than a Tom & Jerry cartoon, but it's a serviceable recap of the day in sports and is comprehensive enough that I feel as though I'm not missing anything. Basically, it's a Disneyfied version of sports. And that's fine. The two Mikes are relatively talented in that they have no trouble meandering through topics or carrying interesting sports conversations even during the doldrums of February. I listen everyday and for the most part I enjoy it. The reason I'm telling you all of this is because I don't want to be pegged an anti-ESPN guy when I say last night's broadcast of the Cardinals - Niners game was perhaps the worst produced and worst called game I've ever had the misfortune of viewing.
First, there was play-by-play guy Mike Greenberg's microphone. It sounded like he was broadcasting underwater or from another room. You could not understand a word he was saying. During situations in which the crowd got loud, Greenberg's voice was completely drowned out. You couldn't hear him tell you what down it was, who was carrying the ball or what kind of penalty was being called for the 80th time (nice discipline). It was completely inaudible. And if the only problem was Greenberg's audio, that in and of itself would have ruined the broadcast. But there was more. It seemed as though Ditka had a head cold or strep or something. His voice was almost at a whisper and combined with submarine microphone quality, his presence was rendered pointless--which is a shame because he was the most interesting character in the booth.
Beyond the horrendous audio quality of the broadcast, there was also a ton of dead air. Every time they came back from commercial and following the strange Digital Robot Blimp flashed the Monday Night banner it was quiet for the first 5 seconds or so. This is an area where people like Al Michaels and Mike Tirico excel. They bring you back into the action and segue into either what previously occurred or what's about to happen either by asking their partner a question or setting scene. With the Mikes, we got nothing. It's likely due to inexperience but these guys have done live sporting events before, so making that excuse is kinda weak. But since we couldn't hear him anyway because the production quality of the broadcast was so piss poor, I guess it wouldn't really matter what he had to say.
The one relative positive was Golic as the color guy. He was fine. He could serve as a color guy for regular NFL games and fit seemlessly. He may be a little too gimmicky and "radio personality schticky," if that qualifies as a phrase, but he was relatively professional. Other than that, it was awful. Fortunately for ESPN, this is not their No. 1 booth. Those guys are great. Kornheiser seems much more comfortable in this booth and Jaws is fantastic, though he may want to try out a phrase other than "where do you come up with this stuff" whenever Kornheiser goes on a weird a tangent.
I guess I didn't really have high hopes for "The Mikes" on the late-night broadcast. And it's not like it was must-see TV or anything, so it wasn't all that risky to trot them out in front of the 500,000 or so fantasy addicts who needed a Neil Rackers field goal to win their first week (I was not one of those guys, I won the first week in my large money league 139 - 58. Thank you Tony Romo and Minn. D.). But they could have done much better than that.