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Sounding like a twit on Twitter

Thanks to the Stet Sports blog, I got a chance to kill some time and brain cells by reading Twitter messages from Ravens backup quarterback Troy Smith (warning: coarse language). As Stet points out: “From profanity to drug references to vulgar thanks extended to Cleveland party goers, here’s one instance of when keeping it Twitterrific goes horribly wrong.”

(I suppose, to be fair, we could acknowledge the possibility this isn’t really Smith.)

A few examples (my editing of the obscenities):

  • “I’d buy every different type of bud in the World…lol” (in response to teammate Fabian Washington)
  • Twiggaz, I f—- wit Cle. ya’ll came out and rocked wit us las night, without ya’ll it wouldn’t have been that way, ya’ll the f—– best…”
  • We gone try to get you in Cleveland for that gansta s—, all that other s— weak…”
  • “Party, Party, Party, let’s all get wasted…” (again to Washington)

When is that first random drug test?

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Keith Mills writes about his past

Baltimore-centric note: WBAL Radio’s Keith Mills has spoken to other media members about his struggles with an addiction to painkillers that led to legal problems and the loss of his longtime job with Channel 2 three years ago. But now he has written about some of what he went through for PressBox, in the context of Ryan Leaf’s recent issues.

Some people in Baltimore think Mills got soft treatment by the local media for something — particularly the burglary of medication from a neighbor — that an athlete or other public figure would still be feeling the heat about. The thing is, Mills built up a lot of goodwill among his print and electronic brethren over the years. Though I haven’t spoken with him in quite a while, I understand that goodwill, because he was always a good man to deal with in any context.

He also built up a lot of warm feelings among those who watched or listened to him. Mills has come across as a genuine Baltimore guy with a true affection and appreciation for the history and traditions of the city’s sports scene at all levels. That has always played well with a large segment of the audience. And if he has never been the most polished voice on the air, so what?

I applaud his honesty in the PressBox piece and am glad he’s still on the Baltimore airwaves.

Disco, disco, duck!

One quibble with ESPN’s piece, which ran over the weekend, on the 30th anniversary of the White Sox’s disastrous Disco Demolition promotion: a lack of social context. Many have noted how the anti-disco crowd was basically all white. Some commentators point out the roots of disco in the black and gay communities and draw a connection to the Demolition, labeling it, at least in part, as a repudiation of those groups. Maybe that is a stretch and a bunch of people just didn’t like the Bee Gees. In any case, the observations were worth at least a brief discussion.

It’s raining home runs

During its coverage of the Home Run Derby Monday, the day before baseball’s All-Star Game, ESPN will debut “Ball Track.” The graphic can track each ball hit in real time, giving trajectory, distance as it flies through the air and projected landing spot. Best of all, the technology uses Doppler radar, so Chris Berman should be able to give us a weather forecast instead of “back, back, back.”

ESPN sees green

OK, sometimes you just have to swing when you get a pitch grooved right over the plate.

A news release about the network’s green initiative extending to ESPN’s signature awards show includes these sentences: “The 2009 ESPYs will represent a major step in ESPN’s continued commitment to environmentally friendly productions as the event, for the first time, will be carbon neutral.  And, by implementing stringent recycling and composting measures, the ESPYs will again be virtually waste-free.”

That is, waste-free except for the couple of hours of time the telecast uses up.

Reflections on MASN/105.7

Baltimore-centric note: After all this time that MASN has simulcast the afternoon chat-fest from 105.7 The Fan, you would think somebody would have figured out a way to stop that annoying reflection we see on TV each time the camera shifts away from the studio with Scott Garceau and Anita Marks. News updater and Third Voice Mark Zinno is kept secluded offstage in a soundproof booth. The problem is, the shots of Zinno also show a glare and reflection of somebody else in the glass Zinno sits behind. This hasn’t changed from the first simulcasts done by MASN.

For the moment, I suppose, MASN can say it’s the network’s tribute to Michael Jackson, an homage to the King of Pop’s “Man in the Mirror.”

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.

# # #

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.

# # #

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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