Friday, July 20, 2007

Mizzou Exchange with John Anderson (Part Two)

As we start to wrap this up, let’s go back to Sportscenter and something that is pretty timely with the announcement that ESPN Hall of Famer Dan Patrick will be leaving his post after his long run. Not to get into Dan’s reasons for leaving or anything to that end, but what does it mean to you to work in a field and for a company where your growing popularity and national exposure is leading to greater opportunities to branch out into other avenues which are similar (Charley Steiner, Rich Eisen) or not as similar (Keith Olbermann)? And not to have you tell me what your extended career plan is, but does that intrigue you to see it happen more and more?

There are two curious, and to this point, unanswered questions here at ESPN: Can you outgrow SportsCenter? What happens when anchors you get old?

In the case of Dan and Charlie and Rich I think they did sort of outgrow the show to the point they needed a new challenge. Maybe not so much Charlie who has always been a play-by-play man at heart. Keith is a different case in that he's shown no matter what the job or what the money or what the circumstances he just tends to move around. Don't know if that's a nomadic nature, some sort of general unrest, worn out welcomes or the search for something new.

In any instance it comforting to know that you're sort of always putting your resume out there on a nightly basis for someone else to see. And it's amazing, to me anyway, the value ESPN and SC has beyond Bristol, CT. Dave Revsine just went to be lead anchor at the Big Ten Network and they are thrilled to get him because of his ties to the conference, yes, but also because he brings a credibility from a decade working here.

I hope that serves me well someday too when I want to pull off a hostile takeover of my good friend Chris Gervino at KOMU.

And while I plan, for the next few years anyway, to be here. Time already served has opened doors that I wouldn't have thought possible. I wrote a book with Chi Chi Rodriguez. I get out and speak for a fee on occasion. Neither of these things would have happened if I was John Anderson Sports Anchor from Butte, Montana.

It is certainly one of the added values that does not show up in your contract and one colleagues of mine think hard about when looking at another job. I know Rich Eisen wrestled with that a great deal. Lead man at NFL Network sounds great but not if they can't see you. In Rich's case -- NFL a pretty good bet -- and it's worked out great for him. Not his hair, but for him.

The staying power of Chris Gervino should never be underestimated….ever.

I appreciate your insight on that topic, it was just something that always interested me. Of course, I long for the day when Charlie may return to Bristol, if for no other reason than his laughing fits are absolutely legendary.

And since this is going to eventually make it onto the blog, all of you who are reading this, get, out there and support John and Chi Chi

Alright…still on the topic of SportsCenter, are the broadcast “teams” by specific design or by happenstance with scheduling? For instance, you and Steve Levy (tell Steve I miss him from his days on WFAN). Neal Everett and Scott Van Pelt. The old school teams of Dan and Keith/Stu Scott and Rich Eisen. Do those come about from trial and error?

And finally….what would be your response to someone who tell you that ESPN has helped create almost an unhealthy sub-culture within athletes who strive for the highlight reel to be on Top Plays rather than focusing on the team/winning element at times?

Gervino is my hero.

The team thing has gone back in forth since I've been here. Rich and Stu and Dan sort of made up the 11 and Linda Cohn and Kenny Mayne did the 1am. When Kenny begged off of SC I paired up on set with Linda for awhile.

The Kevin Frazier came and Scott Van Pelt came and Dan Patrick went to the 6 and it was a bit of a random draw on the night time shows. And I think management was good with that idea. Dan and Keith Oberman got so big and sort of wielded so much power I don't think the brass wanted to be in a position again where the anchors held sway over the show. The show needs to be the thing and by drawing form a consistent pool of people you allow that to happen.

Then that thinking went out because feed back and focus groups declared they wanted to know who was on the show. They wanted people to identify with. That's when they put Steve and me and Neil and Scott together in an effort to put the same faces out there every night. With some Stuart Scott mixed in.

The matching was pretty easy... they try not to put Scott and I together because we're similar in style and, when he had hair, looks. Blonde, glasses. He's now bald and glasses.

As for the whole SC has spoiled athletes and team sports I've heard it before and think it's a crock.
I've met and covered how many athletes -- many... and while they would like to be on SC I've not met one who wouldn't rather win.

Yes, I think kids may try to dunk like the players they see on SC and some of those kids have grown up and now compete in pro sports seen on SC but it's absurd to think we hold more power over how an athlete performs than a coach or a parent. If we do than that's a really bad coach or a really bad parent.

Great diving catches and great dunks and great end zone grabs are a product of the game and then we show them. It's impossible, I think, to be chasing down a fly ball or a deep pass and think if I dive for this or use just one hand I'll be on TV.

Baseball sold the home run with Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron long before we did.

I use this example... if we showed nothing but bunts and guys moving the runner over and sac flies every night for 6 months... would kids suddenly be begging to lay one down or give themselves up? I played Little League long before ESPN and I bunted when called upon but preferred to swing away.

Of course, I was a big hitter!

I join you at the Shrine of Chris

Thank so much for the insight, and I am sure if Van Pelt were on these emails, he would say the bald is by design….it’s what they all say.

Alright…lightning round of questions to bring this all to a close.

#1 – What would mean more to you, a national championship for Mizzou in basketball or football?
Football. By far. And preferably with a win in the Orange Bowl.

#2 – If you had a chance to be any sausage in the sausage race in Milwaukee, which one would you be?
Italian Sausage. Great hat. This may be happening by the way on Friday, August 3rd.

#3 – If the Hartford Whalers ever returned to Hartford, would it cause Chris Berman’s head to explode?
Probably not his... but if they play that song Brass Bonanza every 30 minutes mine would.

#4 – Shakespeare’s or Booches?
What day and what time of day is it? Booches before noon or anytime before kickoff. Shakes after the game or for dinner. Now that Ron's Country Boy #2 has closed, Ernie's for biscuits and gravy.

#5 – Some of the stars for the next Surreal Life have been announced, so in Sportscenter style, who’s more NOW? Randy “Macho Man” Savage or Carrot Top?
Carrot Top -- the guy is ripped these days.

#6 – Follow-up question….if asked, would you ever appear on a reality television series?
Yes... but only if it involved Gervino, Mike Hall, Chase Daniel, Derrick Chievous, Ben Lucero and Norm Stewart crashing in the house I lived in my senior year on 401 S. William St.

#7 – Best book (aside from your own) you’ve read lately?
The Devil in White City.
Also a big fan of A Fly Went By... Always a bedtime hit with the kids.

#8 – Will you, or anyone in your family, be on line to get the new Harry Potter book at midnight Saturday morning?
No chance!

#9 – People ask the I-pod question all the time….but do you even own one?
Yes -- the Nano. 60% filled with Van Morrison tunes.

#10 – Who will win the NL Central? Brew-Crew/Cubs/Cardinal Nation?
The Crew dominates! It is Milwaukee's year. '57 World Series Champs, '82 AL Champs, '07 NL Central Champs. Every 25 years like clock work. Cards allowed a mulligan. The Cubs, like the Mets, are pond scum.

#11 – Fill in the blank: “You can take the boy out of Lawrence_________
but you can't take the lawrence out of the boy." (clank) Paul Pierce missed free throw. And man did I get heck for saying that on the air one night.