The Two Joes

There isn’t a lot I hate about the sports world – accept officials who seem to think (in my opinion, mind you) that they are bigger than the games they officiate. Two such guys, one recently retired, one is still going strong – are Joey Crawford and Joe West.

Crawford – well, I can’t argue about him too much since he’s retired from officiating. He had that incident with Tim Duncan where the Spurs star got a technical foul for laughing – after which, then-commissioner David Stern ordered Crawford to get therapy.

I don’t know what MLB sees in Joe West to keep him employed. Sure, he’s one of three umpires to officiate 5,000 games in MLB history – but he’s also racked up quite a track record in that time. Maybe it’s because he’s performed a couple of country albums? I don’t get it.

Well, one of these guys is retired – the other won’t be around too much longer, one can hope. Just can’t stand officials who think the fans come to see THEM and not the teams and their respective players.

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The Right Idea At The Wrong Time

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If you missed the ending of the fourth game of the National League Championship Series between Milwaukee and Los Angeles, which the Dodgers won 2-1 in 13 innings – don’t feel bad. Even though I had Fox Sports One on, I slept right through the end of the game myself, which took place someplace around 2:30am Eastern time this morning.

I’ve always thought baseball had the right proposal as to how to cover playoff games – but they had it in a format that was generally considered unreasonable for the game at the time. Yes friends, time to re-visit the ill-fated enterprise known as The Baseball Network from 1994 and 1995.

ABC and NBC shared this concept during those two seasons – and on given Saturday or Monday night, they would air all of the given MLB games that evening. Most would get their games starting at an 8:00pm Eastern time, while some games aired starting at 11:00pm that would air at 8:00pm Pacific with the three-hour time difference. The games were all regionalized – meaning various parts of the country would get different games. If you lived in the Tampa Bay area, as I did then and do now – we didn’t have the Rays yet, so we’d get either an Atlanta Braves or a Florida Marlins game.

No, I’m not inferring their regular-season format should be reinstituted. Not at all.

When the season got to the playoffs, TBN did something that was unprecedented to that point in baseball television history – in the first round, they would air all four games regionally and simultaneously. They’d all start at 8:00pm or so, and you saw the game in your region and only that game. If another game was more exciting and took longer to play, too bad – you only got to see the one game assigned to you.

It might be sensible for MLB to look into that again. With the proliferation of cable, smartphones, and the advent of the MLB Network, and considering what CBS and TBS have done with the NCAA basketball tournament by putting a game on up to four different channels at the same time, revisiting the “simultaneous start” format wouldn’t be a bad idea. What I’d propose is putting one game on FOX, another on TBS, another on FS1, and the fourth game on the MLB Network – something like that.

If the Tampa Bay Rays were to make the playoffs, I’d be interested in their games – not necessarily what was going on with the Houston Astros, or the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think fans my age or older get “tunnel vision” with their favorite teams, and would be a lot less likely to watch three or four playoff games on a given day anyways. Play the games all at once, and let the fans pick out the game they want to see on a given night.

I’d also look into starting the games earlier (say 7:30pm or thereabouts) so that if a game ran long, you’d still have a chance of getting a decent night’s rest.

With the NFL faltering a bit, but still reigning supreme in terms of the North American sports roost – it might not be a bad idea for MLB to shake things up.

The Podcast Rules, Late 2018 Version

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I haven’t talked about the podcasts I’ve been listening to for a while – so time to revisit that category.

The rules that I use as to who I subscribe to change fluently. In more recent days, I prefer listening to podcasts that aren’t time-sensitive. If I can listen to a podcast episode from February here in mid-October, that’s a good thing. Political and most sports-related podcasts would, therefore, be a no-go for me right now.

I like podcasts that have an episode length of 60-90 minutes. Anything beyond that is a bit too long for me, currently. For example, Joe Rogan is an outstanding podcaster, but most times I don’t have time in my life for his marathon conversations with some outstanding guests every day. I do have exceptions to that rule – but if I do, it’s with a podcast that provides episodes less than once a week. For those longer episodes, I usually listen to half or more one day, and the remainder on a second day.

Lastly, my goal is to listen to one podcast a day – so I have a rotation of seven podcasts I subscribe to. Should I run out of new material and need more, I subscribe to more. Some podcasts have fresh episodes weekly, some provide maybe one or two episodes a month, and some “go dark” for several months at a time. Plus, some have a good “library” of episodes worth revisiting or visiting for the first time.

Here’s my current rotation:

  • Dope Stories (I’m a big fan of Pauly McGuire’s blog and book works.)
  • Big Brother Gossip
  • The 6:05 Superpodcast (The mothership!)
  • The Voice Behind The Voice (Sportscasting)
  • The Bettor Life (Gambling News)
  • The Gabcast (UFO’s and the late Art Bell type of stuff)
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

If your rules are like mine, these are good starting points.

Aircheck: ABC-TV, 1/26/1974

I haven’t done one of these “airchecks” in a while. But when I find something that I think is worth sharing – I figure, why not share it with you all?

