Friday, May 25, 2007

Corporate Synergy Uber Alles

ESPN has devolved to the point now where it is a necessary evil. We watch it, a lot, simply because there is little choice. Despite the increase in excess garbage which has inundated the network, we watch to get our daily fix of all things sports. The title of this site is taken from a quote from ex-Sportscenter anchor Sal Maricano as he was quitting the network, though he was likely referring to the idea of Bristol being such a boring place to be more than the hellish work environment. It accurately sums up our love/hate relationship with ESPN.

Many of us were, understandably, concerned when Disney swooped in and purchased the network along with ABC. That relationship, coupled with the increasingly annoying factor of Sportscenter anchors becoming "personalities" who each felt the need to develop their own shtick ("booyah!"), has helped shape ESPN into the annoying entity it is today.

Two things seen on SportsCenter this week served to underscore how much ESPN has turned into a corporate shill machine that has continued to move away from it's primary function. First, it was deemed necessary to update us on the latest from Dancing With The Stars. Why, one might ask, would a sports highlight show run this? Well, there were two athletes (female boxer Laila Ali and speed skater Apolo Ohno) competing, so it was sports related. The fact that DWTS is an ABC show apparently was entirely coincidental. As a sports fan, I was grateful to receive this vital update in lieu of something trivial like the Royals-Indians game from the night before.

This morning, the innovative folks from Bristol found a way to integrate clips from the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie which, by pure coincidence, opens today, into highlights from the Pirates-Cardinals game. See what they did there? The fact that this mega-blockbuster just happens to be a Disney production was, again, strictly happenstance, and was more a byproduct of the producers' creativity than a shameless product placement.

We understand the need to cross promote, and to tie all your little entities together. Really, we do. But would it kill these soulless empty suits to leave SportsCenter alone, and let it be the show we knew and loved?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Oh, Jason Giambi, you're so close!
The Yankee slugger, famous for apologizing for some undisclosed thing back in 2005, is talking again:
I was wrong for doing that stuff. What we should have done a long time ago
was stand up -- players, ownership, everybody -- and said, 'We made a mistake.'
C'mon Jason, say it with me, "I took steroids. I injected them into my butt cheeks, and did so willingly. I knew I was violating the rules, yet did it anyway."
Instead, he follows up with this:
That stuff didn't help me hit home runs. I don't care what people say, nothing
is going to give you that gift of hitting a baseball
Maybe not, but they helped you recover from nagging aches and pains quicker, didn't they? Which led to better numbers, which in turn led to a huge contract with the Yankees. To say they didn't benefit you is ridiculous.
When asked, "So why did you take steroids?" Giambi told the newspaper "Maybe one day I'll talk about it, but not now." Why? If not now, when? After you've retired, and aren't on someone's payroll?
I suppose Giambi deserves some credit for being the only player to actually come out and talk about this whole issue, but I wish he would just come completely clean about the whole thing. Maybe someday, unless some other high profile player beats him to it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Goodness Gracious! Clemens Returns!

I actually have a tiny bit of pity for the Yankees here. Think about it, the most hallowed franchise in sports was reduced to what amounted to begging a 45 year old pitcher to stop by when he has a moment and pitch into the sixth inning, while paying him about $1 million every time they give him the ball.

This is the team which does not allow facial hair, which no player is ever bigger than, which is steeped in tradition. No more. Today, they're the exact same as the Houston Astros, the last team to kiss Roger's butt and give him the most ridiculous consulting assignment in history.

The entire thing is high comedy. Clemens actually said he had no idea the "I'm flying home between starts" clause was even in the contract? Really? He expects us to believe that?

How about the unveiling of the news at Yankee Stadium on Sunday? What a joke. Again, the Yankees, baseball's classiest team, resorts to cheap theatrical tactics worthy of P.T. Barnum to spring the news on the world. Radio voice Suzyn Waldman practically wet her pants in the broadcast booth, reacting as if Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle were also returning. Goodness gracious indeed.

Not that we here at BIMRVM take any pleasure in the misfortune of others, but it would be really fun if Clemens is nothing more than mediocre once he starts throwing. Something along the lines of 8-7 with a 4.50 ERA would be enough. Numbers that one of the young Yankee arms could easily reproduce, for about $27.8 million less.

Either that, or a failed HGH test. Either option would make our year.

Two Sides of the Schilling

Just once it would be nice if Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made some news from his pitching, as opposed to shooting his mouth off. Apparently Schilling likens the sound of his own voice to a symphony, as he sounds off on any topic which strikes his fancy. I would say the fact that he has a blog just intensifies his self-indulgence, but that might be a tad hypocritical, eh?

To this writer, The Schill lost any shred of credibility he had on that fateful day in March 2006 as he appeared before Congress during the steroid hearings. You will recall the SI article a few years earlier, which predated any of the Jose Canseco book stuff, in which several players estimated the percentage of big league roid users to be at least 50%. Schilling himself said that he knew something was out of sorts when, after a good play, a playful tap on the butt would result in the recipient reacting with a big "Ow!". (That's where the injections went, you see).

