"Come on people, we can do better than this..." is what I used to bellow into the headset at Milwaukee County Stadium when we were doing something on the scoreboard that didn't come off as planned. I'm sure it was the same scenario in the broadcast compound for both ESPN and NBC as first day coverage commenced at the US Open from Bethpage Black Golf Course.
Following a fine lead-in from The Golf Channel's "Live From" show, ESPN opened with unique shots of Bethpage only to have NO audio whatsoever. No natural sound, no narration, no music, until about 45 seconds into the open, then it popped in. Trust me when I tell you this, having been in the situation, someone was screaming in the truck. You only get to open the 2009 US Open once and when it's wrong, there is a producer screaming somewhere at someone and or everyone.
At the US Open, when you're ESPN and you're trying to demonstrate what a wonderful job you can do broadcasting the first two days of a major, you have meeting after meeting making sure that all is in place and will go well. That said, I like Chris Berman. I had the chance to meet him when he was involved in the pro-am at the Quail Hollow Championship earlier this PGA Tour season and I was on site hosting the coverage for the PGA Tour Network on Sirius 209 and XM 146.
The players seem to like him, he is a very nice fellow indeed, however, he should not be hosting the opening round live coverage of the United States Open. ESPN has several very capable fellows who could fill in nicely sitting next to Roger Maltbie, but Boomer isn't one of them. I would suggest, if not Scott Van Pelt, who at one time worked for The Golf Channel, then how about bringing in someone who just happens to be on site working for another company associated with the Open, like Peter Jacobsen? He's media friendly, he knows the game and he's won an Open. Sure, the Open he won was in the movie "Tin Cup," but he's closer to winning an Open than Chris Berman.
Poor ESPN, they went on the air at 8:55 a.m. Central and then play was suspended at 9:15 a.m. The only thing going through my mind is, "Please, not a rain delay filled with Chris Berman filling time..." Fortunately, ESPN is a brand that has "SportsCenter" behind it, so it was a morning filled with updates on top of updates, occasionally with a little Berman sprinkled in.
Then, in flipping back and forth between "coverage" from Wetpage Black on ESPN and the "True Hollywood Story" of "Full House" on E! Entertainment, came word that the round was going to be postponed for the day. And who brought us that news? Mike Tirico and Curtis Strange.
It's the GMO all over again and we're bringing the band back together. Oh, I could tell you some Curtis Strange stories where you nod your head appreciatively, being able to picture the scenario in your head. I guess my question would be, where were Tirico and Strange earlier? If there was any hint that this thing was going to have weather issues, and there were, as early as last week, why not have the Dynamic Duo of T and C-Strange ready to go? I would much rather hear Curtis talk about the anniversary of his winning two consecutive Opens than listen to Boomer riff on Bob Dylan lyrics.
Nope, it was "Big Break," "Big Brother," "Big Savings from Amelia Earhardt Island," or whatever the latest variation is. And not only that, it was several of them in a row in case I wanted to catch up on how Doogie was doing or what the latest scenario was. I didn't and went back to the Full House story on E!
The Golf Channel's "Live From" coverage is the best. There are things shaking at TGC. Kraig Kann was in studio back in Orlando, Steve Sands was on the ground at Bethpage, hosting the coverage with Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo, while Kelly Tilghman was interviewing folks from either the Media Center or the Media Center dining area.
As mentioned, Kann was on set in Orlando with Charlie Rymer, who does a nice job and is a good fit for TGC. The Golf Channel has a tendency sometimes to take itself too seriously and Rymer is one of the guys that has some playing cred and yet a sense about him that its just a game.
Since I serve as Media Chairman for the US Bank Championship in Milwaukee at Brown Deer Park Golf Course, I, of course, had a run-in with Charlie Rymer. Rymer was presented a big box and I brought it up to the clubhouse for him. Inside was his new PING staff bag. He pulled out the brand new, shiny white bag, looked it over and asked me to wait a minute outside the clubhouse. A few minutes later he came out with his old white PING staff bag and asked if I could "take care of this." Not knowing what he meant, I asked him, specifically what he wanted me to do with the bag. "Oh, keep it if you want..." was all that I needed to hear. For many years thereafter, I kept spare clubs in it in my office.
The key to this year's Open, especially with the weather conditions unfolding as they are, is simple. Get your ball on the green in the fewest amount of strokes and be prepared to have and make several four, six, eight and 10-foot putts for par. It will be the Open of the three Ps -- patience, persistence and pars.
You can't win the Open on Thursday, now Friday, but you sure can shoot yourself out of it. Remember this is a par 70 of more than 7,400 yards. Everyone is going to have their troubles. First round scores of 74, 75 and even 76 are fine, they will keep you in the tournament because no one is going to shoot 65, especially on Day One and run away with this thing. Stay under 80 in the first round and you've still got three more rounds of golf and plenty of chances to get yourself back into it.