Well, tonight's the final night for those brilliant and universally lauded Steve Phillips mock press conferences on ESPN, and we think it's important that the lunacy of the feature not be forgotten by time. Phillips — whom we don't mean to destroy here; he comes across sympathetic and intelligent in that big ESPN steroid story — did the Dodgers last night, and it was fascinating to watch producers try to pump some life into the feature.
They added two wrinkles. First, the "reporters" were apparently instructed to be more "confrontational;" Karl Ravech and Buster Olney both shouted follow-up "questions" even though they hadn't been called upon yet. (That's as hungry as we've ever seen Ravech to get a story.) But the best part was Phillips' spontaneous decision to, in the middle of the segment, suddenly decided to take a deep, three-second gulp of water. In radio, this is called "dead air." On SportsCenter, this is "added realism."
By the way, ESPN ombudsman George "Everyone Around Here Puts Dork Stickers On My Back" Solomon addressed this issue in his column this month:
Phillips was to spend the rest of the week pretending to be the GM of the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, providing viewers information on these clubs in what ESPN hoped would be a weeklong series of offbeat features.
I know, I'm past the age of the target audience. And I also know my limited sense of humor disappears quickly when the news-gathering process is spoofed, even when the goal is to entertain. I also know that ESPN attempted to make its intent clear. In this instance, though, I missed the joke and ESPN missed its mark.
Sir, for the first time since you started these columns ... you missed nothing. There is no joke. Except that now, tragically, these have to end. We now simply cannot look away.