Stick to PTI, fellas

On the surface, We Rite Goode may appear a placid sea of harmony--an ivory tower, where we nod in unison on the day's sports news and pretend that we all agree. Good show with that Gregg Jefferies story, Jimmy Chitwood! Excellent post on Brian Bersticker, Doctor Dribbles!

But underneath...oh, the tensions swirl. Name an issue, and our riters frothingly disagree, almost on instinct. Is the best league National (according to Phunctional Phalcoholic) or American (the MIA Mr. Jay Tibbs)? Is the best cheese Swiss (Doctor Dribbles) or American (the lamented Mr. Jay Tibbs)? Is the greatest fictional film athlete Jimmy Chitwood (Pedro Cerrano) or Pedro Cerrano (Jimmy Chitwood)?

Which is why Doctor Dribbles and I were amazed that we both wondered what Michael Wilbon is smoking and where we could get some. Truly, his column in today's Post is bizarre.

Quoth "Boller Comes In, and Again He Errs It Out":
"[Kyle] Boller was bad. The play-calling was way too trusting of Boller, who simply hasn't earned any benefit of the doubt. Why in the world, when you're a smash-mouth running team to your very core, would you have the usually disappointing Boller throw five times in the final eight plays? He did complete a fourth-and-three pass earlier to keep the drive going...but [Boller's] right arm should have been put in a harness after first and goal at the 3 so that all he could do was take the snap and hand it off to Willis McGahee."

And more Boller bashing from there. But say what?

Objectively, Boller stepped up in the moment and led a struggling Ravens offense down to the goal line; he made clutch 4th down throws to Derrick Mason and then to Todd Heap, although the Heap pass--which would've been a TD--was waved off by a phantom penalty, as the entire nation now knows. And when Boller again went to Heap in the end zone, the ball bounced off Heap's hands and led to the game-ending interception. Why this is Boller's fault--especially after the Ravens had seemingly blown the game, with five earlier turnovers--is beyond us.

Blame an erratic Steve McNair or, better yet, the offensive playcalling of offensive coordinator Billick. But it's not like Wilbon even needed to use his platform to discuss the end of the game; there were enough other column-worthy plotlines (The Ravens as contenders pretenders; the wash of injuries and the holes the Ravens now face; even Ocho Cinco's disappointing celebration) that it feels like Wilbon just watched the last two minutes and took the easy story out.

Our discourse:

Doctor Dribbles: Is Wilbon a Billick apologist? This is like when Mitch Albom filed that Final Four column early--I bet Wilbon just had a "Boller screws up again" template and dropped the details in.

Crucifictorious: Totally agree. Throwing the loss on Boller is like blaming "Friday Night Lights" for NBC's three years of bad ratings.

First, we thought we were in the minority on this one. After all, the great Deadspin carried the Wilbon piece as fact, and WRG friend Jarrett Carter rolls with Wilbon rolling on Boller.

But as we started penning this and looking around the blogosphere, we were heartened--Jamie Mottram at Mister Irrelevant and Ryan Wilson at FanHouse also called shenanigans. (Update: And by the legions of Washington Post readers who tell Wilbon he's wrong). None of us think Boller's an all-pro, but that doesn't make it right to pile on.

Look, every columnist is entitled to a few bad ones, and Wilbon is normally one of the best. But as Tony Kornheiser continues to flail on Monday Night Football, and Wilbon mails this stinker in, you have to wonder if the pair is getting over-stretched, between their many TV, some radio, and occasional print commitments. We're huge PTI fans and love the Post--and think Wilbon and Kornheiser deserve tons of acclaim--but if you're doing 300% more work, you can't be 100% at everything.

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posted by Crucifictorious @ 20:49,


At September 12, 2007 at 3:58 AM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

I've also felt that the two are overextending themselves a bit. With Jaws in the MNF booth, I find Tony increasingly unnecessary.

As for the game, Boller probably threw that last pass too hard, but you have to assume a Pro Bowl TE catches one that hits him there.

At September 12, 2007 at 5:28 PM, Blogger Crucifictorious said...

Kornheiser on PTI is cynical and sarcastic; Kornheiser in the MNF booth is unfunny and stiff, to paraphrase Awful Announcing. I just don't get it, he still looks like he's out of his comfort zone.

Agreed on the Boller comment--tough catch from a few yards away, but it threaded the needle and Heap's $30 million mitts were made to snag those passes.

At September 15, 2007 at 12:57 PM, Blogger Dant said...

Andy Pollin of WTEM radio speculated that the Boller column was written with an agenda of helping Leftwich land a new job. Boller's not a good starter but seems better than many #2 QBs out there. So the column seemed quite nasty.
I think for Kornheiser to succeed in the MNF booth, they need to change the format from the straight up traditional coverage to a less serious 3 buddies watching the game together style. Turico used to do this on college games with Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso and I thought it worked. It would require a bold move and would be risky. Get rid of the ex-jock "expert" and bring in another slob sports talker/writer like Dan Lebatard. Give up all pretense of football expertise and go for laughs and fun.

At September 17, 2007 at 2:34 PM, Blogger Doctor Dribbles said...

Dant, good points all around. We'd riffed on the Leftwich-Wilbon connection too, but figured the more targeted our rant, the better we'd feel afterwards. And isn't that what blogging's all about?

I buy your point--MNF is so self-serious, it's almost a self-parody. But the thing is, I actually like Jaws--he's knowledgeable, but not in the painful expert way. It's Kornheiser who isn't very good, and I don't know how many more accommodations ABC needs to make; fans already get enough of his buddy-style commentary on PTI.

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