Thy Heathen Wilbon: WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?

Today ESPN announced Jon Miller and Joe Morgan were being let go from their duties as Sunday Night Baseball announcers on the network after 20 years of service.

Mike Wilbon: Joe Morgan is a god.

No one was hit harder by the news than ESPN PTI co-host Michael Wilbon. Wilbon in the WASHINGTON POST on Morgan: Let me just say that Joe Morgan is God.

To each his ecunemical own.

Mike Wilbon

Myself? I prefer to worship at the altar of the above late-’90s Wilbon publicity glossy.
I don’t have much to say about the passing of Miller & Morgan, as in 20 years I probably didn’t watch enough of their games - check that - as in 20 years I probably didn’t watch enough of their games with the sound on to account for a single game’s worth of work.

So instead, I defer to this poignant tribute to Miller from the SAN DIEGO READER: Read more…

1978 Video Features Jon Miller’s Hair … System?

Never one to get stuck on one sport, ESPN broadcaster Jon Miller has weaved a long, lustrous career in a variety of broadcast capacities.

Jon Miller wearing a wig to call 1978 NASL soccer game video

(Miller also closet wildlife conservationist?)

From the video posted below, I myself learned today that Miller called NASL pro soccer matches in 1978.

Jon Miller wearing a wig to call 1978 NASL soccer game video

This particular telecast featured Miller on the call for a match (or as Miller called it, “ballgame”) between the Los Angeles Aztecs and San Jose Earthquakes at Spartan Stadium in San Jose.

Jon Miller wearing a wig to call 1978 NASL soccer game video

Watching the entire video, it’s astonishing to see how much Miller was able to cover that afternoon. (Scroll to 3:30 in the video.)
Read more…

ESPN’s Miller: Investigate Rockies For Cheating

Last Thursday ESPN and San Francisco Giants announcer Jon Miller appeared on KNBR-AM in San Francisco and said the Colorado Rockies may be manipulating the supply of humidor-stored baseballs at Coors Field to suit their needs in certain game situations.

Colorado Rockies Humidor

More specifically, Miller inferred that the Rockies may be providing umpires with harder, humidor-free baseballs when behind, to give the home team a better chance of scoring runs.

It wasn’t a coincidence that Miller’s accusation came the morning after the Rockies scored nine runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Cardinals 12-9. Miller used that game as one example of his theory.

Excerpts of Miller’s comments:

“There’s a feeling that the Rockies are doing something with the humidor-stored baseballs, and sometimes late in games when the Rockies need help, that some non-humidor baseballs slip into the mix. Nobody has been able to prove it. Read more…

Joe Morgan Tries To Repair Another WTF Moment

When Joe Morgan tells this story four or five years from now, it’s going to be a lot more interesting than it is today. President Obama will likely be involved, and Joe will be the hero, possibly saving a busload of schoolchildren from a bear. So I would advise waiting until then for him to relate it. Otherwise it’s just a simple tale of him trying to correct one of his many on-air blunders.

Joe Morgan

You recall last week when Morgan was called out for his story on Sunday Night Baseball, involving himself, a no-hitter, pitcher Don Wilson and Hank Aaron. Which turned out to be completely false. Morgan addressed the situation on Sunday during the Angels vs. Dodgers telecast. And we are left as confused as ever. Read more…

Speed Read: Turkoglu Is Magic Man For Orlando

Even with the Orlando Magic leading the Boston Celtics by 17 midway through the fourth quarter in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal, you may have had an uneasy feeling in your stomach that it was a big set-up to a massive, heartbreaking, Stan Van Gundy-firing collapse. Of course Boston was going to make a run - especially with Dwight Howard sitting with five fouls. The only question was how badly would the Magic collapse.

Dwight Howard

After all, they had blown a 14-point lead in Game 5 of the series, and almost let a 28-point cushion slip away in Game 1, so why not save the “best” for last? And sure enough, after Ray Allen hit a three-pointer with 4:12 to play, the Celtics had cut the lead to 12 and were poised to make something happen. So, of course, there was only one man the Magic could turn to in their hour of need.