It should be noted that most of this episode of Wide World Of Sports (a sports anthology ABC used to have in the days before the proliferation of cable TV) was taped on January 23, 1974, for air three days later. (I saw promos on this footage for shows that aired on Sunday – so I’m assuming this aired on Saturday, 1/26/1974.)

This was also back in an era where professional boxing commanded attention. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were a few days away from their second fight on January 28th – but neither man was the reigning champion, fighting for a lesser title instead. George Foreman was the reigning World champ, so this upcoming fight would basically decide who would fight him. Ali lost to Frazier the first time they met in 1971, and Howard Cosell and ABC had arranged for both men to view film footage of that initial bout a few days before their second bout.

Frazier was then the recognized champ, but Ali also had the distinction of never losing his title in the ring – being stripped of the crown for refusing to join the military in 1967, thus the first fight would produce a truly undisputed champion if a winner were found. Both men also went into the ring for that first fight undefeated, but that night produced a Frazier decision victory, benefiting from a 15th round knockdown of Muhammad.

In what always struck me as an odd decision – Ali and Frazier sat by side-by-side. Why not have Howard in between them? I guess it’s easy to say in retrospect, considering what happened as the trio viewed the tenth round of the first fight. The verbal sparring between the two men deteriorated into an actual fight – while they were watching the original fight! Cosell sat there, not moving a muscle, telling the audience, “Well, we’re having a scene, as you can see…”

Ali was probably not as serious, knowing that such an altercation would probably increase interest in the fight to come – a page taken from the stagecraft of professional wrestling, maybe. Frazier seemed decidedly annoyed as the men wrestled to the floor. As Cosell notes in the opening of the footage, the New York State Athletic Commission fined each of the fighters $5,000 – with the prominent broadcaster pointing out that the commission failed to view any of the tapes, which ABC would have allowed them to view. Thus, they made their ruling on hearsay evidence, with Cosell, the former lawyer – pointing that out in spades.

The studio scuffle wound up being more interesting than the fight was a few days later – Ali won a 12-round decision. They’d met again in Manilla, with Ali winning the title away from Foreman later in 1974 – and this time, Ali won by knockout after the 14th round when Frazier’s corner stopped the fight due to fears Joe couldn’t see out of at least one of his eyes. Ali also wanted to quit after that 14th round. Had the referee, Carlos Padilla had the wherewithal to check Ali’s corner – the fight could have wound up a draw, or a rarely seen double TKO, in which case Ali would have retained his championship.

With boxing out of the sporting limelight and television broke down into hundreds of pieces with the proliferation of cable TV – I doubt if the sport ever returns to such prominence. There was a welterweight title fight on ESPN this past weekend between two fighters I’d never heard of. At the weigh-in before the fight, one fighter had the audacity to take a swing at the other fighter, a punch the targeted fighter easily evaded. The incident barely got any media attention outside of ESPN.

Yep, we’re a long way away from 1974.

 

The Radio Garden

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I’ve been a follower of a website for over a year called Radio Garden. In times of emergencies such as this with Tropical Storm/Hurricane Michael, it comes in quite handy.

Radio Garden is this map of radio stations spanning the world. It will NOT have every station known to exist like Tunein and IHeart Radio seem to collectively have, but there are enough stations out there to get the flavor of what’s going on in a given area. I first used it last year (the fall of 2017) when Ophelia hit Ireland – and the stations there went on high alert.

Right now, I have WFSW on out of Panama City (which repeats WFSU programming out of Tallahassee), currently the only station in the “Garden” on the air from there. As Michael ravaged through Florida, southeast Alabama and southern Georgia last night, you could click your mouse to points on the map in that region and see that a lot of the radio outlets went off the air. Naturally, the stations would lose power or their antennas as the fast-moving storm moved inland.

Worth a look if you’re a radio geek as I am.

Michael On The Move

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It was the third strongest hurricane (in terms of barometric pressure) to make landfall in the United States, with 1969’s Camile and 1935’s Labor Day Hurricane stronger. But even a storm that strong can have a saving grace.

For several days, the prediction was that Hurricane Michael was going to hit Panama City dead on, with the eye going right over the spring break mecca. But as it made landfall early this midday, the various satellites and radars tracked the eye of this monster storm. The eye wound up missing Panama City just barely to the east.

It is too early to say how bad the damage will be in Florida and in other states with the eye just making landfall a couple of hours ago. There will no doubt be a rebuilding effort, perhaps some question as to whether or not Michael was a Cat 4 or Cat 5 at landfall. (They thought Andrew was a “4” for many years – but after a decade or so of review, they appended the storm category to a 5.) I doubt President Trump will shirk from the challenge of rebuilding like George W. Bush did with Katrina over a decade ago.

Weather and news reporters are good at telling you with these disasters what goes on at the moment – but they are here today and will be gone sometime after tomorrow. For the residents of north Florida and the other states to be affected, here’s to a speedy recovery.