ESPN dumps Dellacamera to radio role for World Cup

A birdie inside the MLS broadcasting meetings tells me that JP Dellacamera and Glenn Davis have been relegated to radio coverage roles ONLY for this summer’s World Cup.

ESPN will instead go with an all foreign play-by-crew roster including Martin Tyler, and three others I am still sorting out. (Guesses: Rae, Healey, and someone [UPDATE: It’s Ian Darke, also of Sky Sports.) So that’s four Europeans then.

Regardless of what you think of British and Irish commentators replacing American ones on American media outlets, this is really shabby treatment of Dellacamera by ESPN. He has done an outstanding job on the qualifiers, he has an unrivaled knowledge of US Soccer and its recent history, he was in Port of Spain 1989 for goodness sakes, and now he gets punted aside.

And for what?


57 thoughts on “ESPN dumps Dellacamera to radio role for World Cup

  1. Now this is some bullshit. I really didn’t mind the hiring of Tyler, but not at the expense of a guy who has worked so hard and done so much.

  2. How exactly has he been outstanding? I personally hate the combo of Harkesy/JP that we’re forced to sit through… but don’t mistake that for wanting to hear a bit of the Queen’s English, guv’na. I wish we could get a quality American play-by-play announcer… I don’t care for the four-letter’s letting people like Bob Ley announce as well.

    Really- it sucks that an American got outsourced, but calling him “outstanding” is a bit much.

  3. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong………..but isn’t there a Brit now in charge of ESPN’s soccer coverage?

  4. I agree, this is bullshit. JP and Harkes have only recently become annoying. They were very classy duo during WC 06, and JP has been by far our best PBP man since at least 1994. Understated, knowledgeable, completely in flow with the game.

    I’m sure ESPN put pressure on them to be the stars of the broadcast and “tell stories”, and that is exactly what made them increasingly unwatchable lately. The Tyler hiring is great, if nothing else for the decreased level of buffoonery that we usually get with the “A” WC broadcast team.

  5. Wow. I was wondering how they were going to use Tyler. He is a giant in the game and my personal footie broadcaster idol growing up. He is better than JP … but I was wondering how ESPN would arrange the new WC hierarchy.

    And I guess we have our answer. In my opinion, it’s kind of hypocritical for fans to bitch about this decision — especially in light of the Dave O’Brien massacre of 2006. Back then everyone was saying, “I don’t care about DOB’s non-soccer credentials, all I want is for ESPN to put the best guy in the booth, regardless of accent.” Paraphrasing of course.

    That’s all ESPN is doing: putting the best guy in the booth.

  6. You mean it’s hypocritical for CERTAIN fans.

    The rest of us have plenty of room to bitch. Sorry, but it’s kind of dismaying that in 2010 an American sports network is still presenting soccer as a foreign sport. Which is what the lack of American accents amounts to. At what point do we too get to start owning soccer, like the rest of the world does?

  7. Who cares…atleast they have jobs…What about 20% of the American Population that is underemployed or unemployed. Stop this BS about who is going to do the World Cup. I don’t care who is doing the talking, i’m going to be watching it because i love the game. Some of you waste so much of your time arguing about little tiny things that seem so irrelevant.

  8. What about color men?

    Tommy Smyth, Shaka Hislop, Janusz Michallik and one more….

    Ray Hudson???????????????????????????

  9. … says the guy who spends countless hours on the TV/media forums parsing arcane ratings data and arguing about tenths-of-a-percentage-point figures.

  10. Are they?

    Contrary to what many people seem to believe, I don’t think that a great play-by-play man is great for all leagues and competitions. Some are better for some competitions than others.

    I would put Martin Tyler on the England matches in a split second.

    If he were doing this summer’s World Cup for ESPN, I would put Toby Charles on Germany’s matches.

    And by the same token, I would put JP Dellacamera on the USA matches.

    We live in an era of specialization. You gotta have the right tool for the job and the right man for the job.

    I agree with those who have said that this is shabby treatment of Dellacamera and Davis by ESPN.

  11. Let’s not forget my unceremonious booting from the WC coverage lineup in 2006 for asking Julie Foudy if she wanted to “swap bodily fluids” at half-time. Tragic.

    Still, no one is absolutely sure if this has been confirmed, so let’s not jump the gun. I have news that their coverage will require multiple booth folks for possible multiple and taped game coverage, etc… so I would be surprised to find Davis or JP relegated to the old am/fm but it could very well happen… Hopefully they maintain enough American flavor to remind us why we’re watching: the USMNT….

    But we shall see.

