Ten Minutes To Win It

In order to find that perfect balance between player safety and what draws the optimum TV audience (I guess), the NFL adapted a rule change that will shorten overtime periods in preseason and regular season games from 15 minutes down to 10. 

I don’t know why overtime is needed in preseason games, so I’d be okay with getting rid of that altogether. But reducing regular season OT down to 10 minutes strikes me as lunacy, as it will likely create more tie games. 

I know most of the world has soccer, where tie games are commonplace. That is unless you need a winner, and they have penalty kick shootouts for that. But we here in America like to have winners and losers to everything.

It kind of reminds me of how boxing reacted to the death of Duk Koo Kim in 1982. Within five years, the sport’s governing bodies thought they had the answer: reduce title fights from 15 rounds to 12. It didn’t prevent fighters from dying, as a punch thrown at any time could still, hypothetically do that. But it looked good and made the “TV gods” happy. 

I don’t know how well this is going to go over, so we’ll see. I could be wrong. 

Buyers Market In Radio, And A Bloodletting In Bristol

I mentioned a few weeks back in my hypothetical three wishes that one such wish was to own a radio station.

Then I read this week that there is speculation that the IHeart Radio ownership group may not be able to survive another year financially.

In my area, the Tampa Bay market, IHeart owns somewhere around eight AM and FM stations. When you add Beasley, Cox, and what CBS owns, it’s about 80-90 percent of the market wrapped up in four media conglomerates.

I don’t care if it’s radio stations or any other business.  When so few own so many, something has to give sooner or later. But in the business I used to be in, it only means a new wave of owners will find new ways to lose listeners, as was what happened in my era.

Speaking of eras, it was an ending of several eras in Bristol, Connecticut yesterday, home to sports cable TV giant ESPN.  Some big names at the “worldwide leader” got their walking papers in a wave of layoffs said to have been around 100 employees.

It was another sad example of what happens in the media industry in general. ESPN, owned by Disney, was just another company who thought they were too big to fail, and some very able employees, not the execs, paid the price with their services no longer being needed. Some will find work at other places or on outlets locally or nationally, but I suspect many others won’t.

For the time being, their lives change dramatically. Something I can relate to.

Drinks With The Nature Boy

I was working at the Sun Radio Network in 1991 when talk show host Tom Donahue told me one day in May that wrestling champ Ric Flair would be a guest on the show by phone. This is back when SRN and local affiliate WEND were operated out of the same facility in Feather Sound off of Ulmerton Road in Clearwater. In fact, the boards themselves were in the same room, right next to each other.

That day, I was running the WEND board, unfortunately. The SRN board op was from the northeast, and didn’t know anything about wrestling, and is asking me who Ric was. I looked at him like he had worms coming out of his ears. He couldn’t imagine why someone would invest so much time into something watching so choreographed, I suppose.

I responded that yes, there’s a stagecraft involved in all of this, and that you really couldn’t not notice it. But I also pointed out that these guys do this on the road night in and night out, and they do get hurt and injured doing so, just like any other sport. Thus, I’ve always considered wrestling a sport, or better put, a hybrid of sports and entertainment.

Ric’s been in the news lately, getting out of a bar in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Last year on Brian Last’s 6:05 Superpodcast, frequent contributor Tom “TRShock” Robinson had an experience similar to the one that led to Flair’s ouster from one of Fort Wayne’s watering holes.

It’d be easy to say that Flair needs some sort of sobriety help. But, between the recent loss of one his sons, and the plane crash he endured in 1975, he’s been through a lot, too.

Just Another Major Malfunction

When I woke up yesterday morning and heard that disgraced former football player Aaron Hernandez had killed himself in prison, I have to admit that I was surprised.

Not totally shocked, mind you. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten used to football players doing crazy things in their lives.

Does it add to the idea that these guys take too many shots to the head in their careers? Probably. But that, as they say in the Godfather movies, is the business they chose.

Researchers have made great strides in the past few years on the whole CTE/brain damage playing football issue. But I imagine this is something that’s going to take years to fully figure out. Until then, I see a few more “major malfunctions” as was the case with Mr. Hernandez. His suicide was a senseless waste of human life already wasted by committing murder, but at least the taxpayers won’t be further burdened paying for his room and board.

His life has come to a close.

Pay Up, Or The Cable Box Gets It!

There’s a now familiar message that’s been scrolling on the bottom of the screen during Rays games. It reminds viewers that the games might not be airing on your cable system if that system is Spectrum Cable, which used to be Bright House here prior to the start of 2017.

This drama has been playing out in various regional outlets other than Tampa Bay, such as Cleveland, San Diego, and Atlanta. Deadlines pass, but yet the regional Fox Sports outlet has stayed on my Spectrum system after a few of these “deadlines” have come and gone.

I don’t know if I’ve said it on this blog before, but I know I’ve felt this way before. There ought to be a law that when circumstances like this come up, the viewer isn’t held hostage, or used as a pawn in a publicity battle like Fox has been encouraging. Matters like these should find a way to resolve themselves without the viewing public having to choose sides, or decipher who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are, because when stuff like this happens, EVERYBODY loses.

Out Of The Park, Again

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If it’s the baseball season, I can probably be found at night immersed in a little computer program called Out Of The Park Baseball. It is a baseball simulation of enormous depth created by German developer Markus Heinsohn, with the 18th version (known amongst fans as OOTP 18) just having been released a few weeks ago. The game is so popular, owners and players have been known to play it, and it’s even been used in schools to teach business economics.

With each new version comes new bells and whistles. When version 17 came out last year, it added a minor league historical database along with the major leaguers so you could get a more accurate account of what the baseball world looked like in a given year. This year’s improvement added the Negro Leagues, setting up what-if scenarios that now included baseball not having a color barrier prior to 1947. But that’s just ONE thing you can do. You can even play the standard game and manage or be a general manager of teams in the modern MLB, the minors, Cuba, Japan, Mexico, or beyond. Wherever you want to go, OOTP can likely take you there.

My personal favorite enterprise the last few seasons have been the ability to have players debut randomly. For instance, what if Evan Longoria played in the first decade of the 20th century as opposed to the 21st, or if Clayton Kershaw pitched back then, when starting pitchers usually went the full nine innings?

There’s a lot less you can do as oppose to what you can do, including the ability to create fictional leagues and structures within and play commissioner, proprietor, and God. It’s not just a sim but a baseball laboratory any fan would enjoy.

The Show Must Go On

Pearl Gonzalez was considered to be an up and coming fighter out of Chicago looking to make her mark in the world of mixed martial arts by joining the UFC in the women’s strawweight classification. 

Yet, the fight nearly didn’t take place for a rather odd reason: Gonzalez has breast implants. The MMA fighter had seven fights coming into the UFC, losing her MMA debut before winning six straight fights to get the UFC’s attention. Her fight did go off as scheduled, but Cynthia Calvillo spoiled the debut, making Pearl tap in the third round. Calvillo stays undefeated at 5-0, while Gonzalez dropped to 6-2 in her overall career. 

Needless to say, I’ve never heard of implants ever being an issue amongst women fighters before, but I can’t say I’m a big follower of MMA fights. But, the New York State Athletic Commission has such a rule, for fear of a woman getting struck there, causing the implant to rupture.

A lot of models get the implants for reasons of appearance. And not to sound like Jimmy The Greek or anything, but female bodybuilders often get boob jobs because without them, their usual female form would look much like a man’s, chest-wise. There. Hope I said that with enough tact. And, much like the scripted WWE, it could be said that the UFC likes to perpetuate the myth that good fighters are also good looking when those two attributes don’t always go hand in hand with each other.

I could have sworn Ronda Rousey had such a surgery, but I could be mistaken. In fact, I could easily be mistaken. If Gonzalez wants to fight and take the medical risks of having an implant leak on her, she should be so allowed.