If you like Thursday Night Football, then this piece isn’t for you. You are the NFL fan Kommissar Roger Goodell loves; the one who keeps gulping down the sports slop the NFL is pumping out these days. The NFL remains the most popular sports league in this country despite the fact that under Goodell’s watch, the NFL keeps finding ways to ruin its own product. Thursday Night Football is yet another example.
Honestly, I never had an issue with TNF before now. The fact that the NFL used its own network to get its bottom feeders a shot at a nation-wide audience didn’t put a burr under my saddle. But now that CBS is getting a part of this package, it’s pretty clear the NFL is selling us some serious lies about the quality of the product they are dishing out. If you doubt that, consider the following points.
1) They want you to think now TNF will feature better games
Ironically, the best lies have a kernel of truth in them. While Goodell and the rest of the NFL Politburo can honestly say this year’s TNF schedule is better than previous years, it’s like saying not shooting yourself in the face is better than shooting yourself in the face. Last year’s schedule is interesting not for who is on it, but for who isn’t. If you look at it, there wasn’t a single game that featured two teams who made the playoffs. The closest examples were Seahawks vs. Cardinals and Chargers vs. Broncos, but when both of those games were scheduled, nobody was picking Arizona or San Diego to be in the play-off hunt. Conversely that schedule was chock full of barn-burners featuring play-off teams against dogs, like Patriots-Jets, 49ers-Rams, and Colts-Titans.
The party line coming down from the NFL Kremlin is now TNF will feature games between divisional rivals. At first glance that sounds pretty damn good, but when you look at the schedule, it looks like more of the same. If you doubt that, look at this list and tell me how many of these games look like both teams could be play-off contenders?
- Pittsburgh at Baltimore*
- Tampa Bay at Atlanta*
- New York Giants at Washington*
- Minnesota at Green Bay*
- Indianapolis at Houston*
- New York Jets at New England*
- San Diego at Denver*
- New Orleans at Carolina
- Cleveland at Cincinnati
- Buffalo at Miami
- Kansas City at Oakland
- Dallas at Chicago
- Arizona at St. Louis
- Tennessee at Jacksonville
*Games on CBS, all others on NFL Network.
I count one…two if you think Pittsburgh and Baltimore can be anything more than mediocre. Three if you looked at Dallas at Chicago after drinking a quart of varnish. Other than that, this is just more bad football brought to you by the people who don’t want you to notice it is bad football. The best way for you to not notice is to keep it on the NFL Network.
2) The season opener and Thanksgiving games tell the story
It’s not an accident that these two games which feature Green Bay at Seattle and San Francisco at Seattle respectively are not part of this crap-tastic TNF package. The reason for that is obvious, what but not what you would expect. The NFL already made a concession to the TNF schedule to entice a network partner; there are three teams over the past ten years which have consistently been at the top of the league in terms of merchandise sales and television ratings: Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. Do you think it is an accident the two teams on that list which have had any recent play-off success are on the network portion of the TNF schedule?
3) Sunday Night is the new Monday Night
The hard reality is that the prime real estate for non-Sunday afternoon football isn’t Monday anymore. You can look at the Sunday Night schedule and see that pretty plainly, but what really bears that out is the presence of Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Dallas on Sunday night. Those three teams are on SNF a combined seven times, as opposed to 4 combined appearances on Monday.
4) Even CBS doesn’t buy Thursday Night Football long-term
Think about that for a minute. Normally, bidding for NFL broadcast packages is a feeding frenzy with the winners inking multi-year deals worth billions of dollars. That’s not what happened here. CBS got this contract despite the fact they weren’t the highest bidder. The Eyeball Network only ponied up $275 million for the rights to TNF, and it’s only a one-year deal, with an option year. It’s almost like CBS signed a utility shortstop rather than a deal to broadcast the most popular league in the country.
What’s weird about this is the NFL expected a $400 million price-tag, yet took the low-buck offer from CBS when they could have got their asking price from Turner, ESPN, NBC, and Fox, who had all placed bids. Another fun fact is that CBS gets no additional play-off games under this deal. Clearly, CBS is hoping to make Thursday Night Football into a long-term franchise, but hope is not a strategy. Keeping your options open at the lowest commitment possible is, and both sides are doing it.
