You don't need to fine them, or fire them, or pull them off the air -- although in the case of Jimmy Kimmel, if they did go ahead and cancel his show, would anybody notice?
All you have to do is shut down Open-Mike Night at Hackneyed Stereotype Theater for the weekend, lock Kimmel in the same room with Bill Parcells and Larry Bird and force them to watch every minute of, ahem, "The Four Future Hall of Famers" falling flat on their legacies in Detroit.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 15, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Pro basketball -- In an article Saturday in the Sports section about television coverage of the NBA Finals, actress Kaley Cuoco's surname was misspelled Couco.
Oh, wait. We're doing pretty much the same thing, and all we did wrong was buy into the pre-Finals hype that said the Lakers were about to pound Detroit back into the Stone Age, back to where Larry Brown supposedly first etched out the Pistons' offensive game plan on some dank cave wall just outside prehistoric Auburn Hills.
Remember that golden oldie?
Yes, the world was a much different place before last Sunday.
As the Lakers on Thursday night fell behind in the NBA Finals, two games to one, while scoring 68 points and losing by 20, ABC's Al Michaels mused, "One of my favorite expressions is 'Nobody knows anything.' Nobody knows anything. Lakers are supposed to sweep. And then Detroit wins the first game, and then they're going to win the second game, but then the Lakers have a little miracle. And Detroit's too downtrodden coming into tonight and they're not going to win.
"Nobody knows squat."
Of course, that hasn't stopped anybody from writing and talking about the Lakers and the Pistons. Game 4 isn't until 6 p.m. Sunday, which means there's lots of air time and newspaper inches that must be filled between now and then.
So on ESPN, Tim Legler offers Phil Jackson free advice.
"It's time for Gary Payton to sit down," Legler said on "SportsCenter" Thursday night. "He has played 51 minutes in the first halves of this series and has gotten exactly three points. Zero, zero and three points.
"And it's not just the fact he's not scoring. He doesn't fit in right now with what the Lakers are trying to do offensively. Derek Fisher is a better player for what the Lakers need to start the game. They're flat every game."
And on local Channel 7, Michael Cooper holds up his old No. 21 Laker jersey and proposes making a comeback.
"The Lakers have got to start playing defense," Cooper said Thursday night. "I know I can guard Chauncey Billups or somebody."
And later on the same show, Kaley Couco of "8 Simple Rules" (don't ask) told "Sports Zone" host Rob Fukuzaki, "What were they doing out there? I could have gone and played better than they did."
Clearly, the Lakers have driven everybody insane.
Then there's poor Kimmel. The biggest mistake he made with his they'll-burn-the-city-down remark was making it on ABC during the middle of Game 2. The resulting firestorm left Kimmel sitting on his Thursday night show wearing a Piston jersey and a Tiger cap and apologizing to the city of Detroit.
Days earlier on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period," comedian Kathleen Madigan quipped about Detroit, "Every city in this country looks alike -- Gap, Starbucks. That's why I like Detroit. They don't have any of that getting in the way of the gunfire. It's just check cashing and Chinese food."
They must not have seen that show in Detroit. And people say Detroit is not a city of sophisticated television viewers.
Nobody knows squat.
Available for viewing this weekend:
* Dodgers at Boston Red Sox
(Channel 11, noon)
Green Monster hosts Blue Monster as Eric Gagne makes his first visit to Fenway Park. Advancing the momentous occasion, the Boston Globe interviewed 2004 Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Eckersley about the Dodger reliever's streak of 76 saves in 76 opportunities. "He's killing me," Eckersley said. "He's making me look bad, like [the Hall of Fame] is no big deal. Here I am, thinking I'm a big deal, and whether he knows it or not, he's hurting a lot of people who thought they were pretty good. This is ridiculous. It really is."
* Chicago Cubs at Angels
(Fox Sports Net, 7 p.m.)
The Cubs at the Angels? Before 2002, that short sentence would have come equipped with a laugh track. But then, the cataclysm happened. The Angels won the 2002 World Series. The Cubs became Sports Illustrated's pick to win the 2004 World Series. Both teams entered this series in the thick of heated divisional races, with the Angels picking a good time to end their disturbingly accurate impression of the early-1990s Angels. Going 32 innings without scoring a run. Picking up bad-attitude past-prime outfielders as a desperation stopgap. Those flashbacks were starting to get very scary.
* Long Beach State vs. Arizona
(ESPN2, 4 p.m.)
Ping! is in the air as the 49ers play the Wildcats in an NCAA baseball super-regional playoff game, followed at 7 p.m. by Cal State Fullerton-Tulane. Tune in to see the kids crank the long ball via unnatural means. In college baseball, that means aluminum bats, not steroids. In big-league baseball, aluminum bats are forbidden.
* England vs. France
(Pay-per-view, 11:45 a.m.)
Two of the best teams in international soccer meet in a first-round match in the 2004 European Championship, the sport's most prestigious tournament behind the World Cup. Here is how the rest of the world conducts business: The tournament is being held in Portugal amid concerns of terrorism. In Europe, the soccer regular season ended less than a month ago. Players are tired, they're nervous about security, yet, by and large, the big names are all there -- David Beckham, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane will all be on the same field for this one.
American NBA superstars, please note.