The Rest

Posts that don’t fit under any other category

ESPN untucked

Justin Tuck

You can tell ESPN’s new SportsNation talk show, which debuts Monday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2, is going to be irreverent and off-the-cuff. Why? In a promo clip featuring hosts Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle, Cowherd wears a shirt that isn’t tucked in. Nothing says, “I’m going to speak my mind” like an untucked shirt.

The premise of the show is the content will be driven by what fans are talking about on ESPN.com’s SportsNation. “One of the goals of the show is to talk about things [buddies] would talk about,” Jamie Horowitz, the show’s producer. said during a conference call today.

Beadle said: “Your brain is never asleep on this show. … I don’t ever know what’s going to come out of Colin’s mouth, and I don’t think he does either.”

For his part, Cowherd said one of the things that makes Beadle a good partner for him is she “is not easily offended.”

We’ll see whether the audience feels the same.

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My one question during the conference call was about how the show would handle it if the buzz on the Web site was all about a highly specious list of 103 steroid users from baseball six years ago. Horowitz’s answer dealt partly with how the media are more interested in reporting on performance-enhancing drugs than fans are with hearing about the matter. I probably phrased my question poorly, but that wasn’t really the point.

What I wonder is how much the show will follow the dictates of what the “Nation” is showing interest in, regardless of how responsible or tasteful  it might be to pass along. Just because you and your pals want to talk about it while tossing back a few, that doesn’t make anything fair game for broadcast nationwide.

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During today’s College Football Live on ESPN, it was the state of Maryland’s turn in the spotlight. Early on, while giving an overview of the University of Maryland’s program, the network offered that the Terps have “been a model of consistency.”  You could make a better argument for UM having an up-and-down history, certainly when considering the past 20-some years. The Terps have had three losing seasons in their past five and posted two winning records from 1986 through 2000.

Doing the time warp in Baltimore

Some of you might recall George Carlin’s newscaster routine that opened something like this: “It’s 6 p.m. in New York. It’s 3 p.m. in Los Angeles. It’s midnight in London. In Baltimore, it’s 4:27.”

I was reminded of that as I drove around today listening to the Baltimore ESPN Radio affiliate, 1300 AM. This was at least the third time I’d noticed how the station runs taped network talk shows on Sunday afternoons. That would be only mildly annoying and perhaps sometimes not very noticeable if not for the fact that the tape job also included four-hour-old updates every 20 minutes. So after I’d already watched the end of the U.S.-Brazil soccer game, I was hearing how the game was about to start shortly.

OK, maybe not a lot of people listen on a Sunday afternoon and it’s a skeleton crew at the station, but you guys surely could do better than that, couldn’t you?

NBA draft > NFL draft

The NBA draft is so much more enjoyable to watch than the NFL’s. It moves more quickly. The telecast has a much smaller cast. And, overall, it doesn’t have that air of overblown importance and ultra seriousness that infects the NFL’s.

The thing is, you get 25 people talking about each pick by the NFL teams, analyzing and analyzing as if we were talking about step-by-step instructions for repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. The NBA picks zip right along with comments from three or four people. That’s true although each draft selection is far more important to an NBA team than to an NFL team. Just look at the size of the respective rosters and how a single player can make such a large impact in basketball.

Plus, when is the last time an NFL team drafted a guy named Omri?

Baseball: Stats all, folks

The news that a proposed movie based on Moneyball has been shelved could be viewed in a few ways. For one thing, just imagine you’re A’s general manager Billy Beane and you suddenly discover there isn’t going to be a movie with Brad Pitt playing you. Now, if that were me, I’d be majorly bummed. I’d have been telling everybody I knew, “Brad Pitt is going to be me in a movie!” (Yeah, I know, you’re looking at that photo and thinking I would be lucky to get Jack Black.)

ray 'n' homerAnother view is to say this is a strike against the stat-heavy view of baseball, because Beane so famously is enamored of numbers in evaluating talent. The news should make for a happy day among those who deride the progeny of Bill James as baseball nerds.

(Not to beat this whole Brad Pitt thing into the ground, but having him portray a stat-head should be enough to remove the nerd tag.)

