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How Is ESPN's New 'Monday Night Football' Booth Doing After Three Games?: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. After Week 1, I wrote that I didn't want to evaluate ESPN's new Monday Night Football booth until they called a few games together.

Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick have now called a few games together, including a big one Monday night.

My feelings on the crew haven't changed much over the three weeks. The trio is solid, not spectacular, and that's O.K. This booth is a big improvement over the MNF booth of the past few years. This crew doesn't distract from the game, their act doesn't seem forced and they give you a good broadcast.

There's not much more you can ask for as a viewer.

For example, this was an excellent call by Levy with good analysis by Riddick and Griese immediately after the touchdown.

Same thing here.

Levy is a good play-by-play caller. And Griese and Riddick are fine. What prevents this booth from being great isn't the fault of the broadcasters; it's on the executive who insisted on a three-person team. Neither Griese nor Riddick stands out right now. Their analysis and delivery are similar. In a weird way, they sort of cancel each other out.  

I've said all along there's no need for a three-person booth, and this current incarnation proves that. A Levy-Griese or a Levy-Riddick booth would be better than the three-person version because it would allow the analyst to stand out. This setup allows nobody to stand out.

The previous Monday Night Football booth had bad chemistry. This booth has neutral chemistry. That can change over time. The crew has called only three games together in the middle of socially distancing during a pandemic in empty stadiums. That is not easy and not ideal.

One huge improvement I noticed last night was the overall telecast. The bells and whistles that plagued Monday Night Football over the past few years are gone, and the focus is actually on the game. It might help that the cameraperson can't give us a bunch of shots of the fans in the stands right now, but MNF got into the bad habit of showing us the booth several times a game over the past couple of years. 

I don't know if it was because there were two great teams playing Monday night, but the camera stayed on the field at all times and it was wonderful.

2. This GIF-heavy recap of the Bears' comeback win over the Falcons is excellent work by Chicago's social media team. 

3. There's been A LOT of debate about sports ratings over the past several weeks. There's no debate when it comes to broadcast television, though. The four networks are bleeding viewers. This stat comes from John Ourand in Sports Business Journal.

"From Monday-Thursday, the four broadcast networks averaged a combined 9 household ratings points in primetime; last year, that figure was a 17, which represents a whopping 47 percent drop."

Cord cutting is real.

4. A few of you may tune in to Tuesday night's debate between Joe Biden and a guy who pays only $750 in federal income taxes.

If you'd like to spice up your viewing of the debate by having some action on it, has you covered with these prop bets.

How many times will Biden say 750?
Over/Under: 2.5

What will Biden say first?
Come on man: -200
Scranton: +150

What will Trump say first?
Fake news: -140
China virus: EVEN

What will Trump say first?
Sleepy: +110
Drug test: -150

Will Biden or Trump curse?
Yes: +175
No: -250

Who will take first drink of water?
Biden: -140
Trump: EVEN

Will Biden walk to the podium wearing a mask?
Yes: -400
No: +250

Will Trump walk to the podium wearing a mask?
Yes: +150
No: -200

Will Biden or Trump refuse to answer a question?
Yes: +200
No: -300

How many non-facts will Trump say? (According to New York Times fact-checker report)
Over/Under: 5.5

How many non-facts will Biden say? (According to New York Times fact-checker report)
Over/Under: 1.5​

Quick analysis: Over 2.5 times on Biden saying "750" is a lock. Love the value on +250 for Biden not wearing a mask. And put your life's savings over 5.5 non-facts for the person who once said this:

5. Legendary broadcaster Dan Patrick is the guest on the the latest episode of the SI Media Podcast. Patrick opened up about a serious illness that left him with memory loss and depression, and he talked about leaving ESPN three years too late, the scary prospect of building his own brand, the art of the interview, Howard Stern inspiring the Danettes, and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play.

6. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Bryant Gumbel turns 72 years old today. While Real Sports is still a great show, we need to honor Gumbel by featuring an all-time clip from his days on Today.

7. SPORTS VIDEO OF THE DAY: A Major League Baseball playoff game will air on ABC during the afternoon today. When I think about a day playoff game on ABC, I think of Mets-Astros from 1986, called by Keith Jackson.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.