May 18, 2020
The Last Dance concluded last night with the Final Two Episodes and it was an amazing ride. It’s sad it’s over, but wow did I enjoy that. The Flu Game was a lie! It was food poisoning all along! Makes sense since I wondered for all these years how he got better so fast for Game 6. “I ate the pizza, all by myself. Nobody else ate the pizza.” I’ve never felt so connected to MJ after that quote. I would have loved to see Rodman take off for WWE in the middle of the Finals during the social media era. I never knew about the Steve Kerr story, and the man deserves a documentary himself. His only flaw is that he actually named his son “Nick”. “Nick Kerr”. I have tremendous respect for him now. What did Michael write in his poem? “Roses are red, Violets are blue, hey Jerry, just wanted to say eff you.” Thank you to Michael Jordan and ESPN for giving us 5 great Sunday nights when we needed them most.
Speaking of the NBA, Adam Silver said last week that he plans on making a decision on whether or not to continue the season in the next 2-4 weeks. Getting ready for “The Decision: Commissioner Edition”. For those of you who are saying “just shut down the season” you are overlooking just how damaging it would be financially to the NBA. These NBA owners break out in a cold sweat when they have to pay a small luxury tax bill. You think they are going to be ok losing hundreds of millions in revenue for a lost season? I know you’re all going to say they are billionaires who can stomach the loss, but they don’t think that way. Most of the players want to play too because they want to get paid as well. You may just call this nothing more than millionaires and billionaires squabbling, but it’s really just a microcosm of what we’re all trying to decide right now: is being locked down and shutting down our lives worth the other damage that comes along with it? There’s really no right or wrong answer. Personally, I’d rather see them try and come up with an attempted solution as long as it’s safe, rather than just give up.
Congratulations to Martin Jarmond, who has been named the new Athletic Director at UCLA. The good news is that nobody knows who this guy is, he has no UCLA ties, and he’s had success as a fundraiser. The bad news is that he takes over for an Athletic Director who ran up a fat deficit like he was the CEO of Enron. As if that’s not challenging enough, he takes over a football and basketball program that can’t find a way to get fans to come to their games, in a conference that’s having it’s own issues (more on that in a moment). He also has a football coach who doesn’t really give a crap about his job or the team. This job is going to be so tough that it’s going to require a young, new, fresh thinker. Jarmond appears to have the makings of that.
Then there’s the challenges USC Football has to deal with. The noise is suddenly getting louder that USC and Alabama might not play on September 5th. We’re not even talking about a game in California. This game would be in Texas, but it doesn’t matter since there might not be any football for California schools come the fall in any situation. As if USC didn’t have enough problems with a football coach that has no idea what he’s doing, a pissed off fan base, and new University leadership that has football very low on on it’s list of priorities.
Let’s be honest, the PAC-12 looks like they are screwed right now, making the challenges even tougher for the USC and UCLA athletic programs. They have a useless PAC-12 TV network that nobody can watch, and who’s revenue is sinking faster than the S&P 500. That’s making it harder and harder to recruit, not just in football, but also for the historically elite basketball programs like UCLA and Arizona. Now the safety first approach of Governor Newsome may torpedo this conference for good. Newsome is unlikely to allow gatherings in the thousands at stadiums and arenas in California for at least a year. Pro sports might be able to deal with this, but college athletic programs can’t. Not because they can’t survive financially, but rather the fact they can’t compete against schools in states with more politically conservative governors. The entire SEC is going to ignore the coronavirus and gather in the thousands this fall for games. The SEC doesn’t even need any other conference to play football against. The Big 10 and Big 12 will have many schools that are more appealing to recruits in both basketball and football. It also doesn’t help that none of the PAC-12 AD’s are working together, and simply trying to find solutions on their own. I am genuinely concerned for the long-term viability of the conference, and if you are a fan of one of those schools, you should be too.
Finally, I’ve never understood why these Major League Baseball players can’t just have a little bit of self-awareness. This has been the case historically, and the latest one of these clueless players is Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays. Snell says that he’s got to get his money. This man just signed for $50 million. Funny how he’s saying he’s willing to play for his full $7 million salary, but it’s not worth it at $3.5 million, and suddenly not worth the health risk. I don’t begrudge anybody that makes a good living like Snell, and everyone rich or poor has financial obligations they need to meet. He even has a point that the owners should be bearing the financial brunt of a cancelled season, since the owners of any business should bear the fruits of good times and the brunt of bad times. However, 95% of Americans aren’t going to buy into what he’s complaining about during a pandemic. There’s 33 million people unemployed, and millions more trying to figure out how to pay their bills. Shut the hell up Blake Snell and let your Players Association do their job.