Wouldn't It Be Nice ...

By Leonard Shapiro
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 1:06 PM

Only six months to Christmas, the perfect time for our traditional, semi-annual nod to the Beach Boys for asking "wouldn't it be nice?" As in:

Wouldn't it be nice to say how much we've enjoyed the ABC/ESPN game coverage of the NBA playoffs, despite Tuesday night's blowout title clincher by the Celtics? The broadcast team is first-rate, with play-by-play man (and semi-Marv Albert sound-alike) Mike Breen joined by analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy.

Wouldn't it be nice if Redskins owner Daniel Snyder only made a few tweaks to WTEM now that he's cornered the Washington market on all sports radio? For starters, don't even think about all Redskins propaganda, all the time; don't ditch Doc Walker and Brian Mitchell; and keep Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban on in afternoon drive time. It might also be nice to make John Riggins move back to the area if he's going to do a local show. Wait -- this just in: Riggo reportedly is heading back to town. Look out Chadwick's, The Tombs and Timberlake's, here he comes.

Wouldn't it be nice to finally say something nice about Chris Berman, who actually did a relatively competent job hosting ESPN's Thursday-Friday coverage of the U.S. Open? He mostly backed off on his banal catch phrases, silly nicknames and went back, back, back to the basics, much to the relief of the audience.

Wouldn't it be nice if, the next time the Dodgers play the Nationals, MASN somehow found a way to induce long-time Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, arguably the best there ever was, to do a few innings of play by play?

Wouldn't it be nice if Brett Favre's television career were put off for another year or two so he could go back and play quarterback for the Packers? The guess here is that Favre will be in uniform by Oct. 15, doing what he does best.

Wouldn't it be nice if HBO's Real Sports, the often hard-hitting and exquisitely reported anthology series, had a new offering every week?

Wouldn't it be nice to say "nice job" to Bob Knight for his perceptive analysis for ESPN during the NCAA basketball tournament and hope he becomes a regular presence on games and SportsCenters next season, hideous sweaters and all? But only after he apologizes to ESPN's Jeremy Schaap, a talented writer and broadcast journalist and very much his late, great father's son.

Wouldn't it be nice if WTEM revives the show featuring Channel 5's Dave Feldman and Comcast SportsNet's Carol Maloney? At the moment, it's all guy, all the time sports talk radio, and Maloney's presence would be a welcome addition.

Wouldn't it be nice if Tony Kornheiser would do his smart, must-listen radio show year-round instead of taking a six-month hiatus for Monday Night Football? Even if he did it three days a week during the football season, it beats any alternative. And they should allow Nigel (Marc Sterne) to host when he's not there.

Wouldn't it be nice if the screaming scribes on ESPN's "Around The Horn" at long last turned down the volume?

Wouldn't it be nice to see Andrea Kremer and Jimmy Roberts get oodles of air time during NBC's Olympic coverage later this summer?

Wouldn't it be nice to give radio host Dan Patrick credit for a world-class rolodex, maybe even better than John Thompson's?

Wouldn't it be nice to give former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly a pat on the back for producing several entertaining, off-the-wall features during the early rounds of the Open, also repeated on SportsCenter. We miss his weekly column in SI, but he's still available in print on ESPN's web site and magazine.

Wouldn't it be nice of the Sporting News, trying to re-invent itself for the gazillionth time, went back to basics and re-hired Dave Kindred, arguably the best sports columnist in America, as its back-of-the-book voice? Without Kindred, and plenty of other long-time familiar names, the publication once known as the bible of baseball is now totally irrelevant, and also unfindable on newstands.

Wouldn't it be nice if MASN, but actually Nationals management, gave TV play-by-play man Bob Carpenter a long-term contract once and for all? For that matter, the Nats also would be wise to keep Charlie Slowes around on the radio, unless they could ever convince Jon Miller to bolt the Bay Area and ditch the Giants for the Nation's Capital. Not going to happen with ownership that pinches pennies on personnel on and off the field.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Golf Channel added Washington's own Mike Ritz to PGA Tour coverage, and team him with fellow local boy Steve Sands handling features and interviews on a regular basis? Wouldn't it also be nice if the same network treated its signature Golf Central show as a news program, rather than an extended infomercial for the PGA Tour. And oh yes, Kelly Tilghman, any time you're ready to talk to the media, we're here for you.

Wouldn't it be nice if one of the NFL's network broadcast "partners" gave Maryland graduate Pam Ward a shot at some pro football play-by-play work this season? She's earned it.

Wouldn't it be nice if all the big cable companies started putting the NFL Network on its basic tier of programming instead of making it part of a premium package? Paying extra for the current product would be a travesty, unless the network had multiple live games every week during the season.

Wouldn't it be nice if Daniel Snyder actually had his own show on one of his stations, so listeners could actually call in and ask what he possibly could have been thinking about a wide variety of bonehead moves season after season? Best caller of the day gets two free tickets to Six Flags. Second prize is four tickets.

Wouldn't it be nice to hear George Michael say "Now Hear This!" one more time? No, many mores times.

Wouldn't it be nice if the late, great Washington Post radio experiment could somehow be revived, with plenty of serious tweaking and more of a sports presence, of course?

Wouldn't it be nice to give credit to Comcast SportsNet for offering the most complete local sports report in the market every night, rendering the local network affiliates mostly irrelevant in their three-minute nightly news sportscasts at 6 and 11?

Wouldn't it be nice if CBS did the right thing and dropped mixed martial arts from its Saturday night schedule? Did you see the bloody premier a few weeks ago, when one guy's cauliflower ear erupted in blood and gore after a punch? Wouldn't it also be nice if NBC's entertainment division also ditched plans to show it in the middle of the night?

Wouldn't it be nice to understand how anyone can sit in front of a TV set and watch cars turning left go round round for three hours at a clip? NASCAR has passionate fans, and intriguing personalities, of course, but SportsCenter highlights are more than eough for some of us.

Wouldn't it be nice to say many thanks to ESPN and the Tennis Channel for getting Bud Collins back on the air in a significant role for all things involving rackets and fuzzy yellow balls?

Wouldn't it be nice to plug Dan Jenkins' new book, "The Franchise Babe," a laugh-out-loud fictional look at the LPGA that's not all that far from the real thing?

Wouldn't it be nice to admire the way former LPGA star Dottie Pepper has moved into broadcasting for the Golf Channel and NBC as smoothly as she used to swing her driver, offering perceptive analysis whether she's in the booth at 18 or working as a walking reporter?

Wouldn't it be nice to thank the Wasgington Wizards for adding analyst Glenn Consor to their radio team for the entire 2007-08 season and hope they'll keep him working with understated and underrated play-by-play man Dave Johnson for as long as possible?

Wouldn't it be nice that if Tiger Woods ¿ who now can't play in his own tournament at Congressional next month -- pulls a Jack Nicklaus and spends Saturday and Sunday on the back nine in the booth with the CBS coverage team?

Wouldn't it be nice if Joe Theismann had a larger role at ESPN next year? Put the man in a studio and let him analyze pro football and give Ron Jaworski a few days off.

Wouldn't it be nice if my friend and longtime Post colleague Mike Wilbon cut back his frenetic schedule and smelled lots of roses, the better to keep writing and broadcasting for another thirty or forty years, minimum?

Wouldn't it be nice to pay tribute to Washington's very own James Brown, a pioneering broadcaster in every sense of the word, and one of the classiest acts in the business, as well?

Wouldn't it be nice for readers to offer their own additions to this list, for possible publication next week?

Leonard Shapiro can be reached at len.shapiro@washingtonpost.com

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