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ESPN commentator Erin Andrews reports as the Pittsburgh Panthers upset the University of South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium on October 2, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
ESPN commentator Erin Andrews reports as the Pittsburgh Panthers upset the University of South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium on October 2, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Usual Suspects

Andrews debate revealing Add to ...

Gee, who knew the Erin Andrews story would have such legs? Her unwanted exposure topped Google's most-searched list for four days as people sought more on how the ESPN sideline reporter was caught naked in her hotel room by a peeping Tom.

Most everyone seems to commiserate with Andrews having her privacy violated, but after that, debate goes off in many directions.

The website Deadspin has frequently published cupcake photos of Andrews, but its former founder is now wearing the hairshirt. Will Leitch wrote, "I'm not sure I could look her in the eye. I'm not sure anybody could."

USA Today columnist Christine Brennan was more sanguine, writing, "Women sports journalists need to be smart and not play to the frat house." (A comment that set off a torrent of criticism on the Web.)

On The Fan 590, Rogers Sportsnet host Mike Toth suggested that young women including Sportsnet co-workers Martine Gaillard and Evanka Osmak get by with less than perfect knowledge of sports.

"This is going to sound harsh," Toth said. "But be that as it may, here it comes: There are no female sportscasters that I can think of that have more knowledge than their male counterparts."

Toth also suggested that women at his network get more promotional outings and publicity because of their looks: "From a public relations standpoint, do you want Mike Toth to MC your golf tournament? … The females within the confines of Sportsnet's newsroom get more of an opportunity to do that sort of thing."

To which Usual Suspects says, we will be happy to host a celebrity Jeopardy sports-trivia challenge between Toth and the female co-worker of his choice. Name the time and place, Mike.

Meantime, Andrews is now off the air till college football begins in September. Off the air, too, are several New York Post reporters who usually contribute to ESPN. The Post published photos of Andrews from the controversial video made by unknown parties using a peephole in her room.

The Post fired back at ESPN yesterday, saying the network itself outed Andrews on the grainy video, thereby causing the story to explode. Had they not made public their displeasure, no one could have identified Andrews on the amateur video, claimed the Post.

The website Rumours & Rants did identify Andrews and took the, er … side road: "While they are completely creepy in every way, I have to say that despite the grainy quality, it is absolutely Erin Andrews. And she looks incredible. She looks better than any of us could have ever hoped. She has absolutely zero flaws. So while I hope they catch this creep, Erin Andrews has nothing to be ashamed of."

Radio Static

So there we were, in our other guise as radio talking head, waiting for a call to go on the air at 4:05 PT with David Pratt & Don Taylor, the top-rated afternoon hosts on the Team 1040 in Vancouver. But the phone did not ring at 4:05. Nor at 4:10, 4:15, 4:20. Finally we called the studio and were told that there'd been "technical difficulties". Finally we made it to air at 4:30, but only David Pratt was on air. How bizarre.

As Vancouver listeners knew better, "technical difficulties" was a pitched on-air and off-air row between the hosts, one that resulted in the pair being off the air the following day. ("Hurricane Katrina" as Pratt later described the fuss to us.) The genesis of the argument was benign enough: Pratt's contention that Tom Watson's near-miss at the British Open could be compared to the exploits of poker geezer Doyle Brunson, who's still winning tournaments in his 70s. Taylor strenuously disagreed. Next thing, Taylor was announcing that Pratt had left the studio.

Explains Pratt, "I've played small Vegas poker tournaments, and I've never been so humbled both physically and mentally. I though Brunson, a great poker player, made a good analogy with Watson. When Don disagreed I said, 'Have you ever played at that level?' And the gas was out of tank, the lighted cigar was thrown on the thing." What followed on-air was about 20 minutes of recorded interviews, PSAs, commercials and then, at 4:30, Pratt re-appeared alone to interview you-know-who (us) about guess-who (Watson). In somewhat strained fashion. Off-air there was a good deal of shouting and discord between the two hosts.

Chat sites instantly picked up the thread, speculating on the fallout. "Don't they usually wait until ratings for these stunts?" mused one bard. Rob Grey, the program director for the Team 1040, summoned the pair for a meeting the next day and let B.C. Lions bingo caller Rick Ball sub for the disputatious duo. "We talked about it, and the guys declared their commitment to the show," Grey told Usual Suspects Thursday. "It was one of those things, but now it's behind us and we're moving forward. We think we have a great combination in David and Don.""

Says Pratt, "We've been 'married' for six years, and this is our first spat. These things can happen when you get two rather large egos in a confined space. Anyone who's been married knows that some of the biggest fights you don't know what you're fighting about. So Rob Gray had us grab a day off to decide what's happening. And we looked at a 15 share and the TV show, and we said, 'What's to fight about?' We're good friends and we'll stay that way."

Double trouble

If you like Primetime Sports, you'll have twice as much Bob McCown to love come the fall. In its Ontario and East regions, Rogers Sportsnet is going to show both hours of McCown's show with inserts from Sportsnet Connected. According to David Akande, vice-president of programming at Rogers, the network was looking to maximize the popularity of McCown's show, not cancel Connected.

Sportsnet Connected will only be seen in full at the dinner hour by the two Western regions of the sports provider, with Pratt & Taylor continuing their talk show on Pacific.

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