Posted by: mdegeorge | June 21, 2010

A void in the “auld onion bag”: A World Cup without Tommy Smyth

It’s been a scintillating World Cup so far, complete with action, drama, meltdowns, and shocking upsets.

But one thing has been missing: Tommy Smyth.

The lovable Irish commentator (although apparently not to some in the European ranks of football fans) has been a glaring absence on ESPN’s telecasts, both in the studio and as a broadcaster at games. While the Worldwide Leader has scoured the globe to bring in studio analysts like Ruud Gullit, Steve McManaman, and Roberto Martinez—and allowed Alexei Lalas to hang around—the Irishman and his rollicking brogue still leave a void in the contingent.

The announcing pairings have been similarly formidable, with color commentators like Efan Ekoku (coolest name ever), Robbie Mustoe, and Ally McCoist (when I understand what he’s saying) providing insight and entertainment without being over-the-top.

But the confinement of Smyth, the lively ambassador of the world’s game to many Americans and a man whose head even resembles a soccer ball, to ESPNews, the Scott Van Pelt Show, and the Web site is a disappointment.

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