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From a few of you

What are your thoughts on Blake Snell's comments?

Gang—

We covered some of these items earlier this week, especially Thursday.

A quick recap: MLB owners erred — and reneged to earlier agreed on terms for returning to the field — in trying to force players to go revenue-sharing (i.e. salary cap). It was a big deal and made most of the papers.


There was a lot of opinion on it, but Snell, a former AL Cy Young winner, then said, "Hey owners, you want to see bad word choice and P.R. decisions. hold my beer."

Snell, who in the early days of The Corona was quite defiant to it, said he was going to get his. Seriously.

"Y'all gotta understand, man, for me to go, for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof, it's a shorter season, less pay," Snell said Wednesday night on his Twitch channel. "I gotta get my money. I'm not playing unless I get mine, okay? And that's just the way it is for me. Like, I'm sorry you guys think differently, but the risk is way the (bleep) higher and the amount of money I'm making is way lower, why would I think about doing that? Like you know, I'm just, I'm sorry."

Snell's diction was disastrous, especially given the time and the stats. There are 36 million without jobs in the eight weeks of the pandemic. THIRTY-SIX million. There are multiple times that number who have taken pay cuts or reduced hours.

And Snell is about getting his money — roughly $3.5 million this year if it's prorated for half the season — and looks like the poster boy for calloused, spoiled, jock-wagon jerk face.

But his poorly worded diatribe aside, Snell's point is the next big discussion in the return for sports.

Will pro athletes be forced to return if the union votes to return? I can't see that.

What if a pro athlete has asthma or think about what happened a few years ago with Chris Bosh, who had to retire despite still wanting to play because his blood circulation was compromised and no NBA team wanted to put him out there and risk death.

I certainly can't see it if a college athlete does not want to take that risk so the school and the coaches can make bank and he can take his 8 a.m. Psych class without paying for it.

As we continue to look for paths back to the field, the court and the diamond, each approaching hurdle is more and more intricate and layered.

If the testing is in place, what happens if the players are not willing to return? What happens if the owners decide that it's not worth the projected losses in revenue to return?

Then what happens if a player gets The 'Rona? Does it shut back down. How many would it take catching this for it to shut back down. Or what happens if a player or someone close to a player Goodness forbid, dies from it?

Yes, players get hurt — seriously — during normal action in and around the games we love. And yes, we are desperate for sports to return.

And yes, Snell's comments have the touch of sandpaper toilet paper and the sensitivity of Bull Santini after a three-day bender and a basketball loss.

But as terrible as Snell's words look is as valid as the point he raises about the line of the risk being worth it, because the players are risking way more than the owners.

From Big Player

Jay, I enjoy the 5-at-10 very much. Have you thought of doing it bigger like for ESPN on something?

I love the gambling talk - you know your stuff - and I was wondering if you are betting on anything during these days of Coronavirus? Thanks and keep up the great work.

BP—

Thanks for the kind words, and, well, just know that no one at ESPN proper has approached us recently about taking the 5-at-10 to masses. So there's that.

As for the gambling stuff, no I have not made a bet since football season ended. I certainly would have been in a March Madness pool or three. Likely would have been in a Masters pool or two as well.

The staggering plummet of the betting market is just another angle of another devastated industry from The Corona.

The Las Vegas review Journal said the bigger sports books on the Strip averaged making (yes, sheer profit) $700,000 a day in March 2019. In the days of The Corona? Next to nothing.

Vegas is a ghost town. Renowned sports book William Hill reported revenues are down 57 percent during The Corona. Draft Kings reported a first quarter loss of 28 percent.

In fact, Thursday was the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court opening up to each state the ability to legalize sports betting in their state, and New Jersey, which led the charge to open up legalized sports gambling, had numbers that were, well, staggering.

In April 2019, New Jersey brought in $265.4 million in revenue in sports wagering. Last month? New Jersey brought in $82.6 million, a drop of almost 70 percent.
There's simply little traditional sports to wager on. There will be record amounts of NASCAR bets this weekend. MMA bets have reached record levels. Heck, sports books are offering prop bets on TV shows like Survivor or Masked Singer as well as The Last Dance.

The sports world has been Turkish soccer and Russian ping-pong. Seriously. And then came this email I got earlier this week.  Buckle up.