At the same time, we have a rather curious blog post by MLB Network commentator Harold Reynolds — whose work I have always enjoyed — who takes a puzzling, tortuous path to say he doesn’t buy the importance of the OPS stat (on-base plus slugging percentage).  I’d summarize his argument if I could figure it out.

(Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski has a wonderfully off-the-wall reaction to Reynolds’ post in his own blog. Thanks to Deadspin for pointing these out.)

Some former players — and apparently Reynolds is one of them, with Joe Morgan being the most prominent example — want to disregard the statistical analysis they seem to believe takes the human element out of baseball and reduces their visceral experience to dry numbers on a page or computer screen.

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NBC: Keep watching Tiger

At the end of Sunday’s U.S. Open telecast, Johnny Miller, et al, could have been a little bit subtle at least in trying to push the “tune in, because Tiger could still be in it” angle. Yes, he made a birdie to put himself at the bottom of the network leader board. But were they trying to convince us or themselves that everyone above him could choke during the completion of the last round Monday?

Vacation Time!

vacation-2As of this post, I am officially on vacation.  It gives me a chance to recharge the batteries and enjoy some quality time with my family.

I have scheduled one post to run next week which will feature another SMJ video.  Ray Frager will still contribute to the site while I’m away.

I will be separated from e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and all my other tehnological tethers until the end of the month.  You should too.  See you all then!  Thanks for your support!

Terrell Suggs sighting

Baltimore-centric notes: Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs will appear on the NFL Network’s Total Access show Friday (7 p.m.).

Also, Jason La Canfora, Baltimore native, former Sun sportswriter and most recently Redskins beat reporter for The Washington Post, debuts in his new role as a reporter for NFL.com and the NFL Network on Tuesday on Total Access (also at 7). I first worked with Jason so long ago, I don’t think he had a space in his last name.

Eyes on the Stanley Cup

The Penguins-Red Wings Game 7 was the most-watched NHL game in 36 years (Canadiens-Blackhawks, Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals), with 8 million average viewers, NBC reports. The 4.3 rating was the best in six years (Red Wings-Hurricanes Game 7).

(For what it’s worth, the season premiere of Jon & Kate Plus 8 on TLC drew 9.8 million viewers.)

The NHL rating news made me have to look at the rosters of the finalists in 1973, back when I was really becoming a hockey fan. Jacques Lemaire, Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Yvan Cournoyer and Ken Dryden for Montreal, Dennis Hull, Stan Mikita, Keith Magnuson and Tony Esposito for Chicago. What a different world. Back then, it was the French Canadian names that seemed foreign.

Matt Millen, job hog

Raider MillenMost people who lose their jobs in Detroit would be happy to find a single new one, but Matt Millen, late of the Lions, now has two jobs.

The NFL Network has named him as analyst for its eight-game Thursday Night Football schedule (which includes games on a Friday and Saturday), replacing Cris Collinsworth, who has stepped into John Madden’s place on Sunday nights.

Millen’s Thursday gig is in addition to having joined ESPN as a college and pro football analyst. All this after having overseen the failure of the Lions as the club’s president for eight seasons.

The thing is, he’s pretty good behind a microphone. Much better than he was behind a desk.

Sunday morning Twitter

CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning featured a discussion about Twitter and journalism with the network’s Rick Sanchez and CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel. Sanchez makes Twitter an integral part of his daily program; Doyel says Twitter makes us all dumber.

Sanchez said he has learned more about what is going on recently in Iran via Twitter than he has via any traditional media source, including CNN. Doyel, who writes compelling and often-provocative columns for CBSSports, said Twitter is just a lot of “white noise.”

I think part of what Doyel was saying could be extended to the Internet in general — that there is lots of uninformed, stupid junk out there (you know, like the stuff I write).  So, yes, Twitter can descend into “white noise.” However, we don’t all pay attention to everything. So we ignore the tweets from the guy who tells us what he’s eating for lunch, but we click on the link to a well-written piece recommended by someone else whose opinion has proven worthwhile.

What didn’t come up in the discussion, however, was the point about how using Twitter as a source of reporting is fraught with the danger of fraud. That tweet from Tehran? How do we know it’s not really coming from Hoboken? It’s one thing to allow anonymous opinion to flourish but quite another to assume you’re getting the facts on the ground from every mouse click.

(By the way, you add to your white noise by following me on Twitter via @MediumWellGuy.)