On Sunday, I was trapped in an Edgar Allan Poe tale. Or was it a Hitchcock movie? The torment grew until my soul broke, then, wide-eyed and screaming, I spat out hideous cackles, my mind pushing off a cliff toward the sea-splattered rocks below.
Dottie Pepper had pushed me beyond my limits.
She did that! She did this to me!
On Sunday, near the end of a weekend that had once again left me on the precipice of television consumption madness, Pepper, the CBS golf commentator, delivered the knockout blow. Rory McElroy had just thrown three putts when she said, “Avoiding all three putts was a problem.”
Avoiding three putts? Is it something like three putts? My tipping point had been passed, advanced sanity was beyond avoidance!
In the plot to get me, to drive me crazy, Pepper had help.
In his eighth year with Fox, John Smoltz is less an analyst than a hypnotist, leaving audiences in awe-stricken trances. Without fail, he performs an autopsy on each location – all in the key of pristine monotony. Fox thinks we appreciate that or his callers haven’t bothered to listen to him since 2014.
This is another torment of Poe. “Once before a dreary baseball game…” From the second inning, Smoltz fuels the compulsion to see what happens among infomercials and month-long single-camera city council meetings. Fox presented no evidence that he tried to coax Smoltz into an occasional change, such as taking land.
And so Saturday’s Cubs-Yankees, a scheduled national stunner on major TV markets won by the Yanks, 8-0, after the Cubs-Yanks exclusive peek-a-boo stream the night before, was another one in the tales of the cryptocurrency weekend horror series.
On Friday night, the Mets and Yanks played exclusively in streaming bait caves spanning New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, providing national fairness to The Game’s ongoing self-immolation, betrayals that, there are a year, would have been dismissed as incredibly bad science fiction.
Ghouls, that’s what they are, ghouls! No wonder that under the evil spell of Rob “The Impaler” Manfred, we now have games determined by “ghost runners”.
But for nighttime sweat tremors, there’s nothing more terrifying than ESPN. No matter the sport, ESPN, from its labs deep in the foreboding forests of Bristol, Connecticut, will perform its bloody disembowelments.
Did anyone at ESPN above assistant vending room attendant consider that when the puck was dropped to start the Rangers-Lightning 6 game on Saturday, we would have liked focus on the game?
But when that moment came, ESPN posted a long scroll of photos, names and distracting posts at the top of the screen identifying each player dressed for the Rangers.
It was similar to my father’s request to know, “Why didn’t you go to the bathroom before we left?” Followed by 40 years of my asking why the networks wait until after kickoff to remove the pitch from view to show the starting lineups, several starters have already been removed.
Ah, but soon there was a whistle, so ESPN would feature the Tampa Bay dance crews during timeout. OK, half bad isn’t bad for ESPN.
But ESPN waited for the game to resume before resuming its indiscriminate graphic intrusions! Madness! They’re here to get us! All of us!
We were haunted, from start to finish. And if there’s one thing ESPN learns from its most careless mistakes, it’s to repeat them.
After blowing the line kick from former teammates Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev’s handshake just as they rejoined after the Hurricanes-Rangers series, ESPN couldn’t miss the greeting exchanged between star guards Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy at the end of The Saturday Series.
But ESPN did just that!
ESPN doesn’t need advice, it needs an exorcism! Or we do.
Then Sunday’s Cubs-Yanks, another bad joke featuring one of MLB’s many dreadful teams – the Yanks won, 18-4, Manny Banuelos with the stoppage for “Cleaning up the driveway in seven!” – was told largely – too big – by Carlos Beltran, who turned on his YES creators to destroy any credibility they imagined they had.
In the first inning, after Ian Happ hit a solo homer for Chicago, to which Michael Kay said, “1-0, Cubs,” Beltran added, “Happ gave the Cubs the first inning of the game.” Standard Beltran illumination, more to follow.
Take it, Edgar Allan: “Knocking, knocking on my bedroom door…” I was on the brink of sheer madness. I wondered if Smoltz, on the replay of my descent, would call it a cutter or a sinker.
And so late Sunday afternoon, “three-putt avoidance is a problem” became the final terror. I got it now? I was tormented, driven to madness! Dottie Pepper did this to me!
By the way, can you operate the TV remote in a straitjacket?
Youth sports hit new low
For more than 30 years, I have followed and often reported on the increasing assaults on recreational league and children’s league officials by adults. This all falls under the general rubric of increasing incivility and criminality in organized sports.
It was therefore both shocking and unsurprising – if that is possible – that a 72-year-old referee with 40 years of experience had his jaw shattered by a punch thrown by a parent-coach during a 13-and-under American Amateur Baseball League game. last Saturday in Jersey.
The defendant, a man from Staten Island, first insulted the anonymous referee and then, after hitting him, left in a truck. The episode is still under investigation, although the SI team was banned from competing again, relegating the children to serving their time.
But what was both surprising and shocking was that several reports of the assault partly blamed COVID cabin fever for the attack, as if the adults unable to contain themselves while watching the children in playing were a side effect. Why not blame Putin?
The steady increase in assaults on game officials, resulting in the steady decline of referees and credible referees to replace them, has been a constant, again, for over 30 years.
In the case of baseball, MLB has a commissioner and a television network that, instead of encouraging civility between teams, encourages individual acts of excessive and antagonistic incivility and shamelessness – from bat flipping voguing at home plate rather than running to first base, fights often to follow.
What Commissioner Rob Manfred, I suspect, would not teach the children of his life, he is eager to have taught the children of ours. The same goes for TV channels. The cumulative effect of marketing the bad is the good is showing up everywhere. And since kids raised on bad is good become parents, well, put it this way:
When we were kids, the cops weren’t called for child’s play. And there was no need for police in cruisers to patrol them. Now? Pathetic, isn’t it? And many more to come.
Jockey Nail Pick
Good read by Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey on NBC on Saturday, just before the Belmont, on favorite 5-2 Mo Donegal: He’s ‘a classic Belmont [long-distance] horse”, “a crusher” who will hang on to the peloton and then make his move about halfway, which he did to win by three lengths.
Return Friday: Puts on Ch. 11, Yankees on YES. Kind of like it’s 2021. As Sox-Astros and then Guardians-Dodgers, covering the second, third and eighth major TV markets, get the dreaded Apple + Manfred exclusive treatments on Friday.
Reader Vincent Gugliuzzo suggests that future baseball movie sequels will end with stunning rerun reviews.
New York Post