Friday, May 18, 2007

Ruining George Michael's legacy?

Channel 4 is running a promotional spot currently which has sportscaster Dan Hellie talking about how he grew up in the D.C. area, and when he heard D.C. got a baseball team he knew he had to come back and do the sportscasts in his home town. So then why were the Nationals the third story on Thursday night's WRC-Channel 4 sportscast?

Sure, a week ago, the Nationals were universally seen as one of the worst teams ever put together--not really an accurate characterization when you look at the team, but when you've lost eight in a row and are hitting below .200 with runners in scoring position for the season, an understandable one. Since then, the Nats have won six of seven, and this week won three of four from the first place Braves. One would think that would be a pretty big story--it's not like the Nats are threatening to contend, but it's still exciting. And considering no other local professional team had a game today, one might think it would be the top story on the local news. But no, Dan Hellie began his sportscast with the Pistons clinching their NBA series over the Bulls. Yes, an important sports story, but isn't this the local news? I've read that many local news departments don't think there's much of a need for sports on the news anymore, since sports fans can and do watch ESPN. And it's clear that Channel 4 is moving in that direction, considering that the amount of time alloted for sports since George Michael retired from the daily sportscast a few months ago does seem to have decreased on the 11:00 news, although I haven't actually measured it. But if you're only going to have time for a few minutes of sports, wouldn't you want to spend the most time on the local teams? I'm not saying that the Pistons-Bulls game shouldn't be mentioned or highlights shouldn't be shown, but there's no reason a second round NBA series deserves higher play than the Nationals game. (I'll forgive tne NBA finals getting top billing over a pedestrian Nationals game, but even then, I would still say a Nats streak of six out of seven wins should supersede the NBA finals on the LOCAL news.)

Even worse, although it was a local story, was the second story on Thursday night's sportscast. It was about Clinton Portis having tendinitis in his knee. After all, the Redskins season is starting in about three and a half months. What might happen if Clinton Portis might have to miss minicamp? You know, there's only 10 weeks until training camp... Can he recover in time? Yes, Washington is first and foremost a Redskins town. And yes, I love Joe Gibbs and have been a Redskins fan all my life. But really, the way the local media treats the Redskins--that every new backup punter is worthy of minute examination--is just ridiculous. I actually find the Redskins more interesting now as a mostly sad and depressing soap opera (kind of like Party of Five without the hot girls). I mean, really, Clinton Portis with what is probably a minor, curable injury more than three months before the regular season starts, and that's more relevant that a Nats game. It just makes us seem like a bush-league town, than every other professional sports team is a step down from the Redskins. And I don't think most people in this area think that way.

This isn't the first time Dan or Lindsay Czarniak have done this. Czarniak led off the sportscast one night last week with the opening of OTA's at Redskins Park--I think that means "organized team activities" but I'm not sure and I really don't care. This is news, that the Redskins started the practice before actual practice begins in July? We're talking about practice? She also led off with the Spurs-Suns game one in their series a week ago Sunday, instead of the Nats blowing a game in Wrigley Field. And this isn't the first time Dan Hellie has led with NBA playoffs over Nats either. I don't understand the choice, and I don't think the sportscasters at the other stations have done it. And although George Michael last summer, unforgettably, led a sportscast one night with the news that David Patten had been injured in training camp over a Nats game (a guy who everyone knew wasn't even going to play last season, but at least it was during training camp), he's probably annoyed. George--who was, after Glenn Brenner died, without a doubt the most important sportcaster in the Washington area for the last 15 years--gets a lot of ripping on a Nats message board I read for hating the Nationals. And yet he did something that very few people noticed for the year or two before Washington got the team. He stopped showing Orioles highlights on his sportscasts like they were the home team. (He might occasionally show their highlights if there was some newsworthy reason to, but otherwise never.) It doesn't seem like anyone noticed, but I did, and I liked it a lot. Did it help bring the Nats here? I doubt it. Was it a good thing sybolically for George to do? You bet. All the other sportcasts in town at the time continued to treat the Orioles as the adopted home team during those years, and even with the Nats here, still show their highlights right after the Nats highlights (sort of the way the Washington Post treats the two teams--with the Nats getting top billing but Baltimore still getting second billing.) George never did that, either, but Dan and Lindsay have started to do that as well. Come on, Channel 4 sportscasters, didn't George Michael teach you anything?


Anonymous John said...

First, it's great to see you write about something other than American Idol.

I do think that not showing Orioles highlights is a mistake. There are many people, like me, who have lived here for what, 33 years now, and follow(ed) the Orioles. To drop them from the highlights entirely is somewhat perverse. I think putting them on after the Nationals highlights is the absolute right thing to do...the Nationals are the DC franchise for the time being and should be supported until they move to Memphis or someplace. But the broadcasters are paying attention to what the audience wants and enough people watching tv want to see who the Orioles lost to that night..

5/21/07, 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George Michael, I will miss you! Rest in Peace, Handsome one. You always made me smile. A TV fan, who watched and appreciated your talents. Such a handsome man, as well. God be with you and your family.

12/24/09, 3:08 PM  
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