Last week we heard the collective breath leave the many fans of the San Francisco Giants who had placed their hope in Melky Cabrera. His fall from grace not only hurts the Giants’ playoff hopes, it also hurts baseball as he had been one of a handful of rising stars this season. In fact, it was only a couple months ago that he captivated the nation in propelling the NL all-stars to consecutive wins in the mid-season classic and bringing the game’s MVP award home to the Bay area. He was a star in the making but that disappeared into the blackhole of a 50-game suspension.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “What exactly does it sound like when a star gets sucked into a blackhole?” and you can be forgiven if you missed the answer with all the white noise emanating from the gas giants that make up the sports punditocracy. See, as luck would have it, CNN just happened to provide us an answer last week (fast forward to about the four minute mark).
Hm, not as dramatic as I would have expected. So long, Melky.
For the last man in the universe who still religiously employs the use of both suspenders and shoulder pads, the April 21st edition of the New York Post couldn’t have been too flattering.
Or could it?
Okay, so according to the Post, Larry’s wife (we’ll call her Shawn)* allegedly had an affair with his sons’ little league coach (we’ll call him Hector) but allegedly King — who, by the way, is a rabid Los Angeles Dodgers fan — didn’t really care ‘cuz he was bonin’ Shawn’s sister (we’ll call her Manny)** on the side.
And I must admit, I first heard of this story via that awful fear aggregator also known as The Drudge Report with the headline: “Little League Coach Claims Affair with Larry King’s Wife”.
At first I was really angry with Drudge (which is quite common) because I found that headline to be recklessly damaging to the institution of little league baseball — an institution that made me the sound, boisterous, STUBBORNLY CORRECT individual I am today. I thought, “Oh, okay, now Drudge is attacking little league. Let me at him!”
Until I read the story… and realized that it was little league baseball that brought them together. It brought them all together in one place, to interact, to make whoopie.
And it was at that exact moment that I realized the bar, the club, the beach might not be the ideal place to meet Ms. Right.
So if you need me, I’ll be at a little league ballpark near you hollerin’ at the single moms and estranged wives of the rich and famous.
Don’t worry, Mrs. Kucinich, I got ya on my radar. Muah!
Hate me ‘cuz it’s allowed, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
*That’s her real name.
**I meant to write “Shannon” but was too lazy to change it.
Thank you CNN! After writing you off based on Wolf Blitzer’s pathetic yet oddly narcissistic pandering, Larry King’s flatulent foibles and a sense that your best days ended right around the same time as the first Gulf War, you finally managed to pull out some reporting that appeals to me.
Now, perhaps I’m just as guilty as Mr. Blitzer in that this article panders to the narcissistic aspects of my nature. But I’d still like to believe that it’s true. Despite committing a basic logical fallacy by implying a reverse correlation which may not actually exist, I still think it stands to reason that if higher IQ leads to liberalism and atheism, the fact that I am liberal and atheist means that my IQ is above normal.
Unfortunately, this correlation would have to work in another way as well. For instance, as we have seen many times in these pages, I am a baseball liberal while Jeff is an uber-conservative. If it were up to him, baseball players would still wear wool uniforms and use the outfield between innings as prime grazing land for their prize herds of goats. Although quaint and charming, these ideas also lead us to assume that perhaps Jeff was hit in the head with a baseball one too many times as a child.
One final point. The article mentions sexual exclusivity as being another trait common to men with higher IQs. And while no one would ever claim that Jeff had feelings for another NL team, he is a self-professed White Sox dilettante making him a bigamist at best. Me, I bleed Tiger blue and often experience stigmata in the shape of an old English “D.” I am faithful to the Tigers to the point of willful ignorance concerning the other 31 or however many teams there are in Major League Baseball. Maybe you’re not impressed but that’s a level even a Fox News anchor would struggle to achieve.
It’s that time of year again. October, when football has started, hockey is probably being played somewhere in Canada and the WNBA season is over. Assuming there’s still a WNBA. Anyway, all that aside, October is also notable for being the only month when it is worth visiting the state of Michigan and for the glorious event known as the MLB playoffs. And in honor of those playoffs, even though I’m a day late, it’s time to dust off another time honored tradition and bring you my second annual Post-Partisan Playoff Preview: TV pundit edition.
After starting with the American League last year, I felt it only fair to begin with the National League this time around. That’s right, the National League, the right-leaning denizens of Major League baseball. Their’s is a more conservative style of play, well suited to the talking heads who avail themselves on Fox News at any and all hours of the day. Designated hitter? No, thank you. We like having an automatic out every 9 batters. Home runs? Nah, we prefer letting our guys linger on base. Government intervention? Only when it helps out our stock portfolios.
And in this fray, we begin with the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies, our Rush Limbaugh. Still the undisputed champion, just like Rush, the Phillies have been showing the cracks that come with age and being at the top for so long. The Oxycontin that is Brad Lidge could spell the end for the Phils when it comes to close games but there’s no doubt that they’ll move on from the first round.
And the main reason they’ll move on is because they’re face to face with the Glenn Beck of the NL playoffs, the Colorado Rockies. No one is denying that they’ve got star quality but both Glenn and the Rockies are missing something. For Glenn, maybe it’s those tears or the fact that he can’t spell. For the Rockies, maybe it’s that they never seem to be able to play well until it’s almost too late. But either way, they’ll both continue playing second fiddle to the guys above them.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers are almost as slick as their preview stand-in, Bill O’Reilly. Show him the facts and he’ll show you something completely unrelated. Everything is tangential in “The No-Spin Zone” and tangential is a great way to describe how the Dodgers play. 15 game lead? Hm, maybe we can get one of our guys suspended for 50 games and play like we’re all on Ambien to tighten this thing up. But at the end of the day, they get the job done. And whether you like it or not, there’s too much talent there to be ignored.
And that’s why we bid adieu in the first round to our Sean Hannity, the St. Louis Cardinals. Things are pretty easy when you’re beating up on a guy like Alan Colmes, you know, kind of like playing in the NL Central this year. But when the chips are down, good luck against real competition.
On the other side, the American League, things sort out a little bit more easily. There are those who belong and those who just make you sit up and go “hm?” The National League has definitely been ascendant the last few years, winning 2 out of the last 3 World Series but the American League has a stranglehold on the All-Star Game. Whatever that’s worth.
On this side, we start at the bottom, with the Alan Colmes of the the American League, the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins! Really, you’re not excited either? Yeah, it’s pretty hard to get excited about someone who snivels in the corner while getting the snot beat out of them. No one likes a bully but no one really likes the guy who’s bleeding all over after getting beat up by the bully either. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Minnesota Twins!
Out west we check in with the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) as they do their best Rachel Maddow impression. It’s not that anyone dislikes the Angels (or Maddow) or that they wish them ill. It’s just more that they don’t matter. Kind of like the AL West and MSNBC.
And the reason they don’t matter is because they’re going to get beat by our Wolf Blitzer, the Boston Red Sox (of Boston). Although maybe not a pundit in the traditional sense, Wolf does manage to insert his personal views into the conversation. And he sure does espouse a righteous anger when explaining how CNN is the only network you can trust. But it’s just a lot of noise from someone who used to matter and really doesn’t so much anymore. Yep, kind of like the Boston Red Sox.
Which only leaves us with the flatulent faded glory of our Larry King doppleganger, the New York Yankees. You know what, we’ve won 26 championships so what do you know? Hey, I’ve been on TV since it was invented so what do you know? They both have an excuse but something smells a little funky. Which isn’t to say that they can’t get nasty from time to time. Best to give them a wide berth.
And this brings us to the answers you have all been seeking. I’d love to see Hannity and Colmes reunited in the World Series but since they both go down in the first round, that’s going to be kind of hard. Instead, Bill O’Reilly finally claims the coveted conservative mantle from Rush as the Dodgers avenge last year’s loss and knock off the Phillies in the League Championship Series. Meanwhile, Wolf and Larry make it an all CNN final in the American League as the Yankees square off against the Red Sox. And, true to form, the Yankees
win the pennant.
But, the way things stand in the world today, even with a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, the left leaning punditocracy just can’t hang in there against the overpowering noise of the right wingers. And as left coast meets right in a broadcast and advertising orgasm, the old Yankee manager knocks off the new one. Just make sure you don’t miss the inevitable sucker punch because when the pundit-o-sphere is involved, you can be sure it’s coming.
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?
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.
Let’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.