The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

“All Bets Are Off” is terrible

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 July 2007

I’ve always wanted to write a blog about media, so I’m going to indulge that desire right now.

Last season after Indians games was the phenomenally bad “Cleveland Rants”. A year ago yesterday I wrote a short post on Neil Bender, one of the co-hosts (the more tolerable of the two) of “Cleveland Rants”. You can read that post here. Or you can take my word that I didn’t like the show then and I was glad it was canceled.

This season following Indians games is the phenomenally bad “All Bets Are Off with Bruce Drennan”. Tonight an episode was on the television located right in front of me. Somehow I almost managed to sit through the entire ordeal.

Never again.

Look, I know that sports is not some high-minded endeavor and that part of its appeal is that it relies upon a strong dose of physical astonishment. The math olympics just don’t offer the same rush, the same visceral stimulus. But does that mean that every local sports personality has to be a trite loudass with a derivative sense of humor? I’m not talking about writers so much as radio and television personalities.

Bruce Drennan is a good example of who I’m talking about.

———————————–

At the end of this season the only justification for renewing “All Bets Are Off” will be that the show is incredibly cheap to produce. A flat screen monitor. A desk. Cheap graphics. Bruce Drennan. That’s all you need.

There will be no justification for its renewal based upon its other merits. Because it has none.

———————————–

What’s a better alternative?

A successful show would be one where there is reasoned debate and opinion shared by thoughtful people. The people don’t even need to be famous: content is more important than a name. A name will get you through one season, if that. Be wary of any show that includes its host’s name. There is a reason why Drennan’s name is in the title: he’s the attraction, not the show’s actual content (and yes, these can be separated, in part because the show has no content).

For instance, “Pardon The Interruption” is successful not because Tony and Mike are well-established, nationally-known columnists. (1) People don’t watch it because they recognized the names of the hosts. The show is in its sixth season because Tony and Mike are smart and engaging. If they weren’t smart and engaging PTI would have been off the air as quickly as “Cleveland Rants”. (2)

And that’s the problem with “All Bets Are Off”. It’s a can of hot air. There is no substance.

I would gladly watch three smart but unknown fans discuss sports. Hell, it’s what I do with my friends and that’s consistently smarter and funnier than anything on the air right now. Not that my friends and I should be given our own show, but SportsTime Ohio could do worse. (3) In fact, I bet that a television show where the hosts were a random sample of the authors of the blogs linked to the right — that show would work. It would at least be watchable. Probably a lot more.

Too bad it won’t happen.

fn 1: Before the show debuted how many people under the age of 30 — and this is the show’s main audience — and who lived outside of the greater Washington, DC, area knew who Tony and Mike were? 15%? Young folks don’t read newspapers, even the Washington Post and in 2001 newspapers hadn’t fully embraced the internet. (#)

fn 2: I can’t explain the continued presence of “Around The Horn”, however. My theory isn’t that tight, apparently.

fn 3: See: Bruce Drennan.

#: Most still don’t.

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13 Responses to ““All Bets Are Off” is terrible”

  1. Erik said

    I’m not a huge fan of “All Bets Are Off,” but it does give fans another avenue through which to vent, which during times of crisis, like being halfway to a four-game sweep at the hands of Boston, is important.

    Drennan doesn’t get under my skin all that much. The only time I really get pissed at him is when he starts spouting off ludicrous trade rumors through “reliable sources.” Last week, it was KG to the Cavs. The week before, it was Scott Rolen to the Indians.

    I find “Cleveland Rants” far more irritating, primarily because Les Levine, while knowledgeable, comes across as pompous and arrogant most of the time — though the people who call the show and suggest trades like Jake Westbrook and Cliff Lee for Ken Griffey Jr. deserve to be talked down to.

    Kendall Lewis, meanwhile, knows two things fairly well: Buckeyes football, and Browns pre-move. When it comes to the Indians, Cavaliers and Browns since 1999, he talks out of his ass a lot.

