Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wade Termination Quick HIts

A few thoughts on The Ticket's performance during the Cowboys' dissolution:

(1)  Great Program Planning.  The Ticket went above and beyond by getting Bob and Craig, and then Norm and Bob, to join The Hardline in impromptu host roundtables to consider the events of the day.  Whatever one may think about sketchy show prep, individual hosts, excessive fart humor, or the Train Station Fitness Show, I think it's clear that The Ticket is dedicated to its listeners and to putting on the best possible programming.  Even Ticket-haters must acknowledge management's superior customer service in this market.

(2)  Hardline Sounded Real Darned Good.   Didn't The Hardline sound great with those additional adult voices?  Mike was a first-rate moderator, Corby's offerings were appropriate and a good change of pace -- this is what Corby brings to The Hardline when the show is at its best.  I've been mulling over The Hardline's sound the past several months, and yesterday's round-table has reinspired some thoughts on bringing in another host, as I urged some months ago in my multi-parter on The Hardline.

(3)  Craig Gets to the Point.  Craig Miller made all the points I've been waiting for a host to make, but somehow everyone has just been missing.  He places responsibility clearly on Jerry and Wade and successfully refutes (in my view) people who say that the talent must not have been what every single pundit on the planet judged it to be.   (Norm is still saying that.)   Craig hit on the explanation for Wade's perplexing positive won-loss record over his career.  His car analogy was perfect:  Wade is handed the keys to a thoroughbred sports car, but by neglect and failure to maintain it, it predictably breaks down.   And I don't know if it was Craig or someone else on the show, but finally someone stressed the lack of onfield leadership.  It only remains to draw the line between the skills of the head coach and the development of onfield leadership -- that is, management is accountable for everything that happens on the field, including the failure to cultivate commanders in the field of play.

(4)  Dan Shines Again.  Mrs. Plainsman arrived home just as Bob and Norm were supposed to come on.  I didn't hear any of Norm.  I did hear some of Dan, and, just like the Game 5 post-game, he was sharp and interesting.  My recent listenings of Dan suggests that he should shift away from Sports Humor and more into Sportsy Sports, with the humor flowing naturally from more substantive contributions.  Hmmm, need to think about that one.

(5)   Rowwwwwr!!  Loved the Craig/George spat this morning.  If you missed it, please go to The (Incomparable) UnTicket and check it out.  Here it is from memory:  Craig was making his case (a pretty good one) that Phillips is the worst Cowboys coach of all time.  George disagreed and defended Wade, or rather said that -- hell, I always get Campo and Gailey mixed up, before my Dallas days -- one of those guys was worse.  Junior pointed out that Campo/Gailey (whichever one it was) had an abysmal roster to work with but still went 5-11.  George ended up saying that he just thought Junior was too hard on Wade. 

This remark triggered something in Craig, who noted that George had done more to ridicule Phillips in this market than any other single human, with his Fake Wade reduction.  It is not overstating it to say that he accused George of hypocrisy (he didn't use that word), said he wished he could operate that way, slam the guy one minute with the cruel imitation, and then defend him the rest of the week.  George told him that maybe he (Craig) could operate that way, if he developed a Jason Garrett imitation. 

When stuff like this happens, you wonder What It All Means.  A checklist of possibilities.

     (a)   Behind the scenes tension? 

     (b)  The normal minor squabbles that attend any close friendship? 

     (c)  Junior a little disapproving of the weekly extreme Wade/Jerry bashing, making likable Wade seem like the simplest of morons? 

     (d)  Junior a little defensive about his theory of the worst all-time Cowboy coach?

     (e)  An eruption of the festering contradictions that accompany mixing comedy (which must always be negative) with observation and commentary (which should be even-handed and analytical).

I'm saying not (a), and some combination of (b), (c), (d), and (e). 

(6)   A Phony Is Ringing.   Deion Sanders was terrible on BaD.  Not BaD's fault.  Sanders was so wrapped up in being precious, and an insider, and controversial, and confrontational, and street, and cool, that after all the verbiage he communicated almost nothing of value.  I felt sorry for Bob and Dan, who were trying their best to be polite hosts.  Sanders was just an unlistenable schmuck.  I wonder if it was because BaD was the main popularizer of the "phong is ringing/Michael Trabtree" clip.

(7)   Craig Gets to Another Point  This is note from a couple of weeks ago:  Alone among pundits, Craig said something  that everyone who has ever run an organization thinks about the Cowboys:  I don't have any exact quotes, but Craig was commenting on some impossibly tangled Jerry remarks, and Craig said:  "That's what's wrong with the Cowboys."  From this statement and his follow-up, his point was (and I'm expanding way beyond anything Junior actually said, but this is what I took to be his meaning because it happens to be a point I want to make my ownself) that when you have management with the extremely primitive communications habits of Jones and Phillips it is completely unsurprising that the team appears unprepared.  There is no reason in the world to believe that either of them makes more sense or speaks more credibly to the organization than they do about the organization to the press and public. 

