From what I gather, the rookie symposium consists of presentations that fall into two buckets. 1) Don't be an idiot 2) You should really know this stuff (how to manage money) but a lot of you didn't really get real educations.
I am sure somewhere during all the PowerPoints, a lot of rookies doze off so that's why it's good to have an individual really shake it up with a very hard hitting presentation. Enter ESPN's Herm Edwards:
High marks to Edwards and the NFLPA for selecting him as a speaker. Edwards brings perspective as a player, coach, and television personality so his insight comes from a lot of different angles. But more importantly he's an enthusiastic speaker who isn't inhibited by going through the motions and being a cookie cutter personality. That's never been his style so he's an ideal candidate to come out and emphasize a lot of possible pitfalls to young NFL players. Now if only Edwards could double as a mediator for the collective bargaining agreement.
Eric Byrnes still has "it' in him, but unfortunately he's just lost a lot of his skills as a baseball player. Bynes is on local Bay Area radio and you can tell he still has the drive and enthusiasm to play baseball but unlike some players he wasn't comfortable playing as his skills diminished and his reputation waned as a ball player. I mean who else is playing softball days after retiring from baseball?
Never has Byrnes' crash test dummy like mentality been more evident than this cameo on the MLB Network in which he decides to go full throttle on Harold Reynolds in the clip below.
Easy now Byrnesie.
Reynolds does a good job laughing off the Goldberg like spear and Byrnes does his best to make amends giving HR a makeup hug. Still though you get the feeling that Byrnes needs some hobby to get up this agressiveness and adrenaline out of his system. Rugby? Fight club? Gymkata perhaps?
Minnesota Twins play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer wasn't messing around during last night's Twins/Dodgers game.
As rookie Luke Hughes stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 5th inning of a tied game, Bremer felt something all the way down in his plums that Hughes was about to put one in the seats. Fresh and juicy, ready for the picking [H/T BLS]:
Bremer: "Hughes hasn't homered since the end of April. I got a call here."
Bert Blyleven: "I like it."
Bremer: "I got a call."
Here's how it played out:
Notice how Bremer just calmly announces that the Twins are back on top? I bet he left Blyleven hanging, too. That's a man who is all business. Now, the "call" wasn't quite as sweet as Mike Blowers predicting the count, pitch, and location of a dude's first career home run, but this is still a hell of a call (assuming he didn't make 100 unsuccessful predictions leading up to this one). When you've watched thousands of games like Bremer has, it's possible you can develop a relatively successful gut for this sort of thing. It didn't let him or Twins fans down here.
Do you believe in miracles, or something? Bob Costas and Al Michaels will be joining forces for the first time since calling the Denslow Cup together for an MLB game on the MLB Network on July 8. Here's an excerpt from the press release [H/T Fangs Bites]:
Legendary sports broadcaster Al Michaels will join MLB Network’s Bob Costas in the broadcast booth when the two call the New York Mets at NL West first-place San Francisco Giants at 10:00 p.m. ET on Friday, July 8, part of MLB Network’s live game schedule in July. The game marks the first time Michaels and Costas will call an MLB game together and the first MLB game Michaels will call since 1995. Costas and Michaels will also make special appearances on SNY’s broadcast and on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s broadcast in the game’s middle innings, while Mets announcers Gary Cohen and Ron Darling and Giants announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow will appear in MLB Network’s booth during that time, as its telecast will not be available in the Giants’ and Mets’ home television markets.
MLB Network will host a media conference call with Michaels and Costas, who are expected to be joined by Cohen, Darling, Kuiper and Krukow, on Tuesday, July 5 to discuss the game telecast. Additional details on the call will be sent to media from MLB Network.
I miss those few short days back in March when Charlie Sheen's insane, drugged-out mind took the world by storm after his blowup with Two and a Half Men. Has any single person ever been more discussed in a short period of time than Charlie Sheen was? He was all over the networks, interviewed with everybody, picked up a million followers on Twitter faster than you could say Pedro Cerrano, and briefly became a populist anti-hero. Let's take a brief walk down memory lane, shall we...
"I was bangin 7 gram rocks and finishing them because that's how I roll. I have one speed and one gear - GO... I got tiger blood man... dying's for fools, there's certain blends I will not entertain because that's how people go down."
"And then what, what's the cure, medicine? Make me like them? Not gonna happen. I'm bi-winning. I win here and I win there. Now what."
"I blinked and I cured my brain, that's how. Can't is the cancer of happen."
Good times indeed. I still have Can't Is The Cancer Of Happen plastered on my bedroom wall, great motto to live by. Well, after the whole Torpedo of Truth tour went by with a collective yawn and the battle to the death with CBS never ensued, the now goddessless Sheen faded from the spotlight. Sheen's name is back in the news though after an interesting admission to Sports Illustrated for their "Where Are They Now" issue about the cast of Major League. The full article is available now in the SI Vault if you're interested. Here's the quote from the New York Daily News...
"Let's just say that I was enhancing my performance a little bit," says Sheen. "It was the only time I ever did steroids. I did them for like six or eight weeks. You can print this, I don't give a f-. My fastball went from 79 to like 85."
