Today is “Justice Day” here in Curmudgeon Central. This is a day where bad behavior and poor judgement get what they deserve, and that situation exists in – of all places – the WNBA Playoffs. [Yes, I know; I had to look it up too. The WNBA regular season ended.] The rendition of justice there is this:
- The Las Vegas Aces – – known in these parts as the Las Vegas Asses – – missed the playoffs by a single game. Recall that the players chose to pull a no-show for a game here in DC because they had a terrible 24-hour travel experience to get here for the game. They arrived about 5 hours before game time but chose to “sleep in” instead of playing that night. The league office declared the game a forfeit – after several days of deliberation. [Duh!]
Maybe the Asses would have lost that game to the Washington Mystics – – but just maybe they could have won that game; and in that circumstance, they would have earned a “play-in game” for the WNBA Playoffs. The epitaph for the Las Vegas Asses’ 2018 season ought to be one of Vince Lombardi’s famous quotes:
“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”
ESPN will have a totally reconstructed 3-man announcing team for Monday Night Football this year. Joe Tessitore takes over the play-by-play duties from Sean McDonough. While these two guys have very different styles when it comes to calling a game, I think both of them are solid pros. Tessitore will sometimes take his call a bit over the top but substituting one for the other here is neither a great leap forward nor a step backward. Call this move a lateral arabesque…
The departure of Jon Gruden from the ESPN airwaves brought smiles and serenity into Curmudgeon Central. My first reaction was that the suits at ESPN had to take a step up the announcing ladder when naming his replacement and that I would probably never have to hit the mute button while watching MNF again. As we move toward the season – and with a VERY small sample size to go on – I think the ESPN suits have succeeded here.
Jason Witten will be one of the game analysts. Like his pal and former teammate, Tony Romo, Witten will make the jump from NFL player to high level network analyst with no stops in between. That model worked very well for Tony Romo at CBS last season; I heard Witten in his first game live on the air and he was good enough for a “debut performance”. [Aside: He needed this Exhibition Game in the booth far more than he needed any Exhibition Game on the field in prior years.]
The “third man in the booth” is sort of a misnomer. Booger McFarland will be that “third voice you hear” but he will not be in the booth. Rather, he will be riding the sidelines in what ESPN calls “The Booger Mobile” which is a motorized cart that can amble up and down the sidelines to give Booger a field-level/close-up view of the action. Take the cart away and this is reminiscent of the way Tony Siragusa used to work NFL games for Fox. I’ll reserve judgment on “The Booger Mobile” as an asset to the telecast or just a gimmick for a while but I will say this:
- After listening to Booger McFarland on ESPN Radio programs and on studio shows related to college football on ESPN and ESPN2, I think he has a chance to be the star of this team. He is articulate and he has a quick wit – two important traits for a football color analyst. Most importantly, he seems not to be full of himself which means he will not likely grate on viewers’ nerves.
I think NFL fans can look forward to MNF this year. Checking out the new announcing team will be an interesting undertaking plus the NFL seems to have upgraded the schedule of games played on Monday night. I will grant you that the first game of the year on MNF is not particularly appetizing – – Jets and Lions – – but late game for Week 1 on MNF will be the Rams and the Raiders and that game should be interesting from several angles. Here is a link to the full Monday Night Football schedule for 2018.
I cannot possibly claim to be a serious follower of professional golf, so I will present here a stat sent to me by a former colleague who is a serious follower of professional golf and “golf history”:
“When Brooks Koepka won the US Open and the PGA Championship this year, he earned more prize money there than Arnold Palmer plus Gary Player earned in their careers combined.”
There you have a clear demonstration of the growth of sporting enterprises over the last 50 years and the amounts of money that sponsors are willing to put into sporting enterprises in terms of advertising and promotion.
Recently, I wrote here that the Washington Nationals’ season of underachievement was due in part to a coddling atmosphere surrounding the team. Yesterday, the Nats traded away two of their players for nothing more than money to offset some of the luxury tax they will pay for the 2018 season. Various commentators have concluded that the Nats are throwing in the towel on this season and have begun their roster strategizing for 2019. As of this morning, the Nats are 63-63 which is mediocre by any standard and which is seriously short of expectations for a team that is well into the luxury tax zone in terms of its payroll. More importantly, the Nats have only the 9th best record in the National League.
The players the Nats traded away – Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams – are not prime offenders in terms of lackadaisical play and both wound up with teams well ahead of the Nats in the standings. (Murphy to the Cubs and Adams to the Cardinals) What the Nats need to do is to ask themselves why they found themselves in this situation given the talent on this year’s roster – especially as compared to the talent on the rosters of a few of the teams above them in the standings. Once the team braintrust focuses on that aspect of the 2018 debacle, they might be able to figure out how to avoid another season like this one after they go out and spend plenty of money to assemble a new cast of characters.
Finally, speaking of baseball teams having disastrous seasons in 2018, consider this comment from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“Smithfield Foods has been ordered to pay $470 million to neighbors for the smell from a hog farm.
“Don’t go getting any ideas there, Oriole fans!”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………