Tag Archives: ESPN

Friday morning filler: Mayne Street

Pax Arcana

kenny_mayneLike anyone who lived through the epic fail of Bill Simmons’ short-lived cartoon show on ESPN.com, I was skeptical that Kenny Mayne’s new online adventure, Mayne Street, would be even remotely watchable. Surprisingly, it is. It is more than watchable. I would go so far as to say it is good.

For those that don’t know, Mayne burst onto the scene as a Sportscenter anchor back when the show was still a fresh, irreverent enterprise about to peak. Unlike the other jocky, cool-guy anchors, Mayne’s take on sports was incredibly dry, sardonic, and often bizarre. He seemed to spend half of each show making fun of us for caring so much, and we loved it.

Many of Mayne’s goofy segments on the World Wide Leader are straight up stinkers, but I dare say Mayne Street is bringing him back around. Check out the first episode:

There’s plenty more at the Mayne Street site at ESPN. Be sure to check out the outtakes of the above episode. And any episode with Evan Mintz.

Mayne Street [ESPN]

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Chris Mortensen is back in the game, baby

Pax Arcana

Last football season, ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen swung and missed more often than Charlie Brown.

First there was Mort’s awesome scoop that Michael Vick would not be indicted for dogfighting. Vick was indicted the next day and is now serving a prison sentence.

Then there was the Eli Manning injury debacle, in which Mort bravely reported that Manning would miss a month of the season with a separated shoulder. Manning played the next Sunday.

Or that time he said Bill Parcells was on his way to the Atlanta Falcons — when he was actually headed to the Dolphins. Or when he reported that Brett Favre would soon be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer — just days before Favre signed with the Jets.

A few days ago, Mort reported that Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was prepared to name Kurt Warner the team’s starting QB over former O-Town dancer Matt Leinart. Mort’s source within the organization told him that Leinart’s poor play in a recent preseason game had sealed his fate.

Then this happened:

More specifically, this happened:

“I haven’t read the paper today or seen the Internet,” Whisenhunt said. “Do we have a quarterback? … It seems like Chris Mortensen is making the decision on our quarterback for our football team. … But nothing has changed.”

Later, Whisenhunt said Leinart’s poor performance against the Raiders wouldn’t be the ultimate factor in any decision that is made.

“One thing I learned from (former Steelers coach) Bill Cowher is, you don’t want to make an emotional decision based on a half of football,” Whisenhunt said. “Look, we’ve put in a lot of work … and it’s based on a body of work. We don’t have to make that decision right now.

“We’re going to work on the things from the tape and correct it and when we do make a change of that magnitude, I’m sure you guys will know about it.”

I wouldn’t be so sure, Ken.

Bonus — Last week ESPN apparently hosted a celebrity fantasy football draft. Awful Announcing reports that Mortensen picked Darren McFadden in the second round and Devin Hester in the seventh. Stunning conclusion: Chris Mortensen is a retard who doesn’t know anything about football.

Whisenhunt says no decision yet [AZ Republic]

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No respect for the game

Pax Arcana

Last night, Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano failed to run out a long fly ball on account of he thought it was going to be a home run, but the ball ended up bouncing off the wall. Soriano ended up with a single.

On Baseball Tonight last night, this failure to hustle sent former major leaguer John Kruk into a tirade, in which he accused Soriano of lacking “respect for the game.”

A lecture on “respect for the game” from John Kruk.

That would be this John Kruk, whose training regimen during his playing days consisted mainly of eating, sleeping, and doing alternating reps of nothing and jack shit. The same John Kruk whose utter inability to get in decent shape probably cost him an extra five years of a decent playing career.

In 1987, at his peak, Kruk stole 18 bases and was caught 10 times. In one year alone, Kruk’s corpulence cost the Padres 10 outs. So I guess he knows a little something about running things out.

Bonus — here’s the best line from Wikipedia’s entry on Kruk:

He was featured as a backup on the National League All-Star Team in the acclaimed Nintendo game, RBI Baseball.

Sounds about right.

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Rick Reilly is an astute theologian

Pax Arcana

Last night I watched in awe as Josh Hamilton — a recovering heroin and cocaine addict — slugged a record 28 home runs in the first round of the MLB All-Star Game Homerun Derby. I love this guy more and more every time I see him play.