Hedo Turkoglu eating pizza

That’s right, Mr. Pizza Man himself, Hedo Turkoglu. Maybe the grease on his fingers from his pregame meal of pizza put extra spin on the ball, but he was out of his mind in Game 7, especially when the Magic needed him most. He responded to Allen’s three-pointer with one of his own, and then hit a fallaway jumper on the next possession to get the lead back to 17. Maybe he’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and pizza is his spinach?

After that, it was time for the Celtics to pull Allen and Paul Pierce for a final round of applause, and bring in the scrubs. (Otherwise known as “Gabe Pruitt Time!”) As for the Magic, they haven’t been this far since the Shaq and Penny days, so you can excuse the people of Orlando if they don’t exactly act like they’ve been there before.

So the NBA didn’t get the Cavaliers vs. Celtics match-up they were craving, but their consolation prize is nice: the most dominant big man in the game (Dwight Howard) vs. the most dominant anything in the game (LeBron James). As for Bron-Bron and the Cavaliers, you can see that they were clearly concerned about who they would play:

Let’s see Van Gundy draw up a defense for that.

As the NBA’s reigning champs were dethroned, the current NFL champs get ready to enjoy one of their spoils on Thursday: the traditional meeting with the President in front of the White House. But NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison won’t be joining them. No, he doesn’t have a pressing personal emergency, and it’s not a political protest. His reason is a little more complex than that:

“This is how I feel — if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don’t win the Super Bowl. As far as I’m concerned, he [Obama] would’ve invited Arizona if they had won,” said Harrison.

So let me get this straight: Harrison is upset because he thinks that Barack Obama is playing favorites and only inviting the Steelers because they won the Super Bowl and not because he’s their biggest fan? Apparently he didn’t see the bitchin’ helmet tattoo that the President got before the playoffs, or the new paint modifications he made to Air Force One once he took office:

Modifications to Air Force One

Finally, the Stanley Cup playoffs started their conference finals on Sunday, and the Detroit Red Wings gave the upstart Chicago Blackhawks a welcome to big time hockey with a 5-2 thumping in Game 1 of their series. But the big story was almost something far darker, as the Blackhawks’ Adam Burish narrowly escaped a Richard Zednik/Clint Malarchuk moment when his neck was clipped by the skate of teammate Ben Eager.

Unlike the other two players, Burish only received a minor nick that didn’t require stitches. Still, he knows how lucky he was:

“I don’t know how my head was still connected there,” Burish said. “I saw his skate. It was like he did a figure skating move. He lifted his skate up and I just watched it go over my neck.”

If only they made some sort of device that could protect hockey players in case a blade happens to catch them in the neck. A “neck protector,” if you will. But I guess that’s just crazy talk.

  • THE STATE says South Carolina baseball player Casey Rihn allegedly learned the hard way why you don’t keep hitting the back of a police car with your hands when you are walking around drunk at 2 a.m.: you can wind up arrested after the cop in your car turns your face into Hamburger Helper on the ground.
  • Casey Rihn before and after

