By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"I never could figure out exactly what is meant by the word 'shtick,'" Cooperstein laments. "If I had a shtick, I guess it was that I was the 'higher authority.' [Mike] Rhyner put that label on me, but that's what it was. I know sports, and that's what the show was about.
"And I was sandwiched between Dunham and Miller in the morning and Rhyner and Williams in the afternoon. They have each other to play off of, and they know each other so well. It's hard to be funny when you're alone."
Employment in radio, of course, is nothing if not volatile, and Cooperstein understands that. For now, he is covering the national college game of the week for CBS radio. But if the industry keeps listing to the heavy-on-entertainment side, and there is every indication that it will, Cooperstein doubts he'll have another gig like he had on The Ticket.
"I thought I was doing what you were supposed to do on an all-sports station. But I guess I was wrong."
Dunham and Miller are discussing national sports stories culled from the morning paper. The night before, Boston Red Sox left fielder Will Cordero had walked up to the plate for his turn at bat, and the fans at Fenway Park greeted him with resounding boos and catcalls. It was their public reaction to charges he was facing for allegedly beating his wife.
"How sorry is that guy," says a disgusted Dunham. The Cordero case then segues into a long discussion about some sports heroes' flagrant disregard for women--and for society's rules in general. Dunham and Miller cite examples; Cowboys Michael Irvin and Erik Williams top the list. Weeks later, Dunham and Miller will take on the whole Nate Newton issue, discussing a Grand Prairie woman's allegations that the Cowboys star sexually assaulted her after they had ended a yearlong love affair. Newton is married. While he ran around with the woman, sometimes taking her on the road--with the knowledge of team owner Jerry Jones and coach Barry Switzer--Newton's wife remained at home, pregnant.
Even if the accusation of sexual assault turns out to be fiction, say Dunham and Miller, there is no way to excuse--much less understand--the way Newton has treated his wife and the mother of his children.
This is, I think, when D&M are at their best--when they take a big slab of sports news and whittle it down to a sliver. What Williams or Newton do off the field says something about them, but it says even more about society in general. Too many men have problems with violence. They just don't get it. And the sports world, by excusing or completely ignoring their shabby behavior, has to be held responsible.
The Gentle Musers see sports as more than point spreads and scouting reports. Sports is about politics, power, culture. Life.
But never forget, sports is also about shtick. Bundle it all together--the philosophy with the foolery--and you get quite a package. The sexiest guys on the air.
If you don't believe me, you can take it from Mary.
Last week, as Dunham and Miller were broadcasting their show on location from a North Dallas electronics store, they mentioned they were hungry. Not just once, but probably, oh, 14 times. What they wanted, what they sent out a plea for, was a peanut butter sandwich.
At 8 a.m., Miller decided to take action.
"How about this," he announced. "The first person to bring us a peanut butter sandwich gets a Ticket T-shirt. These are very rare items. George and I even have a hard time getting them."
Thirty-five minutes later, Mary (she did not give her last name) showed up, sandwich in hand. Except it wasn't exactly what the guys had in mind. The sandwich was spread with butter and sprinkled with peanuts.
"I'm sorry," Mary said, "but I didn't have any peanut butter. So I kind of improvised."
"Wow," Miller said. "That's, uh, great! You did this for us? How long did it take you to get here?"
Mary: "Oh, about 20 minutes. I dropped the kids at school and hurried home to make the sandwich. It wasn't any problem, because I just love you guys."
Mary, that makes two of us.