2/26/07 – Filling Time

As I went grazing through the TV channels this weekend, it seemed as if every time I went to ESPN2 they were showing some Bassmaster fishing tournament. Look, I understand that ESPN2 has to have something on the air for 168 hours a week; I appreciate that they have not decided to rerun the 2003 World Series of Poker for the 3568th time; Lord knows I don’t need to see another presentation of The Junction Boys. But fishing tournaments are less compelling on TV than poker games or even bridge tournaments. I’m not sure, but I think I’d rather watch the World Series of Snoring.

Speaking of televised sports, NASCAR folks cannot be happy with the final TV numbers for the Daytona 500. Nationally, the ratings were down 10% this year from 2006 and last year’s numbers were down 10% from 2005. The conventional wisdom was that signing on with ESPN and getting “The Bristol Hype Machine” behind the Busch Series races and the Nextel Cup races later in the year would kick the ratings back toward peak levels. Ominously, the first Busch Series race of the year televised on ESPN – and promoted to death for at least the entire week before the race – saw ratings fall more than 25% from 2006 levels when the race was on TNT.

By the way, since some of those prima-donnas-in waiting at the NFL Combine can “choose not to run” or “choose not to throw”, would it be all right if I just “choose not to give a rat’s patootie”? Thanks, because I don’t.

Michael Irvin will not be back on ESPN next year. Here’s an investment tip for you. Buy stock in companies that sell hearing aid batteries. With Irvin off the air, people with hearing problems will have to keep their hearing aids turned on all the time and the batteries will be consumed faster. Sales should skyrocket.

ESPN did not say why Irvin would not be back because they have a policy of not commenting on personnel matters. [Aside: I wonder if they can get away with that in court if the Harold Reynolds suit goes to trial. Hmmm…] Some people think it was Irvin’s arrest about a year or so ago with drug paraphernalia in his car that led to his removal; others think it was Irvin’s comment about the “possible ancestry” of Tony Romo. I’ve always thought he had on-air limitations because his “analyses” was nothing more than apologia for miscreant players and his command of the King’s English was spotty at best. I have no idea what the insurmountable issue was in those contract negotiations, but I suspect it was an economic situation. ESPN signed Bill Parcells to do studio work; so to keep costs from going through the roof, they probably had trouble fitting Irvin into the budget. Greg Cote summed up this matter in the Miami Herald:

“Michael Irvin was dropped as an NFL analyst by ESPN. The network did not say the reason, but I would have thought a good enough one might have been “hideous wardrobe”. Most men cannot really look good wearing purple. And they include Michael.”

When Barry Bonds defiantly told reporters in spring training that they – and/or the Feds – were free to investigate him, the only thing I could think of was Senator Gary Hart during the Presidential primaries in 1988. Bonds was around for that fiasco; you’d think he’d remember…

In the aftermath of the reports of “Thugs Gone Wild” in Las Vegas on the occasion of the NBA All-Star Game, some folks are wondering if this means that Las Vegas cannot be seriously considered as the home of a franchise. David DuPree [USA Today] was a guest on Pardon the Interruption and said that if there were a franchise there, the league would have to come up with a “secret list” of players that were not allowed to play for that team under any circumstances. I find this line of thinking interesting simply because the NBA will hold next year’s All-Star Game in – - – New Orleans. In terms of the activities that seem to attract thugs, New Orleans has plenty of booze, hookers and general debauchery. And casino gambling may not be everywhere, but getting to a casino from New Orleans is not nearly as daunting as Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki trek. If all of that is so abhorrent to the NBA, why have they put two franchises in New Orleans?

According to reports, Scottie Pippen wants to make a comeback this year. This has a real chance to be the worst comeback since I ate that potato salad that had been sitting in the sun a bit too long at a family picnic. That was the occasion where I made friends with Sal Monella.

I got a note from a reader asking me what I thought about a woman in Texas who hoped to open a “Cheerleader Hall of Fame”. I thought he was kidding until I did a Google search; a woman in Texas thinks that’s a good idea and hopes to get this project moving and have a grand-opening by 2008. She is a former Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader so she has “street-cred” in this area – - I guess. The Dallas Morning News quoted her saying, “Cheerleading means so much to major sports … the timing is ripe for a hall of fame.”

I am already on record that there are too many halls of fame as it is. I just don’t believe that there is a void in Western Civilization that needs filling with a Cheerleader Hall of Fame. They are looking for a place to put this thing; how about that permanent base that NASA wants to build at the south pole of the moon?

Finally, another note from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald that will give you a thumbnail sketch of the Miami Heat’s season thus far:

“It might be fair to say the Heat has had bad luck this season, considering Wade’s injury, Shaq missing most of the first half of the season, coach Pat Riley out several weeks after two surgeries, Jason Williams being hurt so much, two players suspended for being out of shape and another battling salmonella. You might be in trouble when your healthiest player is the one who underwent a kidney transplant.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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