I'm actually scared to admit this... but I routinely watch ESPN2's First Take. You know, the show that runs opposite SportsCenter weekday mornings and "stars" Skip Bayless somehow making a living out of being... well, Skip Bayless. The show had a simple enough premise - take a loudmouthed, polarizing contrarian (Bayless), have him take part in debates, and sprinkle in expert analysis, news, and relevant interviews. Debates were even marketed as 1st & 10 and appeared later in the afternoon. To be honest, in spite of Skip's professional, theatrical douchebaggery, the show was watchable... especially for someone that operates a blog called Awful Announcing.
But recently, the show has gone from entertainingly awful (like an intentionally wretched scary movie where we're supposed to be in on the joke) to just awful awful (think Ecks vs Sever or Battlefield Earth). Skip Bayless is more empowered and ridiculous than ever (the troubling part is his incredible self-awareness). The interview and news segments are largely gone. Now, the show largely focuses on Skip Bayless: Villain Of The Sporting Universe. First Take has gotten away from the diversity that made it tolerable, to a revolving door of ESPN analysts and columnists to argue with Bayless. If you're thinking this gets old quickly... it does.
Nevertheless, I was particularly intrigued by Wednesday's First Take from this week because of the perfect storm that had the potential to produce the single most awful sports show of all-time. Not only was Screamin' A. Smith in to debate Skippy, not only was a pointless, in jest LeBron James tweet to John Clayton treated as breaking news, but we also had the story of the decade in sports - Tim Tebow being named the starter in Denver.
Since the summer months and Merril Hoge's rant out of nowhere, Tim Tebow has been ESPN's obsession. Let me be clear - I like Tim Tebow. I like that he takes a stand for who he is, I buy into his character, I believe he's a good guy that may or may not find success in the NFL. Whatever. Let him play it out. End of story, right? No. ESPN has made Tebow into some sort of Frankenstein character and debated his quarterbacking skills, personality, character, hygiene, sex life, and everything in between. It's nauseating. They have shoved so much Tebow down our throats that 98% of the country hates him because of how much ESPN (and other networks - I'm looking at you CBS, Fox, and everyone else) have obsessed over him. It makes Brett Favre look like an under the radar player.
So, facing a two hour show of Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, Tim Tebow, and LeBron James, I did what any insane, mentally imbalanced sports blogger would do. I dived headfirst into an in-depth statistical study and retro blog on Wednesday's First Take. Do I need a psych eval? Probably. Do I feel like scooping my eyeballs out with a melon baller? Possibly. Did I discover some disturbing, horrifying statistics that you want to read and laugh about? Absolutely...