Bovada, one of the renowned online sports betting sites, offered betting opportunities this week on a version of Beer Pong tournament featuring eight porn actresses that was streamed on an adult website. Yes, you read that correctly. Some talented young lady named Katana Kombat was a +250 favorite in the event called "Two Girls, 12 Cups."And, yes there's more. From the press release: With the quarantine in effect -- which we fully support -- people are losing their minds with boredom. To provide a new level of entertainment, we've decided to leverage our network of beautiful adult stars and cutting-edge technology to deliver a unique experience. And, thanks to a collaboration with Bovada, we're marrying adult entertainment and sport betting like never before," said Daryn Parker, VP, CamSoda. "People will be able to bet on who will win certain matchups and who will win the tournament, for a chance to win money. The tournament is sure to be a doozy!"

Also from the release: "Like the rules of the World Series Of Beer Pong, the longest running beer pong tournament, players will be allowed – and encouraged – to distract their opponent. However, distractions that will be permitted will include sexy gestures, including flashing, groping and jiggling of (body parts), as well as twerking."

Goodness we need sports back.  

From Pat

Watching the replays of the Braves from the early to mid 90s on Fox SportsDirectional reminds me how much I don't miss Tim McCarver calling baseball games. Nor will I miss Tess and Booger in the Monday Night booth. See ya, wouldn't want to be ya. Do you have a dream MNF booth alignment — current and future? In other words, mid era Madden, when he was great, is off the books. So it has to be current guys or up-and-comers.

Pat—

I do not miss McCarver, either. Nor do I miss Joe Morgan. Or Billy Packer.

I actually thought Joe Tessitore was starting to round into shape as the play-by-play guy but Booger was so Titanic-esque bad, that he pulled everyone down with him. He did the same thing when he was part of the draft broadcast. And, I'm not sure if you know this, but I'm kinda sweet on the draft, so that made it doubly painful.

A dream booth is an interesting question. Let's review.

In the dream, NBC has arguably the two best play-by-play guys alive in Al Michaels and Mike Tirico. I know ESPN tried to get each — including a trade attempt seriously — and failed. So, my lead guy that is gettable is Kevin Harlan, and we can all pray we get another one of these. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wopy6Ntd834

I believe that if/when Peyton decides to join a broadcast team he will be great. An all-timer who blends a Romo-level of insight and predictions with his SNL-worthy quips. But again, ESPN swung and missed on that dream-teamer

My pick for lead analyst is actually already on the ESPN roster. Ladies and gentlemen, Louis Riddick is the best football mind at the Mothership and is sorely underused in my view. He would KER-rush MNF. He also checks the 'former player' box. (That said, I am so impressed with Riddick, he's also on my short list from preferred candidates when the Falcons finally fire Thomas Dimitroff.)

I would also like Pat McAfee in the booth, and think Todd McShay is excellent on the sidelines when he gets the chance.

The linchpin though is Riddick. Great question. (If we did a Rushmore of least favorite TV sports analysts — not the play-by-play guys — Morgan, McCarver and Packer go together like Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.)  

From Tom

As to broader picture of college sports in 5 years? It will likely take 5 years for this to economically return to some semblance of "normal". Football, basketball and college golf will be ok. Maybe baseball and women's softball? Question for you: will the economic consequences of virus slow the "Power 5" from splitting from NCAA or just stop it for foreseeable future?

Tom—

Well, this has been all over the place and gotten quite lengthy.

I believe the economic consequences of this will force the Power Five to move more quickly to be honest.

The boom of the last decade of college sports — especially from the power players — has allowed the big boys to make record profits and still share with the small programs without noticing it all that much.

Now? When Kansas basketball is cutting salaries and expenses and other power programs are doing the same, well, you know the levels of financial unrest are real.

Now and moving forward, those power schools are going to want to keep the revenue they are generating.And that revenue — again, for the power programs will be record-setting when we return. My reasoning for that is based on the realization for viewers and networks that a lot of us pay lofty cable bills primarily for live sports. (Side question: How many of you never before questioned the value of cable because of live sports and now that several hundred bucks to EPB or Comcast seems downright wasteful.)

I have never felt as strongly as I do now that by the time the current College Football Playoff deal expires after the 2025 season , there will be two landmark, game-changing shifts in the realm of college sports.

First, the playoff will be expanded. Period. Like it, love it, or loathe it — I personally lean toward the latter — it does not matter. It is coming.

