Results tagged ‘ ESPN ’

Arby’s and the Art of Reclaiming America

lipstick.jpgNow that Gov. Palin has thrown her hat in the ring, the entire political calculus has changed. For instance, time honored aphorisms like “Lipstick on a pig” are no longer valid because apparently Ms. Palin reclaimed the word “lipstick” for woman governors everywhere with her speech last week. So, in honor of Ms. Palin’s inanity, I want to propose a few more phrases that should be reclaimed.

First off, I don’t think that ESPN sportscasters should be allowed to say “RBIs” as word (i.e. ribbies) anymore. Frankly, I find it offensive to the wonderful American fast food chain, Arby’s. They have been fighting a losing battle for years now and it’s time we stand up for them. C’mon. This is America and in my America, we cheer for the underdog.

In a similar vein, “change” has now ceased to mean anything at all. (Brief aside: the fact that the same word can be used in two completely different ways has been put to good use in some more intellectual circles. I love homophones.) When the status quo becomes “change,” the word has obviously been redefined in some way. It’s like saying the 2000 Yankees represented a change from the 1998 and 1999 Yankees. Maybe a few of the faces were different but it was the same old Evil Empire.

Here’s the thing, though. If you’re going to ding Sen. Obama on the lipstick comment, shouldn’t you really be getting him for the stinky fish analogy that followed? I mean, that one is really offensive, right? Or maybe it’s just a bunch of pundits and politicians using a situation to their advantage as they are wont to do. Luckily, I’m sure we never have to worry about Sen. McCain or Gov. Palin doing something like that. Right?
http://www.thedailyshow.com/sitewide/video_player/view/default/swf.jhtml
Oh. Right. Nevermind.

You know what I wouldn’t mind seeing, though? Lipstick on Jason Giambi. That would go great with the mustache.

-A

The Filibuster

As of this morning, the NL Central had three teams ten games
over 500 while the NL West leader
is barely at .500
! 
If the playoffs started right now, one superior team would be completely
left out while one mediocre team would get to compete for the World
Series title.  Should Major League
Baseball reexamine the playoff structure so that it actually sends the 4 best
teams from each league to the playoffs? 
If so, how would you propose this be done?

 

– Jeff

                                                                                     

Ever since 1969, when MLB first started using a playoff system to determine who would play for the World Series, purists have decried the vulgarization of the sport. And when the playoff system was expanded even further in 1994 so more teams could be involved, the old-timers cried themselves to sleep, I’m sure. However, as anyone who follows this blog is aware, I am not one to yearn for the good ol’ days. Baseball is entertainment and as such, it exists to make money. More teams in the playoffs means more money for the sport which means better facilities and the ongoing vitality of the game. But, there are downsides.

And the system could stand some revamping. As you point out, if the playoffs started today, a mediocre team would be in while an excellent team would be watching from home. On top of that, when you realize that due to the arbitrary makeup of the leagues a good team in a bad division has a much better chance at making the playoffs than an excellent team in a very competitive division, well, you can see how this creates a recipe for disaster. But the situation is not unprecedented.

Each year the BCS picks the two best teams in the nation to go at it in the National Championship game but every year controversy surrounds the pick. A two-loss LSU team gets in over a undefeated Hawaii squad? Yeah, LSU is better but they lost a couple games. And how are they better than a 2-loss Georgia team that went out and destroyed that undefeated Hawaii team?

NCAA football at least has a system that tries to take everything into account when deciding who will play in the championship. MLB randomly assigned teams to leagues and divisions and then wonders why people complain when a sub-par Cubs squad makes it in while a decent Padres team sits back in San Diego wondering how it all went wrong.

Suggestions exist for how the situation could be improved and it’s no surprise that Billy Beane would be putting it out there (scroll down to the very last item in the article). I don’t agree with both of his points because I don’t necessarily think the Division series’ need to be expanded but a new seeding format couldn’t hurt.

However, the likelihood of things changing soon is pretty small. If anything, maybe they’ll try to do like the NFL and expand the playoffs a little but it sure won’t be in a way that makes sense. What matters to the owners is that MLB continues to make money and teams like Boston, the Yankees and the Cubs that maximize MLB’s return on their investment continue to make it in. That’s just how it is.

Jeff_Samardzija_catch_crop.jpgNow, on a side note, a specter came back to haunt me today that now firmly roots me in the anti Cubs camp. As I was watching the scroll at the bottom of the screen on ESPN, a familiar name popped out at me. The man who got the save for Chicago today? Samardzija. Now, that’s not a name you see every day and the only other time I’ve ever heard it was was in reference to a receiver for the University of Notre Dame. And it’s the same guy. I’m sorry but I just can’t stand by as the Irish invade everything. Fighting Irish, that is. It’s bad enough that I have to accept them in the NFL but now they’re showing up in MLB as well? No, that’s just too far. And so to the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry I say, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Just had to get that out there. I feel much better now.

-A

What Was ESPN Thinking!?!

justin timberlake espy.jpgHere’s an idea for the “worldwide leader” in sports: don’t ever, ever, EVER book Justin Timberlake to host your ESPY Awards show again.  Do it, and you’re doomed to be the laughingstock of cable, get verbally blasted by nerdy bloggers like myself, and possibly lose your entire viewing audience all together.

