These are the times that try men’s souls — the two days following baseball’s All-Star Game.
If you’re a sports fan, you’ve got nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch, Zip. Your basic flatline.
Oh, you got up yesterday at 8 a.m. to watch stage 17 of the Tour de France, the enchanting stretch from Embrun to Chorges, followed by this morning’s Gap to Alpe-d’Huez stage? Sure you did, but only after four hours of watching the British Open that came on air at 4 in the morning. Besides, just tune into a news program and catch up on a report on the Biogenesis probe if performance enhancing drugs are your thing. You can watch Bud Selig snivel and Alex Rodriguez sweat, which is far more entertaining than cycling anyway.
Now if you watched the ESPYs last night, shame on you. I don’t care how bored you were, if you watched that you no longer have the right to openly whine and complain about how suffocating the Endless Self-Promotion Network is. And did you see Keith Olbermann is returning to host a late-night show on ESPN2?
“Olbermann” will premiere Aug. 26 and will air at 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, depending on live event coverage on the channel. The show will include commentary, interviews, panel discussions and highlights.
Olbermann said in a statement that “I’m overwhelmed by the chance to begin anew with ESPN.”
Given his work history he’d likely have been overwhelmed by the chance to begin anew at WKRP in Cincinnati.
“I’ve been gone for 16 years and not one day in that time has passed without someone connecting me to the network,” he went on to say. “Our histories are indelibly intertwined and frankly I have long wished that I had the chance to make sure the totality of that story would be a completely positive one. I’m grateful to friends and bosses — old and new — who have permitted that opportunity to come to pass. I’m not going to waste it.”
Oh, he’s going to waste it. That show will have a new host in two months, if that, because regardless of the topic or the forum, Olbermann is the only guy in the room who gets it. Or at least in his mind he is. For now, perhaps, he comes back to the network with hat in hand, but as soon as his boredom and impatience with all of the stupid people he will be surrounded by (again) boils over, there will be yet another parting of the ways.
Don’t get me wrong, the guy is brilliant. In fact, he might really be the only one in the room who gets it, but that’s what always seems to get in his way. Actually, to a much smaller degree, it brings to mind watching West Virginia head football coach Dana Holgorsen during games, which I thoroughly enjoy doing. Holgorsen reminds me of Nick Carlton, the William Hurt character from “The Big Chill”, and it’s as though he’s been cursed with this torturous form of genius that only he, or John McEnroe, possesses or understands.
When a play goes wrong, or even succeeds despite not being executed perfectly, you look at Holgorsen’s face and envision the caption bubble popping up over his head: “Eighty-thousand people in this building and I’m the only one who sees it? Imbeciles! ... I need a Red Bull.”
This is what we are reduced to during these two days, although the All-Star Game on Tuesday was actually a pretty well-played game as far as all-star games go. And nobody can say that both managers didn’t manage to win, which, since it now determines where Game 7 of the World Series is played, why spare feelings? That’s what led to the mess in Milwaukee that spawned all of this to begin with.
But don’t for a moment believe Selig is the one who came up with the idea of making the All-Star Game matter. He’s incapable of ideas. That had to have been the brainchild of Fox Sports executives who were likely so livid they had forked out millions of dollars for a 7-7 tie (albeit in what was still a meaningless exhibition at the time) that they felt compelled to make a brief but direct conference call to the commissioner’s office to inform him that changes were on the way.
Something probably should determine homefield in the World Series other than alternating years, although it seemed to work okay for well over a century. The problem is the schedule has been so bastardized by nonsensical interleague play, it likely wouldn’t be feasible to use it to determine homefield either.
Actually, each league’s final record in interleague play might be the best barometer to determine homefield in the Series, but then that might cut into Fox’s ratings for the All-Star Game.
There are so many contradictions with the way baseball is run. The fans are able to vote up to 35 times apiece to select the starting line-ups of the All-Star Game, yet the game determines homefield for the World Series.
Each division plays unbalanced schedules to determine a true division champion, yet wild-card teams are determined by the same win-loss records of teams that do not play the same schedules. There is one organized body of umpires to call games in two leagues played under different sets of rules.
And now baseball is going to throw the book at players for doing the same thing that, in 1998 under the current watch, supposedly saved the game and sentenced us to what seems to be an endless lifetime of Bud Selig as the frumpled empty-suit commissioner.
Not even Dana Holgorsen would understand that.
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him a firstname.lastname@example.org