Last night during the LAG-Van game I had a flashback...to a flop house full of 20 year old guys pounding cheap beer and yelling at the tv. That's right, in college a group of about 20 guys and I would get together and watch Monday Night Raw...and no I don't watch WWF as an adult. It was good fun and a nice excuse to get together on a Monday night (study???). One of the things that kept everyone engaged was the running storylines from week to week and ability of the "play by play" announcers to constantly and eloquently interject the story lines into the "bouts," with a little bit of reinforcement from the color commentator. The announcers at the time were Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler and they were brilliant.
Well folks, Arlo White is our Michael Cole and Kyle Martino is Jerry Lawler. The Landon Donovan "interview" before the Chi/Hou game was a spitting image of something WWE does to fabricate a story line to engage the fans. Then have announcers incessantly refer to it to maintain interest. In that "interveiw," we learned that Landon Donovan is questioning his love for the game and contemplating his retirement. Would he be able to re-kindle his love of soccer during the La Galaxy's playoff run? The stage was set.
Arlo White played his role perfectly. Similarly to Michael Cole, he did not stop talking the entire match. Rather than let us process what was happening on the pitch for ourselves, White provided constant running commentary ensuring there was no idle air space, stepping in when play slowed to rehash "around the league" news events and other MLS storylines. Over the course of the game, White regularly referred back to the "love of the game" interview to reinforce the story line. Every time LD would touch the ball the narrative was reinforced. He even said, "Could the PK be the event that rekindles Donovan's love of the game?"...or something to that effect. Incredibly cheesy, but right on cue. Kyle Martino was also on point when he chimed in how "he was in MNT locker rooms with LD and if he was questioning his future it must be serious." Nicely done Kyle. All of this was done during play mind you and lasted for the entire 90 minutes plus stoppage time, with White pausing the narrative to cut to on field action when warranted, then resuming the storyline when play was "less interesting"...it was impressive to say the least.
The whole LD "love of the game" stuff is right out of the professional wrestling playbook. Fabricate a story, then have your on-payroll announcers beat it to death during the competition. I for one, would simply like to watch an MLS game without listening to Arlo White blabber for 90 minutes straight. Might be time to turn down the volume.