Something And Nothing …

Congratulations to the Florida Panthers; they are the Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in franchise history.  Last night’s seventh game of the Finals was destined to be historic; the Edmonton Oilers had battled back from losing the first three games of the series to force a 7th game – – something that had not happened since the 1940s.  Had the Oilers won it would have been something that had not happened in more than 80 years; now that the Panthers have won, it is a first for the franchise and for the fans in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Moving on … I got an email from the “reader in Houston” late yesterday with a bit of information that is uncharacteristic coming from him.  Normally, I expect to have a correction or an amplification to one of my points in a rant based on his historical recordkeeping.  Not so yesterday; his note dealt with an action by “Mattress Mack” that would certainly have gone unnoticed by me.  You will recall that “Mattress Mack” is the Houston area furniture store owner who places large wagers on Houston teams to win championships and then offers rebates to customers who buy specified furniture items in a specified period of time if the Houston team wins.  Here is the text of the email:

“My gambling buddy, Mattress Mack, is also a philanthropist.

“He’s paying for the funeral of the Houston 12-year-old who was murdered and raped by those two illegal aliens that’s been in the news this week.”

Switching gears …  A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned here that some French activists planned to protest in a most outrageous fashion.  The Olympic organizers want to hold the distance swimming events and the water portion of the triathlon this year in the Seine River and the government came up with a lot of money to clean the river and make it safe for the swimmers.  To demonstrate the success of that effort, French President Macron and Paris’ Mayor Hidalgo announced they would swim in the Seine on 23 June.  The protest was that “thousands” of people would go to a point upstream of the “ceremonial swim” and defecate directly into the river.

Well, the protest never happened – – because the “ceremonial swim” also never happened.  The government officials canceled their swim citing “political reasons” and spokespersons said it would happen “eventually”.  Let me try to translate that for you:

  • When and if the President and/or the Mayor dive in for a swim, it will be at a time and place that has not been announced weeks in advance. 

Protesters had planned their action with engineering acumen.  There have been calculations of river flow and timing such that the protesters’ “river deposits” would reach the swimming area just as the pols were swimming or treading water.  That is NOT the sort of photo-op any politician in any country anywhere on the planet needs.

According to recent reports, the Seine is still not clean enough for swimmers to compete in the Olympics safely if the events are held in the river.   Evidently, there are still direct connections between the Parisian sewers and the river and efforts continue to try to get the impurity levels into a safe zone by the end of July.  I don’t think I am going too far out on a limb in thinking that having “thousands” of people “sh*tting in the Seine” is going to make that job any easier.  So, maybe Macron and Hidalgo should just move on to solve other problems?

Next up …  A contract negotiation is about to become part of the national consciousness, but this one does not involve an athlete or a coach.  Put aside any thoughts about LeBron James or the new Lakers’ coach, JJ Reddick.  No, the contract negotiation that is about to play itself out in the media is between ESPN and Stephen A. Smith.  In broad terms, here is the set-up:

  • Smith’s expiring contract with ESPN was a 5-year deal worth $60M.  That is indeed a lot of cheese, but Smith earns his money by spending a lot of time on the air in front of an ESPN camera crew speaking into ESPN microphones.
  • Reports say that ESPN has offered a deal that would bump Smith up to $18M per year but that he wants $25M per year.  [Aside: I do not pretend to have any direct knowledge here; those numbers are based on other media reports.]

Smith has a point.  ESPN is reportedly paying Pat McAfee $18M a year for his airtime appearances and Smith has been with the company a whole lot longer than McAfee.  ESPN has a point too; when they paid that amount for McAfee, they had to trim the ESPN staff pretty significantly to keep the budget from exploding.  Frankly, I don’t think either Smith or McAfee is worth $18M per year; but no one cares about my opinion.  In the world of sports personalities on TV, there are lots of people earning stratospheric salaries simply for talking:

  • The inflationary expansion began – – I believe – – when CBS paid Tony Romo $18M per year for what is basically a part-time job.  I do not begrudge him the money; that is what the marketplace supported at the time the deal was signed.  But the fact of the matter is that Romo is “on the air” a whole lot less than either Smith or McAfee.
  • FOX pays Tom Brady $37.5M per year for pretty much the same part-time job that Tony Romo has.  But he is Tom Brady and no one else involved in these sorts of comparisons is even close to him in terms of recognition.

So, pick the side you want to win in the ESPN/Stephen A. Smith showdown.  As far as I am concerned, so long as the new deal does not force ESPN to take Pardon the Interruption off the air, it does not matter who wins or loses that standoff.

Finally, I’ll close today with these words from former Texas A&M football coach, Homer H, Norton:

“It’s how you show up at the showdown that counts.”

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



4 thoughts on “Something And Nothing …”

  1. My son-in-law was planning to participate in the Seine/Olympic protest but alas Macron got shaatt upon politically before the planned “swim” and is indeed having to swim in some very murky waters.

    1. Gary/El Paso & Paris:

      News reports here in the States regarding the French political climate seem not to be good news for President Macron. Perhaps your son-in-law will still get a chance to “express himself” in matters of importance to him.

  2. I may be in the minority, but I see no redeeming qualities in Stephen A. Smith and his contemporaries who just shout opinions and argue ceaselessly on air.

    Debates are part of the fun of sports but loud and obnoxious theater should not be. I don’t waste my time watching or reading any of these “personalities.”

    I guess I am truly a grumpy old man.

    1. cjdahl60:

      Welcome aboard.

      I agree that “debate” can be interesting and enlightening. I also agree that what Stephen A. Smith – – and Skip Bayless too – – put on TV is not “debate”. It is a manufactured disagreement intended only to produce high volume ranting.

      I do try to read/listen to some of this genre simply to stay in touch with what sort of stuff is front and center in the sports media today. Often I find myself asking if either of the shouting participants actually believes what they are espousing there or if this is merely a recitation of a thinly prepared dialog.

      If you are indeed a “grumpy old man”, you may be in the right place here…

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