My God, how many different drugs can one man put into his body and survive? Interestingly enough, this also may confirm that the Steroid Era in baseball was in full force well before Sosa and McGwire. Perhaps it wasn't all Bud Selig's fault after all. No word yet on what the roids did for Vaughn's "new assortment of breaking stuff" in the sequel...
You remember Jay Mariotti don't you? That kind, lovable television personality that lit up the screen on ESPN's Around the Horn as the level-headed, straight-shooting, popular everyman that spoke on behalf of fans everywhere. Then there was his honest and refreshing sports column that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, surely a role model for all aspiring sportswriters...
Of course you don't remember that Jay Mariotti, because the real Jay Mariotti was universally despised as a television personality and columnist by sports fans, players, managers, co-workers, and nearly every person with a human conscience. In fact, Jay Mariotti's downfall was celebrated in the sports world like Christmas Day and the Fourth of July wrapped into one. Well, Mariotti is back in the news because he will stand trial in Los Angeles for felony domestic assault and stalking charges stemming from his April arrest. In case you need caught up on Mariotti's whereabouts the last year, there was the first arrest, suspension, firing, sentencing, and then the second arrest. After pleading no contest the first go round, Mariotti will stand trial this time after pleading not guilty to the recent charges. Here's more details from the Los Angeles Times...
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that former ESPN sports personality Jay Mariotti must stand trial on felony stalking and assault charges in connection with allegations leveled by his ex-girlfriend.
Judge Mark Windham ruled that there was enough evidence to hold Mariotti to answer on charges that include stalking, corporal injury on a spouse or domestic partner, and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.
Mariotti, who faces up to five years in state prison if convicted on all counts, has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well as to two misdemeanor counts of disobeying a court order.
Domestic violence is a horrifying crime and this is Mariotti's second round of charges relating to it. Given Mariotti's history and what he's said in the past about domestic violence, there aren't exactly many people left in his corner. It will be intriguing to see how the media follows the Mariotti trial and the flood of (deserved) negative press that will come his way (once again). Perhaps Mariotti will again be a topic Out of Bounds later today on Around the Horn...
The Diamondbacks defeated the Indians tonight on a 9th inning pinch hit walk-off HR by Wily Mo Pena. If you haven't heard that name in a while, that's because Wily Mo has only played in a handful of games in the bigs since 2008. While the HR was clutch, what he did just before the at bat drew the most attention from the MLB Network studio crew. For good luck or just because he lacks an appreciation of good hygiene, Wily Mo spit in his helmet before putting it on his head. MLB Network of course then decided to feature Pena's loogy in glorious disgusting slo-mo replay. Gross for sure, but it is hard to argue with those results.
There are a lot of good things going on in this video. Easily my highlight is Harold Reynolds giving an absolutely flawless impression of Clubber Lang (Mr. T) mumbling something and everyone else on the crew pretending like they knew what he was talking about. Also enjoyable is Dan Plesac repeatedly making noises that instantly reminded me of the grape stomping lady for the majority of the clip. Plesac also suggests that spitting in your helmet "MAKES YOU FEEL MANLY." Well, I just spit in my hat and put it on before writing this. I apologize if the testosterone oozing out of this post is overbearing. The win by the snakes puts them just 2.5 games back in the NL West behind the world champs.
The Chicago Cubs recently announced that television play-by-play man, Len Kasper, has agreed to a five-year extension to remain the voice of the team through at least 2016.
Kasper has been very well-received by fans in his seven years with the Cubs, after having the same job with the Florida Marlins for the three years before that. The chemistry that he's had with color commentator, Bob Brenly, has especially gotten terrific reception. Together, they create a very entertaining broadcast, while also being very informative and professional. And when Cubs games are so widely available to watch in America because of WGN, it's nice to have broadcasters that can be tolerated by non-Cubs fans that are just tuning in to enjoy a ballgame.
At just 40, it's likely that Len Kasper will be the Cubs' play-by-play man for much longer than 2016. The Cubs are going to do everything to keep him around for a long time, and Kasper absolutely loves the job.
“I thought it would be the greatest job in the world when I got here, and it’s been beyond my expectations. Of course, it’s more fun when the Cubs win, but to get to call half the games at Wrigley Field, it never, ever, ever feels routine.”
“From every angle, professionally and personally and from a family standpoint, being back in Midwest (after working in Florida) felt very familiar to me,” Kasper said. “Being from the Midwest, I feel like I have a good read on how people view the world here, and I’ve felt accepted here from Day 1. Cubs fans have been absolutely wonderful to me.”
As for Brenly, his contract expires after the 2012 season, and it will be interesting to see what he decides to do. Like Kasper, the Cubs will surely want to keep Brenly around, but the former World Series-winning manager (for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001) may want to get back into managing/coaching. It's also worth noting that his son Michael is a catcher in the Cubs' organization for the Daytona Cubs (Class-A Affiliate), so that could somehow play into his decision-making.
