We celebrate our tenth podcast (Woo! *blows kazoo* I seriously thought we would've been lucky to make it to one) by welcoming one of the greatest shortstops in baseball history and one of the best analysts on television, Barry Larkin. Barry has been noted as one of the top baseball analysts around and is the featured analyst on ESPN's live stadium editions of Baseball Tonight on Sunday nights. AA chats with Barry about a multitude of topics including...
-How he got started in his media career -Why he made the switch from MLB Network to ESPN -The excitement of taking Baseball Tonight on the road each week for the first time -The dramatic end of the 2011 regular season -The player's perspective on postseason baseball -Which team reminds him of his World Champion Reds team -His thoughts on a possible induction into the Hall of Fame next year
There's also plenty of talk dissecting the Divisional Series in both leagues from one of the sharpest analysts in the game. If you're a baseball fan or have any interest in the MLB postseason, this is a podcast you won't want to miss. Also, don't forget to check out all of our podcasts at ITunes.
ESPN just doesn't know when to say no, do they? Yes, ESPN Films (formerly ESPN Original Entertainment) has hit it out of the park with their 30 For 30 documentary series. However, ESPN's checkered past in the world of scripted dramas and made-for-tv movies is more like a graveyard littered with corpses of the dead. Of course everyone remembers the high-profile downfall of Playmakers and the train wreck that was Tilt. But, do you also recall such gems as A Season on the Brink, Hustle, and The Bronx is Burning? Apparently, ESPN doesn't remember these colossal duds either. Instead of being content with the success of their critically acclaimed documentaries, ESPN is now looking to pitch scripted sitcoms, starting with the tale of four sports fans from where else... Boston.
Now, I take a couple of issues with this news besides the obvious fact that the show will most likely suck worse than Outsourced. After all, one of the creators was responsible for Scrubs. First, there's the continuing global problem of the East Coast media bias. Many fans who live west of Philadelphia have long complained of a perceived bias for the I-95 corridor from every national sports media outlet. And who could blame the rest of us who live in "Flyover Country" or the West Coast? The Yanks and the Sawx, and now the Phillies dominate baseball coverage from all major networks. The NFC and AFC East is consistently featured in primetime and nationally televised NFL games. The Pac-12 is almost constantly ignored in college football discussion. Why can't a series about sports fans be focused in another, less glamorous sports town like Cleveland, or St. Louis, or Denver? Because, of course, all must bow down to the best sports city in the world, Boston.
And that's the second problem I have with this proposed sitcom. Of course, I'm sure you've heard, those sports fans in Boston are wicked cool, right? And I know Boston and New York are the nearest major sports town to the WWL's headquarters in Bristol, CT. But, hasn't the glorification of Boston as sports nirvana gone a little too far? The tipping point had to be this ESPN The Magazine issue soley dedicated to the city of Boston, their teams, and their fans. How insulting is that to subscribers of the magazine who, I don't know, happen to live outside Beantown? Personally, if I subscribed to ESPN The Magazine, I'd use the Boston issue as toilet paper.
But what about the supposed Steve Bartman/Cubs documentary that featured a healthy dose of Bill Buckner and Boston misery and bliss? What about the manufactured John Lackey controversy driven by the arrogant Boston media? What about the most recent Red Sox collapse completely overshadowing an equally embarassing collapse by the Atlanta Braves? Does any other town have a quarterback whose haircut is worthy of an actual news article like Tom Brady? The entire sports culture around Boston is already insufferable enough in real life, now it has to be idealized and shoved down our throats in made-for-tv sitcom form? Gag me with a spoon! I can't wait for the constant promotion next fall during ESPN's 37th Sawx/Yanks showdown or the 300th courtside Celtics interview with Donnie Wahlberg if, God forbid, the series actually gets picked up by ABC. Please national media, when our world is smaller than ever, why can't you pay attention to anything that happens west of Harrisburg, PA? And please ESPN, reconsider this Boston-obsessed road you're travelling down. I mean come on, what's next after a sitcom about Boston sports fans... a show based on the life of Colin Cowherd? Nobody would be that silly... right?
I've got bad news for those who get their jollies from the Monday Night Football theme, you won't be hearing it tonight. This is because "Fox and Friends" wanted to reach new heights in political discourse and called on the expertise of Hank Williams Jr. to discuss politics this morning. Unfortunately for everyone, Hank got a little rowdy and compared Obama to Hitler. ESPN was none too pleased with this and for that reason they have pulled his intro from tonight's telecast. Here's the statement ESPN released about this situation.
"While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast."
Shit, you just can't be saying those kinds of things on the air.
We're adding a lot of new features this week to complement the Real Tweets from Real People Monday NFL feature to give you a bigger and better Week 4 NFL review. Marv Albert is clearly mesmerized. I haven't seen him make that facial expression since this. I suppose Rich Gannon awkwardly holding a football in front of you will do that to someone. So, in addition to tweets and quotes to us, we have video of some of the best and worst calls of the week as well.
But first, tell us who had the biggest fail of Week 4.
A) First, comes Ronnie Brown's bizarre attempt at a lateral while being tackled at the goalline. Nice to see the Aaron Brooks glitch is alive and well...
