All to often, press interviews with people in sports – and in politics to be sure – devolve into clichés and polite-speak. I know that I prefer candid and honest answers to questions as opposed to the pabulum that normally emanates from the focal point of a “presser” and it is in that context that I want to offer nothing but praise for XFL Commissioner, Oliver Luck. After the XFL held its draft, folks noticed that neither Johnny Manziel nor Trent Richardson had been drafted by any of the 8 teams in the league. Someone asked Luck about that and here is what he had to say:
“I would argue that the players we have are better than those guys, to be honest with you. Johnny has his own history and we have coaches from the CFL who have seen him close-up. I watched Trent when he was with the Colts, and I watched him when he was with the AAF. He was in the draft pool. Coaches and scouts looked at him and didn’t think he was going to help their team. I think the guys we have on our teams are the best 560 that aren’t playing in the National Football League.”
Just in case anyone needs me to point it out, that is candor on display.
A couple of months ago, Sports Illustrated was sold; it is no longer part of the Time Magazine family. That family of magazines was sold in 2018 and SI just did not fit with the sort of publications offered by the new owners. So, SI was sold separately to a company whose main business is to license rights to celebrities. That was nowhere near a good fit and that led to the sale to the current owners. The new ownership is a company called Maven about which I knew nothing at the time of the sale and still no next to nothing about. However, here is what I know from various published reports:
- Four other publications produced by Maven are Ski Magazine, History, Maxim and Yoga Journal. [It is not clear to me how Sports Illustrated fits in there.]
- As the deal closed, Maven laid off about one-third of the Sports Illustrated staff.
- The intent of the new owners was to cover sports nationally with an “army of credentialed journalists” – evidently the majority of them working part-time.
The Maven view here is that Sports Illustrated as it has existed from its birth in the 1950s and 60s misses out on what sports fans want from a sports publication – – the latest breaking news on the teams they love. On that point, the Maven vision is correct; Sports Illustrated never did that kind of journalism and a weekly or bi-weekly magazine can never hope to do that. It seems to me that the Maven vision for SI is seen as an either/or proposition:
- Either it does “latest breaking news” or it does “long-form and analytical essays”.
I agree that it would be difficult satisfy both of those objectives in the same publication but there is value in being different and occupying a space where there are fewer competitors. There are multiple online sources of “latest breaking news” each of them seeking to beat the other guys to the punch by an hour here or 20 minutes there and the tone of many such sites is not unlike a herd of braying donkeys.
The Sports Illustrated that I recall from my youth – to which I subscribed for about 30 years – offered me things that my daily newspaper did not. That made it special; that turned it into an iconic brand. If you check out SI.com online, the entries there are not “latest breaking news” sorts of things, and it is online where that kind of journalism must reside if it is going to survive. I do not understand what Maven has in mind for Sports Illustrated but I doubt that the latest incarnation of the magazine will bear much resemblance to the one I used to have delivered to my home.
For more detailed information, here is a link to an article about Maven and its CEO and various folks who were part of the Sports Illustrated business.
Meanwhile, CBSSports.com had a report last week saying that the Colorado Rockies might consider trading Nolan Arenado. You can bet that caught my attention; they may consider doing what? Just a year ago, the Rockies signed Arenado to a contract extension for 7 years at a total of $260M. That is a lot of money; but Arenado is, in my opinion, the best third baseman in MLB, and he is only 28 years old. Here are some data:
- Arenado has been in the majors for 8 years; he has been an All-Star 5 times and he has won a Gold Glove in each of those 7 seasons.
- His career slash line is .295/.351/.897. In the first year of his fat contract extension, he beat those career averages with .315/.379/.962.
With that sort of news out there, you can find plenty of speculation pieces about where he might wind up in a trade and what the Rockies might get in return. The column I would love to read is why the folks who run the Rockies franchise have changed their minds about the path to take to build a contending team. After all, that contract extension is less than a year old as of this morning…
Finally, I mentioned previously that the Lingerie Football League has ceased to exist. Brad Dickson commented on that happening in two Tweets:
“The Legends League, AKA the Lingerie Football League, has folded. At least it went out with a bang after the San Antonio Teddies defeated Rutgers, 24-20.”
“The Legends League, AKA the Lingerie League, has folded. Great, now who are Southeastern Conference teams going to play in the non-conference season?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………