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5th ANNUAL: The Year in Sports Media
Edited by MARK BECHTEL
December 21, 2009
The sports-entertainment crossover: It's good (Peyton Manning's ads), it's bad (Ron Artest's rapping)—and once in while, it's sublimely funny. Just ask speedskating savior Stephen Colbert
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December 21, 2009

5th Annual: The Year In Sports Media

The sports-entertainment crossover: It's good (Peyton Manning's ads), it's bad (Ron Artest's rapping)—and once in while, it's sublimely funny. Just ask speedskating savior Stephen Colbert

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Oh, to go downstairs on Christmas morning, look under the tree and find a copy of You're F---ing Out, I'm F---ing In, by Kenny Powers (narrated by Kenny Powers). The musings of the washed-up ex-pitcher played by Danny McBride are just one of the brilliant aspects of HBO's Eastbound and Down. One entry goes, "Kenny Powers has a sneaking suspicion that no matter what comes his way, he will always be great." Yeah, we feel that way about him too.

WELCOME NEWS FOR SOCCER FANS

After the misguided jingoistic ramblings of lead play-by-play man Jack Edwards left World Cup fans fuming in 2002, ESPN invited more grousing by hiring an even more out-of-touch announcer in 2006, self-confessed "baseball guy" Dan O'Brien. Looks like they might have gotten it right on their third try, though. In October the net announced that the mellifluous Martin Tyler, an Englishman widely regarded as the Premier League's best announcer, would call the 2010 Cup. Now ESPN might actually draw fans because of—not in spite of—its announcers.

WELL-ROUNDED RÉSUMÉ

Talk about a roving linebacker. Patriots star and 19-year NFL vet Junior Seau spent the off-season trying out behind-the-scenes gigs for Sports Jobs, on Versus. His tasks: stadium construction worker, Dodgers batboy, rodeo clown and Indy car pit member, among others. (He also worked as a reporter for SI.com.) Seau is entertaining, game—and surprisingly skilled at installing urinals, his contribution to the new Giants Stadium. Finding work when he finally quits football won't be a problem.

IMPRESSIVE ROOKIE SEASON

Any fears that the MLB Network, which debuted on Jan. 1, would be nothing but an apologist for the league were put to rest in February, when the network hit the Alex Rodriguez steroids story hard and unflinchingly. With programming that appealed to diehards (unprecedented live draft coverage) and sentimentalists (loads of vintage games), the network had an all-around solid debut. And by poaching Peter Gammons from ESPN for its already impressive MLB Tonight, it should put to rest any fears of a sophomore slump.

OVERMATCHED ANNOUNCER

It was a rough fall for Chip Caray, scion of a proud broadcasting family and TBS's lead baseball play-by-play man in '09. Caray was let go in November after botching calls in myriad ways—factual errors, missed plays, melodramatic proclamations—during the postseason. Caray gets credit for enthusiasm, but too often there was only one reaction to what he said: Holy cow!

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