Hamilton says he was saved from his addiction by committing his life to Christianity. I say whatever keeps you out of the morgue works for the rest of us — and who am I to judge someone else’s religious choices?

I’m certainly not Rick Reilly, the maudlin hack that ESPN is apparently paying $2 million a year for watered-down Borscht-belt jokes, who diagnosed Hamilton’s performance — live on the air — with his signature mix of whip-smart humor and self-awareness:

“It’s a lousy night to be an atheist,” he said.

So take heed, atheists — multi-millionaire drug addict athletes are airtight proof that God hates you with a fucking passion. Sunday school is now closed. Be sure to leave a tip in the offertory.

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Robert Redford finally gets ugly

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SportsByBrooks is reporting that ESPN Films is producing a bio movie about Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in 1947.

Robert Redford has signed on to play Branch Rickey — the brash, forward-thinking Dodgers manager who brought Robinson on to the big stage.

To recap, here’s what Branch Rickey looked like:

And here’s what Robert Redford looked like:

Before he started looking like an old lesbian:

Robert Redford as Branch Rickey in ESPN Flick [SportsbyBrooks]

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More fun with dumb headlines

Father Scott

ESPN has a story up about the New Jersey Nets adding Yi Jianlian when their trade with the Milwaukee Bucks was finalized. Here is the headline:

Nets hope addition of Yi, better team play will draw Chinese fans

If you’re like me, you read that and think, hey that’s reasonable. Yi is Chinese. China has like a billion people. The Greater New York area has a ton of Chinese people. Sensible. This was a business decision (along with dumping Richard Jefferson’s salary to clear room for the 2010 free agent class).

Then you read the opening sentence.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New Jersey Nets‘ acquisition of Yi Jianlian was strictly a basketball decision, not a marketing one aimed at drawing more Chinese fans, Nets owner Bruce Ratner said Wednesday.

Ugh.

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Will Leitch explains it all

Pax Arcana

Will Leitch has only days left as editor of Deadspin, the biggest sports blog on the Internet (and therefore symbol of social decline to every lazy sportswriter in America) before he departs for a cushy gig as contributing editor at New York Magazine.

In the time he has left, Leitch seems to be getting a bit sentimental. In a post yesterday, he unburdens his soul about the current state of the media landscape and his place in it. In the sports world, that discussion must center on ESPN, the oft-reviled “World-Wide Leader in Sports,” whose response to the rise of Deadspin, Kissing Suzy Kolber, With Leather, and other sports blogs should serve as a lesson to old media companies.

woody-paige.jpg

What that lesson is, I have no idea. But I’m pretty sure it starts with: Don’t be a douche.

Here’s Leitch:

It started at the Super Bowl in Detroit, when ESPN distributed a memo making it clear no one from Deadspin would be allowed at any ESPN parties. (The site, at this point, was three months old.) The next year, they brought out the muscle. Trey Wingo had Daulerio — who was told, if he tried to take a picture of Sean Salisbury, he would be “put through a wall” — thrown out of another Super Bowl party. Berman went after a 15-year-old kid for quoting YWML to him. We received 4,000 words middle-of-the-night missives from angry ESPN.com writers. (Not Simmons, actually, before you ask.) Stephen A. Smith blamed us for his low ratings. (Or something.) One ESPN personality actually went to a private detective to look up information on us, and who our sources were. (He must have been so disappointed; “buys lots of black T-shirts and watches “Love And Death” a lot.”) And, of course, February 1, 2007. They must have felt that they were losing some guerilla war they didn’t know they were fighting.

This did, and still does, surprise us. ESPN was just not used to criticism, and once they started handling it so poorly, it was only a matter of time until other media outlets, eager to pick on the bully in the room, started piling on. Suddenly, Sports Business Journal is doing “What’s wrong with ESPN?” cover stories. We are not claiming to be the impetus for this; we just caught a wave that was coming, and ESPN responded with a crash course in how corporations should not handle bad publicity.

Leitch goes on to praise the strides made by ESPN.com, which has evolved from supporting the company’s TV initiatives to a stand-alone entity with more robust content (though it still has a wayz to go, in my opinion).

The point is that in the digital age, you can’t aspire to own your audience, the way you could in the old days. You have to play within a sprawling matrix of choices — which means you have to actually offer something different.

Not to get too sentimental, but that’s exactly what Will Leitch did with Deadspin. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Our Friends At Bristol [Deadspin]

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