  12. listen, we’re arguing over taste. there’s no way we’d ever be able to come to any sort of conclusion. I’m a believer in meritocracy and further in the “this is show business, not show friends” philosophy. Martin Tyler is better than JP. end of story.

    furthermore, much of this is dictated by the fact that the first key game is US/England. ESPN/ABC want to make sure they get as big a number as possible for that game. They’re leaving no stone unturned with this move.

    As for the other games, I’m a bit surprised they dumped JP for MT for those. Again, I can’t bitch because I’m a mega-MT fan and deep down I believe he’s better than JP (I believe he is best English language broadcaster in the world … but that’s my opinion).

    Again, people have been bitching non-stop about how ESPN has lacked commitment to soccer broadcasts. They just went out and got one of the best in the world to do their games. Seems pretty committed to me. People have also bitched non-stop about ESPN’s relegation of Derek Rae to the minor US-related broadcasts because of his accent. This Tyler deal seems to attack that theory too.

    As a fan, if you follow the timeline from 1990 on, it’s hard to criticize ESPN for incrementally learning from its past mistakes and trying to put a better product on the air. This is the anti-Dave O’Brien in every way. That should be a GOOD thing.

    it probably is, but if you get subbed by a better player it’s hard to complain. If you’re Michael Redd and you’re used to getting 42 minutes a game, when your team signs LeBron James your minutes are going to suffer. It sucks for Redd, but it’s a result of his team trying to make itself better. Adding James accomplishes that. The Tyler addition is the same deal IMHO.

  13. Actually, it’s exactly the same thing as the Dave O’Brien hiring.

    You’re essentially passing over a guy that knows his stuff and has busted his chops and paid his dues on this beat for 20+ years, in order to parachute a guy into that job because you feel that he’s better for the job.

    The only thing that’s changed is the definition of “better for the job.” But other than that, it’s the same old statement to American soccer: “You’re not good enough.” In 2006, it was that it was too soccer-y. In 2010, it’s that they’re too American.

    Where your analogy breaks down is that you’re essentially saying that Martin Tyler would be as exponentially better than JP Dellacamera to the same degree that James is better than Redd. He’s not. Tyler is more analogous to Keith Jackson or Pat Summerall these days. A great name and a great announcer in his day, but one whose skills are on the wane. You don’t have to go too far to find criticism of Tyler in the English media.

  14. Bingo. You nailed it.

    I’m sitting here kind of taken aback at the idea that an Englishman will be calling our World Cup opener against England — and that a lot of people are really happy about it.

  15. I think Tyler, Rae, and Healey would be great additions. What I don’t understand is the need to go with Ian Darke over Dellacamera. For once, this may be a case where the American is at least as specialized in soccer. (Darke does boxing and football, but is Sky’s #1 boxing commentator- so he does that whenever there is a broadcast.)

  16. Right. And as hard-core (particularly US or MLS) fans, we often have to realize that soccer media decisions are made, not with us in mind, but for the general sports fan in mind.

    Somehow, what’s changed over the last 4 years is that America’s disdain of soccer has turned into contempt of MLS (in favor of ManU, Barca, etc). And while people are watching more soccer, the USMNT continues to be viewed with skepticism at best.

    So the silver lining in all this is that the definition *has* changed in the sense that it is now “pro” soccer (even if at the expense of American soccer). I’m happy that, while having a foreign crew is the suboptimal situation, it is one that gives us a legend in the booth. This is, IMHO a huge step up from a couple of boobs trying to call it like a baseball game. At worst it will be tolerable, which is more than I can say for past experiments.

  17. I have no problem spreading the wealth – and I’m a big fan of Tyler’s – but JP should still be involved in some of the broadcasts, be it US games or otherwise.

  18. I didn’t have a problem with JP. But then I didn’t have a problem with Edwards or Dave O’Brien really.

    The color guys I’ve almost always loathed with the possible exception of Wynalda.

    The PBP guys serve some purpose as they give information that sometimes we might not otherwise know. The color guy seems to be there for no other purpose than to annoy you.

  19. Uhh, no. This is Martin Friggin Tyler. Maybe he’s lost a bit but come on … this is NOT Dave O’Brien.

    Again, when used in the DOB example, the analogy is heinous. But when comparing one existing guy to a market leader, it’s business as usual. It happens all the time. Executives get replaced by better executives. Actors get replaced by better actors. Athletes get replaced by better athletes. Your acting like this is somehow outside the realm of anything your brain could ever comprehend. again .. IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE.

    And it happened with Dave O’Brien, I’ll give you that. But where that was different was that 98% of the soccer community could have told you that DOB was not the ‘better’ choice. You can’t say the same for Tyler.

    again, that’s fine. As mentioned, taste is subjective. I wouldn’t even fault you for thinking that Dave O’Brien was the greatest soccer announcer ever. It’s subjective; it’s your right to have that opinion. I’m just saying it’s difficult to fault ESPN for going out and getting a true legend for its highest profile gig (granted, as you point out, a legend maybe on the wane .. but a Martin Tyler at 90% of capacity is still superior to many of his peers the world over).