CBS is clearly using 2014 season as an audition for the NFL because they have doubts about another weeknight of football, and NFL may be coming to the conclusion they have either hit the ceiling for their pricing, or the saturation point for their product, or both. The NFL surely isn’t putting out a marquees product, and CBS isn’t paying marquee prices.
But this strategy will probably work because there are still enough of the fans Goodell loves; the ones who will slurp up anything he lays down.
Picture the opening scene of the 1989 baseball classic “Major League.” Tom Berenger’s character Jake Taylor is awakened from a night of debauchery in a Mexican motel by a phone call. He fumbles to pick it up, mutters a couple of “uh-huhs,” and then the tirade comes.
“Goddamnit…Is that you, Tolbert? This isn’t funny! I’m hungover, my knees are killing me, and if you’re going to pull this shit, you could have at least said you were from the Yankees!”
While that’s a classic scene, and has probably happened to more than one journeyman big-leaguer, it has yet to happen to the real Jake Taylor.
Like his movie namesake, the real Jake Taylor is just trying to stay in organized ball, just another league baseball player clinging to the professional ranks. But unlike his compadres, Taylor just happens to share a name and position with the main character in one of the most popular baseball movies ever made.
That fact, coupled with the fact this year happens to be the 25th anniversary of the release of “Major League” has made Taylor a bit of a celebrity in the American Association, an independents league with franchises scatters across the heart of North America from Canada to Texas. In parks all across that swath, everybody has fun when Taylor comes to town. Most parks capitalize on the name to have some sort of “Major League” fun when Taylor comes to town. Some show Tom Berenger on the video board when the real Taylor steps up to the plate. Others play quotes from the film. But everybody has a bit of fun.
That is to say, except Taylor’s own team.
Throughout their 20-year history, the St. Paul Saints have a long tradition of making waves with wacky promotions. The combination of owner Mike Veeck and one-time part-owner Bill Murray (yes, “Carl from Caddyshack” once owned his baseball team; no word on if the outfield grass was “smokeable”) provided a franchise which drew people to the ball-park with attractions like getting a hair-cut and a rub-down from a nun, an homage to “Disco Demolition Night” (one of the great baseball disasters brought to us by Veeck’s father Bill), and a pig who carried balls to the umpires between innings who was fattened to gargantuan proportions during the season and lovingly barbecued on “Fan Appreciation Night.”
I could spend the rest of this article posing the question “How does a franchise that was the first one to bring us “Star Wars” night years before it became faddish not take advantage of such a huge opportunity with the obvious ‘Major League’ tie-in?” Think of it; Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn Eyeglass Night, Willie Mays Hayes Batting Glove night, or a bikini contest between innings where fans can vote for “Miss Fuel Injection.” The possibilities are endless.
But that would take away from the story of the real Jake Taylor.
The real Jake Taylor is 27 years old, has a brown buzz-cut, and has yet to play a single game for a team affiliated with the major leagues. Taylor was drafted in the 35th round in 2005 MLB draft by the Marlins Florida but chose to play junior-college ball at Chaffey College in his native California. At the time, Taylor played the hot corner, but scouts with the Marlins told him he had a better future as a catcher. During his time at Chaffey College he did just that. Not only that, Taylor learned how to play middle infield, and even saw duty on the mound.
Being versatile increases your chances of catching the eye of major-league scouts, but the wear and tear from playing so many different positions and throwing from just as many arm angles, led to a torn labrum. After recovering from that injury, Taylor transferred to Missouri Southern State University and wrapped up his collegiate career as a middle infielder.
Taylor has an impressive resume as a bona fide utility man; His abilities as a utility man were attractive. He’s got decent right-hand power, can play the two toughest positions on the diamond (catcher and shortstop), but the scouts that passed through Joplin, Missouri saw fit to not bring Taylor with them. Since then, Taylor hasn’t had another shot at “The Show.”
That’s why Taylor is plying his trade in the American Association, where he has notched time with the Grand Prairie AirHogs and the Sioux Falls Canaries. But it wasn’t until he signed with the St. Paul Saints when he returned to catching. Once he was back behind the plate, the “Major League” references started.
We never knew what the movie Jake Taylor’s numbers were, but the real Jake Taylor is batting a respectable .282, with a serviceable slugging percentage of .419. And he’s still versatile; the Saints have used him at second base, third base, catcher, and even one game in the outfield.