Because what’s worse than having a whiny R&B singin’ teeny boppin’ tenor host a major sports awards show?  How about having a whiny R&B singin’ teeny boppin’ tenor host a major sports awards show while trying way too hard

Look, personally, I have nothing against Justin Timberlake.  I like some of his music.  Love the Madonna duet.  Laughed my tail off with the D**k in a Box song.  All was well in Timberlake Town… until he took this gig hosting the ESPY Awards and broke new ground on being unbearably weird.

Forcing lines, being noticeably uncomfortable, reading scripted jokes without any knack of timing, being extremely awkward… and this was just in the first five minutes.  I hung in there hoping, praying that he would reconcile his obvious out-of-touchness with sports in general by being genuinely charming or, god forbid, humble in his deliveries.

But no.  Instead, he sang an 8 minute over-the-top song (that su<ked by the way) entitled “I Love Sports” which was supposed to show us everyday sport-lovin’ joes that indeed, Mr. Timberlake does love sports. 

He really does.  He sang a song about it!  Did you see that?  Justin Timberlake loves sports!  And just like they kept saying during the show, Justin’s from Memphis… whoo hoo!  Memphis!  And… uh… yeah, they love sports in Memphis.

Poor, poor Memphis.  Memphis was wronged.

And so were we US Americans who ordinarily enjoy watching this made-for-TV sports award show.  Timberlake’s lack of subtlety and obvious blanket ignorance of the sporting world destroyed his on-air — ahem – performance.  And why was there an R&B singer hosting this show in the first place?  Was there a comedian shortage in Los Angeles?  Give me Jimmy Kimmel.  Bring back Jamie Foxx.  Mathew Perry?  Where was Lance Armstrong?  At least he’s an athlete!

What will be next?  Will Michael Jackson host the Heisman Trophy Award ceremony?  Honestly, it couldn’t be much worse than what Timberlake did.  At least we all know and expect Michael Jackson to be weird. 

So all you Timberlake lovers out there, go back, watch the tape, and you’ll know why you shouldn’t hate me: ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Filibuster

Among the most anticipated All-Star break events is the
coveted Home Run Derby (presented by State Farm?).  This competition is one of ESPN’s most highly
rated programs of the year, yet they seem to find a way to drag it out and make
it harder and harder to watch.  It now lasts
2 hours, which is extremely irritating. 
Have the people at ESPN and MLB lost touch with their public and if so,
what should be done to make it more enjoyable?

 

– Jeff

                                                                                      

I love the home run derby. Just like I love the slam dunk contest. And it’s quite obvious that we are not alone in these sentiments. Nothing really highlights a big game like a monster shot to left field or an authoritative dunk. And even when both are taken out of context, they’re still spectacular to see. However, the powers that be are aware of this, too, and as I’ve said many times before, sports today exist for the purpose of entertainment and entertainment is all about making money. In that respect, the slam dunk contest and the home run derby are American capitalism at its finest. And, when you take it into context, it kind of makes sense.

guerrero_derby.jpgLet’s set the scene. First off, the derby didn’t even come into being until the 1985 All-Star Game. In January of 1985, Ronald Reagan took the oath of office for a second time after destroying Walter Mondale the previous November. It seemed that America had finally regained some of the swagger it lost during the oil shocks of the 70′s and the debacle in Vietnam. And really does anything allow for swagger quite like a home run? The derby was a natural outgrowth of the Reagan 80′s and it’s current form owes much to Reagan and the evolution of capitalism during that decade.

Capitalism demands increasing returns on investment to keep investors sated. And there are no bigger investors in sports today than ESPN and the major broadcast networks who feed our need for 24 hour entertainment. Miss the 11:30 SportsCenter and it’s still waiting for you at 12:30. They live to serve but they also exist to make money. It’s like CNN and politics. As much as they said they wanted the Democratic primary to be decided they also lived for the idea that it might be fought all the way to the convention because then they’d have something to keep people coming back. Well, the derby keeps baseball fans coming back every year and it makes sense that the networks would take advantage of our fascination with these feats of uberhumanity.

If people tune in to watch the event, they’re probably going to stay until the end to see who wins. ESPN knows they have a captive audience. But ESPN makes its money from selling advertising at the highest possible rate and they get the highest possible rate by televising events that draw in key demographics. It’s the perfect storm and they want the storm to last as long as possible. Playing the derby out over rounds and allowing as much advertising as possible means that a fun event becomes interminable for the fans but it means that the network is going to pocket a nice chunk of change from everyone who ponies up tens of thousands of dollars to parade their products across the screen during every little break. We may not like it but this is the two-edged sword that is American capitalism.

So, let me try to answer your question simply. Have ESPN and MLB lost touch with their public? No, not at all. They know exactly how long we’ll stick around and they’re going to make sure that McDonalds, Pepsi, Axe Shower Gel and State Farm get in as many pleas for your business as possible. That’s America and that’s the reality. And even though it sometimes annoys me, I still love it.

-A

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