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You Herd Me!

By Colin Cowherd

Crown

294 pages, $26

By Budd Bailey

NEWS BOOK REVIEWER

Colin Cowherd has a problem when it comes to writing a book. He’s a sports talk show host.

That puts him at something of a disadvantage when trying to write an interesting publication, and it shows during the course of “You Herd Me!”

Cowherd, who hosts a show on ESPN Radio that is simulcast on television, obviously is good at what he does for a living. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be broadcast across the nation. Cowherd has a good gift of gab, a prerequisite for the profession.

He’s also generally knowledgeable and responsible on the air. In other words, Cowherd isn’t the type of person that will send some people poking their dashboard furiously if he happens to pop up on the car radio for more than a few seconds.

But sports talk shows rely on two matters that work hand-in-hand: immediacy and passion.

When events such as an important game or a big trade happen, people are much more likely to reach for the phone … and, in most cases, complain. In fairness, newspapers no doubt experience the same phenomenon with their letters to the editor column. It just takes longer to compose a letter than it does to get on the air via phone.

In a book by a sports talk show host, almost any subject that’s topical gets thrown out the window because of the delay between writing and publication. Cowherd, for example, has been working on this for a couple of years, and it sounds like he did the last edit for it sometime in early September. So he couldn’t do what he’s paid to do, which is react to the news of the day.

That left Cowherd with a couple of choices. He could tell his life story about encounters with familiar names in sports. Or, he could give opinions on not-too-topical issues. The veteran broadcaster goes with Plan B, with 35 relatively short essays.

Cowherd at least covers a variety of topics. Let’s see – he’s not buying that idea that Tiger Woods was some sort of victim of sexual addiction issues; Cowherd offers him as someone would could get away with bad behavior for quite a while and did. Selling beer in the stands of most college sports events is a bad idea. Baseball general managers might have the most difficult job in sports. Soccer is here to stay.

Some of the opinions are out of left field, to use the easy sports analogy. Sudden death overtime should return to the NFL, but the road team should get the ball first every time. History and intelligence are two reasons why Boston audiences don’t pay typically large attention to national events unless a local team is involved. Major League Baseball has a lot in common with the Republican Party. There’s even a Tim Tebow essay, which feels so last month, considering he’s out of the league for the time being (and maybe forever).

Get the picture? It’s difficult to imagine the phone lines lighting up if any of those subjects came up now on Cowherd’s show, with the possible exception of Tebow, who will have vigorous supporters in his corner indefinitely.

The writing probably could be edited a bit into more compact paragraphs, but it’s difficult to criticize someone who talks for a living for that particular problem. The tone is conversational and friendly, and some readers no doubt will find it funny.

Cowherd has a national following, and he certainly has people locally who listen to him regularly on ESPN 1520. Those people might enjoy the chance to read Cowherd’s thoughts at length.

Most sports fans, however, probably would be better served in encountering him in his natural element as a radio broadcaster.

Budd Bailey is a copy editor in the sports department at The Buffalo News.