ESPN’s shiny new morning television offering, “Get Up!” premieres on Monday, and not a moment too soon.
How long could sports fans be expected to put up with a morning media landscape in which there was nothing for us to watch or read, confronted by a desert of politics, cooking segments and the occasional concert outside 30 Rock?
But no more. So thank you, Worldwide Leader, Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle, Jalen Rose and everyone else involved!
To illustrate the point, I spent 3 1/2 hours trying to find someone – anyone – talking sports on the final pre-“Get Up!” weekday morning, a Good Friday that followed an exciting day of Major League Baseball openers and preceded the Final Four.
Let’s see . . .
6:01 – 6:07 a.m., WFAN/CBS Sports Network: OK, in fairness, we have had WFAN as an option for the past 30 years. Well, not so much during the Don Imus era. But for the past 11 years, yes. So why not start there, with Suffolk County’s own Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti?
The first words heard actually were those of Yankees radio man John Sterling, in the form of his widely panned home run call for Giancarlo Stanton that caused Italian teachers nationwide to cringe.
The Mets won, too. “It was a beautiful day,” Esiason said.
6:08 – 6:13, ESPN Radio/ESPN2: Effective Monday, the arrival of “Get Up!” will cause the simulcast of Greenberg’s old radio show, now starring Mike Golic and Trey Wingo, to relocate to ESPNEWS. But on Friday, it still was on ESPN2.
Subject: Yankees. Mike Golic Jr., the third man at the desk, called Stanton and Aaron Judge “two mutants” and “two freak shows.” Wingo mused about Judge’s unrealized potential as a tight end. “Dude, he would have wrecked people. Wrecked people!”
6:18 – 6:26, WOR Radio: Len Berman! The longtime fixture as a Channel 4 sports anchor has a morning show with co-host Michael Riedel. During a news update, there was word of a Suffolk County judge who had been arrested for stealing a female neighbor’s underwear.
Time to take a break from sports to go to Newsday’s website to see what this is all about.
6:31 – 6:37, CBS Sports Radio: I checked in via Internet streaming with our old WFAN friend Marc Malusis to see what is up on his national show, not heard on terrestrial radio in New York. He succeeded Giannotti there and now co-hosts “Taz and the Moose” with Peter “Taz” Senerchia.
Five minutes of amiable, non-sports guy talk led into an update that began with Kevin Durant getting kicked out of Thursday night’s Warriors game. At least it wasn’t about Stanton.
6:39 – 6:46, NBC Sports Radio: Hey, isn’t that Mike Florio? It turns out he has a three-hour morning show called “Pro Football Talk Live” one can stream with a proper Internet connection.
Subject: A detailed breakdown of new NFL rules regarding leading with one’s helmet, such as trying to figure out whether to penalize an offensive or defensive player in a mutual collision.
“Do we need some sort of physics analysis as to who had the greater momentum?” Florio asked. No Odell Beckham trade rumors. No Stanton home runs. No Durant.
(By the way, NBC Sports Radio’s schedule indicates a show at noon starring someone named Newy Scruggs. Anyone with a name that cool deserves a listen. Mental note.)
6:49 – 6:56, Fox Sports Radio: Clay Travis, a popular provocateur, has a show called “Outkick the Coverage,” in which at this time on this day the talk focused on NFL players’ Wonderlic scores.
This seemed like a good time to see what was up on SiriusXM, which has a number of sports channels, including “Mad Dog Sports Radio” and its “Morning Men” featuring Evan Cohen and Mike Babchik doing “sports talk from a guy’s perspective,” according to the website.
But Mrs. Best’s car is the one with SiriusXM in it, and she just left for work. Totally my bad.
7:00 – 7:09, Golf Channel: I believe I speak for everyone in the Northeast in saying this has been the most annoying March, weather-wise, in recent memory. To warm up, in spirit, I turned to “Morning Drive,” which was likely to show pictures of warm places.
Sure enough, our cheerful hosts Lauren Thompson, Chantel McCabe and Robert Damron offered extensive highlights of the first round of the ANA Inspiration women’s major from sunny California, as well as Phil Mickelson bantering with a fan at the Houston Open.
“Would you look at that?” the fan said after a professionally executed shot.
“It’s a 4-iron, man,” responded Phil.
Later in the show: “Fitness Friday,” with tips from Justin Rose and Anna Nordqvist. Intriguing. But no.
7:10 – 7:20, NFL Network: “Good Morning Football” premiered two summers ago and has developed a following. This could be in part because of a wise decision to move to New York after prior incarnations were based in Los Angeles. Predictably, that proved to be an unwise decision, as it required staffers to show up for work not long past midnight.