All in all, The Ticket has done itself proud on actual sports coverage on the Cowboys drama.

PS:  It's interesting that we call Jerry Jones "Jerry" and Wade Phillips "Wade."  But Bill Parcells was usually "Parcells" and Tom Landry is usually "Tom Landry" or "Landry."  "Jason Garrett" is almost always "Garrett."  I was going to make a point about how we use the last names of guys we respect more, until I realized that they usually refer to Jimmy Johnson as "Jimmy," so forget I said anything.


ap said...

Thank you, Plainsman!

If I may offer a dissenting and ill-formed point of view:

I would agree with your assessment on Junior Miller were it not for the fact that I've heard him make the same argument on three separate occasions in three consecutive weeks. The argument is essentially comprised of three points:
- The club suffers from weak motivational leadership
- Any success enjoyed by the club is attributed to the intrinsic talent of the club members, and occurred in spite of the coaching
- Mistakes made by club members (in most cases, mistakes brought on by allowing players too much latitude in decision-making) were signs of poor coaching.

I heard him make this argument two weeks ago for why Wade was failing as a head coach, a week ago for why Ron Washington was but a passenger this season, and again earlier today for why Wade was the worst coach in Cowboy history. It seems to this humble confessor that Junior has been going to the "anti-coach" club in his golf-bag of sports talking points far too often, and I can't help but wonder if he'll take this position again should the Stars or Mavericks falter. I suspect George grew sick of hearing this argument repeatedly and felt the need to counteract some of these points.

Last note - You've mentioned yourself that Craig has the toughest job on the Musers owing to the fact that he has no additional talent beyond his ability to broadcast (i.e. he can't do voices, he has no musical gift, he's not a 'yuk-monkey', and he's not the tome of sports knowledge that Bob/Rhynes/Norm are). It would then seem to me that Craig would appreciate the value of these talents that his co-hosts bring to the air, and certainly not attack them. It really surprised me then this morning that Spank would conflate Jub's performance of "fake wade" with a personal denigration of the real Wade, given how valuable that character is to the Musers showgram (a quick, unscientific study shows that it's the most popular bit searched for on the UnTicket) and also given that the Real Wade has acknowledged it and has even played along with it. I'd always assumed that the script for those segments were written by all three members of the show, thereby making each member a willing party in the caricatures. In the words of Dave Campo, "obviously" not.

Ramble over...time to post the Sea-Bass back-shaving escapade!

BTS said...

Keep in mind that permanently slotting people is one of Miller's crutches, along with overuse of the phrases "between the ears" and "great shakes," and somewhat extreme issues with women.

The Plainsman said...

AP, you're right that it is dissenting but wrong that it is ill-formed. Sensational comment.

We're going to differ slightly because the world-view I've developed from my own working life is pretty much congruent with Junior's. Poor enterprise performance is almost ALWAYS management's fault in the long run. So you're right in identifying Junior's pattern, and it's a pattern I'm completely on board with.

Take an example we've all faced: When you get bad service from a snotty waiter at a restaurant, it may be true that the guy is a jerk, but it is management's responsibility either to recognize jerks and get them out of the way of the public, or train them not to be jerks.

This is magnified in professional sports. On the whole, the difference in athletic ability from team to team is very tiny. There is the occasional freakish superstar standout. And in any given game, you can usually find just a handful of plays where the difference in the teams' play makes a difference. This is especially true in this day of NFL parity. What this means is that discipline, leadership, playing without errors, playing without penalties, playing as a team, and giving extra effort very frequently is the difference between winning and losing teams. All of these items can be enhanced through strong leadership and coaching. (Player leadership is also of importance.)

So I agree with Junior about all of those points. Including Wash, I'm sorry to say. (Cliff Lee would agree.)

In reading other blogs and comments, I am surprised at an uncurrent of hostility towards Craig Miller. (AP, I'm not suggesting you're in this group.) I don't get it. It's true that he doesn't have the range of talents of Gordon or maybe even George, but he is one of my station favorites. He's a thinker. He's a synthesizer, a theorizer. A little on the dreamy side. I don't always agree with him, and he's sometimes a little prickly (e.g., yesterday), but I put him maybe even a hair ahead of Sturm in sports analysis, if not raw sports knowledge. And (unlike Sturm), he speaks succinctly and interestingly. All the hosts have overused phrases, but Craig has fewer than most.

BTS, he does what you say. But I also think Junior does more acknowledgement of error than other hosts. I'm always struck how he will go back and admit that he was wrong in an earlier judgment.

Wish I got more comments like these. Would love to make the site a destination for people to really stretch on their thoughts on The Little One.

P1 Steven said...

I like to think of Craig as an out of the box thinker when it comes to his theories. In addition, he does admit when he is wrong, and the listener can admire that. People who have known each other a long time tend to speak openly even with their disagreements. I think Craig is the middle man to Bobs long diatribes & Norms over analyzed theories. Craig could carry a show.
Concerning HL: I think it would be great to do a weekly show with a plus 1. Which I know you have touched on before. Having a plus one would offer an oppurtunity for better planning and differant non-jaded view points.