Here would be a perfect chance for a player who seemed to value the integrity of the game over all else to simply repeat and elaborate on the statements he made to SI. Would it be easy? Certainly not, but telling truths which nobody wants to hear rarely is. So, what did our hero do? Simple: he told the panel that what he said to SI couldn't be taken seriously.

Wait, what? Were we to believe that the man who is never at a loss for words, who always has something profound to say about any topic which presented to him, suddenly couldn't be taken seriously?

It was a chickenshit copout, plain and simple. When the heat was on, and he was amongst other ballplayers, he clammed up. Something I imagine he wishes he was able to do several times in recent days.

First, when asked to comment on the Clemens to the Yankees story, Schilling gave what I thought was the correct response. He basically said, "we're good right now, and really don't need him". The media took that and ran with it, and within the hour the headlines screamed "We Don't Need Him". In this case, Curt backed the 24 other guys in his locker room, whcih was exactly what he should have done. He went on to say that since the Yankees have been so decimated by injuries so far this year that it was basically a move they had to make. Furthermore, saying "I wish we got him instead" would be a slap in the face to someone on the current roster, which would create needless division in the clubhouse of a first place team. Good on you, Schill.

Feeling the need to talk to anyone who will listen, Curt made another in a long list of appearences on Boston Sports radio WEEI to blather on about anything from the state of the Sox to the Clemens thing, etc. When the topic turned to Barry Bonds and his pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record, Schill went into character assasinantion mode, calling Bonds an adulterer, tax cheat, and steroid user, none of which have ever been actually proven (swelled head notwithstanding). As expected, the poo hit the proverbial fan, and after manager Terry Fancona prodded him, Schilling came through with a big mea culpa the following day. Not your best showing there, Schill.

Here's a suggestion Big Guy. Take a break from you blog, and concentrate on talking only about your pitching. The media will no doubt be disappointed, as a surefire quote machine will be running dry, but you'll probably feel much better. Leave the blogging to the professionals, like me. Besides, as you said, we shouldn't take your words seriously anyway.

Black Man To Break Record: Whites Outraged

Accept it kids, the most hallowed record in sports is going down, and soon. Barry Bonds is back cranking dingers like he used to, and at the current pace will become baseball's all time home run leader sometime in early June. There has been plenty of time to assess what the impact will be, and how baseball will react. Hank Aaron has already made it known that he will not be following Bonds around once the record is poised to fall, and even Bonds is okay with that. As for Bud Selig, let's just say it would not be entirely surprising if he is suddenly called away to Asia in June for some emergency marketing trip for the next World Baseball Classic or something. The man is avoiding this like a picked on kid being pursued by the class bully as the clock inches toward 3:00.

The fact that Bonds might* have cheated is the elephant in the room here, except everyone is looking at it and saying "Damn, there's a freaking elephant in this room!". Fan reaction is largely against Bonds, except in the San Francisco area, naturally. The entire issue centers around the alleged enhancements he might have used, nothing more. Not satisfied with such a cut and dried story, ABC News decided to be complete idiots and inject race into the equation, as if that had any bearing. The results, such as they were, showed that - surprise! - blacks were on Barry's side, whites were not. Just another example of trying to keep a brother down, right? Either way, it created some manufactured controversy. Not only does race baiting sell, it was still fresh in the public's mind after the Imus controversy.

Let's see if I can understand the findings here. White people, on the whole, do not want a black man, Barry Bonds, to break a record which is currently held by.....another black man? Really? It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Bonds changed hat sizes three times in five years, added 40 pounds of muscle in his late thirties, and subsequently hit more home runs in five years than at any other period of his career? Nope, it's the skin color all the way! Thanks, ABC, for connecting those dots for us.

In 1974, as Hank Arron was about to pass Babe Ruth, I was nine years old. Even then, the number 714 held a special significance for me, knowing that it was the biggest record in sports. To me, it was incredibly exciting knowing that someone was about to pass The Babe - skin color meant absolutely nothing. I really had no idea of how much crap Aaron had to put up with from bigoted morons who were upset by this fact. I would later come to learn just how much he endured while pursuing the mark, and how well he handled it. Oh, and he never had to pee in a cup and sweat out the results either. Funny, that.

The fact that Barry Bonds is a jerk is not unknown, and he has gone to great lengths to prove just how much of a pain in the ass he can be. He might be the best teammate in the world (and that is debatable), but he has never ceased to show how his public persona is that of a petulant, spoiled superstar who is tortured by the onslaught of fame and money. Cry me a river, Barry. Hank Aaron, on the other hand, has never shown himself to be anything short of pure class, and let's not forget how much real racism he had to put up with on his way to the top of the home run list. That, more than anything else, is the saddest part of the record falling - the person doing it is a jerk who is virtually impossible to root for, and that would be true no matter what his color or nationality.

Besides, Alex Rodriguez will own this mark before he's done, and we'll probably look back on this whole period and wonder what all the fuss was about.

* not proven. After all, I might be dating Jessica Alba. Prove I'm not.