return of the sports blogger

it just occurred to me that i haven't really blogged on any sports things in quite a while. part of it is that it is a relatively dead time of the year for sports. with baseball the only major sport in season, the sports pages in newspapers are usually pretty thin this time of year. thank god for fantasy baseball. anyways, training camp is around the corner, and i'm gearing up for the football season and that's got me pretty fired up. as much as i like blogging about pop culture, i think i'm going to make a conscious effort the next few weeks to really blog more about sports. don't get me wrong, i'll still keep you updated on the usual stuff, but i am really feeling a need to get back to my roots. so let's go ahead and get on with this edition of sports quick hits. buckle up kids, cuz i'm going to try and cover a lot of ground here.

1) i've been an avid espn.com reader for a long time. 1997 is when i first discovered it and i think it's pretty safe to say that i've never gone more than a week without being there. after all, i think it's safe to say that they are the premier website when it comes to sports news and analysis. one of my favorite writers on the website was peter gammons, the premier baseball writer in america. imagine my dismay when a few days ago, i clicked on the peter gammons story that was featured on the front page, only to find out that his column is now part of espn.com's insider subscription program. espn.com has slowly but surely been phasing many regular features on their site into this insider program which i would have to pay 40 dollars to access. i was mildly upset when they moved the chat transcripts over to this part. i was really upset when they moved sabermetrician rob neyer's column to this part of the site. i was livid when they moved over jayson stark's column to the insider program. and now quite frankly, with gammons gone, i have absolutely no reason to go to the espn baseball website. none whatsoever. the only column that you can read for free now is crappy old timer syndrome journalist tim kurkjian's column, whose latest column is about joe dimaggio's hitting streak.

i hope that this is not indicative of a larger trend. i've always wondered out loud how websites make money via advertising revenue. after all, it seems that internet ads are much easier to ignore than tv or radio ads. however, i've also noticed that espn's website has crammed more ads than ever onto its site. whenever you would click on a story or a feature, whatever it is that you were looking for used to be on the next page. if the story was long, you'd just have to scroll down further to keep reading. however, recently, they (along with cnnsi.com) have shifted to multi-page formats for their stories. meaning, instead of just scrolling down, you have to click on a "continue to part 2 of 4" link at the bottom of the page to go to the next page of the story. clearly, the point of this is to be able to try to get more advertising on its website. which as i've stated before, seems to be a really dumb idea since very few people ever click on the ads. in any case, it really pisses me off that rather than choose one strategy to make money they've are doing both at the same time. first they charge you to see their content, then they bombard you with ads while you are going through their website.

yet in another curious move, espn's fantasy football is now free. obviously they to stop charging since everyone knows you can play fantasy sports for free over at yahoo. it seemed to me that espn.com used to be a really good website that drew in readers because it was able to provide quality content. i feel like over the past two years, there has been a change in philosophy in which they run their site according to the market. i guess i really can't grip too much since i've gotten all of this stuff for free all this time, but it seems to me that in the quest to move the site to a higher profitability, they're ruining it. so i just wanted to send out a big f-you d-bag to the people out in bristol for alienating its core audience with its money-grubbing shenanigans. the only thing on espn.com worth reading now is bill simmons. if they move him, then i'm completely out.

2) i've already gone on record as saying that lance armstrong is probably on something even though he hasn't gotten caught. but we're all too busy worshipping him for winning his 7th and final tour de france. while i don't discount the monumental nature of the feat, as junichi over at pop licks reminds us, let's not forget that he dumped his wife who supported him through cancer and took care of his children while he was winning the first 5 tour de france's, for a rather mediocre looking rock star. horse face? is anyone with me on this one?

3) all this talk of baseball and cycling is moot anyways, since football season is about to start. there's plenty of really interesting story lines from the return of ricky williams to the several high profile holdouts, most notably terrell owens. everyone is bemoaning what an a-hole t.o. is being for demanding a bigger contract so soon into his most recent one. now don't get me wrong, i'm one of those people who is just tired of t.o.'s antics and think he is a baby. however, this piece on espn.com (i know, i know) makes a good points about how quick we are to criticize players for holding out for more money, when owners in effect make similar demands of their players all the time. after all, they constantly cut players so that they don't have to pay them, make under-performing veterans restructure their salaries to make them more cap friendly, etc, yet no one calls the mara family or lamar hunt a bunch of greedy rich white guys. if you think about it, who contributes the most to the success of any sport? the players do of course, so it makes sense to me that they should reap the biggest part of any profits realized by their performance.