  20. What makes you think John Harkes is excluded? (He might very well be, but I don’t think we know that from this post.)

  21. JP’s great. Can’t imagine being tied to Harkes – or given some of the directives these guys must get to fluff the games.

    Not saying JP should even be top dog PBP necessarily, but ditching him in favor of an all Euro broadcast team is shameful.

  22. Any chance somebody knows where to complain to? Any chance you can put it in the body of the post, Aaron?

    Really not looking forward to listening to English guys who have little or no knowledge of players not in the big 4 and (I suspect) attitudes that they don’t deserve to be known…horrible mispronunciations of latin names…and an English accent calling USA v. England


    I guess I can listen to radio, or watch in (partially understood) Spanish.

  23. This isn’t lifetime achievement award. The reality is that JP Dellacamera and the crew has been sucking hard core. Although domestically knowledgeable, their lyrical flow is awful and their are hardly entertaining. I prefer watching Galavision’s team over the the BS of Dellacamera and it’s constant humping of LAG.

  24. To Scott_COYW J.P. is outstanding, he does a fantastic job calling the games. This is a terrible thing that has happened to him.

  25. I think it’s fair to say that ESPN does like soccer, but hates American announcers who love the game. J.P. should be our lead announcer for ESPN. I like Derrek Rae & Adrian Healey, but J.P. is getting shafted again for no reason other than being the true face of American Soccer on ESPN.

    Dave O’Brien was decent, but he is more of a baseball man than a soccer announcer. Jack Edwards might have been corny, but at least he showed real intrest into it and I have to admit his off the cuff phrases against Portugal & Mexico were out in Left Field, but he showed true intrest.

    Time for ESPN to show some loyalty to J.P. Dellacamera because he is the face for soccer in the USA.

  26. For you that are upset, what games have you been watching? Dellacamera is not bad by any means but he is average at best. I want the best announcing the World Cup and those mentioned above are light years better than JP. I think radio is the perfect spot for him. Hopefully they won’t let Harkes any where near a microphone.

  27. Martin Tyler is probably better than anybody. But there’s being the best and then there’s being the best for the job.

    Fine, Martin Tyler’s great. But why have him do the US games? Why throw JP under the bus? It’s American soccer, right? What knowledge does Tyler have of US soccer? How many US games has he done in qualifying? In the run-up? In the last 10 years? Don’t give me bullshit about watching tape or seeing Tim Howard and Landon Donovan in the EPL.

    They’re drop-shipping a guy in here as stunt-casting to appeal to Eurosnobs and to over-compensate for the O’Brien thing in 2006 (which was also unnecessary).

    So if the US beats England, you think Martin Tyler’s going to have a real sense of what that means to you and be able to convey that in a meaningful way? (I know, “Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory” ain’t the way to go either, but we’ll leave Jingo Jack out of this because JP ain’t Jingo Jack.) Do you think Martin Tyler gives a shit about American soccer? He’s a hired gun.

    Except they announced they were hiring Tyler on October 18, 2009…six weeks before the draw. He was going to be the #1 guy regardless. You don’t bring him in otherwise.

    But do you honestly think people are going to say “I wasn’t going to watch this game, but now that Martin Tyler’s doing it, you bet I’m going to watch it?”

    It’s the same bullshit we heard about how John Madden was the one announcer who could move ratings. He didn’t. When they had attractive matchups, Monday Night Football got ratings. When they didn’t, they didn’t.

    So, let’s say you’re an architect. You’re a really good architect. You have been building up to the chance at this major project for years. They’ve let you do smaller projects and you’ve done well. You’re not Frank Lloyd Wright, but people know and appreciate the things you’ve designed for their community. What’s more, you get it. You understand the project. You understand the community and you have a vision for how the project is going to be integrated into it.

    And right at the last minute, they say to you, “Sorry, we have a chance to get Santiago Calatrava, who’s hardly built anything in America, but he’s better than you, so you’re out and he’s in. Go design the new post office on 22nd Street.”

    So they accomplish their goal of having a building designed by a world-class architect. They can point to it and say “Santiago Calatrava designed that, doesn’t that make us all worldly and shit?”

    Which is all well and good. If you’re Santiago Calatrava.

    If you’re the Milwaukee Bucks, you’re trying to win. You’re trying to compete against the Bulls and the Spurs and the Lakers, not to mention the Brewers and the Packers and UWM.

    Who’s ESPN trying to compete with? Who are they trying to out-do? Andres Cantor? They get Martin Tyler so that….who doesn’t get him? Univision?

