Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Greenberg seems incapable of giving an actual opinion about anything

Alex Reimer
August 07, 2018 - 11:32 am

Mike Greenberg is pulling off one of the greatest magic routines in recent memory. Every morning, he hosts a three-hour talk show on ESPN. And yet, he appears incapable of articulating an actual opinion. 

When “Get Up” launched in April, one of the primary concerns was whether Greenberg, who spent 17 years cultivating a milquetoast radio persona on “Mike & Mike,” would be able to siphon viewers away from the multitude of other morning shows out there. While Michelle Beadle and Jalen Rose are also fixtures on the program, it’s Greenberg’s show. He’s reportedly being paid $6.5 million per year. 

So far, ratings for “Get Up” have been poor. The early returns were dreadful, with the inaugural episode drawing just 283,000 viewers –– down significantly from the traditional version of “SportsCenter” that aired in its time slot one year prior. Over the last three months, it hasn’t gotten much better. In July, the show averaged 222,632 viewers per episode, according to the Twitter account that tracks “Get Up’s” minuscule audience. 

The main issue with “Get Up” is there’s no real reason to watch. Traditional highlight shows recap the previous night’s action with more proficiency, speciality programs like “Good Morning Football” cover individual sports, and debate shows usually feature at least one captivating anchor. “Get Up” is a mishmash of all three, minus the personality.

A lot of this falls back on Greenberg. He never generates reaction, spewing mealy-mouthed monologues about topics ranging from Tom Brady abruptly ending his training camp scrum to the Astros acquiring alleged domestic abuser Roberto Osuno. Last week, here is what Greenberg had to say about Boston Globe reporter Ben Volin asking Brady about Julian Edelman’s connection to Alex Guerrero and TB12:

“I thought it was really interesting. I can’t make up my own mind if I think the question is legitimate or illegitimate,” Greenberg said, committing the cardinal sin of vacillation just two sentences into his take. “I’m not sure if that’s even the right way to describe it. But Alex Guerrero has become such an incredibly significant figure around the Patriots for a variety of reasons, and of them having to do with this. But when you heard Edelman was suspended, and that he was working with Guerrero, it is a connection that was made in certain places. Again, no one is painting a picture of, ‘Clearly Guerrero is funneling these guys PEDs.’ No one is saying that. I don’t think the question necessarily was suggesting that. But there is an inference, I guess. I understand Brady being made upset by it.”

Those are 128 words of nothing. Since Greenberg is unwilling to take an actual stand on the appropriateness of a question in a press conference, it’s not surprising he shied away from offering a concrete opinion on the Astros’ acquisition of Osuna, who just returned from serving an 80-game suspension for domestic violence.

“It’s one thing if you have a player in your own organization who’s involved in a domestic incident like this one and has a suspension and you say, ‘We know him, we believe in him, we’re going to give him a second chance. This is a person who’s been part of what we’ve done,’” Greenberg said Monday. “It does feel different to go out and acquire someone in that circumstance who is basically a stranger to everyone here. It really does feel like a, ‘Winning is more important than any of these other things.’ I do wonder how you feel if you’re a fan of that team. Again, it was the feel-good story of all of sports, and there is an element of that that I think has gone away here. Do you guys share that perspective on this? I don’t know what exactly to make of this decision by the Astros.”

The hot takes that come from Max Kellerman, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless are often mockable. But they often manage to go viral, and drive the conversation on certain topics. We spend lots of time on WEEI, for example, reacting to their latest rants.

It’s understandable if Greenberg doesn’t want to go that route. But he’s also not being interesting. He’s just saying … nothing. As a result, “Get Up” is failing on all accounts. It isn’t drawing any ratings, and fails to generate buzz. 

That’s not a formula for success in morning TV. 

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