Little Ball of Huh?

Today's sign of the apocalypse: Airing now on ESPN 103.3 FM, The new Little Ball of Hate Show. What earlier this week was a decent and maturing Dennis & Engel combo has abruptly deteriorated into a one-woman act with the surprise firing of Steve Dennis. The 9 a.m.-noon slot on ESPN Radio will now be filled solely by Engel because station management reasoned that Dennis was somehow muffling her stardom.

"I got the boot, swift and hard, at 12:05 Tuesday," says Dennis, who was at the station for 18 months and partnered with Engel for a year. "But I'm thankful for the opportunity to get into sports talk radio, and I hope I get another chance in the near future."

Considering the show was in its relative infancy and that it was going head-to-head with Ticket radio legend Norm Hitzges, ratings were rapidly improving. As, seemingly, was an entertaining chemistry between the two stubborn personalities. But--hey, we can only shrug--ESPN Radio management is convinced Engel is the next Leslie Visser.

Earlier in her show today Engel opened the phone lines and invited listeners to call in with their Cowboys predictions. If you're fascinated that "Joe in Garland" thinks Dallas will go 12-4, it was riveting radio. Engel will continue to get on-air support from homogenized voices Mike Taylor, Randy Myers and R.J. Choppy, who last Sunday highlighted a score update with: "The Rangers and Indians are well under way in their game out at Ameriquest Field."

Though the 9-12 universe now belongs exclusively to his former sidekick, Dennis could return to the station in a lesser role. Says Dennis, "Hey, I'm open to all things." Don't cry too long for Dennis, who'll be in Jacksonville this weekend covering the Cowboys for his other job. --Richie Whitt