Opinions and Rants #44: Sports

Ah, yes. The Cincinnati Reds - I knew them well.  I lived in Ohio during the late seventies-early eighties, and followed the Reds like crazy.  The Big Red Machine was basically over and done by the time I came on board, but I still lapped up each and every game.

I don't blog much on yesteryear's sports on Retrospace; I guess that because I've sort of found my niche and expanding on that might just make the scope too big.  Or maybe it's because baseball lost its mojo for me, and I can't conjure up enough enthusiasm to write about it.  But let me wax nostalgia on baseball and other sports if I may, just this once...

I've proclaimed my deep and abiding respect for Charlie Hustle on Retrospace before - so, let's just get that out of the way.  The fact that he's not in the Hall of Fame means nothing to me, it simply invalidates the Hall of Fame.  So, Pete was a bettin' man? He lived life like he ran bases - at full speed regardless of the consequences.  A lot of lesser players in the Hall of Fame have done much, much worse.

Back then, you didn't have ESPN and forty other networks carrying baseball games at all hours.  You had your local networks (which usually meant just your local MLB teams) and I was fortunate enough to have cable early on.  Keep in mind, it was nothing like today - it simply meant I could watch the Cubs on WGN and the shitty-good-for-nothing Braves on WTBS.

Mr. Carey.  Ladies' Man
This meant I could watch day games with Harry Carey (above), a true legend.... the team itself, not so much.  You had Dave Kingman, who was an all-star, but no Ernie Banks.  Bruce Sutter was a damn good relief pitcher (no middle relievers back then).  Then you had Mike Tyson (yeah, you read that right) on second base, and Steve Macko.... players of the most forgettable variety.  Best of all - Bill Buckner.  I seem to recall Ryne Sandberg as well, but may be off by a few years (Note: none of this post was researched out of sheer laziness).

The Braves on WTBS were nearly unwatchable.  The Mormon (Dale Murphy) was good, but the rest of the team was criminally bad (the hefty Bob Horner wasn't too shabby).  But I watched it nonetheless... and continued to watch the Braves all the way up to the World Series victory in the early nineties.  But then something happened to baseball shortly thereafter...

I think it was a perfect storm of sorts.  You had the steroid situation which put a bruise on a stat oriented sport, and caused a lot of folks to lose faith in the Great American Pastime. Then, you had players like A-Rod raking in incomprehensible sums of cash.  Where once Yogi Berra had to operate a dry cleaning business during the off season to make ends meet, now the players are living like Louie XVI.

And, finally, players lost their loyalty to their teams... and subsequently the fans lost the loyalty to their players.  Thus, baseball viewership is way down.  Combine that fact with expensive tickets, and it's no wonder you hear the "TING" of a ball hitting an empty aluminum seat.

When one player on the Yankees makes as much as the entire Pirates roster, there's a problem.  This is why the NFL has laid waste to MLB, because there's at least an attempt at parity, and they've been much more diligent in drug testing. Personally, nowhere is the "true sports mojo" still alive more than in football - especially college football.

Sure, there's similar issues to the ones that plagued baseball - nothing is perfect.  Some college teams have more money to spend on coaches and facilities; but overall, it's still a great sport despite its flaws.  I graduated from Auburn - so War Damn Eagle!

Not a big fan of The Crimson Tide (majorettes not included); but rivalry is part of the joy.

There's not as many blogs on the subject of sports.  Indeed, there's probably more blogs devoted to Star Wars than all the MLB blogs combined.  I think that's mainly due to the fact that it's a subject analyzed ad nauseum on 15,000 sports channels every day all day.  What use is a blog?

Which brings me to my final point on sports - a subject that almost ruins sports for me: the incessant talking.  I want to watch a game, not listen to half-baked theories and gossip.  Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk..... you almost can't escape it.  I don't mind a sports column in the paper, but for chrissakes do we need to hear 45 different talking heads discuss the same damn topic all day long?

Retrospace is not above squeezing in eye cand at every opportunity.  Don't judge.
I understand these networks need to fill up 24 hours.  It's the same problem that ruined TV news -  the talking heads take over like a cancer.  Sure, you might find a grain of real news if you look hard enough, but it's not worth the effort.  Similarly, it's becoming harder to find a game on the sports channels.  Even sports radio is glutted with talk, and no ball games.  A good game can be exciting or even relaxing.... sports talk is none of the above.

But now I'm doing exactly what I'm complaining about.  So, it looks like this is a good place to wrap things up.



  1. Nice post. I grew up with the Reds and Red Sox in the 70's, then the Cubs and Braves in the 80's. I agree with your assessment of the 24-hour info bombardment that we have to deal with nowadays......Just show the blasted ballgame already and SHUT UP!!

  2. AnonymousMay 02, 2013

    WHoa! Bama lam! Nice chicas -

  3. AnonymousMay 02, 2013

    Agree whole-heartedly on the Pete Rose issue. And I was raised on War Eagle! "Roll Tide" was a cuss word in my parents' house...

  4. Sports talk radio is one of the second worst trend in radio after talk radio. It real should be called sports yell radio, because that is what most of the host do (or at least Fox Sports radio host). I have heard sports talk radio host say some of the most stupid things ever said on radio. For instance, one host said that women's college and professional sports are part of a "gay, Communist conspiracy." The same host said that a college basketball team lost an important game it is because "their parents didn't spank them when they were children." Another time the idiot blamed a low TV rating for an NBA game on the NBA being "too hip hop" and "too ghetto." These guys bring race and politics into discussions where it doesn't need to be. And when they can't come up with anything better they say "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner."

    No, I'm not a willing listener of sports talk radio. I work at a sports talk radio station (when I started the format was classic rock). The ratings are horrible, but, like talk radio, it is an inexpensive format. Just contract with one of the four sports talk networks and the automation can run the satellite feed unmanned.