I want to start with a couple of TV comments today. ESPN has put in place a schedule change that it announced more than a month ago. High Noon – the discussion program featuring Bomani Jones and Pablo S. Torre – has been moved to 4:00 PM Eastern Time and it has been shortened to 30 minutes from 60 minutes. Since I do not watch ESPN around noontime on most days, I only saw the show occasionally; in the new time slot, I see it more often – – and I like it a lot. I certainly like it better than the program it replaced, Sports Nation.
- Memo to ESPN Mavens: You have got to change the name of this program since it does not go on the air at noontime anywhere in the continental US or Canada. I doubt that the Aleutian Islands represent your target demographic for the show.
FS1 has also made a programming change. Speak For Yourself used to air at 5:00 PM Eastern Time and the program usually featured Jason Whitlock and Colin Cowherd. The two of them evidenced a good chemistry and the discussion topics – while a bit repetitious – were lively and interesting. Colin Cowherd is not on the program any longer; he does a three-hour program 5 days a week on FS1 – and on the radio – so it is understandable that he might want some time to himself. Cowherd has been replaced by Marcellus Wiley and the vibe between Wiley and Whitlock is just not the same as it was between Cowherd and Whitlock.
I do not dislike the new version of Speak For Yourself but it is just not as good as it used to be. Jason Whitlock is still as assertive and controversial as always; Marcellus Wiley is interesting despite being a tad over-the-top once in a while; the problem is that they appear to be talking past one another too often as opposed to talking to one another. The program has only been in this format for about 3 weeks, so it needs time to “ripen on the vine” …
In another ESPN note, it appears that they have hired Stan Van Gundy as an NBA studio analyst. I think this is an interesting hire because it was not that long ago – sometime during the last NBA regular season – that Stan Van Gundy along with some other NBA coaches threatened to boycott ESPN reporters. All of this stemmed from an ESPN report that quoted LaVar Ball during his time in Lithuania with his sons saying that the Lakers had stopped playing for Luke Walton and that it was obvious to anyone who was watching. Stan Van Gundy reacted to the story very directly:
- He did not bar ESPN reporters from any press conferences or from the locker room.
- He said that ESPN reporters always wanted “something extra” from the team that they might use in an exclusive way and that he would not give them any such information or access. All their access would be in the company of other reporters covering the team or the game.
- He said that the ESPN story on LaVar Ball’s comment was a cheap shot and disrespectful to a coach who was doing his job.
Stan Van Gundy has been less than shy with the media as a coach and NBA exec; you can hold whatever opinion of him that suits your fancy, but you cannot say that he never speaks his mind. I think he will be a very interesting addition to the ESPN lineup of studio talkers.
About a week ago, the golf headlines blared and declared that Tiger Woods had completed the greatest comeback in the history of golf – – and maybe in all of sports. He had overcome injuries and surgeries and chaos in his personal life. Notwithstanding all of that he had fought through and had won a PGA Tournament event. The “Tiger Train” was back on track. Then they played the Ryder Cup…
In the Ryder Cup matches, the “Tiger Train” did more than derail; it self-immolated. Tiger Woods played in 4 matches and managed to lose all 4 of them. The fourth loss was in singles competition against a rookie Ryder Cup participant – John Rahm. In case that name is not familiar to you, he has a total of 2 PGA Tour victories in his career.
[Aside: Phil Mickelson hardly distinguished himself in the Ryder Cup matches playing in two of them and losing both convincingly. I was never going to pay money to watch Mickelson and Woods play one another the weekend after Thanksgiving but if I were so inclined…]
Oh, and by the way, allow me to say something to the golf goofs who gushed all over Tiger Woods’ “greatest comeback ever” win a week ago. I do not want anyone to interpret this as minimizing the obstacles Woods had to overcome; I am not minimizing knee surgery of back surgery and the rehab processes that go along with each. I am a firm believer in the adage that “minor surgery” is best defined as “surgery performed on someone else”.
Having said that, there are these annoying things known as “history” and “facts”. “History” goes back in time before 1990; What follows here are “actual facts” not “alternative facts”.
- In 1949, there was a “pretty good golfer” known as Ben Hogan. In those days there were no seat belts in cars or air-bags; Hogan was driving along on a highway (there were no Interstates then) and was hit head on by a bus. Hogan survived but came out of the crash with a doubly fractured pelvis a broken ankle and several broken ribs. During surgery to repair some of that damage he suffered blood clots that almost took the life that the bus had attempted to take. Ben Hogan spent two months in the hospital.
- In 1950, about a year and a half after the accident, Ben Hogan won the US Open.
Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times from last week:
“The 1937 Heisman Trophy of the late Yale running back Clinton Frank could fetch $400,000 on the Heritage Auctions block, with bidding set to close Oct. 18.
“In keeping with the theme, they’re going to cut off the trophy’s outstretched hand and reattach it with the palm up.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………