Playing Pretend: Local Sports Media Figures as Political Pundits

I was flipping around the cable stations the other day when I saw Stephen A. Smith yapping away. Now, there’s nothing shocking in this. ESPN replays SportsCenter about 13 to15 times a day, and he’s always on there shouting about something. And with his role on ESPN’s NBA coverage, you can’t miss him there either.

But here’s the funny thing:

Stephen A. was on MSNBC.

For any of you out there not acquainted with Stephen A. Smith, I’ll just say he can best be described as the sports equivalent of one of those cable news political pundits who are always wrong about everything, yet pop up day after day on FNC, CNN, and MSNBC. Stephen A. started out as a very good NBA reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, then he became a so-so columnist, then ESPN came calling and he suddenly became a mediocre analyst and commentator.


So why was it that I saw Stephen A. Smith on MSNBC? Well, apparently, Chris Matthews couldn’t find any African-American political pundits and decided that Stephen A. Smith would be his Barack Obama expert.

Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either. But if you’ve ever watched Matthews on Hardball, you’ll know that logic has nothing to do with anything.

This, however, got me to thinking. Let’s say Michael Berry needs someone with no political expertise to play pundit on his show. Which Houston sports media personalities would be brought on to talk about whom, and what would they say?

Let’s play pretend…

1. Jose de Jesus Ortiz: “I don’t care if David Medina did torch his house. He’s Hispanic, and he’s a baseball fan. We talk about baseball all of the time, and he’s a great legal mind. What else should we expect from a Supreme Court Justice? We Hispanics must stick together, like I did with my good buddy Alberto Gonzalez. I just can’t believe how you people jumped on him for supporting torture and undermining the Constitution. The most important thing is that he’s Hispanic. Like David. So that’s why I support David Medina. Did I mention that he’s a baseball fan?

2. John McClain: “I support Kinky Friedman. I don’t really care about how good a governor he would be, but man, Anna-Megan and I could have lots of fun doing parody videos and making up songs with him because the guy’s got a great sense of humor.”

3. David Barron: “I think Bill White is great. Have you ever noticed how much like Jim Nantz he is? He goes off and becomes a huge player nationally, yet just like Nantz, he comes home all of the time. He’s also kind of bland like Nantz, and he doesn’t really stand for anything. But middle of the road’s great, right?”

4. John Lopez: “Didn’t Rick Perry go to Texas A&M? Hell, that’s all you need to know right there.”

5. Richard Justice: “I was talking to my good friend Bud Selig the other day, and Bud was talking about a talk he had just finished having with my other good friend, Drayton McLane. And Drayton was telling Bud about this great little woman named Kay Bailey Hutchinson and about how she might run for governor. They say she’s a Senator or something. I don’t know. I actually tend to be liberal, but hell, Drayton and Bud says she’s great and Drayton and Bud would never lie to me.”

6. John Granato: “Ron Paul is. Great. HE DOESN’T Make any SENSE. about anything. BUT I can’t speak. In complete sentences. OR AT ONE VOLUME. so he. SOUNDS like. A. genius to ME!”

7. Anna-Megan Raley: “Who did John McClain say? Whatever he says I’ll do. He’s the one who knows what he’s talking about. Do I get to sing a song?”

8. Jerome Solomon: “Is Tom Brady running for anything? Is anybody from the Patriots running for any office here in Texas? No? Then why should I care?”

9. Charlie Pallilo: “That’s a great question. You know, there are many candidates out there. And they all have differing opinions on the issues, though basically they all say about the same thing. The Republicans hate the gays and want to force me to pray before crossing the street. The Democrats want to let everybody from Mexico take over the country and they all hate America. I’m not sure where I stand on any of this, though if you ask, I could give you a Mount Rushmore of my favorite presidents: Teddy Roosevelt. I love that talk softly big stick thing. Bill Clinton, man that guy could talk his way out of anything. JFK had a great way with a phrase. Do you know that Ich bin ein Berliner really doesn’t many I am a Berliner, and hey, the guy slept with Marilyn Monroe, who wouldn’t want that in a president, huh? Now the fourth head is a tough one. George Washington had the whole founding father thing going on. And Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but strangely, was out of the country and didn’t have anything to do with the Constitution though James Madison, who Jefferson mentored, did write that. I also see a good case for Abe Lincoln, man that Gettysburg Address was something special, but it was so short. FDR had that whole getting us out of the Depression thing as well as guiding us through World War II, plus he was in a wheelchair so he gets points for being disabled. I can’t go with any of the Bushes because of that whole inability to speak in a complete sentence thing. I’m not sure about my fourth. Callers, what do you thing? And no, I don’t want to hear any James K. Polk or Franklin Pierce nominations. Let’s be serious here.”

10. Steve Campbell: “Ed Emmett. He’s the new guy on the scene. What do you mean you don’t know who I am? I’m the Chron’s new columnist. Who’s Emmett? He’s the new Harris County judge. No, he wasn’t elected. He was appointed by a kind of secret committee. Like me.”

11. Lance Zierlein: “Dan Patrick. The guy’s an idiot. He was an idiot when he did sports for Channel 11. He was an idiot when he ran a sports bar. Yet somehow the guy got a radio station and lucked into Rush Limbaugh. The guy had a vasectomy on air, while doing his radio show, and now he’s a State Senator. If this guy can fool all of those people, then there’s still hope for me.”

12. John Royal: “I’m simple. Point me to the person who will get rid of the billboards and will get rid of the red light cameras, but who will leave the topless clubs alone. Show me that person and they’ll get my vote.” – John Royal

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