But when he’s catching, I really hope whenever he’s fielding a pop-up near the plate, he says “Uh-oh, I don’t think this one’s got the distance.”
As of this writing, the St. Paul Saints have a record of 42-31 and are in second place in their division. That means they could do what the movie Jake Taylor suggested…”Win the whole fucking thing.”
I’m sure this will prove to be a test of the “Too Soon” rule, but as a guy who lived in Minneapolis when the 35W bridge went down, I couldn’t help but notice how Paul George’s leg suffered a similar epic collapse.
Let’s be honest here. Now that I live in Indiana and while I wish George nothing but a speedy and complete recovery, the local media sooooo over-played this story. I get it; it really was a horrific injury, but the way they covered this story, you would think George had been felled by a second shooter on a grassy knoll.
First of all, Paul George is not a horse. Even if he never plays basketball again, he is going to recover from this and go on to a normal and productive life. In other words, this is NOT going to happen.
Secondly, before you write me some bullshit comment about being sensitive to the victims of that collapse, the guy who has won my fantasy football league two years in a row was one of them, so I have no sympathy for those people. Don’t even try to say any shit to me until you know what it is like to keep losing to a guy with more metal in his head than a Ford F-150.
By J-Dub and Ryan Meehan
The Deep Six is another series from Sports Blog Movement that has found a new home on Dubsism. In its history, it has sometimes been written by J-Dub, sometimes by Ryan Meehan, and sometimes a collaboration. Sometimes it has appeared on Sports Blog Movement, and sometimes on Dubsism, but it has always been about delving deeply into the topics that live in the intersection of pop culture and sports.
In today’s installment, J-Dub and Meehan continue the long march toward the beginning of the real NFL season by taking a look at the people with whom we share that season. No, they are not here to discuss your drinking buddies; they are probably drunken reprobates like they are. Rather, this is about the television personalities we must all suffer during that enjoyment of football.
Here’s the premise. We all know the broadcaster ranks are full of people who don’t suck, like Gus Johnson. We all know those ranks are full of those who do suck; they are far too numerous to mention. But in between there is wide band of broadcasters no one just can’t definitively assign to either category. That why J-Dub and Meehan are going to look at people in four different broadcasting categories: Analyst, Color Commentator, Play-by-Play, and Sideline Reporter.
To help decide into which category these folks should be flung, J-Dub and Meehan are going to explore the pros and cons of each. Being that the theme of this series is the Deep Six, normally they would cover six members of each category. But since this is about football, they’ve decided to include the extra-point.
Without further adieu, here they are (in alphabetical order).
To be honest, this question was posed on Dubsism two years ago by myself and Dick Marple, the Chairman of the Dubsism Advisory Board. You can see the original post here, but since then, the numbers we examined have only gone up.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is the over-arching question. I know that means saying “yes” to that question means saying that Derek Jeter is a greater Yankee than some heavy-duty legends not just in pinstripes, but to baseball in general. Some people are simply going to scream their brains out stuck on the pre-eminence of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio.
However, doing so misses some really important stuff. For starters, let’s look at Jeter’s place in Yankee history, statistically speaking in the offensive categories. Also, don’t forget these number have at least two months of baseball left to change…
- Games Played: 2695 (1st)
- At-Bats: 10,988 (1st)
- Runs Scored: 1,510 (2nd, needs 50 to pass Babe Ruth)
- Runs Batted In: 1,288 (6th)
- Hits: 3,420 (1st)
- Doubles: 536 (1st)
- Triples: 66 (13th)
- Home Runs: 258 (9th)
- Strike-outs: 1,812 (1st)
- Stolen Bases: 356 (1st)
- Caught Stealing: 96 (5th)
- Batting Average: .311 (7th)
- On-Base Percentage: .380 (17th)
- Slugging Percentage: .442 (37th)
A lot of people will look at those numbers and will be surprised at how many categories in which Jeter is the all-time Yankee leader. The numbers that surprised me were the fact that Jeter is in the Yankees’ top ten in home runs considering all the sluggers that have worn pinstripes. Lou Gehrig was a doubles-hitting machine, but Derek Jeter passed him. But on the other side of the coin, I was surprised that Jeter’s on-base percentage wasn’t higher than it is.
Now, for the fun part. When it comes to the non-statistical arguments, in my mind the battle for the title of Greatest Yankee Ever is a two-horse race; Jeter or Ruth.
Had Lou Gehrig’s career not been cut short, this is a different conversation. Two more seasons and Gehrig would have been in the 500-home run, 3,000-hit club. Having reached that plateau may very well have made him the subject of this discussion.
Two years ago, I had DiMaggio at #2 on this list. But I honestly believe Jeter sailed past the Yankee Clipper on the following points. DiMaggio’s biggest claim to fame was being the best hitter in the game not named Ted Williams. While Jeter was not the batsman DiMaggio was, Jeter is arguably the biggest clutch performer baseball has seen since Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson. Jeter also did this while playing more games than anybody else in the history of baseball at the toughest position on the diamond that doesn’t have to wear a mask. Jeter also passed DiMaggio in terms of notches on the bedpost as well. The Yankee Clipper got to call Marilyn Monroe a “home port,” but Derek Jeter has a list of conquests of legendary proportions.
But no matter how you slice it, I simply cannot put anybody ahead of Babe Ruth. If I were to make a list of the greatest sports figures of the 20th Century, Babe Ruth tops it all for three massively important reasons.
First of all, Babe Ruth changed baseball. Before “The Sultan of Swat,” the home run was an anomaly in an era when the ball was made out of lettuce and it was legal to put an entire quart of Pennzoil on the ball. Before Ruth, baseball’s home run leader was a guy named Frank “Home run” Baker, who was tearing up that salad-ball to the tune of eight taters a year. Without the “Bambino,” we would never have had our century-long fascination with the long ball.
That fact led to two other reasons. The old Yankee Stadium was called “The House That Ruth Built” because people would fill a 20,000-seat ballpark to watch Ruth do his thing. Not only did other baseball owners realize that people would pay to see their product, it’s no accident that the other major sports leagues started after Ruth built baseball.
To top it all off, let’s not forget that Babe Ruth comes along at a time when baseball sorely needed a star. In 1919, baseball was on the verge of being destroyed by the “Black Sox Scandal,” and it was the combination of Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis restoration of the integrity of the game and Ruth mesmerizing blasts that saved it.
On the last episode of the Blast-Cast with J-Dub and Meehan, J-Dub was posed a question about his loyalty in terms of being a fan of a certain team. That conversation quickly turned into an analogy between being a fan of multiple teams and the illusory nature of monogamous relationships. It may not be pretty, but people cheat on their significant others, and they cheat on their sports teams as well. Instead of wasting time about denying this ugly reality, its’ time for another Dubsism public service.
What’s funny in all of this is that while this conversation started about football, it is actually in baseball where J-Dub has a serious case of split loyalties; he is a fan of both the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels. How this happened isn’t all that important for now, those details will be coming in an upcoming installment of Tales of Depression and Sorrow. The short answer for purposes of this discussion is that J-Dub grew up in Southern California in the 1970’s, an era when the Dodgers were full of loathable characters like Tommy Lasorda and Steve Gravey, and the Angles were the hometown alternative. The Twins then and now have had a long history of providing the Orange County 9 some of their best players.
Having said all that, much like marriage puts a structure to this issue in terms of relationships, we are going to do the same with sports fandom.
I. General Rule
While multiples allegiances are allowed, there is a strict hierarchy which must be observed. There are 3 allowable levels.
This is another installment in the Sports Blog Movement series which now calls Dubsism home. Tales of Depression and Sorrow takes a hard look at certain instances, or specific seasons which would make sports fans cringe in horror and pain, or expands on that to take a hard look at the long-suffering fans of franchises who have tortured their supporters for decades.
Last year, we did an examination of Ryan Meehan’s tortures at being a fan of the New York Giants. Now, we turn the tables, as it is Meehan’s turn to ask the questions; to probe J-Dub’s deepest traumas over years of being a Philadelphia Eagles’ fan.
Only fun things can happen when a Giants’ fan and an Eagles’ fan get together; you can almost hear the knuckles hitting the teeth from here!
Click here to listen to or download the Blast-Cast (MP3 format)…The Blast-Cast is also available on Itunes.
P.S. During the Blast-Cast, J-Dub and Meehan ask for your Tales of Sorrow and Depression. They say there is no story they won’t hear, but to be honest, they’ve already heard from far too many Chicago Cubs fans…
Sports Doppelgangers, Volume 63 – Keeping Alexei Ramirez Away From the U.S. Navy Might Be A Good Idea
As promised, the former Sports Blog Movement feature Sports Doppelgangers will live on here at Dubsism. Having said that, this doppelganger is a bit more abstract than usual, if for no other reason than you really have to picture some things in your mind to make this one work.