The Plainsman said...

P1 Steven: One of your all-time best comments. I love the idea for a new round of plus-one tryouts. I'll keep that in mind and probably steal it in the near future.

The Plainsman said...

One more thing, P1 Steven: Your thought about Craig carrying a show. I think it's very striking when Junior does a wife swap or trades shifts with someone. Whatever show he's on, you can sense a great deal of respect on the part of the other hosts for Junior. When he substituted for Mike R one day several months ago, he took over the show like it was his. Not obnoxiously -- he just has natural authority and, I think, the respect of his colleagues.

DRW1961 said...

I thought it was pretty chicken-shit of Junior to attack George's Fake Wade. It's a piece of the show that is a staple and brought them some national attention in the past. I do think it's a reduction and, truthfully, pretty harsh sometimes, but that's the direction that the show took it. If Junior had a problem with the tone of the bit, then he's had 3+ years to ask George to soften it. Knowing what we know about George, I would think that he would comply.

I was kind of surprised that the 8:40 bit went as planned and that Fake Wade made an appearance.

Junior tends to fall into the Corby/Danny bucket to me. Somewhat elitist in his thinking and, once an observation/opinion has been voiced, (in contrast with what P1 Steven says) there are no options for deviating from that path. If you don't agree with him (them), then you're just uninformed and don't see the wisdom of his (their) ways. I hardly ever hear any of the three admit that they were wrong.

RE: the Hardline - it was very refreshing to hear something besides the Corby Show for a while. It has gotten to where it's Corby telling us "What's on Mike's Mind" today. I really do wish they would bring in another person or do +1's just so we don't have to listen to Corby's diarrhea of the mouth with the occasional Danny comment thrown in.

The Plainsman said...

DRW, you make some good points. Each P1 has his or her favorite and less-favorite and even least-favorite station personality(ies). While events like Junior getting his back up over George's critique seem huge to us (because we seldom hear stuff like that), I suspect it's of far less significance to the actors involved because they probably have minor set-to's about station stuff all the time behind the scenes, and no one takes it personally. They moved right on and that was the end of it.

I'll tell you the one that interested me yesterday, or was it the day before: Gordon's reference to Rich Phillips as "trash," and when Rich finally got to a mic, Gordon was committed (probably regretfully) and just kept it up, using the epithet several more times. Rich noted (rather mildly, I thought) that he was not trash and then just let it drop. I wonder if that little exchange got hashed out later on.

Prediction: There will come a day when the Gentle Muser showgram will be utterly stopped down, as they say, by Rich and Gordon having it out.

Finally: I like and defend Corby, but in recent months I must concede that the OverCorby has returned, or maybe it's just the UnderMike. I'm sure management notes the numerous blog comments out there that "Mike's been phoning it in." Watch this space for further cogitation on this vital local issue.

T4 In Rockwall said...

Commenting on your Deion point, my wife has me watching a reality show called Football Wives, which is about local football wives. It has Deion's wife Pillar and she is quite the diva, which shows me that her and Deion are perfect for each other. If you take away our technology and people's money, a lot of people would be in a world of hurt.

Blue Moon said...

Count me too as someone who is a bit anti-Junior. I recognize that he is talented, but he, even moreso than Dan, just has to be the one to tell you that there is no Santa Claus. He doesn't do it for your own good, he does it to tell you how smart and sophisticated he is. His anti-Wash bit really wore thin especially in light of the implosion @ Valley Ranch. So when the Cowboys do poorly, it is all Wade's fault, but when the Rangers do well, a Rangers team Junior believed in the spring had less talent than the Cowboys, Wash gets no credit and it is all Nolan, even though Nolan literally has nothing to do with anything other than pitching.

Junior just likes being douchey and contrarian... sometimes this is illuminating to me, most of the time, I just try to get to work without punching out on The Musers. That's why Gordo doesn't beat me - he plays a role while winking at the audience. Junior takes himself VERY seriously.

The Plainsman said...

Welcome back, Blue Moon. Your perspectives are always welcome.

Man, I didn't expect to touch a nerve by highlighting a couple of what I thought were pretty sharp Junior observations.

It's fascinating that Craig rubs some Confessors the wrong way, but others find him entirely admirable.

In the future I will listen for evidence of Craig's superciliousness that some Confessors have identified. While it's true that Junior's demeanor may come across as more-intellectual-than-thou, I think that's because he in fact brings a very thoughtful approach to his HSOs. And I think he's about as ironically self-deprecating as your typical Ticket host. Maybe he does take himself too seriously. But if you are going to have an all-sports station, shouldn't you convey your sports opinions as though you actually care about them and believe that they are correct?

And while, like all of us, I revere The Commander, is it not clear that Craig does, oh, about seven times George's show prep?

But yeah -- I can understand why Craig rubs some listeners the wrong way. I guess I'm just in the Junior mini-demo.

Hey, that's why I wanted to do this site -- to give the Great Unwashed Ticket Nation a place to stretch out. Dissenting voices always welcome.