Dusting The Ficus – 04/28/09

Stephen A Smith.jpgESPN Mercifully Gets Rid of Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith, the always-bitter, always-confrontational sportscaster with an inexplicable chip on his shoulder, was told recently his contract would not be renewed by ESPN.  Though this doesn’t exactly make them relevant, it’s still good news.

I used to love college football as much – if not even more – than I loved baseball.  Call it the folly of youth, I guess, but at some point I just stopped watching.  I didn’t realize it until years later, when someone asked me why and I had to give it some thought.  My answer?  I don’t like college football anymore because all of the analysts feel the need to insert this bold, testosterone-fueled energy whenever they talk about any game.

I don’t want to get constantly shouted at by “provocative” sportscasters, and unfortunately, this is the direction ESPN has been going in for as far back as I can remember.  Chris Berman was the original blowhard, but Stuart Scott and Stephen A. Smith sum it up best for me – the “look at me” style of reporting where they’re more concerned about making stars out of the on-air personalities, rather than allowing the players’  performances stand on their own.  And no one exemplified that more than Smith and Skip Bayless, who have made a career out of bluster.

So I’m glad to see Smith leave, though it’s unlikely to get me back to ESPN, who have opened the floodgates on these types of personalities.

Speaking of the “Worldwide Leader”…

I don’t mean to keep piling on, but I’m glad to learn that I’m not the only one fed up with the design of ESPN.com.  It’s becoming next to impossible to find any kind of actual news story on the site, as they cram more and more advertising onto their page. 

On top of that, as the economy spirals downward and more and more web services become free, or at least greatly economical, ESPN.com seems to continue to make more and more of their content “Premium Insider” content, requiring users to pay for news.  The business model is broken.  I say boycott this Insider nonsense.

Racist Flyer Surfaces at Youth Athletic Association Tournament

This is a despicable story.  A man takes his 9-year-old son to a youth baseball tournament, and as he’s leaving, he finds a racist flyer on his car:

This is our sport and our town. We don’t need you — here taking
our children’s future. Get On Back To Memphis where you — belong!”

In the lower left hand corner of the flyer is a picture of a
baseball player with a racial slur written across his chest, and an X
through his face.

Every time we start to make some kind of progress in this country, some jack**s comes out of the woodwork to show us just how far we still have left to go.

Hinckley.jpgMajestic Hates The Natinals

As if the Washington Cincinnatinals didn’t have enough indignity in their lives, they had another uniform blunder last night when Mike Hinckley’s uniform had an upside-down 8 on it (notice the side that the beveling is on). 

On top of that, they recently announced that Garrett Mock and Joel Hanrahan would be removed from the setup and closer roles, respectively, and will be replaced by a closer-by-committee.  I don’t have anything against the c-by-c, per se, but I do when it consists of Kip Wells and Julian Tavarez. 

To be fair, Wells has pitched well so far for Washington, with a 1.154 WHIP and a 2.08 ERA, but he’s only thrown 4.1 innings, which is the epitome of “small sample size.”  He has pitched better as a reliever than as a starter in his career, no doubt in large part because matchups can be selected more judiciously out of the bullpen.

His career as a reliever is 88.1 IP, 1.392 WHIP, and 3.36 ERA, with 74 strikeouts to 49 BB.  Those aren’t terrible numbers, but they’re not really bullpen ace numbers, either.  And Tavarez, well, I don’t need to tell Astros fans about ol’ Julian, who broke two fingers on his hand punching a bullpen telephone during Game 4 in the 2004 NLCS after Carlos Beltran homered off of him.


  1. juliasrants

    How very sad for the children at the baseball tournament. In a free society there will always be nuts out there who “think” they speak for the majority. I’m a little troubled by the complaint they filed with the tournament and the complaints about bad calls. Do they think the people who invited them to the tournament had something to do with the fliers? I hope they don’t condemn the people who ran the event based on some blown calls; we all seen that often enough in the pros. Let’s hope all the children who attended the event learned something about us all getting along.


  2. renaudtn

    Darn it! Of course it’s in TN…well, I’m not all that surprised after all; I’ve been living in TN for almost five years now, and I’ve met a lot of uneducated red necks…Collierville is actually a suburb of Memphis; the note doesn’t make sense.

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