The big story of the day is that ABC will be out of the business of televising NFL football after this season. From 2006-2011, MNF will be on ESPN
(like ABC a part of Disney Corp) and the Sunday Night NFL Game will be on NBC.
The NBC cost will be $600M which they will never recoup on the Sunday night games in terms of advertising revenues, but NBC also gets 2 Super Bowls in
that 5 year window and it gets some "schedule flexibility" for Sunday night games. "Schedule flexibility" means that in late November/early December
NBC will not be saddled with a game between two teams that are 3-8.
MNF on ABC was an important social phenomenon of the late 20th Century. Until MNF, sports on TV was confined to weekends - with the exception of late
weeknight boxing and pro rasslin' shows in the 1950s - and the audience was not family oriented. By putting the NFL on the air in prime time when
there were really only three networks to choose from, ABC expanded the NFL's audience and basically "made it safe" for sports to be on the air in
Let the speculation begin; who will be the announcers for MNF on ESPN. There are myriad possibilities but one that I would NOT want to see is the
addition of Joe Theisman to the booth with Al Michaels and John Madden. Unless of course it leads to having Theisman stuffed, roasted, and served on
the Monday night before Thanksgiving...
One of the things that people are talking about early in this baseball season is the number of blown saves that have happened already. Jim Armstrong
in the Denver Post has come up with a name for the not-so-wonderful Colorado Rockies' bullpen. He has anointed them, "The Abominable Throwmen".
"Blown saves" brought down a storm of boos on Mariano Rivera in Yankee Stadium in the first week of the season. These are the same Yankee fans who
gave a standing ovation to Jason Giambi. I have no idea how to explain this. It doesn't even fit in the often-used but rarely valid category of "what
have you done for me lately".
Baseball has sure changed a lot in the last 50 years. I ran across this statistic for Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson offered up by Marlins' manager,
Jack McKeon, to the NY Daily News. In his career, Bob Gibson pitched 255 complete games. For most if not all of his career, Gibson worked in a
four-man rotation and not the five-man rotation that is standard fare these days. And it's not as if Gibson was some kind of junk-ball pitcher; his
standard pitch selection consisted of high fastball, low fastball, inside fastball and outside fastball. Interestingly, of those minor league players
caught with steroids in their system, almost half of them were pitchers - not behemoths looking to be home run hitters. So even with steroids,
pitchers aren't throwing nearly as much as they used to.
And the mention of steroids and baseball reminds me that the MLB testing program has uncovered two light-hitting players from second-tier teams so
far. That leads me to assign a special homework essay for you to be handed in on Friday:
In 500 words or more, discuss which will happen first:
a. MLB steroid testing catches a player known to fans outside the realm of "rotisserie league geeks" - - or - -
b. OJ finds the real killers.
Last week, the Lakers held a reunion of the 1984-85 championship team for a feelgood moment. There haven't been a lot of them in Laker-land since the
dismantling of the team at the end of last season so I guess this was a good thing for them to do. In the footage I saw, Magic Johnson has gotten
huge! Magic used to be the majority owner of a string of fitness clubs; I don't know if he still is. But if he is, then his appearance is hardly a
testimony to the efficiency and effectiveness of those fitness centers. He is one size short of looking like a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day
Speaking of the NBA, I have been less than kind and generous in my comments about the Atlanta Hawks and Hawks' fans in Atlanta for the past few years.
A reader from the Atlanta area sent me a note and offered this mnemonic as a way to look at the greater Atlanta area:
Atlanta: First in crime; first in potholes; last in the NBA.
My guess is that this gentleman does not work for the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce or in the media relations department for Atlanta's mayor. But who
Doug Christie was traded to the Orlando Magic and was unhappy and then "shut it down" for the season to have surgery to remove bone spurs. Let's just
say that he and all of the Orlando media are not getting along all that swimmingly at the moment. Christie and his agent found a tame media person and
did an interview claiming how some of the local folks were "out to get him" and how Christie had been mistreated and maligned. They singled out Mike
Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel as a primary offender. There is an old saying that you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the
barrel and newsprint by the boxcar. Here is the link to Mike Bianchi's column that responds to those comments - and proves the old adage:
Heath Shuler was a star QB at the University of Tennessee and a complete bust as a QB in the NFL. He has gone on to success in the private sector and
is now considering running for Congress in North Carolina. Having seen him play in the NFL, I would definitely recommend that he "run" for Congress
because if he had to "pass" for Congress he'd never get there!
Finally, since I mentioned Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post and his new name for the Rockies' bullpen earlier, here is another description that he
used for those relief pitchers:
"The Cardinals of the mid-30's were affectionately known as The Gashouse Gang. Then there's the Gas Can Gang, a.k.a. the Rockies' bullpen..."
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon