William Shatner Method Acting Award: TotW slips the Willie to the players of Espanyol for their role in “Espanyol – A Tragedy in Three Acts”. In the 39th minute, in a span of 10 seconds (literally), three different Espanyol players flopped in & around the Celta Vigo penalty area. (The referee had none of it.) Never had so many Spaniards fallen since the Civil War in the 1930’s. One would think they were dodging the bulls of Pamplona, rather than the defenders of Celta. Instead, Espanyol were gored 2:1.
|Mickey Rat’s Priorities|
|TotW thought it would be interesting to see what emphasis ESPN.com, part of the Go Network, gave to different sports. Now is the perfect time, because October is the busiest of sports months. It is the only month all four ‘major’ domestic sports (and one wannabe) share in common: hockey and basketball have kicked off their seasons; football is in mid-season; baseball’s post-season is in full swing; and, in the US, soccer too is in its post-season.The following research takes into account all scheduled ESPN and espn2 programming from 1-31 October, 1999, as posted in the Time-Warner Cable Guide for the city of Milwaukee, WI. ESPN’s parent network — ABC — and other Disney affiliates and networks (such as ESPNews or ESPN Classic) were not counted. Nor were competing networks such as Fox Sports. The results are not weighted: a 3:00 a.m. show was counted the same as a 8:00 p.m. show. (Frankly, simply counting all the shows and hours was enough math to make our eyes water.)
Guesses were made as to the nature of some shows. For instance, it is doubtful even ESPN would have shows on falconry, so an offering titled “Hawk” is probably a skateboard show (after skateboard legend Tony Hawk), and it was grouped with extreme sports. Likewise “Magic – The Gathering” was grouped with basketball as it was more likely about the egomaniacal ex-Lakers guard, rather than a coven of pimply high school rejects playing hack & slash.
It is plain that the programming is tiered into six distinct strata: First are the programs without which ESPN would collapse like the RotMasters in May (e.g., news/talk and pointy football). Second are the programs without which ESPN’s schedule would resemble the Miami Fusion defense: more holes than swiss cheese (e.g., wheels & engines and hockey). Third are the programs which appear with mind-numbing regularity like Sepp Blatter brain farts: they get a major block of a day’s programming one or more times a week, plus update shows scattered throughout the rest of the week (e.g., exercise/fitness). Fourth are the shows that get a minor block once a week or so, plus maybe one update show per week (e.g., soccer). Fifth is the weekly 1/2-hour shows (e.g. karate). Last is the filler (e.g., arm wrestling).
TotW started the research with no pre-concieved notion, other than that soccer would be more rare than hair on Charlie Stillitano’s head, and billiards and strongest man would be more common than Clash crapshoots.
Without further ado:
Best Player Banished: The Striker Formerly Known As The World’s Best Player, “TSFKATWBP” (or Ronaldo, for short), was banished to the Brazilian U-23 squad for an impending tour of mighty Australia. Brazil claim it is because they promised to send a strong squad to the country, but if that is so, why did they send Ronaldo? If TSFKATWBP continues his 18-month run of current form, he will soon be playing A-League ball in the U.S. Probably for the Milwaukee Rampage. And still not scoring.
Slam of the Week: “While we speak of players who have considerable wads of cash but a somewhat smaller stash of brain cells, let us discuss Paul Gascoigne. The man for whom opera is a chat show and champagne is just someone feigning injury has spent $96,000 on a new car. It’s a Range Rover fitted with TV, video and PlayStation. The car salesroom are under the misapprehension that Gazza has bought these for the kiddies to enjoy when off on jaunts with their absent father. Au contraire mon ami, the kids’ll be driving it while Gazza’s sprawled in the back hacking limbs off assorted alien creatures. Which is not unlike his normal Premiership afternoon.” (Dave Bowler, “Team Talk”, Matchday USA)
The question on everyone’s minds: “Why haven’t I seen any results lately from Azerbaijan?” It seems that the useless appendage known as the sports minister used the omnipotency granted to sports ministers in the totalitarian boondocks to suspend domestic league play after the directors of two teams decided to have a go at the head of the soccer federation. Considering the usual local means of settling grudges — AKs and artillery at 40 paces — neighboring Armenia and Georgia where quite relieved. It took the intervention of Mother FIFA, rather than the normal American Stealth bombers, to settle matters. There, isn’t that a load off your mind?
Quote of the Week: “Anything less than a complete overhaul of MLS will leave it sputtering along next season, heading shakily down the road to oblivion, trailing smoke and dropping parts and pieces along the way.” (Grahame Jones, Sporting News)
Fire treat supporters like used condom: After making beautiful music with their supporter’s on Fan Appreciation Night, the Chicago Fire slapped them across the face with the wet proceeds like a cheap ho’, by announcing an increase in ticket prices. The Fire don’t have to worry about the backlash until next spring, as they crashed out of the MLs playoffs 2:3 to the Dallas Burn after holding a 2:0 lead five minutes into the game. Midfielders Jerzy Podbrozny and Roman Kosecki are already likely gone by next year, and defender Lubos Kubik is teetering on the brink. If Bradley leaves to assist with the men’s national team, Kubik will jump ship too. In other words, the Fire won’t need all the loot they just lifted. You heard it here first: The Fire will suck in 2000. Maybe there is hope for the San Jose Clash afterall.
Feel this! Then again, maybe not. Unless some successor to MLS revives the ancient Clash strip in the year 2525, in the vain hope it will revive their side’s pathetic attempt at immitating a real football team, the Clash are permanently doomed to being the only team in MLS history to appear only once in the post-season: Yes, even the Miami Fusion (as bad as they are) have made MLs’s expansive playoffs both years of the team’s existence. Yes, even the woeful KC Wizards were at one time good enough to lead the league in wins … and make two playoff appearances (1996-97). Yes, even the train wreck that is the RotMasters have made the playoffs twice (1996, 1998). Yes, even the NE Devolution — the Kraft family’s other crap team — once made the playoffs (1997), and retain some slim possibility of making it again. (Even if they must wait until 2525). One would think the change in name would result in the fans no longer identifying with a side of perennial losers, but the Kraft’s in their finite wisdom chose to name their San Jose franchise after perhaps the worst side in the North American Soccer League’s storied history. (Statistically, the old Earthquakes .395 winning percentage was second worst to nearby neighbor’s Oakland, who edged them out at .384. Maybe maybe it was something in the San Francisco Bay water?) By the way, take the use of the Kraft possessive tense with a grain of salt regarding the Earthquakes, as all the hype made no mention of the Kraft’s actually buying the team they’ve been plundering for the past year. (See TotW, 990904). What is it about billionaires that causes them to be so tight with the pennies? At least the Earthquake’s new strip looks like a proper football strip. (The Clash wore the gruesome pinstripes so beloved of most MLs teams; their’s featuring colors that sound more like Spice Girls: Cloudy Jane, Juniper, Chili Red, Varsity Red, Dark Spruce, Celery and Black.) But the worst move of all comes courtesy of the the marketing mastermind of Lynne Meterparel: The new Earthquake’s slogan is: “Earthquakes 2000: Feel it!” No Lynne, feel this:
Turd of the Week