B) Next comes a perfectly executed backflip into a faceplant from Bears RB Marion Barber...
C) Joe Buck had a little bit of trouble with what down it is at the end of the Cowboys/Lions game. This wouldn't be such a big deal, except it was sorta kinda 4th down with the game on the line.
D) Mark Sanchez. 11/35, 119 yards passing, 1 INT, 3 lost fumbles. Yikes.
Vote! Biggest Fail of Week 4!
Now, onto Real Tweets from Real People for Week 4 in the NFL...
A Pam Ward free week is behind us, but that doesn't mean there weren't some great quotes to choose from for our Pammy nominees. Honestly, we could have narrowed the nominees this week to an all CBS lineup as Gary Danielson and Steve Beuerlein were both in top form. As a reminder as to how the Pammy vote works, each week we'll nominate 15-20 quotes for you to pick the best 10. The winning quote of the week will earn that person 10 points all the way down to 1 point for 10th. Remember, you can vote for your favorite five quotes. Here are your Week 5 nominees...
1) "Dave Wannstedt did a great job here at Pittsburgh" - Craig James (via many people). Wanny never reached a BCS bowl and was 42-31 as a coach.
2) "USF have been lacked with a big physical runner." - Jesse Palmer, you have been lacked with 3rd grade English. (via bjo109)
3) "To upset Wisconsin, Nebraska has to outscore them." - Lee Corso (via sctvman)
4) "It's a Persa party in Champaign today!" - Beth Mowins (via chadder)
5) Paul Burmeister: "Shaun, what do you like about Kellen Moore?" Shaun King: "He is really good." Thanks, Shaun. (via bjo109)
6) "That's not a way to win winning football." - Brian Griese (via Chris Schenkel)
7) "Quan Bray was wide open, which gave the perception that he was wide open." - Steve Beuerlein (via BenBragg)
8) "If Bill Snyder kicks that extra point, it's 22:19." - Bob Davie (via MasseyOnTheCall) when Kansas State was down 21-19, went for 2 instead PAT.
9) "Could have been a completion had he caught the ball." - Matt Millen (via kbrownatc)
10) "Well the strategy is what it is." - Steve Beuerlein (via Chris Schenkel). Thanks, Steve.
11) "There is a good possibility one of these teams will suffer their first loss." - Gary Danielson (via ATLNagel) in a game featuring unbeaten Florida vs unbeaten Alabama.
12) "As someone who rode the Pam Am stock to 0, I may wait a few weeks before jumping on board" - Brent Musburger (via sctvman), always the gambler.
13) "Nice throw but it was overthrown by a foot and a half." - Gary Danielson (via bjo109)
14) "He's so cool. It seems hard for him to get that emotional." - Lou Holtz (via AlexFromBuffalo) on... of all people... Mike Gundy.
15) "Luck is a big, strong guy. he goes in there with the trees and cows." - Brian Baldinger (via bjo109)
16) "I'll tell you...I can't begin to tell you." - Brett Favre (via RickRoswell) on Mississippi HS football.
17) "The good teams are good at what they do." - Brett Favre (via RickRoswell)
Vote For Your Week 5 Pammy Nominees! (vote for up to five)
The winners will come Wednesday morning so make sure you vote early and often and check back for the full Week 6 announcing sked later this week!
I'm beginning to think Zany Small College Football Play of the Week should become a weekly AA feature. After we saw the madness of this UVa-Wise punt return TD a couple weeks ago, we now visit Pacific University in Oregon. In their D-III game against Lewis & Clark, Pacific blocked an extra point attempt. Strangely, both teams (and play by play announcer Matt Richert) had no idea the ball was still alive. As Richert is cutting to a commercial, Pacific starts running the ball down the sideline. Pacific ended up losing the game 61-35, but at least they'll always have this two point play to remember...
I love the linemen coming to the sideline then frantically turning around to find someone to block. It's a great call for a few reasons. First, when you're broadcasting D-III football, it's difficult to pin down defensive players running with the ball (especially someone on the PAT team) depending on how good your vantage point may be. Secondly, how 'bout that job segueing from commercial straight into picking up a return touchdown? And finally, one of the best lines of the year from any announcer - "Everybody gave up on the play! Including this announcer!" You think Joe Buck is skillfully handling a play like that with as much accuracy and excitement? Of course not!
Joe Buck apologists (wait, do those exist?) can't blame this one on his vocal cord virus. On the Cowboys' final possession with 11 seconds remaining in the game, Buck and his partner Aikman thought the Cowboys' 4th-and-20 -- clearly marked by the chain gang and TV graphics -- was 3rd down.
He wasn't the only one who thought it was 3rd down, though, as Felix Jones took a screen pass and ran out of bounds to preserve the final four seconds on the clock. Hey, at least he remembered his team didn't have any timeouts! [video via SportsGrid]:
Aikman started to mention that the Cowboys had enough time to throw one into the end zone, but Buck finally realized what was going on and brought up that the last play was actually 4th down and the game was all but over.