    I think what you’re getting at is a small slice of an overall larger problem: The overall state of radio and TV sports in this town ain’t so good. I have a hard time listing personalities I genuinely like once I get past Tom Hamilton, Joe Tait, Jim Donovan and Mike Hegan.

  2. jbeanie said

    I agree with you completely. I could never sit through an episode of “All Bets are Off.” I can’t even sit through one of the commericals where he says “if’s dealing with Cleveland sports, you bet I’ll have an opinion on it.” Thanks Bruce for telling us you’ll have an opinion on stuff you talk about on your show. Creative.

    I also think “Cleveland Rants” is awful for the reasons Erik said above. Both those guys should stick to writing or radio. They aren’t TV guys.

    You’re idea of picking 3-4 people who do Cleveland blogs would by far be better than either of those shows. If can be our own, better, version of “Around the Horn” but if fans want a chance to talk, we’ll open the phone lines too. Let’s make a show and send it to FSN.

  3. What’s really frustrating with all of this is how simple the fix is and how obvious the mistake is. The mistake: bad hosts. More specifically, hosts who contribute very little substance. The fix: better hosts. More specifically, hosts who can make substantive conversation about Cleveland sports.

    I’ve never been a big fan of interactive shows — not because I don’t like the format but because there always needs to be much better quality control. For the life of me I can’t figure out how a producer would allow 30-50% of the fan-generated questions/comments we hear to make it to the air. Just because you can type an email or dial a phone doesn’t mean you deserve your place in the sun. But the M.O. seems to be get as much on the air as possible. That strikes me as an awfully short-sighted way to go about things. In the sort term you might get a lot of fans who watch just because they hope their question is used. In the long term a lot of fans don’t watch because they have to listen to drivel.

    Anyway…late night ramblings.

  4. Ryan A said

    [quote=”Disappointmentzone”] Just because you can type an email or dial a phone doesn’t mean you deserve your place in the sun. But the M.O. seems to be get as much on the air as possible. That strikes me as an awfully short-sighted way to go about things. In the short term you might get a lot of fans who watch just because they hope their question is used. In the long term a lot of fans don’t watch because they have to listen to drivel.[/quote]

    Exactly. I usually catch the beginning of the show just because its on after the game goes off. Once I hear an opinion or two from Drennan or I hear a phone call from a 12 year old, I turn the chanell. The only time I can put up with the show is when he has guests on, because its then that you don’t hear the crap from Drennan or the callers. (And I give Drennan credit, he’s been getting some good guests and he conducts a pretty good interview.)

  5. I can’t even read anymore. Bruce Drennan is a bumbling idiot. The title itself is annoying…Hey let’s make light of a guy who went to prison for gambling…Not to mention he’s annoying. The last good thing Drennan brought us was “ducks on the pond” and looking back what the hell does one do with ducks on a pond… well if they sound anything like drenna, you shoot them.

  6. ryan said

    all bets are off is the best show on tv. better than watching espn or fox after the game because they are more interested in joe torre than the indians.

  7. Morgan said

    “All Bets Are Off,” is a great show. it allows us fans to express our feelings about Cleveland sports and get the latest scoop on everything happening. I think Bruce Drennan is doing a heck of a job.

  8. Pete said

    I love “All Bets Are Off.” Bruce Drennan is a “personality,” yes, but why is there something wrong with that? He’s funny, witty, and honest, and I really enjoy watching his show. I hear a lot of “reasoned debate and opinion” when Drennan’s listeners call in (occasionally not so reasoned, but then that’s when Drennan is best). And I see no problem with Bruce being the “attraction.” His facial expressions and vocal inflections are hilarious, but he’s also extremely knowledgable about Cleveland sports, and sports in general.

    There’s no reason why a town and its fans can’t have different flavors of sports analysis: the more leveled, serious kind like Tony and Mike, and the more jocular like Bruce. Variety is the spice of life.

  9. pigskin pat said

    ahh bruce we luv ya

  10. DavidRude said

    Whatever the All Bets are Off show is sweet your just mad because your not sweet and because your just a Conservative Fag-Bag……

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  12. Anonymous said

    all bets are off sucks

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