Even before the seventh and deciding game of the World Series took place last Sunday night between the Yankees and the Diamondbacks, it was clear who the losers were going to be, namely CBS and ESPN. CBS was hoping that the twice-postponed 53rd annual Emmy Awards would be a ratings bonanza while ESPN was seeking higher than usual ratings for its lackluster Sunday Night Football as they had the Jets make a rare appearance in a game in New Orleans against the unpredictable Saints. You can’t blame Fox Sports executives for grinning like Cheshire cats at the success of the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig tried to put a damper on the Fall Classic by reiterating his threat to have baseball shrink by folding two teams. The rumor was that one team would be the Montreal Expos while the other would be either the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Florida Marlins or the Minnesota Twins.
Selig, who represents the owners, is trying to intimidate the Players Association into ratifying a contract which permits team salary caps a la the NFL and the NBA. You can be sure that the players’ union chief, Donald Fehr, will not be bullied by Bud and his cronies. Major League Baseball is pulling in record revenue and both Selig and Fehr are well aware of that. It does not make sense to fold any teams because there are plenty of fertile markets for Major League Baseball. Northern Virginia, Charlotte, Buffalo, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans come quickly to mind would gladly accept the Expos and any of the others.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have sadly been one of the worst football teams in recent memory. Rutgers hit rock bottom this past Saturday when they lost to West Virginia by the unheard of score of 80-7. Much more was expected from the Scarlet Knights when they brought in the highly touted Greg Schiano to be their head coach at a salary of $400,000 plus other amenities. I am surprised that neither of the two New Jersey gubernatorial candidates, Jim McGreevey nor Bret Schundler, vowed to see that Rutgers fire Schiano as a way to get votes in the final days of that nasty campaign.
The most successful format in AM radio these days is sports talk. There are currently three all-sports stations in New York, WSNR (AM 620), ESPN 1050, and of course, the reigning champ, Sportsradio 66, WFAN. In his latest book entitled simply “Sports Talk” (Pocket Books), Los Angeles-based author Alan Eisenstock spent considerable time with a number of the nation’s best-known spots call-in show hosts. He does a great job capturing Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s manic energy, Mike Francesa’s know-it-all pomposity, and Boston’s legendary Eddie Andelman’s wicked sense of humor. Andelman, who has been doing sports call-in shows for over thirty years is rightfully referred to as the godfather of sports talk.
While “Sports Talk” is a fun read I was left with the feeling that this was an incomplete work. Eisenstock did not interview two of the genre’s pioneers, Bill Mazer and Pete Franklin, nor did he bother to go down to sports-crazy Philadelphia to interview any of the controversial hosts of radio station WIP. The best-known LA sports radio jock, and host of Fox Sports Net’s “The Last Word,” Jim Rome, did not bother to meet with him despite Eisenstock’s repeated prodding.
Former Mets pitcher Ron Darling has a cameo role as a Hawaiian Peace Corps volunteer in the new film “Shallow Hal.” The still handsome Darling has long thought about a Hollywood career and he did appear in theatrical productions when he attended Yale University.