Archive for August, 2008

On College Football

August 31, 2008

by John Furgele

Starting Monday, September 1,  I will begin writing my world famous “On College Football” report.  If you have any information that is of relevance, please send it to me at furgele22@yahoo.com.  Thank you for your interest and passion.

Let the games begin.

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Olympic Ratings Show That Games Still Relevant

August 13, 2008

by John Furgele

The mainstream media, particularly sports talk radio will continue to tell its listerners that nobody cares about the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.  Of course, most of these people were kids when Beijing was referred to as Peking and Jim McKay and ABC covered the games.

This is where the problem lies.  In 1976, many of today’s media members were between the ages of 10 and 20.  As a kid, the Olympics meant a lot more, because we had less worries and more time on our hands.  I can remember going to McDonald’s and peeling off a sticker that revealed a particular event, like rowing.  If an American won a gold in rowing, you would get a free Big Mac; a silver netted you french fries; a bronze, a soda.  That and other reasons led many Americans to watch those and other Olympics.  Add to the fact that in 1976, cable television was in its infancy, and more people seemed to care about the Olympic Games.  With just the three networks, PBS and perhaps two UHF channels, your choice was simple:  watch summer reruns, the Olympics, Benny Hill on UHF, or listen to a baseball game on the radio.  By default, the Olympics seemed to matter more.

When I hear a sports talk host say that “they’re not into the Olympics anymore,” it brings me back to being in a McDonald’s circa 1976 and seeing if I got Men’s Basketball as my event.  Of course, the Olympics are not as important to the 40 plus generation.  When you’re a kid, you have more idealism, you like to watch the different sports and you like to root for the United States.  Add to the fact that the Soviet Union was truly the “Evil Empire,” led to more intense watching.  Not only was there the USSR, but there were her allies:  East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and all the other communist governments.  Today, we have China, but we don’t really get on them for their communist government because we let them make nearly all of our products.  It’s hard to hate a nation that helps  increase your profit margins. 

Saying the Olympics don’t matter anymore just because you are “not into them” like you were as a middle schooler and high schooler is just not being objective.  Sports talk radio, for the most part has been a “good addition to society,” but we have to realistic, the shows are going to focus on football, football and depending where you live, baseball.  When a host says that nobody cares about the Olympics, these are the same people who say, “who cares about the soccer world cup?”  Well, if you’re going to be a credible host, you should pay attention to the biggest event in the world.

The Olympic ratings have been very good so far with national ratings hovering around 20.0.  NBC has benefited from a couple of things.  One, they have been able to show many events live, like swimming, which has been a dominant American sport.  Michael Phelps has certainly lived up to the hype with five gold medals and five world records to boot.  Two is the economy.  With Americans spending less money and staying home more, they have more time to watch TV and there really isn’t much on besides the Olympics.  The Olympics are cheap entertainment and today, that matters.

The sports world has become saturated since 1976 (I reference this year because it is the first Olympics I remember).  Back then, there was no ESPN, baseball had the Saturday Game of the Week on NBC and Monday Night Baseball on ABC, the NFL was covered only during the season, and there were no regional sports channels that showed every game of every baseball team.  Now, you have four ESPNs, national sports talk radio, local sports talk radio, year round coverage of the NFL, College Football, regional baseball and so on and so forth.  Because of that, the Olympics have to lose some of their luster.  Simply, there is too much other stuff going on to focus on the Olympics. 

There is also the internet.  Because we have so much technology, we have become an ADHD society.  If we get sick of all the commercials, we just click on the Internet, find the results we need, and channel surf to our heart’s content.  There is a 12 hour time difference and that will affect the second week, particularly when track and field takes over as the signature sport.  It may be alright to have swimming events at 10 AM China time, but there will not be 10,000 meter running at 10 AM.  That event will be a 10 PM China time, meaning that the results will be available via the internet at lunchtime.

The experts complain that they can’t watch an event knowing who has already won and of course, there is some certain truth to that, but if you really wanted to, you could avoid the results.  Just stay away from the Olympics section on the internet, turn off sports updates on the radio and wait until 8 PM EST to watch the events on NBC.  It’s not as hard as people think it is, but it does take some focus by Americans in that increasingly ADHD Society that we live in. 

The Olympics still matter, even though the pundits say they don’t.  And, when they say they don’t care, close your eyes and think back to 1976, 1980, or 1984, and ask yourself what your opinion of the Olympics was when you were under the age of say, 24.  They may not matter as much, but they still matter and to ignore them is not medal worthy.

Time Will Tell

August 2, 2008

by John Furgele

Earlier this week, I stated that the Red Sox should not trade Manny Ramirez, feeling that the Sox could not win a world title without his bat.  Well, they went against my advice and traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for in essence, Pirate slugger Jason Bay.  They gave up a lot to get him, surrendering promising relief pitcher Craig Hansen and “serviceable outfielder” Brandon Moss. 

As much as I thought Manny should have remained in Boston, I must admit, when I saw Ramirez ground into a 5-4-3 double play, in which he barely jogged down the first base line, I knew right then that Manny’s time in Boston was over.  Throw in the fact that they were being no-hit by John Lackey only made matters worse. 

The Red Sox players must have vomited in their mouths watching Manny jake it down the first base line.  The story in Boston was that management didn’t like Manny, Manny didn’t like management, but the players loved Manny, so management accepted Manny because of that love.  Throw in two World Series championships since 2004 made trading Manny even harder. 

But, the players finally turned on Manny.  When Manny basically refused to play in last Friday’s crucial series opener against the Yankees, that was likely the last straw.  Respect among one’s peers is the most important trait a player needs and after the last few days, respect for Manny dwindled to zero. 

So, the Sox made the deal.  Are they as good a team without Manny?  Is it addition by subtraction?  When you look at the just the numbers, Jason Bay is actually having a better season than Ramirez.  Bay is batting .295 with 22 home runs and 64 RBI; Ramirez is batting .299 with 19 home runs and 63 RBI.  And, since 2006, Ramirez’s numbers are nothing but ordinary.  But, many felt that Manny was waiting for the end, the postseason, to explode and take over like he did in the ALDS and ALCS last year.  Nobody knows if Bay can do that.  He is a very good player, but only 15,000 people care enough to attend Pirate games.  In Boston, they dissect EVERY baseball game like most towns dissect football games.  After a Red Sox loss, WEEI radio will take Red Sox calls from 6 AM until the time in which the next game starts.  They don’t do that in Pittsburgh. 

The one thing we learned is that the Red Sox are comfortable in their own skin.  Every game is sold out, they broke an 86 year drought by winning two world titles in just four years, and deep down, if they don’t win it all this year, they can probably live with that fact.  They wanted to cleanse the team—and organization—of the one player who they simply tired of and that was Manny Ramirez. 

Manny Ramirez will someday be in the Hall of Fame, and he will likely wear a Red Sox cap on his hat.  And, someday, when his career is over, both he and the Red Sox will hopefully conclude that each was good for the other.  The fans will probably realize that as well.  The thinking is “he may have been a bit wacky, but he helped give us a joy that we never thought would happen.” 

Manny will now head to Los Angeles and because he has a chip on his shoulder, may have a sizzling end to the 2008 season.  Perhaps, he can help lead the mediocre Dodgers to the postseason, something the once proud Dodgers have not seen much since their last championship in 1988.

I wonder what is really going through Manny’s head right now?  Most will crack a joke and say nothing, but there has to be some sadness.  But, Manny learned that everyone can and will eventually be replaced.

If only Brett Favre would realize this.