Watching sports on TV always is more fun when you have a rooting interest. That's why it was hard to see Boston attorney Chris Williams be the first to get bounced off ESPN's "Dream Job" in Sunday night's premier showing. Of the six contestants -- half of the field of 12 -- who were judged on the "SportsCenter" anchor desk last night, only two seemed to have that elusive "it," the right mix of writing, talent, delivery, and entertainment quotient: Stanford senior Aaron Levine and Braintree native Nick Stevens.
Levine had the smoothest delivery, a presentation worthy of a mid- to major-market anchor.
But Stevens, a comedian by trade, had the timing and delivery -- call it a shtick if you prefer -- to stand out. His "Ramma-lamma-hand-jam-man" dunk call used in a promo already had him worried that he'd be labeled as a wise guy.
His assigned highlights Sunday were a Mavericks double OT victory over the Kings and last year's Indianapolis 500 where his staccato comments went over the head of several of the judges but were spot on in timing with the video. He wrapped up with "Yup, those are man tears" as last year's winner Gil de Ferran was overcome at the magnitude of realizing his own dream.
But Al Jaffe, judge and ESPN talent hirer, sounded a dire warning: "You didn't sound like an anchor."
Unfortunately, neither did Williams, who seemingly suppressed his personality in a business where "entertainment" is as important as journalism.
The vote to eliminate a contestant wound up in a tie with two judges picking Williams and two others picking Mike Quigley. The fifth vote -- via viewers logging on to ESPN.com -- was to remove the night's first contestant, Mike Hall.
As a result, an unnamed ESPN executive -- via telephone -- cast the deciding vote via speaker phone.
Williams, nicknamed "The Politician," showed why when put on the spot before his audition. Asked which contestant he feared most, Williams replied, "Alvin Williams. There's only room for one Williams here."
Chris Williams didn't turn out to be the one. Though he was finished on "Dream Job," after the show, he did a "SportsCenter" spot, and appeared on ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" yesterday morning and ESPN Radio last night.
"Now it's time to figure out what's next," said Williams, who'd given up his job as a lawyer at the Boston offices of Bingham & McCutchen. "I have to say I'm a little disappointed."
And hoping the phone might ring with an interesting offer.
Many viewers trying to access the ESPN.com website found it jammed by newcomers who found they had to register as a prerequisite to voting. Instead of casting ballots, would-be voters later in the show got the message: "The site is temporarily too busy to process your request. Please try again later."
The Patriots Super Bowl DVD goes on sale today at retail outlets around the region ($24.98 suggested retail price).
Two years ago, after the team's first Super Bowl victory, the VHS/DVD release sold more than a half-million copies, a record for the annual NFL Films-produced product.
"We hope to equal that number," said James Weiner, who produced this year's DVD, "particularly after a fantastic Super Bowl and the team's 15-game winning streak. It's targeted to Patriots fans, not only in Boston but all over the world."
Weiner, who'd been assigned to follow the AFC representative, had a 45-minute recap of the Patriots' regular season already completed during the two weeks before the Super Bowl. He added 15 minutes of Super Bowl championship highlights in the days immediately following the game. All told, with bonus features, the DVD runs nearly 3 hours.
The Golf Channel is still accepting applicants for Big Break II even as Justin Peters, the Big Break's first winner, competes in this weekend's The Barton Creek Classic, the first of four Canadian Tour entry exemptions he received for his victory. The tournament airs live on TGC, Thursday-Sunday, from 4-6 p.m. . . . ESPN has extensive coverage of golf's "World Match Play Championship," starting with a half-hour preview today at 4:30 p.m. Coverage runs from 2-6 p.m. tomorrow through Friday. On Saturday, ESPN has quarterfinal coverage from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. with Channel 5 doing the semifinals from 3-7 p.m. Sunday's coverage is on ESPN2 (10-1:30 p.m.) and Channel 5 (3-7 p.m.) . . . Rain at a golf tournament (example: Sunday's final round of the Nissan Open on ABC) doesn't have the same TV appeal as snow at a football game . . . That sure looked like former Tiger Woods caddie Fluff Cowan [now on Jim Furyk's bag] clapping from behind the ropes as Woods walked off after his 7-under-par 64 Sunday at the Nissan Open.
The Globe's "Sportsplus" originates from Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday with host Bob Lobel and Globe senior baseball writer Gordon Edes going head-to-head with Sox manager Terry Francona. The show, taped earlier in the evening, airs on NESN following the 7 p.m. Bruins-Canadiens telecast . . . Edes also joins NESN's Bob Rodgers on "Red Sox Inside Out" tonight after Bruins-Islanders (NESN, 7 p.m.) . . . Lobel is doing a 15-minute spring training segment nightly on Channel 38 . . . FSN has "New England Sports Tonight" from Fort Myers with live audiences (assuming enough New Englanders are on hand already) at 6:30 and 10 p.m. from the DiamondHead Resort . . . And NECN also has daily reports plus Mike Giardi segments as warranted on the 11 p.m. "Sports LateNight." . . . HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" returns (tonight, 10 p.m.), with a look at the financial state of the "for sale" Milwaukee Brewers, owned by the family of commissioner Bud Selig . . . The Celtics will be giving away a limited number of Tommy Heinsohn bobblehead dolls at the FleetCenter March 5 (Celtics-Wizards). "They took pictures of my head from every conceivable angle with the exception of in one ear and out the other," said Heinsohn during Sunday night's telecast from Seattle . . . Even NASCAR-lovers have to say enough is enough when the prerace coverage includes a goofy soap opera segment "As the Wheel Turns" and rapid-fire "boxers-or-briefs" interview with Tony Stewart. After that, Fox proceeded to lose the picture at the one moment fans tune in for: the start of Sunday's Subway 400 at Rockingham, N.C. Four hundred miles later, Matt Kenseth held off rookie Kasey Kahne to win by a couple of feet . . . The NASCAR race topped the weekend's local sports ratings with a 4.5. In contrast, the Celtics' late-night losses in Portland Saturday (0.1) and Seattle Sunday (0.4) didn't make the 1.0 rating used as a cutoff for the chart. ESPN's debut of "Dream Job" also did a 0.4 in the 10-11 p.m. hour Sunday.