Those who tuned into SportsCenter throughout Monday were treated to a useless and awkward preview of Team USA’s first World Cup match against North Korea. While ESPN is pouring similar resources into the Women's World Cup as they did for South Africa 2010, this event has a serious lack of juice . The 22-day tournament isn’t capable of giving me a goose pimple on my pinky. But, I was given some nausea as I watched Bob Ley, Brandi Chastain and Tony DiCicco provide this 160-second dose of nonsense from Germany...
Ley is a pro. I’m rarely ever critical of him. He’s typically smooth, well spoken, knowledgeable and prepared. He is, without a doubt, a top shelf host, especially during events like the World Cup that require a point guard who is well rounded and good at storytelling. However, it’s quite clear that he’d rather be rolling strikes and downing a few cold ones at some seedy bowling alley than be swapping soccer stories with Chastain and DiCicco. I thought the way Ley introduced the two analysts was a little phony. His excitement just didn’t come across as all that natural when he belted, “1999! We all remember that day at the Rose Bowl.” Did he really believe what he said? No, he didn’t, but I did appreciate his effort. I can’t be too hard on him for not sounding genuinely enthused. Hosting a Women’s World Cup isn’t something that’s on the wish lists of America’s premier sports broadcasters, which, make no mistake, Ley is. If the Worldwide Leader had gotten the rights to the Olympics, he’d do for ESPN what Bob Costas does for NBC.
As for Chastain and DiCicco, they were chock full of clichés. I cringed when Chastain declared, “the most important thing for a team to win a world cup is togetherness.” Great insight! Clearly, the Bristol bosses only hired her because she ripped off her jersey after scoring the cup-clinching goal in 1999. On that note, how many times is ESPN going to show the highlight of Chastain’s “liberation” of women athletes during this World Cup? It’s a fine moment, but I don’t need to see it or have it mentioned every time Chastain is in the mix. Sure, she’s recognizable, but she didn’t show me that she could be a quality analyst. Keep an eye on her during these next two weeks, her future as a soccer analyst may swerve off the highway, flip over the divide and smash into a tree.
DiCicco had nice energy, a fantastic tan, a sharp gold watch and seemed like a great guy to have a slice of Sicilian pizza with, but, other than that, he was weak. Like Chastain, he didn’t provide useful analysis. According to DiCicco, Team USA has to take it “one game at a time and North Korea isn’t going to be easy, they’re young.” If I were his producer, I’d ask him to try and give the viewers something more than the triteness he displayed throughout the segment.
ESPN’s coverage of the USA North Korea match starts at 11:45 AM ET and will air on ESPN and ESPN3. I don’t know about you, but I won’t be tuning in. I don't like women’s soccer, I don’t like hollow analysts and I don’t like that tame sports bra Chastain was donning when she netted that goal in ’99.
Interleague play is back once again this weekend with rivalry series taking center stage. This time, it's actually the Freeway Series instead of the Subway Series that gets the Sunday Night Baseball slot. White Sox-Cubs and Reds-Indians will also be matchups to watch this weekend. The pick of the games early in the week is clearly northeastern powers Boston and Philadelphia playing a series in Philly. ESPN and MLB Network will be there. Tuesday, June 28
San Francisco Giants @ Chicago Cubs (WGNA 2PM) Len Kasper, Bob Brenly Boston Red Sox @ Philadelphia Phillies (MLBN 7PM) Local Broadcast [Alt: Milwaukee @ NY Yankees] Washington Nationals @ Los Angeles Angles (MLBN 10PM) Local Broadcast [Alt: Atlanta @ Seattle]
Wednesday June 29
Boston Red Sox @ Philadelphia Phillies (ESPN 7PM) Dave O'Brien, Nomar Garciaparra San Francisco Giants @ Chicago Cubs (WGNA 7PM) Len Kasper, Bob Brenly
Thursday, June 30
Boston Red Sox @ Philadelphia Phillies (MLBN 1PM) TBA [Alt: Milwaukee @ NY Yankees] San Francisco Giants @ Chicago Cubs (WGNA 2PM) Len Kasper, Bob Brenly Texas Rangers @ Houston Astros (MLBN 8PM) Local Broadcast [Alt: St. Louis @ Baltimore 7PM]
Friday July 1
Chicago White Sox @ Chicago Cubs (WGNA 2PM) Len Kasper, Bob Brenly New York Yankees @ New York Mets (MLBN 7PM) TBA [Alt: San Francisco @ Detroit]
Saturday, July 2
New York Yankees @ New York Mets (FOX 4PM) TBA Chicago White Sox @ Chicago Cubs (FOX 4PM) TBA Cleveland Indians @ Cincinnati Reds (FOX 4PM) TBA TBA (MLBN PM)
Sunday July 3
New York Yankees @ New York Mets (TBS 1PM) Ernie Johnson, John Smoltz Chicago White Sox @ Chicago Cubs (WGNA 2PM) Ken Harrelson, Steve Stone Los Angeles Dodgers @ Los Angeles Angels (ESPN 8PM) Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, Bobby Valentine