Home > Sports, TV > Mo' badder football announcing: The Martin and Walker amateur hour

Mo' badder football announcing: The Martin and Walker amateur hour

Today, I’m watching the epic UNC-NC State game on the Raycom/Liberty Financial sports network, and like the UNC-Wake Forest game, this one is a doozy. And when I say “doozy” I mean an unmitigated disaster that’s an affront to about half of my senses.   You know… regional football coverage at its best.

Granted, the game itself is much better than the Wake game. UNC took several shots on the chin in the first half and came back (it’s currently a 24-17 NC State lead). We’re on our way to what could be a great finish.  I don’t think UNC can overcome the Wuffies on this day.  They are “Hungry Like the Wolf.”  Now, just try to get that song out of your head. I dare ya.

Anyway, I thought I was going to be able to get through the game without commenting on the D-level announcing crew of Steve Martin and Doc Walker. Their call of the Wake game almost put me in a sanitarium. But, after the half, they rounded back into form.

And this is the “form” that we’re used to: Martin is an inept play-by-play guy. Imagine if Ron Burgundy called a football game. Wouldn’t he have trouble spotting down-and-distance? Couldn’t you imagine him mangling common sports terms – and spitting out lame truisms when he’s not? I think so. That’s Martin.

Doc Walker? He’s trying to be the jocular jock. Think John Madden meets Michael Irvin. He has the unique ability to spit common sense like Madden combined with the rampant detachment to normal English that Irvin always displays. It’s a great combination. Like spam and creamed corn. It’s ok if you’re starving and that’s all you have. But, you’re not going to go out of your way to consume it.

Here’s a quick rundown of today’s lowlights.

  • Martin and Walker seem to want to coin the term “on schedule.” This is their term for getting “in rhythm.” You can tell that they love to use the phrase. They think they’re onto something good. It’s pretty lame, actually.  The cheese stands alone.
    • Now, five years ago, these guys would be one of the many announcing teams that used the term “getting untracked” in the same sense, even though what they were trying to say was “getting on track.” For some reason it evolved into “untracked.” That always killed me. Why would you want something to get off the track? You can’t convince me that this was nothing more than a malapropism that a bunch of ex-jocks kept (and keep) using.  See also how a “hook and lateral” play became a “hook and ladder.”  A wide receiver runs a hook route, then laterals it to a trailing player.  “Hook and ladder” is something a fireman drives.  This shit drives me crazy. But I digress.
  • Walker attributes a stat to one of the truly unknown greats of TV sports – legendary statman Freddy Kiger.  This red-headed numbers whiz is a local high school teacher who moonlights for most regional and ESPN games as the stat guy feeding tidbits to the on-air talent. As the third quarter kicks off, Walker refers to him as (and I’m not making this up… I ran it back three times) Freddy Krueger. Nice.
  • In the third quarter, Martin makes a rare double faux-pas by calling an end-around to Brandon Tate as a “reverse!” and then corrects himself to the even more incorrect “inside reverse!!” OK, Steve-o, we’ll walk through this. One handoff to the WR going the opposite way is an end-around, not a reverse. And anything “inside” denotes that the handoff was made to a player who was closer to the line of scrimmage at the time of the handoff. Carolina’s QB handed it to the wide receiver in the typical “outside” fashion.  That was just breathtaking incompetence.

I guess at this point, I’m wondering why someone at this “sports network” doesn’t call these guys in for a little training. Or maybe a review session. “You see, Doc, for the next 20 seconds you just absolutely butchered your native language.  And Steve, you got the down-and-distance wrong, miscalculated the spot and referred to Coach Butch Davis as ‘Mavis.'”

Well, UNC just got a field goal to make it 24-20 for State. I’m hitting the mute button – both for the Martin/Walker combo, and because of that damn howling wolf sound that they’re playing in Carter-Finley stadium.  As a wise man once said, “I break through the crowd, I’m lost and I’m found.  And I’m hungry like the wolf.”

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