Every night before I drift off to sleep I try to catch Sportscenter. In the past few years ESPN has tried to be innovative and come up with various programming ideas or segments on Sportscenterto keep the fans interested. Some are excellent, like the NFL depth chart or PTI. Others are monumentally awful, like "Bonds on Bonds," a glorified attempt to get a true portrayal of baseball's biggest jerk. And the results were breathtaking because it turns out...wait for it...he is in fact a jerk! SNORE. They also had a "Is the 2005 USC team the greatest college football team ever?" segment where they spent a week matching USC up versus the all-time great college football teams. And then a week later the Texas Longhorns and a certain Vince Young proceeded to roll into Pasadena and win the national title. Way to jump the gun ESPN.
The latest attempt from ESPN is the Who's Now segment. a fictional tournament that pits the world's biggest athlete to decide who is the biggest presence both on and off the field in America. Their "expert" panel includes Keyshawn Johnson, a guy who has openly admitted he has no idea who Sidney Crosby is. Does this sound like the guy who you want to judge a contest that matches players in multiple sports against each other? Maybe Keyshawn should write a new book called "Give me the damn sports almanac!"
Back on topic, here is my main problem with the Who's Now idea, other than the fact nobody gives a sh*t about it. If the tournament is about popularity in America then why would you put international stars who are mostly famous in other countries like Ronaldinho in it? Of course he is going to lose against a player like Kobe Bryant given the criteria for voting. But go to Brazil and ask who's now, Ronaldinho or Kobe, and you'd get a much different response.
Here's my prediction for the Who's Now winner: Tiger Woods. The guy has singlehandedly made golf watchable for the general sports fan. He is a multi-ethnic player who has dominated his sport unlike any athlete, other than maybe Roger Federer. And his endorsement profile is through the roof.
My prediction for the Who's Now loser- Any viewer who has to sit through the entire thing.
ESPN, if they are smart, will do whatever it takes to keep Dan Patrick. The legendary anchor announced his planned departure for August. His name is synonymous with ESPN and he will be missed dearly. So will his radio show.
Stuart Scott, unfortunately for any ESPN fan, seems to be going strong. The guy is to lame ESPN shows what Puff Daddy is to music videos. How many times can you put "BOO YA! "in a sentence. Newsflash Stu-pac: Your attempts to be urban and fresh are as weak as your constant references to your North Carolina alma mater. Here's a question you can ask on Stump the Schwab: How the hell does Stuart Scott stay employed?" Let's all say it together everyone. BOO YA!
And can somebody please put Chris Berman out of our misery? The human blimp may be the most stale television personality on the channel. This guy makes Peter Gammons look like a rock star. He uses the same lame jokes he used when I was in my baby crib, referencing sorry music bands that have long outgrown the majority of members who watch ESPN. His nicknames aren't funny. When I heard him say Albert "Winnie the" Pujols at the Home Run Derby I damn near threw my remote through the television screen. And can we please quit with the "Back back back!" comment every time a player hits a home run? Bobby Abreu hit over 40 home runs in one Home Run Derby. Try to mix in a "Aloha means goodbye" or "Somebody drug test that man right now!" in once in a while.
So here's my proposal. Let's have the first ever blockbuster ESPN celebrity trade. I am willing to give up Skip Bayless, Wood Paige, Jay Mariotti, Stuart Scott, Sean Salisbury, Stephen A."Quite Frankly we don't give a damn about you" Smith,and Chris Berman. Do what you want with them. Drop them in the bottom of the ocean like Megatron in the Transformers film. Take them out Sopranos style. I could care less. In return I want Dan Patrick, bring Keith Olbermann back, Scott Van Pelt, the Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon duo, and John Clayton so I know what is up with the NFL. That sounds like a trade for the ages. BOO YA!
Speaking of the Home Run Derby, something needs to be done to speed that game up. I can watch the extended version of The Lord of the Rings quicker than I can that sloth of an exhibition. The competition seriously lasted longer then the average MLB game. Here's an idea, drop the commercials between every single batter, and instead have 3 go back to back. It will improve the flow of the competition and prevent the viewer from flipping channels to watch reruns of ALF or the Golden Girls. (which may or may not have Peter Gammons in drag as one of the sisters. We will look into that.)
And please spare us the interview with Barry Bonds where he fakes graciousness and says he is skipping the Home Run Derby for "his teammates." This is a guy who has a leather recliner 5 lockers away from any other player on the Giants. It's a little late to save face. Be thankful the battery chucking Giants fans voted you in, and never forget that Willie Mays and Mccovey had class that you somehow never will.
And maybe I was high on PCP or peyote but I could have sworn that ESPN covered the Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament. You wanna complain that poker isn't a sport? There is no skill AT ALL in choosing between the 3. It is literally an act of guessing. There are minor league players busting their butts that get paid less than some clown who won that god foresaken tournament. ESPN may think it's funny but the joke is on them.
ESPN is still the best sports channel to watch on TV. I enjoy getting up to Mike and Mike in the morning (who actually are on ESPN2), love NFL Live, Baseball Tonight, and many aspects of the channel overall. But ESPN seems to have become a cable representation of the many athletes they cover, a cross between the high profile presence that is more concerned with style than substance and the long in the tooth great that hangs on for too long. Here's hoping that the game hasn't passed them by.