The talk here was Lamar Jackson and whether he has or has not been as cooperative as he should be in meeting with NFL teams, and his decision not to run the 40 at his pro day. Like much of 21st-century sports talk, the notion when I was a lad that the NFL could sustain a morning show for 12 months would have been lunacy. Well, maybe it is lunacy. But there it is.
The hosts were chipper and likable, just as on Golf Channel. Minus the sun and pro golfers in shorts.
7:30 – 7:35, NBCSN. I totally forgot that the aforementioned “Pro Football Talk Live” radio show can be seen in video form nationally on NBCSN weekday mornings from 7 to 9.
Back to Florio, and to football. The discussion at this time had turned to the Redskins and the work of team president Bruce Allen, with which Mr. Florio has some issues.
Then Florio was back to the helmet rule thing, in a discussion with guest Michael David Smith. I missed the golf.
7:40 – 7:46, FS1. Cris Carter was talking about the NFL Draft on “First Things First.” More football!
New Yorkers sometimes forget this, but most of America likes people on their radios and TVs to talk about football more than baseball, even the morning after Giancarlo Stanton hits two home runs and Noah Syndergaard strikes out 10 and John Sterling speaks Italian.
Oh, wait, now I see why the subject was football. Eric Mangini was in the house! Mangini once had a cameo on “The Sopranos,” as did Tom Brady, about whom Mangini now was speaking. Mangini was not concerned about Brady’s age, nor Eli’s.
Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe work with Carter on this show. It’s an interesting cast. Check it out sometime. Or not. It’s up to you. Mornings can be busy. Eggs do not scramble themselves.
Wolfe threw it to commercial. After the break: Durant’s ejection.
7:50 – 7:51, MLB Network. I remember Matt Vasgersian telling me about how proud he was of the morning show he used to be on but had to leave to take his new gig as ESPN’s lead baseball play-by-play man.
But I learned on Friday that while “MLB Central” indeed is a morning show, it does not begin until 10. (Baseball people traditionally stay up later than hockey, basketball or football people.)
7:53 – 7:54, ESPN Deportes. Top 10 plays! In Spanish!
7:55 – 7:58, Big Ten Network. It should be noted that our mission here primarily was live, morning, chat-based shows, not replays of late-night games and news programs from Thursday. Of which there are many. Many, many.
Not to mention a wasteland of strange commercials and show-length paid programming. Such as MSG Plus’ “New Larry King Update: Is Your Credit in Crisis?”
8:03 – 8:09, WFAN and CBS Sports Network. Halfway through our day, I decided to go back to where it began, at the New York morning sports flagship.
Gio: “Fantastic day of baseball. We needed that.”
Then he mentioned Stanton’s home runs, and what he considered the worst thing about the Yankees’ opener: Yup, Sterling’s call.
Said Giannotti, “He has to realize that this went over like a fart in church.”
8:10 – 8:20, Channels TV, Nigeria. This streaming episode of “Sports This Morning” was not live, as it already was afternoon in Nigeria, but it was a refreshing change of pace.
The primary subject was Saturday’s heavyweight boxing bout between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker in Cardiff, Wales.
Had there been morning sports shows in the United States 40 years ago, they all would have dealt at length about a heavyweight title bout.
After the boxing talk, host Austin Okon-Akpan was on to tennis, and highlights of American John Isner’s victory over South Korea’s Hyeon Chung at the Miami Open. Why? I do not know.
8:32 – 8:33, NFL Network. Back to “Good Morning Football.” More Brady talk. Left to give daughter a ride to train.
9:03 – 9:15, FNTSY Sports Radio Network:Craig Carton’s return to daily radio premiered on Thursday. For now it is streaming only, but there are over-the-air plans in the works.
How did “Carton & Friends” open on Friday?
With Opening Day, and what Carton called the biggest story to come out of it: Sterling’s Stanton home run call.
He called Sterling “a clown broadcaster.” He then spent 10 minutes ripping journalists who cover the Yankees for the quality of their postgame questions.
9:37 – 9:40, FS1: “Undisputed,” starring Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe, got a lot of attention in advance of its premiere after Bayless moved over from ESPN’s “First Take.”
Since then ratings have been modest, to be kind, but Bayless has continued to make waves on social media by, among other things, bashing LeBron James.
When I turned it on Friday, Bayless and Sharpe were talking about Tom Brady.
Apparently this Brady stuff was inspired by owner Robert Kraft saying the Patriots would need to draft a quarterback soon. Shocking!
That’s enough, I think. Enjoy “Get Up!” or whatever else strikes your fancy come April. Or, if you prefer, get dressed, eat breakfast and talk to your family.
Wait . . . I forgot podcasts!