‘Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat! … Wrong hat.”
And now, in its latest attempt to reinvent the flat tire, ESPN will fine-tune “Sunday Night Baseball” by adding a Manning-style supplemental broadcast featuring Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez.
How will Kay make Rodriguez more popular to an audience that knows he’s full of it? He can’t. Kay has his own problems, such as over-coming his bearing as stat-happy house man on Yankees telecasts and obedient ESPN shill on his ESPN-NY radio show.
Still, based on Rodriguez’s appearances here, there and everywhere, both ESPN and Fox still feel as if we adore him, when there’s far more evidence, especially among intelligent baseball fans, to the polar contrary.
ESPN and Fox have their fingers on a pulse that doesn’t beat.
But perhaps it’s us, not him. Perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective, one we can’t share with Rodriguez being that we’re from different worlds with radically different rules, rewards and punishments.
Perhaps many are left flabbergasted by Rodriguez’s sustained popularity within ESPN and Fox because we never walked in his shoes.
After all, how many of us have been in a position to invest millions of dollars, cultivated from years of making millions of dirty drug dollars, on an NBA team?
How much dough would Rodriguez have to invest in anything had he not been a drug cheat, let alone a twice-busted one left so wishfully dependent on his lies and the public’s naivete that he became a teens’ anti-steroids spokesman between busts?
Was his illegal drug use essential to creating his fame and fortune, enough to designate him as the voice and face of baseball on two of MLB’s national networks? Enough to buy a big chunk of the Minnesota Timberwolves?
Logic tells us it made a huge difference — he didn’t think those PEDS made him better at crossword puzzles.
How will this T’wolves thing work? If a star player — any of his players — tests positive for illegal PEDs, what will co-owner Rodriguez do? Hide? What if that player lies about it, even once? Will he suspend him, then give him a raise?
When Robinson Cano returned from his first drug suspension to play for the Mets on ESPN, Rodriguez gave it the Sgt. Schultz treatment, making conspicuous fools of ESPN’s shot-callers — as if none could see that coming, as if none had any idea what drove Rodriguez’s superstar MLB career, as if ESPN couldn’t find a worthy clean former player.
Or is it that ESPN just didn’t care, and still doesn’t? ESPN continues to employ and indulge Rodriquez as if he’s wildly popular among viewers, that they’re mesmerized by his contradictory, glad-handing, back-slapping baloney and million-dollar smile.
But back to Rodriguez, the T’wolves’ co-owner. What if one of his star players, benched during a playoff game, summons a ballboy to deliver his phone number to two fabulous babes he spotted in the crowd, a la Rodriguez during the 2012 playoffs? Will A-Rod make shame-shame, or ask to share the phone numbers?
Surely ESPN and Fox were and remain impressed by Rodriguez’s mode of operation throughout his MLB career and his nonsensical, artificial-filler booth blather, or they wouldn’t be so eager, and at great expense, to continue to present him as their ideal of what we not only favor, but can’t wait to savor.
Goodell admits Supe act not suitable for families
There have been too many times, lately, when I can’t believe that what I’m about to write can possibly be true. For instance, right here and now:
By his own admission, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell anticipates that this year’s Super Bowl will constitute X-rated TV programming, highly inappropriate for families, especially children, among those otherwise tuned in to watch the NFL championship.
And Goodell’s good with it. Last week, he even made a wisecrack about it.
For a reported $64 million per, Goodell only plays stupid. But — buttressed by a compliant, pandering and frightened media — he knows he can say and do most anything without being held accountable. And that includes allowing the Super Bowl, for no good reason, to become an annual cavalcade of obscene acts.
Goodell appeared with Eli and Peyton Manning on their in-game Monday night show, and Peyton popped the chops-busting question:
“Commissioner, we have Snoop Dogg joining us in the third quarter. He’s also one of the performers in the Super Bowl halftime this year. And the question on my mind, and everybody’s mind, is what is your favorite Snoop Dogg song?”
Goodell: “I don’t think I could tell you a single title without violating your rules on using language on air, so I think I’m going to have to pass on that one.”
In other words, he acknowledged that Snoop Dogg’s act is X-rated, not the least bit suitable for the Commissioner of the NFL to address in detail.
But come the Super Bowl, Goodell has certified Snoop’s vulgar act as well as the acts of other unprintably vulgar and salacious, crotch-grabbing rappers Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, as meeting the NFL’s standards and blessings.
The Mannings cut Goodell a break, leaving it at that, not asking about Snoop’s career use of the N-word despite the NFL’s conspicuous on-field messaging to “End Racism,” Dogg’s pornographic treatment of young women and his arrests, estimated to be nearly 20, mostly for guns and drugs. He beat a murder rap.
So Goodell knows what’s coming. Again. And he’s good with it, has fun with it. He’s shameless. Perhaps he’ll demonstrate the courage of his convictions by holding his crotch while presenting the Lombardi Trophy.
Buck the analytics Buck!
Those who have watched Buck Showalter successfully manage teams hope he was mostly teasing when he said he’ll rely on both analytics as well as his long-conditioned instincts to manage the Mets.
In an ongoing epidemic of insanity, analytics have replaced here-and-now common sense as both managers fight it out to determine which one will blow the game. It’s crazy! And if Showalter doesn’t know it and act in its defiance, The Game, at its last breath, is doomed.
I can’t see Showalter removing effective relievers for any spread-sheet-printed reason. Nor can I see him alerting the bullpen because an effective starter is heading into the Kingdom of Evil Analytics Destiny — his third time through the lineup. In 1994, with Showalter at the wheel of the Yankees, Jimmy Key didn’t finish 17-4 by being yanked after six innings — in a 113-game, strike-shortened season.
Last year, the Mets’ Edwin Diaz blew six saves and went 5-6 — far too many decisions for a designated closer — due to preseason-scripted analytics.
I can’t see Showalter excuse fundamental failings, starting with running to first base and swinging from the heels on 0-2 pitches.
Perhaps Showalter, with little to lose at age 65, will be the first to institute the no-handshake rule for first base coaches, meaning he expects those who hit home runs to be off and running, past first base when the ball clears the wall — in case what they “thought” to be a home run becomes a double or triple instead of a posing, jogging single.
Consider: A team that can win, say, six more games by playing smart baseball under a manager who insists on such, also loses six fewer games, a swing of 12 games.