This mistake should never happen, especially at the biggest point of the game when a failed conversion by the Cowboys there would result in the completion of the biggest collapse in Cowboys history and the Lions improving to 4-0 for the first time since 1980. Not one of Buck's finer moments.
Before we get to the Pammy nominees Monday morning, let's take a minute to check out Brett Favre's analyst debut at the Rice-Southern Miss game this weekend. Unfortunately, there weren't any Pammy quotes for Favre's performance sent in on Saturday. Either he was pretty decent, nobody actually watched the game... or we need to expand our Gulf Coast readership. Let's check the videotape!
Wow, Favre already looks ten years younger. I'm just impressed he didn't hint at a comeback, we dodged a bullet there. Good for him to admit his nervousness, which was very noticeable in the open. One can only hope Mike Morgan didn't bow down to him the entire broadcast like he did in those first two minutes. He's your broadcast partner, you don't have to beg for him to send you naughty text messages! Even Southern Miss alums are probably tired of all the Favre worshipping that has occurred the last decade. Favre did play it off well though and actually (gasp!) seemed humble. Who knew!
Since none of us are located in the deep south, we're calling on anyone who watched the game to let us know how Favre did in his analyst debut. Is Brett Favre in the booth something you'd like to see more of or would you like him to hold a teary eyed retirement press conference and walk away from announcing?
Update: A huge thanks to Rick Limpert for letting us know that he tweeted some Favre quotes from Saturday's game. Needless to say, a couple of these will definitely show up in the Pammy nominees for this week and Favre has some work to do to. He still may be better than Craig James and Matt Millen though...
RickRoswell Brett Favre's analysis after a long Southern Miss TD pass... "Great throw." RickRoswell More Favreisms from his commentary doing the Southern Miss / Rice game. "The good teams are good at what they do." RickRoswell Favre after the Rice Owls turn the ball over on downs while driving in the 4th quarter.. " ." #silence RickRoswell Favre on the high school football talent in Mississippi. "I'll tell you...I can't begin to tell you." RickRoswell Favre on Peyton Manning... "He doesn't have to play anymore. When it's the neck, it's risky." RickRoswell Some of Favre's color commentary tonight: "Yea, baby!". "There it is." and "He got in."
Pam Ward's run in the chronicles that bear her name is temporarily halted this week as she's away on WNBA duty. That opens the door for Gary Danielson, Matt Millen, and Craig James to catch up in the standings. It should be an awesome day of college football, which follows the Australian Football Grand Final that I'm sure you were all up watching till the wee hours of the morning. Leave us with all the best and most awful quotes you hear throughout this football Saturday and we'll put it to a vote on Monday.
With great reviews, a successful opening weekend, some Oscar buzz, and of course Brad Pitt, you wouldn't think that Moneyball would have to go through the normal Hollywood marketing makeover treatment. However, looking at the newest spots for Moneyball, it's clear the marketing geniuses were given some creative latitude in terms of how they were able to position the film.
The feel good movie of the year? Moneyball is certainly a lot of different things, all of which are good. A great sports movie, well acted, well written, smart, and compelling, but I don't think anyone is going to bestow that it's the feel good movie of the year especially considering it doesn't really fit in that bucket at all. I noticed others on Twitter we're also a bit perplexed by the positioning as well.
The thing is that every movie, good or bad, needs to be marketed relentlessly to bring in as much revenue as possible - either to turn a profit or at least help cover the production costs. Impressive trailers, media tours, appearances, events, interviews, screenings, out of context quotes from reviews, and endless commercials and sponsorships. All along the way it's being guided by a couple dozen marketing folks pulling the strings. Even if the product speaks for itself, you can't just sit on your hands thinking and hoping that word of mouth alone will be enough.
The lead-up to the release of Moneyball focused on the story, the comedic dialogue between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, and the "based on a true story" angle of a recent sports story. The marketing then pivoted to really focus on the positive reviews as most were smitten by the movie.
With a full week out in the theaters, Hollywood seems to have decided a movie that most wouldn't tab as a "feel good movie" will now wear that title. In fact if you look below, The Atlantic labels it "melancholy and complicated," a far reach from "feel good."
Maybe it's because 50/50 and Dolphin Tale are vying for that audience. Maybe it's because they know sports fans, Pitt aficionados, and general movie buffs have likely already seen the movie hence it's time to focus elsewhere.
Take a look again at the new spot as it really drifts away from the core of Moneyball:
- There actually isn't a single shot of a baseball player in uniform.
- There are two clips of family members hugging.
- Johah Hill's character (who is the second lead) gets less screen time than Pitt's on screen daughter, Kerris Dorsey
- To be honest I think a good amount of people wouldn't even be able to tell this movie is about baseball given how the commercial sells the family angle so hard.
All in all, the movie is good and the marketing up until this point has really stayed true to what the product is. It's just funny to see Hollywood stretching this far to sell some additional tickets for a movie that really sells itself. This has me wondering just how Hollywood envisions positioning the ESPN movie if it indeed makes its way onto the screen.
While Moneyball's new commercial was a good showing of marketing slight of hand, I have to say it dramatically pales in comparison to Jerry The Great.