15 Mar 2004
Reviewed by: Patrick Laverty
We started with twelve, now only six remain. In week 4 of ESPN's "Dream Job" the contestants were sent to Florida (can this gig get any better?) and assigned in pairs to different Spring Training sites. Even though they were sent out in pairs, they are working on their own. Each contestant must go out and find their own story, write it present it and then with the help of ESPN's editing staff, created a two-minute piece. The pairings started out at the SportsCenter desk and each gave a short lead-in to the other's story.
We are getting down to serious time here as we can really see the cream rising to the top. There were no more "too painful to watch" presentations, like Alvin Williams or Michael Quigley, everyone was at least ok. However, the remaining six have definitely separated themselves in two levels. We'll get back to that later.
The first pairing was Kelly and Zach. They were sent to Jupiter (that's in Florida) to the Twins and Marlins training camp. Kelly's piece was shown first. Kelly's piece was on the comeback of AJ Burnett. He seemed to find a good story, the former young-ace-who-threw-a-9-walk-no-hitter, but he seemed to talk to everyone under the sun about it. He didn't focus real well and when he was on camera, he looked really uninterested. Zach is still nicely cleaned up, as he previously had his hair unmanaged and wore a leisure suit to the first shows. His piece was on autograph collecting in Spring Training. It was a nice piece, but as was mentioned by the judges, it screamed of Kenny Mayne. ESPN already has one of those guys and while a good idea and carried out well, there is only room for one of that style of reporting. I still feel that Zach the odds on favorite to win this thing as he is much more smooth and comfortable in front of the camera.
Next up were Nick and Aaron who were sent to the Astros' camp. Nick did his story on Octavio Dotel, the new Astros' closer. I thought it was a great choice of stories, though judge Tony Kornheiser disagreed. I thought the interview portions with Dotel were fresh as he got some great quotes out of him, and Dotel seemed to be having fun on the camera. The same couldn't be said for Nick. He was too stiff this time to the point of being boring, and that resonated with the judges. Aaron was next up and he came through really well with a story on the E's of the left side of the infield. Not errors, but Ensberg and Everett, the Astros' third baseman and shortstop. Aaron got some good sound bites from Jeff Bagwell and Jimy Williams, wrote really well, but seemed out of place during his time on camera as he was wearing a very formal suit at Spring Training. Loosen up dude. It's Florida. Try a golf shirt. One last thing that I notice is remember when parents would say they get mad because they care? Well, we're seeing that with the judges tonight as well. The lesser contestants are getting less feedback than the better candidates, and I don't only mean less positive feedback either. It seems the judges are not afraid to rip into the better contestants and the lesser ones are just left hanging.
The game today was Question and Answer about the NCAA brackets. Stu Scott would ask each contestant questions about one of the brackets, and they'd have fifteen seconds to answer. This seemed like a really tough game as the brackets had only been out less than 3 hours. Each contestant only had to worry about one part of it, but to quickly learn about 16 teams inside of three hours is pretty impressive. The judges were least impressed with Chet as he seemed to do more talking than answering the questions.
Mike Hall and Maggie Haskins were the next up. They were sent to Winter Haven, home of the Indians' and Braves' Spring Training sites. Both contestants did stories on the Indians and I was a little disappointed as I thought there were stories galore with the Braves this season, but at the conclusion of both stories, Stu and Mike mentioned that the Braves were less than cooperative. Mike did his story on aging star Omar Vizquel. It was a nice puff piece, but as judge Al Jaffe pointed out, the most exciting part of the whole story was in the very last line where Vizquel stated he'd like to manage when he retires. It was almost a throw-in at the end and should have been the focus of the story. Mike was still good, but I thought came back to the pack a little tonight. Maggie did her story on the emerging young players of the Indians. It was a nice piece, but not quite as engaging as Nick's Octavio Dotel story. I don't feel like Maggie has changed a whole lot since the beginning but I would rate as a "pretty good".
Last up were Casey and Chet. Casey made the big mistake of letting a comment by Tony LaRussa get back to ESPN when he told Casey, "You're better than some of the guys they already got in there." That could end up haunting him for some time to come. Casey did his story about the "spectacular chemistry" between Scott Rolen and Edgar Renteria and compared them favorably to ARod and Jeter. The story was just sort of "eh" and you could tell afterward that even Casey knew it wasn't his best work. Chet also separated himself from the pack, but not in a good way. He did get a really good interview with Jose Lima, who gave some great quotes and behind the scenes specifics about why he's not back with the Royals this year. I'm not sure if it ended up being cut, but more of that would have been great. All along I've been saying that Chet is playing this thing too smooth, acting like he's in search of a date, and tonight it was over the top. As one of the judges noted, it sounded as though he was whispering during his voiceovers. Not very exciting.
So when it came down to the end, America's vote was given first. Maggie and Chet got the first votes. Next up was Tony, who agreed with America's vote and voted to cut Maggie and Chet. Kit stuck to the girl power and voted for Chet and Nick, who she said went too far in the other direction of his "smugness". He went to the point of being dry. LaVar gave his cut votes to Casey and Nick, and the last vote came from Al, who voted to cut Nick and Chet. So with four votes, Chet Anekwe was gone as was Nick Stevens. Again, I have to admit, this was predicted perfectly from last week. I had my reservations in picking Chet this week, as I don't think he'd received a vote up to this point, but its getting much harder and the talent is surely separating. I see them in two distinct groups now.
Next to Go
I will be shocked if any of the three in my Favorites column goes next week. The order in each column is no accident either. I think Zach is the favorite to win, Mike Hall is a close second and Aaron needs a little work, but could pull it out as well. In the Next to Go column, I believe Maggie is all done. She will get 4 or 5 votes next week but the next one is a little tougher for me to predict. I definitely like Casey better, but I think the judges prefer Kelly. Casey seems to want this more and Kelly still talks out of the side of his mouth. So sticking with my gut, I'll say Kelly will go home next week as well and Casey will sneak into the Final Four.