First, head down to your local Redbox and rent the movie “Captain Phillps.” Then watch a Chicago White Sox game. I think the real reason Ramirez has been battling back problems all year is because before he was a Cuban shortstop, he may have been a Somali pirate, and may have some lead in his ass courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
It’s hard to see at first, but think about it. By taking some major league money, Ramirez could have easily got the orthodontia he desperately needed, then he could have easily fattened up in Chicago, which goes without saying as being a much better food town than Mogadishu. Fogo de Chao versus a dog skull filled with couscous and rotten goat? Even Joe West couldn’t blow that call.
It’s not so hard to see now, is it?
You can see the other installments in this series at the SBM Archive
Sports Blog Movement may be gone, but the Blast-Cast has returned. Today’s episode is all about a preview of the upcoming NFL season that only J-Dub and Ryan Meehan can bring you. This is more than just which team is better than which…this is stuff you really need to know!
WARNING: This Blast-Cast gets a bit more R-rated and addresses some controversial subjects. This is because J-Dub and Meehan get into a discussion about how NFL Kommissar Roger Goodell is going to screw up the NFL somehow, and this leads to a point where J-Dub has a profanity-filled tirade and says some things that some may find objectionable. Granted, that’s not really news, but the point is that if you are easily offended, maybe you should skip this podcast and stick with something more NPR-ish. In other words, if you choose to listen to this Blast-Cast and hear something that pisses you off, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Click here to listen to or download the Blast-Cast (MP3 format)…The Blast-Cast is also available on Itunes.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Rockford is a private detective based in Malibu, California. We here at Dubsism have retained Mr. Rockford at his standard rate of two hundred dollars a day plus expenses to investigate matters of crime and other general shadiness in the world of sports, then report back to us when needed. If you would like to contact Mr. Rockford, at the tone, leave your name and number and he’ll get back to you.
Being a private investigator, I don’t believe in coincidences. Having said that, don’t think for a minute there is a coincidence between the death of James Garner and the death of Sports Blog Movement. To make a long story short, while SBM had great contributors and was the home to some awesome sports content, it proved to have one fatal flaw; it diluted that great content across too many outlets. That’s why while SBM has gone away, many of the features you had come to know at SBM will still be available on Dubsism.
For example, soon you will be hearing the Blast-Cast again, the podcasting partner ship between J-Dub and Ryan Meehan. As long as we a speaking of podcasts, Radio J-Dub will making a return soon. If you aren’t familiar, think of these casts as the antithesis of the useless self-manufactured fluff brought to you by the likes of ESPN, or as it is referred to on Dubsism, the World Wide Bottom Feeder.
In addition to that, many features that were once exclusive to Sports Blog Movement that will be making a new home on Dubsism.
- Sports Doppelgangers: The series for sports and celebrity look-alikes
- Tales of Depression and Sorrow: Stories of long-suffering fans of not-so-good teams
- Conversations Not Meant To Be Public: Great stuff unearthed by J-Dub’s investigative journalism division. DISCLAIMER: Buy “unearthed,” J-Dub may mean “completely fabricated.” But it some seriously funny stuff in any event
- The Deep Six: A Ryan Meehan joint (often featuring J-Dub) exposing the foibles of pop culture in sports
Not only will Dubsism be the new home of these features, but it will to continue to being you the finest in J-Dub’s sports-themed rants as it always has. But by now, you have to be asking yourself “what the hell does Jim Rockford have to do with all this?”Because another feature Dubsism has had since it’s inception is a long line of guest columns. There’s plenty of collaborations with the aforementioned Ryan Meehan, there’s a long list of informative pieces on the complexities of the business of sport by famed general manager Joe McGrath, and a host of contributions by King George VI, who explains all sorts of thing Americans generally don’t understand. I’m included in there as well; the world of sports has all sorts of seedy dealings in the shadows of the law. See, now that James Garner is gone, nobody is likely to sue Dubsism over the deal I just signed to be it’s exclusive investigatory contributor.So, if you are a sports fan, you will want to subscribe to Dubsism today. There’s going to be too much stuff available here that you simply can’t afford to miss!