ESPN: The Absurdity That Makes It Great

Matt StangContributor IJanuary 31, 2010

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 11:  TV commentator Tony Kornheiser looks on before a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins before the first Monday Night Football game of the season on at FedEx Field September 11, 2006 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Alright, we all know that ESPN has been a game breaking network in the industry of sports for many decades now. Through the years, however, ESPN has grown into a ridiculous enterprise that sets the lines for the absurdity that continues to drive ratings. This absurdity takes many forms: shows, analysts, and commercials.

Let's being with shows and let's look at the regular weekday line-up of shows starting with SportsNation. Sportsnation has the best overall idea for a sports tv show out of any ESPN offers. Sportsnation combines the fans with (expert?) analysis, ridiculous youtube videos, fan videos, twitter updates, ridiculous games, and so much more. Michelle Beadle does a fantastic job of putting in her two cents after Collin Cowherd rants for minutes trying to prove a point using an irrelevant story no one besides himself can relate to.

Next is Outside the Lines. Bob Ley is the typical announcer stuck in the ESPN of the 80's. Let's be honest with ourselves - OTL lost its viewability... well before the show started. Ethics in sports? Let's move on.

How about Jim Rome is Burning? This may be the worst idea for a show I have ever heard of. Ever. Yes I said ever. Why do I want to hear one man rant for 20 minutes about important topics of the day? He gets annoying... well when the fire and the outdated intro graphics appear to start the show. Then Jim Rome brings in his "specialists" to analyze an important issue for the day. Somehow Denny Hocking stealthily squirms his way onto the show far to frequently for anyone's liking. I mean come on, a utility player in the MLB who is best known for breaking his hand in the 2002 ALDS celebration for the Twins.

Next is Around the Horn. There is simply too much absurdity on this show to even write about. Where to start? Woody Paige shaving... while on the show? Kevin Blackistone speaking in an English accent? Tim Cowlishaw caring a little too much about Nascar? How about the why are you on the show category? Bob Ryan, Gene Wojciechowski, Jacki Mac, Bill Plaschke (and his mom), Michael Holly (pre 2000s), Jean-Jacques Taylor, Lil Wayne possibly? Needless to say Reali dreams up a way to create a more ridiculous point scheme with every new show!

PTI. Fantastic show. Reali may be the most absurb part as stat boy. Has Tony ever won a game of Oddsmakers? This is THE best show on ESPN. Wilbon and Kornheiser make the perfect duo and the frequent appearences of BAM! Danny Lebs spice up the show.

Sportscenter. Whats not to love? Stuart Scott Van Melt, the invaluable sayings they come up with for every new show, the NOT top 10 plays of the week. Its absurdity at its finest - always allowing for laughs.

Now here are the lists for the best and worst analysts and best ESPN commercials.

TOP 5 "This is Sportscenter" COMMERCIALS OF ALL TIME:

5. Drew Rosenhaus in the ESPN cafeteria.

Rosenhaus swindling his way out of paying money at the ESPN cafeteria with all of the anchors in the background? Priceless.

4. Jose Reyes Showing Karl Ravich How To Move His Hips

Jose Reyes apparently teaching Karl Ravech how to turn his hips into a baseball swing, but on second thought its really being done to teach Rav how to salsa dance. John Anderson in the background does not hurt.

3. Kobe and Keyshawn go to Rookie Camp

Stuart Scott and Kenny Mayne teaching the young guys how to deal with the media is about as good as it gets.

2. Ping Pong

John Anderson and Stuart Scott lose their ball playing ping pong. Stuart grabs a new ping pong ball from the NBA draft lottery machine in the closet. Classic.

1. Arnie makes... the Arnie

As a golf enthusiast this has to be number one. Arnold Palmer making his famous Arnold Palmer drink in the ESPN cafeteria in front of Stuart Scott Van Pelt? It can't get any better than this. "That was awesome!"

Now for the Top 10 Worst ESPN Analysts in Recent Memory:

10. Skip Bayless - your still stuck on ESPN first take? Your absurd comments about a number of different topics make you hated by everyone watching, as well as everyone on the set!

9. Jacki Mac - Why do you have to appear on Around the Horn? As soon as I see your face I change the channel and know the day is lost.

8. Marcellus Wiley - You played D3 college football at Columbia! Really!

7. Mark Schlareth - You played O Line so stop telling me why Bill Bilechek made the hands down WORST DECISION EVER by going for it on 4th and 2 against the Colts. I think Michael Jackson's song "Man in the Mirror" would suit him well. Its ok to be wrong once in awhile Mark.

6. John Clayton - What happened to Saun Salisbury? He was a hundred times better at the exact same position. John - whats the opposite of male model? You.

5. Collin Cowherd - If it wasn't for Michelle Beadle I would not watch Sportsnation. Did ESPN clone Skip Bayless to make you? How in the world do you have your own radio show too!

4. Mike Hall - what happened to the ESPN Dream Job Champion? Your stuck on the Big 10 Network now.

3. Bob Ryan - wait oh yeah he is still deacying on screen. Just make sure to keep an ambulance close by the set.

2. Fran Fraschilla/Steve Lavin - Between the two of you you have still only managed to cover the Big 12, Gonzaga, Patty Mills, and International Players in your entire career. I don't need to hear that Ricky Rubio is the best player ever, every year!

1. Stephen A. Smith - everything you have done has failed. No one has seen you on ESPN in forever.

And Finally the Top 10 Best Announcers/Analysts of All-Time

10. Mel Kiper Jr. - You have been on ESPN for well... forever. Your hair rivals Donald Trump. And you only have to work about two months out of the entire year. Fantastic work.

9. John Anderson - Where do they find these guys? I mean John Anderson's don't grow on trees.

8. J.A. Adande/Michael Smith - Are you the same person? Both just very classy. Welcome to the J.A. Adande lounge.

7. Doug Gottlieb - A white guy led the NCAA in assist at OK State. Yeah your on the list.

6. Scott Van Melt - Everything you do could not be done any better. THe Scott Van Melt commercial says it all. SHAZ BAGL.


5. Shaq - Who? Yeah Shaq. Are you still playing in the NBA or trying to promote yourself for your future careers. Shaq - He's the greatest of the universe.

4. Dan LeBatard - Ba BAM! Always in Miami. Always bringing spice and pazaz to PTI.

3. Bill Walton - If Erik Piatkowski continues to play this well, he will replace Jerry West on the NBA logo.

2. Kenny Mayne - There is too much to say in one blog. The master and creator of the absurdity itself.

1. Dick Vitale - Awesome baby with a cpaital A! Diaper Dandy! Yet he never leaves the8 mile radius between Cameron Indoor and Chapel Hill. Always hoping to crowd serf in the Cameron Crazies.

Hon. Mention - Tony Kornhesier - His penguin dance says it all.


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