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Battle of Fins/Marlins shows: Hard Knocks outclasses The Franchise; radio update; Heat news

The Friday media column is below. Scroll to the bottom for a Heat free agent note. We'll resume buzz columns this weekend, with Dolphins and Canes items.

 

Showtime promised to give viewers a “groundbreaking” docudrama on the Marlins, unlike any sports reality series we’ve witnessed. The irony is that in three episodes, HBO’s Hard Knocks delivered more absorbing television and enlightening behind-the-scenes access to the Dolphins than Showtime managed in eight episodes chronicling the Marlins.

This summer will probably be the only time in our lives when our NFL and Major League Baseball teams are the focus of simultaneous cable reality shows. So comparisons are natural. And Hard Knocks has been superior for several reasons:

### Hard Knocks, which has two episodes remaining (10 p.m. Tuesdays), has forged a better balance between on-field matters and human interest stories. Both programs have offered a glimpse into the personal lives of players. But Showtime aired too much of it, at the expense of more meaningful issues.

Was it necessary for “The Franchise” to spend several minutes documenting a softball game involving the Marlins’ and Tampa Bay Rays’ wives? Why was nearly 10 minutes devoted to the wives of Mike Dunn, Heath Bell, Donnie Murphy and Brett Hayes having dinner at a sushi restaurant on South Beach while watching the Marlins on TV?

Hard Knocks also has served up lighter fare: Rookie hazing antics, for instance, and the quarterbacks and Jake Long interacting with their wives. But those segments have been brisker and more entertaining than Showtime’s vignettes and haven’t been given priority over more substantive football matters.

### More insight into individual players. Hard Knocks viewers have been allowed to eavesdrop on coach’s scathing critiques of players: Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman telling Michael Egnew he was “terrible” and that he would cut Egnew “if I were general manager,” and that Charles Clay “better start picking his [expletive] up.”… Tight ends coach Dan Campbell calling Les Brown “a complete liability” as a blocker…. Coaches dubbing Roberto Wallace “ankle weights Wallace” for his difficulty separating from defensive backs. This week, we saw offensive line coach Jim Turner telling other coaches that John Jerry is “unreliable” and a “catastrophe on tape” during a recent practice.

Showtime offered none of this on The Franchise. General manager Michael Hill said the veterans have been “crapping all over themselves” but we never saw coaches or front office types candidly and privately assessing specific players. That’s the type of insight fans crave.

### More telling interaction between players. HBO has offered several revealing snippets, such as Vontae Davis telling Reshad Jones: “I’m taking acting classes to act like I’m not tired” and Jerry asking defensive lineman Chaz Alecxih to “chill for me” on a drill because “I’m tired.”

Showtime aired whimsical exchanges between players, but nothing engrossing. Hanley Ramirez was immensely unpopular in the clubhouse and several players were happy to see him traded, but Showtime never addressed that.

### More meaty exchanges between players and coaches. HBO has been fortunate here, because Chad Johnson’s release and his final meeting with Joe Philbin made for compelling television.

But there have been other memorable moments: Philbin asking Davis if he has his “bladder taken care of today” after Davis previously left practice to go to the bathroom… Defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo telling Davis his behavior “shows a lack of want. You’ve got to change your attitude, change your ways.”… Karlos Dansby, Reggie Bush and Long requesting a meeting with Philbin in the wake of Johnson’s release, and Bush asking Philbin: “If there’s a guy in trouble, can we help them in some way before you make a decision? We might have been able to save them.”

Showtime’s only memorable exchange between a player and manager Ozzie Guillen was Heath Bell telling Guillen he did not feel Guillen has his back, and Guillen strongly disputing that.

### Better in-game audio. During Hard Knocks’ highlights of the Dolphins-Carolina game, we witnessed – among other things - Turner asking nobody in particular “Am I on drugs?” after several breakdowns by his unit; receivers coach Ken O’Keefe cracking that Chris Hogan “is going to be like a cult hero”; and Philbin calmly asking Davis what happened – rather than scolding him – after a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Showtime offered nothing of the sort.

In fairness, the last-place Marlins provided few appealing storylines in the past couple of weeks. But overall, HBO not only offered better material than Showtime, but also made better production decisions.