    I know how this business works. It’s not fair. You know that going in. People get dumped for all sorts of reasons. We all understand it. JP understands it. But it’s unnecessary. And you can try to make it as cut-and-dried as you like, as if the people involved are just cardboard cutouts and as long as you’re happy with how they’re arranged because you’re a soccer fan, that’s all that matters.

    But that’s not all that matters.

  28. Actually, I’d agree that he’s not “outstanding”–I have a hard time remembering any call he’s made. He’s sort of the opposite of that, the work-a-day pro who doesn’t transcend, but also doesn’t make himself look the fool by trying to. He’s just simple and good.

    As such, it doesn’t exactly surprise me that he wasn’t given the first-team spot, in favor of a ‘star’, but–and I don’t mean to pass judgment on the guys they did pick until I’ve hear them for myself–it is pretty disappointing they didn’t put him on the second-team, where his type of announcing is just what’s called for, rather a star to upstage the game (or to lend it credibility via an accent).

    I think the pendulum has swung too far.

  29. Can you please show me this scale of quality which eliminates the concept of personal preference?

    I like the Tyler hiring. I hate the JP news. I think the concept of having an experienced professional with loads of historical knowledge about the USA is sadly another victim in this scenario.

  30. Darn, there’s no way to rep blog comments, right?

    The above is precisely what I’ve been clumsily trying to convey in posts here and elsewhere. It’s exactly right. This isn’t about jingoism (or even homerism, per se) — it’s simply about having a voice that operates in the American soccer context. It’s sort of like, hey, wait a minute — why is Martin Tyler swooping in on my USMNT?

  31. I don’t dislike Tyler but don’t want to listen to a Brit calling the USA/ENG game in the USA…so maybe we want to send ESPN a message that we wil “turn the sound down” unless JP/Harkes are made available for the USA game…even if it’s on SAP audio…

  32. I agree w/ kenntomasch & ElJefe’s much better written posts. This move (if true) to dump JP for the USA games for a Brit (no matter the reputation of said Brit) for the USA WC games (particularly the USA-England game) sucks and sends a terrible message to the American game. Terrible, terrible move by ESPN.

    JP is good at his job (don’t conflate Harkes’ performances w/ JP’s pbp). He knows American soccer and the USMNT’s path through qualifying.

    eta: so it isn’t completely unheard of for ESPN cameras to be at a soccer bar during a soccer event (eg the draw). I wonder what the reaction might be if fans at such a bar wanted to express support for JP and did so on camera….

  33. Damn, I’d hate to see the reaction if they hired O’Brien and Roger Twibell to be the lead PBP guys, meltdown would occur on this site. Those complaining about ESPN dumping JP to radio; just be glad we have someone competent to call the game. I cringe thinking back to twibell calling the USA games in the 90’s.

  34. If ABC had brought in some Canadian team to call Olympic hockey in 1980 would we still remember the “Miracle on Ice”? Sports history is littered with great moments and great upsets, but the ones that really stick are the ones that we do have great calls that speak to exactly what the watching/listening audience is feeling.

    So, yeah, if something magical happens on June 12th in Rustenberg, will Martin Tyler really be able to connect with us?

    When the Tyler signing was announced, I was one of those that was fine with the signing, but indicated that JP should still do all the U.S. games.

    Other than the opener, are any other games being shot in 3-D? Remember that those games will have seperate 3-D broadcast teams.

  35. Honestly I’d rather just have the sounds of the stadium/game uninterrupted by some talking head. Doesn’t matter who announces it, it still won’t be like being in the stadium.

  36. Thank the soccer gods for Martin Tyler.

    ESPN has been “mentally challenged” for years regarding soccer coverage. (that goes for their college analogy announcers as well)

    What I realize is that no matter what choice they opt for – not everyone will be happy.

    With Martin Tyler – at least I am !

  37. “he was in Port of Spain 1989 for goodness sakes”

    Actually, the first English-language call of a World Cup match I remember is J.P.’s. He was working USSR-Canada in ’86, alongside Seamus Malin and Shep Messing.

    He’s gotten left out of a couple Cups since then, as I recall. Sorry to see it happen this time. Whatever the connoisseurs say, I’ve always liked J.P.

    Meanwhile, anyone think the Me-and-Mrs.-Wynalda matter contributed to Harkesy getting cut loose entirely? Have to wonder if ESPN feared the mere sight of John Terry would inspire Captain for Life to create much dead air.

  38. The guys they are getting put aside for are 2 of the worlds best Football commentators in History they are royalty.. ESPN is very Smart in getting them..

  39. Pingback: Why Fox putting Gus Johnson on its soccer broadcasts is a great, if risky, idea | The Big Question

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