3/20/07 – Random Musings…

Yesterday, I closed with a clever line sent to me by a reader. Regarding Louisville’s crushing of Stanford in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, the reader said: “The Cardinals beat the ‘s’ out of The Cardinal.” I said it was clever and wished I had thought of it. Later yesterday, I got a note from a different reader saying that perhaps the line was unoriginal. I checked the second reader’s reference link and found that exact line in a column in the San José Mercury News last Saturday in a column by Bud Geracie. I don’t know where the line originated; I don’t even know for sure that the reader who sent it to me in the first place isn’t Bud Geracie using a web-name – - although that is highly doubtful. To whomever came up with that line originally – and if it spontaneously arose in more than a single mind then this is to all such folks – let me reiterate that I think it is clever and I wish I had been quick enough to think of it myself.

Can someone explain to me why CBS uses a blimp shot in the coverage of the basketball tournament? Basically, you get an aerial view of a few city blocks and not much more; the games are indoors and there is no way to get a sense of the crowd or the atmosphere. You might get a sense of the parking problems in the area of the game and or some of the other transit choices that might have been available to those attending the game. But what’s the point?

CBS had a good year selling the advertising slots for the tournament. About a month ago, I read somewhere that they had virtually sold out and that the network was happy to fill any remaining ad slots with promotional/public service spots. CBS anticipated $500 – 550M in revenues for the advertisements on the network telecasts alone. The cost for 30 seconds in the final game on 2 April will cost an advertiser $1.25M according to reports. Granted, that looks like a huge bargain when compared to the Super Bowl rates ($2.6M per 30 seconds), but it is still a hefty cost to advertisers and a revenue stream to CBS that amounts to a bit more than “a trickle”.

One more note about the CBS tournament telecasts if I may. Lots of people complain about Dick Vitale and I’m one of them. He can be hugely annoying when he goes manic in one of his verbal tours de force and his shtick has been around for so long that it has passed “tedious” on the “Unpleasantness Spectrum”. But I have to tell you that I am very quickly getting to the point where Billy Packer is even more annoying than Dick Vitale. Billy Packer is a scold with a nit-picking presentational style that used to masquerade as “candor” and “insightful expertise”. I’m not saying Packer does not know basketball; he surely does. I’m not saying Packer doesn’t speak his mind; he surely does. But he has become unpleasant to the eardrums during a game. There are several game analysts doing CBS’ games that I find hugely more enjoyable to listen to than Billy Packer. I wish him no harm but I will celebrate the announcement of his retirement not mourn it.

Quick Quiz: UNC has played 22 NCAA Tournament games in the state of North Carolina in the past. In those games, their record is 21-1. Name the only team to beat UNC in a tournament game in the state of North Carolina. The answer is below. And don’t you dare check Google…

For the moment, there appears to be a lull in the concocted debate over whether or not Kobe Bryant is a “dirty player” and whether or not there is an NBA “witch-hunt” afoot to “get” Bryant. Frankly, I find that debate a bit silly. Bryant does not play dirty but he has landed a few elbows to the face of opponents this year that were “less than accidental”. But he’s not Bill Laimbeer reincarnate. At the same time, the NBA is – and has been for the last 25 years – all about marketing and promoting its star players; Kobe Bryant is a star player; the NBA is not “out to get him”. Regarding Phil Jackson’s $50K fine for bringing up the subject of a “witch hunt”, he certainly has a right to express his opinion and David Stern certainly has a right to fine him for saying something that could hurt the league and its image. That may not be a Utopian free-speech environment, but it is the reality of the NBA; and it is not worth anyone getting his shorts in a knot over.

Quick Quiz Answer: The University of Pennsylvania beat UNC in Raleigh in 1979. That was the year that Penn as the Ivy League Champ advanced to the Final Four and lost to Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team. As a Penn alum, you probably understand why I recall that game…

Viagra will no longer be a sponsor of major league baseball; that five-year relationship is over. Look for lots more broken bats this season…

Mark Prior is having difficulty in spring training. In his first two outings his ERA was 18.30; he walked five batters and struck out no one. Lou Piniella did not want to sound an alarm and said that spring training was the time when players “worked things out” in their game. Going with that theme, I’d say that unless Mark Prior starts getting more batters out, what he really needs to “work out” is what he plans to do with the rest of his life after baseball.

According to the announced “customer list” for HGH from that lab that the Feds raided in New Jersey, Jerry Hairston is on the list. I don’t know if he used HGH or if this is all a mistake, but Jerry Hairston is hardly the poster-child for using this performance enhancing substance. Last year Hairston hit .205 with zero home runs for the Rangers. If he is a user, then HGH isn’t working all that well for him.

Queen Elizabeth will attend the Kentucky Derby this year. She will spend almost a week in “The Colonies”; and according to a report in London’s Sunday Times, she will visit several stud farms in Kentucky while she’s in the area. Insert your own punch line here.

Finally, here’s some useful information from Greg Cote in last Sunday’s Miami Herald:

“The Indy Racing League opens its season next weekend in Homestead [Florida]. The IRL is most well-known for not being nearly as popular as NASCAR.”

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

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