  • I guess that Usain Bolt’s OK after the foot surgery following his car crash: The AP says that in his first meet back in Manchester, England, he set the world record in the 150 meters at 14.35. Yeah, he even has the world record for a race no one runs now.
  • Walls? After you’ve been through the kind of hell Josh Hamilton has, walls are nothing. Actually, the DALLAS MORNING NEWS says that the wall was a pretty decent adversary for the Rangers’ outfielder, as he suffered a mild groin strain while making a game-saving catch against the Angels.
  • Dear Bruno Junqueira: Thanks for qualifying our car for the Indianapolis 500 - we really appreciate it. But we hope you don’t mind that we’re pulling you from the ride and replacing you with Alex Tagliani. It’s nothing personal - it’s just that he’s our main driver and all, and he failed to qualify. Best, Conquest Racing. P.S. Please return your driving suit to us by 5 p.m. or you lose the deposit.
  • Manchester United wrapped up the English Premier League crown this weekend, but the biggest story might be the plight of former soccer heavyweights Newcastle United. As the TELEGRAPH reports, their 1-0 loss to Fulham puts them on the edge of relegation to soccer’s minor leagues, as they need a win in their final game to stay in the EPL.
  • NFL fans who don’t get the NFL Network might finally be in luck: SI’s Peter King says that the league is closing in on a deal with Comcast to make the network available on the regular digital cable package. Finally, I won’t have to pay a premium for my daily dose of Rich Eisen.
  • TROY NUNES IS AN ABSOLUTE MAGICIAN sat down with new Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone for an interview, but not during breakfast if their arteries know what’s good for them. After all, Marrone claims that he once ate “42 pancakes with two sticks of butter…or a stick and half of butter…no, two sticks of butter and a thing and a half of maple syrup. I take pride in what I can eat.”
  • As if the Colorado Rockies didn’t have enough problems with the Pittsburgh Pirates taking two of three against them over the weekend, BUGS & CRANKS says that they even had to dodge bats kicked at them by the umps.
  • It was apparently “Dress Like A Banana Day” in San Francisco for the Giants’ game against the Mets, but THE SPORTS HERNIA says that Jon Miller was the only person in the ESPN broadcast booth to get the memo:
  • Jon Miller

  • What’s more American than baseball? The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER has an answer: beer and baseball. Since a local ordinance was changed allowing them to sell beer on Sundays, the minor league Charlotte Knights have seen attendance for Sunday home games go up by 30 percent.

NBA Finals: Who ya got?

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Have We Seen The Last of Miller/Morgan Team?

Name the baseball announcer you hate most. Odds are, 90% of you are either thinking of Chris Berman (who barely even qualifies anymore) or Joe Morgan. And for years now, Morgan has been infecting Sunday nights with his unique brand of self-congratulation and non-analysis. We sincerely pity his partner, the capable-if-mundane Jon Miller.

Miller and Morgan
(Credit for the image goes to Awful Announcing, to whom we also owe a hat tip for the story)

But it appears that our long national nightmare may be over, as Bob Raissman of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS is reporting that the duo may have called their last game together: Read more…

Speed Read: Phillies Not Fanatical About Hitting

Deciding to listen to Tim McCarver blather his way through World Series commentary on TV or turning the sound down and listening to the dulcet, confused tones of Joe Morgan on the radio is like choosing between swallowing broken glass or sliding down a razor blade hill - both choices hurt. But I went with the radio guys for Game 2, mainly because of Jon Miller. And as usual, Morgan got stuck on a mantra he kept repeating over and over throughout the game, this time about the Phillies’ not being able to hit with runners in scoring position.

Rays fan with Joe Maddon sign

Unlike many of his obsessions, he actually was right about this. But it doesn’t take a Hall of Famer to know that hitting 1-for-15 in a game (and 1-for-28 for the Series) is bad. And while they were able to find a way past the Rays in Game 1, they couldn’t on Thursday, as Tampa Bay held on for a, frankly, uninspiring 4-2 win to tie the Series at one game each.

Phillies bench during Game 2 of the World Series

Anyone who kept claiming that this was going to be the most entertaining Series possible can shut up now - of course Red Sox vs. Dodgers would have been more fun, and it couldn’t have been played at a more average level. This Series is less sizzling through two games as it is melting. At least we have things headed over to Philadelphia, where I’m sure the fans will be in fine spirits. Enjoy the trips, Rays!

West Virginia running back Noel Devine

Meanwhile, Auburn was busy just plain fizzling against West Virginia, as Noel Devine made “SEC speed” seem like a stoner going 20 miles per hour on his way to Taco Bell for some munchies. It was big run after big run, as Devine wound up with 207 yards rushing as the Mountaineers throttled the Tigers 34-17.

Think the fact that a supposedly “quality” SEC team just got waxed by an underachieving Big East squad will lead anyone to start questioning the conference’s credentials? Nah, didn’t think so either.

