I have been looking forward to The Masters since the first flake of fluffy, white snow fell on Columbus back in November last year. We’ve already talked about the lifeless vacuum that sports has become after the Super Bowl ends in early February. All you can do during those dark weeks in the cold of winter is find a few things to point to in hopes that it will make winter pass a little more quickly. I did that. I found the NCAA Tournament and the Masters. I set my sights to spring, and I never took my eye off the prize. I suffered through winter, and this past weekend I was more than ready to claim my prize. There was only one problem; ESPN and CBS stole it from me. And boy I’m pissed off!!
To say that the coverage CBS and ESPN provided for The Masters was awful would be an understatement. I should know, I watched every miserable moment.
Let’s start with the two networks and the manufactured drama. It started Friday. I strategically had my wisdom teeth pulled on Friday morning, so I could spend the weekend on the couch recovering. This move was perfected in high school by several of my buddies that had their teeth pulled on the opening day of the NCAA Tournament. Some ideas are so good they stand the test of time. I got home from the procedure at 10am Friday morning, more than five hours before the first swing of golf was scheduled to be put on TV. Other than the fact that my teeth hurt like hell, I was loving life. I had time for a nap, a little soft food and to settle in and watch a few hours of golf before my three-year old got home from daycare. This is where ESPN stole my prize.
With the excitement of a child on Christmas morning, I grab my ice pack and settle on the couch for what is sure to be an amazing day of golf. Tiger teed off at 1:45 Friday with TV coverage starting at 3 p.m., I would get to see almost his entire round. Or so I thought. Instead of going live to the best player in the world, or the leader at the at time, or any actual golf, ESPN spent the first 30 minutes of its coverage on Friday afternoon recapping the situation of Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old from China. I refuse to give this garbage anymore coverage than it’s already received. This kid was never going to win this tournament. He had no business being there in the first place. No one outside of his parents gave a shit whether or not this kid made the cut. But of course, we’re talking about ESPN. They no longer report on sports. They are now TMZ, with better access to athletes. Not only did they steal valuable air time to talk about a 14 year-old-60-pound kid that was never going to win, they continued to talk about the situation for the remainder of the day.
Well, at least we only have to suffer through ESPN’s coverage of the Masters for two days. CBS takes control Saturday and Sunday. They are typically the lesser of the two evils. Well, that was a nice thought.
Saturday morning was met with less excitement than Friday. ESPN took the wind from my sails with its awful coverage of my favorite golf tournament, but I refused to go down without a fight. Still recovering from my recent surgery, I once again took to the couch and counted the hours until TV coverage started at 3 p.m. Those hours leading up to live golf were brutal. Hitting refresh on my phone every minute to see if there were any changes on the leader board is more annoying than you might think. But, at last, it was 3 p.m. At this point I could not help myself; I get caught up in the excitement all over again. I flip to CBS to watch Tiger (well aware of his two-stroke penalty), and what did I find? Jim Nantz and his enormous ego with a microphone in front of this face. I do not believe this…my Masters weekend is screwed!
For the first 30 plus minutes of live coverage, Jim Nantz, and some blow hard from the board of the tournament we are all trying to watch, talked about Tiger Woods and his two-stroke penalty. This story broke at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. It was dealt with, correctly, by the PGA before 9 a.m. Everyone knew the story, its results, and conclusion by 10 a.m. Yet, for some reason, known only to the morons at CBS, they spent over an hour of live on-air time talking about it. Instead of showing real golf, instead of showing live coverage of what’s known as “moving day” in any tournament, they talk and talk and talk about nothing. Jim Nantz is now on my list of biggest assholes in sports. I’m sure he could care a less, but I thought he should know.
It’s not just the manufactured drama that upsets me. Someone needs to explain to me why we do not get TV coverage until 3 p.ml in the afternoon when golf starts at 8 a.m.? Are the networks too lazy or cheap to pay for the whole days’ worth of coverage? Will the PGA not allow those times to be shown on TV? This is my biggest beef with the networks. Do not tell me you have “full” coverage of the Masters when you don’t.
As for the Masters itself; I thought the tournament was full of great natural story lines that could have carried coverage from day one. Fred Couples was in contention almost the whole week at age 53. From the first day, Australia had a chance to land its first green jacket, and it did. Despite a huge stroke a of bad luck, Tiger Woods finished in the top five proving once again that he is back to being Tiger.
Here is a tip for the CBS, ESPN and the like; when covering live sports, shut the fuck up and let the action on the course, field or court speak for itself. If the action is not good enough to carry itself, that is the risk you take when airing live sporting events. You do not need to fill air time with your own personal agenda and your so-called experts. Player hits a shot, comment on what you saw, the result, and his next shot. Do not psychoanalyze the player and his state of mind. You sound stupid, uneducated and more than half the time you’re dead wrong. Oh and please, for the love of god, fire Jim Nantz!