Second, by that time, the Power Five will be its own entity in football for sure.

It's coming.  

From KudzuBrew

Knowing your involvement in youth rec sports, I'd be curious to get a similar analysis and odds of local youth sports resuming, especially baseball. Surrounding states seem to be starting to roll, but we are likely stuck as long as their are any restrictions on large groups. Thoughts?

KudzuBrew—

First, excellent handle.

I believe the summer is washed for rec sports. I hope I am wrong, but the logistics for parents and leagues to even offer a "Sandlot-like" league later this summer seems almost too tall to tackle.

There are already some big-stakes travel-team tournaments starting to pop up.

There was a baseball and softball event in St. Louis. There was a 7-on-7 passing event in Kansas City. There was a huge volleyball tournament in Florida that started this week.

There will be more and more of those popping up, and it's like everything else in this time: It's the balance between physical health and fiscal health.

The organizers and hosts of those tournaments make huge coin. It's their livelihood, and they are going to do everything possible to have as many tournaments with as many teams paying hundreds to enter as possible.  

That motivation simply is not there for the rec leagues for obvious reasons.

From JTC

Looking at Under Armour's (WAY down) valuation, how will all of the shoe and other markets connected to sports ever recover? Outlook for the next generation of athlete's gear contracts?

JTC—

I trust my crystal ball and use it frequently, but the future images of what sports will look like are as nebulous as clouds and the perspective of those trying to shape those guesses seem as uncertain as those folks who think they have a potato that looks like Richard Nixon.

Sponsorships of all sorts, be it across a league, a golf tournament, the hood of a NASCAR or the sneakers on LeBron's feet will be questioned an analyzed.

The discretionary accounts of families as well as Fortune 500 companies will shrink like Constanza in cold water. And then some. Under Armour is a prime example. And then think of the ripples of what happens if UA cuts way back.

Then Nike can cut way back because it has fewer competition, and with fewer competitors, will they really need to pour millions into every college program to fight for eyeballs and business.

No, when the war is over — "War's over man; Woerner dropped the big one" — neither side has to fire bullets.

From Chas

Speaking of the POTUS, he said we "need sports." Is sports a want or a need? Discuss.

Chas

And here's the money question in our overlap between society and sports.

Is it a want or a need. For a person, it's a want. I want to watch it. I want to talk about it. I want to second-guess it, and review it, and cheer for it, and ache about it and remember why I love it.

So for any person, it's a want. For our people, it's a need.

And it's bigger than a distraction. If anything has become crystalized during this it's the true enormity of sports and the business of sports in our society.

Have we created this Frankenstein? Yes, we have by putting insanely disproportionate importance on the ability to make a 3, throw an accurate 30-yard spiral amid chaos and making a 15-foot putt with life-changing outcomes on the line. And that's on us, and in some ways we will be forced to temper the entire microcosm of the sports universe.

But the community, the connection and the actual living it provides for so many in out society makes sports a clear need.

And dang it I want it back so bad it's shocking.

Rushmore of TV series finales — At the risk of losing my job, I will offer this very challenging Rushmore of Cheers, Breaking Bad, Newhart and M*A*S*H. But I was not as high on M*A*S*H finale as most others, mainly because the last three-plus season of M*A*S*H, which holds up very well in syndication if you're wondering, became all about Alan Alda's social commentary.
Rushmore of famous blind people — Helen Keller, Ray Charles, Whoshispants Braille and the Chattanooga Blind Lady how she became a wind covering magnate without being able to see is astonishing.

Rushmore of homer — Homer Jay Simpson, walk-off, three-run homer, Homer the author of  those epics and every sports "Homer" everywhere. (Side story: Almost every small town in the south used to have that one super fan who was a little off but found his way to every big sporting event of the local high school. At Campbell High School in Smyrna, that guy was Homer, and his brother Harold was the superfan of our rival Wills High School. I was at the Dairy Queen on South Cobb Drive standing behind Homer and Harold one time, and Homer ordered a "chili dog with no chili." This teenage girl behind the counter got confused and Homer got embarrassed and Harold started teasing him and the next thing you know there are Dilly Bars flying across the restaurant and there are cops in the parking lot. No one was arrested, but with all apologies to the cafeteria in Animal House, but you've never seen a food fight like a DQ chili dog food fight.)

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Jay Greeson
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