When it comes to slinging TV bull about pitchers, quarterbacks, and cheerleaders, Fox Sports Net’s Best Damn Sports Show Period, which recently hit its first-year anniversary, may be getting the most attention. You could boil this series down to a one-sentence pitch: It’s ”The Man Show” crossed with ”The Jon Stewart Show.” Boasting a hefty host roster, ”Best Damn” mixes civilians like sportscaster Chris Rose and comedian/actor/Roseanne detritus Tom Arnold with baseball’s John Kruk, football’s D’Marco Farr and Michael Irvin, and basketball’s John Salley. They quiz guests ranging from actor James Caan to running back Corey Dillon. Sample Q&A: One of the guys asks, ”Which is more tough, baseball or football?” Dillon says, ”Football – it’s more physical.” The invariable response to anything anyone utters: hoots and cheers from a studio audience.
”Best Damn” also features ”Sports Update” segments by Lisa Guerrero, an excessively mascara’d Fox fox, the equally sex-objectified ”correspondent” Leeann Tweeden, and Lisa Joyner, with her ”Best Damn Insider Entertainment Report.” I refer to these women’s looks mostly because the hosts and audience usually make sure to – it’s all part of that ”Man Show”-y sexual incorrectness that was fashionable about two years ago. So it also behooves me to say that while Salley is a devilishly handsome, articulate fellow, Kruk – who’s built like the box an extra-large George Foreman Grill arrives in – gets a lot of joshing from his cohosts for being out of shape and generally out of it. In the context of this show, Arnold, with his horn-rims and goatee, is practically ”Inside the Actors Studio” host James Lipton, which is to say, not funny and prone to ask meandering questions that answer themselves. The visiting pro athletes either treat him with benign contempt or tolerate him as a possible small-role showbiz contact to exploit once they retire.
So what’s made this show so popular? Well, for one thing, its sheer pervasiveness – it’s on for two hours every weekday, offering jabber-jawed debates plus the day’s sports stats on a ticker. You can tune in and out for 10 minutes at a time, catch the scores and a jokey interview, and have ”Best Damn” remind you that you might want to kick back with a Mike’s Hard Lemonade or some takeout from Outback Steakhouse, two sponsors whose products are repeatedly plugged and whose logos adorn ”Best Damn”’s set.