Here’s what else was happening while you were checking out The Flintstones’ kitchen:

Which Tampa Bay Ray is going to get the most heat from Phillies fans during Game 3?

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Speed Read: NFL Nuttiness and MLB Melancholy

What a weird, wild weekend it was in the National Football League. And that doesn’t even count the craziness over Lane Kiffin’s job status.

Ronnie Brown Dolphins

(This just in: Ronnie Brown has scored another touchdown)

The biggest head-scratcher (since nothing is surprising about the Raiders anymore) must have been how the 0-2 Dolphins were able to obliterate the 2-0 Patriots - in the House That Brady Built, no less. As a result, Ronnie Brown becomes the new fantasy football flavor of the week, and Joey Porter gets some vindication.

In the meantime, stadium spectators were treated to some bonus football in East Rutherford (yay!) and Chicago (boo!). Last-minute field goals worked in Indy (Colts now 0-2 in new home) and Orchard Park (So long, Lane!), but not so much in Denver (Saints should’ve kept John Carney around). And Tony Romo does what Roger Staubach, Don Meredith or Troy Aikman never did - win in Green Bay. No wonder Jessica Simpson loves him so. (And hopefully Tony will bring his babe back a lovely cheese sampler.)

While the goofiness commenced on the gridiron, it was a sad day in the dugouts.  We all said goodbye to a long-revered institution. Yes, yesterday was the last telecast this season of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball”. No longer will viewers of the Worldwide Leader start their week off with the amusing verbal antics of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. We will miss them so.

Jon Miller Joe Morgan

Oh, and some ballpark in the Bronx closed up shop, too.

The latest AP college football poll is out, and there’s a new face entering the ranks after a bit of a drought - a 24-year drought, to be exact. The Vanderbilt Commodores enter the poll at #21 after outlasting Ole Miss 23-17, bringing their record to 4-0 and, more astonishingly, first place in the SEC. What a great day for Jay Cutler!

It’s still very early in the season, but wouldn’t it be remarkable if the ‘Dores could run the table and claim their first-ever SEC crown? (Hey, if Northwestern can win the Big Ten, why not?)

And when they make the movie of Vandy’s victorious story, we already know who should be cast as head coach Bobby Johnson:

Bobby Johnson Steve Martin

Actor-comedian Steve Martin. Disagree? Well, excuuuuuuuuse meeeeeeee!

And now on to some other pressing matters:

• STREETBALL bounces over some helpful do’s and dont’s of the basketball dress code.

Erin Phillips Australian basketball player

Of course, whatever Aussie b-ball babe Erin Phillips wears is fine with us.

• Taking a cue from the Mitchell Report, the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE is pumped to present its own list of football players found using & abusing performance enhancing drugs.

• PRO FOOTBALL TALK is surprised to discover who owns the NFL85.com website - it taint Chad Ocho Cinco, but embattled ref Ed Hochuli.

• YARDBARKER rides the rasta slopes by shushing down some cool running video of the Jamaican Ski Team.

• Brett Edwards of AOL FANHOUSE laughs off the upcoming comedic showdown between Baron Davis & Chris Bosh.

• KUSA-TV in Denver drinks in news of ex-Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville getting arrested for a DUI.

• Speaking of illegal alcohol consumption, the DES MONIES REGISTER reports that 19-year-old Iowa LB Dezman Moses has been suspended for four games after being charged for public intoxication.

• BUGS & CRANKS shows how you too can cut up & mow down your very own ravishing Rays mohawk.

• The OAKLAND TRIBUNE plays the name game, as the McAfee Coliseum is officially once again the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

• The WASHINGTON POST learns that being a minor league baseball GM doesn’t require a geography degree, as Syracuse’s GM thinks Toronto is the capital of Canada.

In honor of the weakest of NFL Week 3, here’s today pertinent poll:

Which 0-3 team has the best chance of finishing the NFL season winless, thus bringing shame upon their city & fans for years to come?

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