For example: Showtime’s sleep-inducing final episode of The Franchise offered dull segments on Greg Dobbs and Steve Cishek but didn’t address any relevant issues on the team’s future. Such as: Will the Marlins spend much money in free agency? What’s the biggest offseason priority, etc.?

AROUND THE DIAL

As expected, 790 The Ticket named Marc Hochman and Jonathan Zaslow its morning hosts. Jon Weiner opted to continue working with Dan Le Batard on the afternoon-drive show… Jorge Sedano remains in negotiations to join WQAM-560 as a talk-show host (time slot undetermined) and program director… Former CNN and WSVN-7 anchor Rick Sanchez won’t return as FIU’s football radio analyst, the school confirmed… Sunday afternoon network NFL preseason telecasts are rare, but Fox gets 49ers-Broncos at 4 p.m. Sunday, with Terry Bradshaw joining Troy Aikman as co-analysts.

HEAT NOTE

The Heat did not immediately offer former Knicks center Josh Harrellson a contract after his workout for Miami on Thursday, but indicated that he's one of a few centers they're considering. Pat Riley was out of town and not at the workout.

"Still looking for my opportunity somewhere," Harrellson tweeted Thursday evening.

Harrellson's agent, Merle Scott, said: "It was a good workout, interesting for both sides. They are going to evaluate other situations they have and Josh is going to do the same. We are scheduled to talk again next week."

The 6-10, 275-pound Harrellson, who tweeted earlier this week that he would be working out for the Heat, averaged 4.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 14.6 minutes in 37 games as a rookie for the Knicks last season, making 20 of 59 three-pointers.  He was dealt in last month's Marcus Camby trade to Houston, which released him last week.

The Heat previously made an inquiry about former Nuggets center Chris Anderson - as it did in July with Darko Milicic - but as of Thursday evening, had not made an offer or booked a visit with Anderson, who's very interested in Miami.

 

Comments

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scott alderson

welcome back barry. now go get us some dolphins insight!

Eric

What the hell is taking so long with Sedano?

Shhhh

Rick Sanchez was dropped ahead of a major FIU announcement....

Teddy

Rick Sanchez was an embarrassment as a radio analyst. FIU immediatally becomes classier by disassociating itself from him.

Jeff

Welcome Back Barry!!!

Frank Lopez

"Rick Sanchez was dropped." ahhh, ok. lol

Master Chief

790 is losing it big time..... to replace Sedano with those two guys.... leaves me only one choice and that is 560 as I refuse to listen to dumb ass on 640 (won't even mention his name). I hope 560 gets Sedano.... and replace Silio with him.

OC FIU PANTHER

Glad your back Barry thank you for the FIU update.

BRiz

Haven't listened to 790 in the morning since those 2 idiots took over. Made the switch to Sid on 640, which is bad, but at least he knows what he's talking about and is a whole lot more knowledgeable than the other idiots. Actually, Hoch isn't bad, it's Zazlow that's the closest thing to mental retardation there is. Sorry 790, but you blew it. Sedano is another jack wagon.

Penguin

"the Franchise" seemed to show as little of David Samson as possible. Perhaps to avoid covering business aspects of the team such as the SEC investigation?

Beyond that --- in one aspect, both shows are great. Guillen and Philbin, in very different ways, come across as enormously likable. They make it easier to support mediocre teams.

d

BRiz, idiot! Zazlow is a great host.

George

Briz,

Are you joking? Hoch and Zas are the best radio show in the morning. Sid is a babling moron with the squeakiest voice in radio history.

---

With respect to the Heat:

Harrellson, Andersen, Milicic, are all decent options for the team. I actually was pretty surprised at how well Harrelson played in the playoffs for the Knicks. He has plenty of potential, and fits the Heat's bill for a big man to a T; he can hit the mid range jumper and gets boards. Not to mention he's very quick on pick and roll defense. Wouldn't be surprised if the Heat picked him up within the next couple of days.

I'm surprised the Heat have made a bigger push for Milicic. THe guy has proven he isn't number two overall pick good, but he HAS PROVEN that he's an established NBA player and is good enough to play in this league. A little stiff, but his size is a huge plus and he is good defensively. Don't see why people haven't connected Milicic and the Heat more.

Now that I think about it, that would mean the Heat would have 4 of the top 5 picks from the 03 draft. Wow.

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