4) now for some regular sports talk and some more hatin' on the patriots. i know to never bet against belechick, but i feel like this may be the beginning of the end for the pats. refusing to pay ty law may be more costly than they think. last year when they let lawyer milloy go, it wasn't that bad a deal since they had another stud in law manning the secondary. now they've lost both of their studs and they have two guys under 6 feet having to cover receivers. losing fellow arizona wildcat teddy brusci for the season certainly isn't going to help either. obviously the pats are extremely picky about who they pay, after all the gave tom brady a big contract, and they gave corey dillon one as well. but defense has been their calling card and the main reason for their success. their offense is decent, but it doesn't inspire fear in other teams like that defense did. richard seymoure, their other stud is probably going to need a big payday to be made happy towards the end of the season. with all of these factors, i just don't know how anyone can say that their defense is going to be as good as it has been the past three years. i'm not saying their going to be 9-7 or anything, but keeping together a championship team is going to be a difficult task for the belichick-pioli braintrust. i guess we'll see right away as new england faces randy moss and the raiders in week 1 (the extremely early line according to vegas.com is NE at -7.5).

4) these are the future bets that i've made so far this season

a) new england (+130) over indy ($30 to win $39) - this is one of those matchup bets, and i basically took the patriots to have a better season record at the end of the season. the way i figure it, although the patriots aren't going to be nearly as good as they've been in the past, peyton still can't win in new england, and he still can't win a big game. i haven't been feeling good about this bet lately, but at the same time, i love betting against peyton.

b) falcons over (+145), 9 ($20 to win $49) - this is a wins line bet. in other words, i'm betting that atlanta will win at least 10 games this season. with the way things are in philly this year, i'm pretty sure that atlanta is going to be the class of the nfc. the way i figure it, they had a great defense last year, and they went out and their receiving corps can only get better from their sorry state last year. and let's not forget who's throwing to them, one ron mexico, perhaps you've heard of him. it's a good thing for the falcons' center that you can't get herpes from someone touching your balls.

c) falcons to win the superbowl, 10-1 ($10 to pay $110) - this seemed like the only real good value bet. the patriots and the eagles weren't getting much over 6-1. what ever happened to parity?

d) chargers over (+130), 9 ($10 to win $13) - again, i'm betting that the chargers will win at least 10 games. i really like this bet, because i really do feel that the chargers aren't getting the respect, and i feel that one of the big reasons that they played well last year was that same kind of no respect chip on their shoulder. with brees still not locked up to a long term contract, he still has something to prove. gates is basically the best tight end in the league, and you figure that ladanian, who should be the first pick in everyone's fantasy draft this year will have another great year. i was a little skeptical at first about the chargers having a good year, but i'm actually feeling good about this bet these days.

e) redskins under (+110), 7 ($20 to pay $42) - here i'm betting the skins to win less than 7 games. i love this bet. off the field troubles for their defense. patrick ramsey who is incredibly overrated as their qb, and clinton portis who was exposed last year. it all adds up to a third place finish in the nfc east to me.

f) cowboys to win the superbowl 18-1 ($10 to pay $190) - and people always accuse me of being a bad fan.

5) seriously, is there any question about what a sorry sonuvabitch larry brown is? i have a pretty good feeling that his time in new york will more resemble his time as the los angeles clippers coach than it will his time as pistons coach. stephon marbury huh? good luck with all that.

ok, that's all for now, like i said, look for more sports blogging in the next coming weeks.


Erik said...

Good to see you back on topic, Bob.

Quick points -

1) Brown is a sorry s.o.b., but so is Davidson, who looks like an idiot with that black eye. What a loser.

2) ESPN.com is not alone in its move to put its content behind a paid-subscription wall. NYTimes.com, one of the best news sites on the web, will put all of its opinion content behind a pay wall shortly. This is seen as a big deal in the internet world, because they're kind of a bellweather for what everyone else on the web will do. Once the Times does it, everyone will, the story goes. Witness the amazing BBC and the web version of its World Service radio (recently called the coolest radio ever). the beeb is considering charging non-Brits (who don't pay the hefty several-hundred dollar annual user fee) and/or just blocking content for non-British users.

Anyway, here's what I think, so pay attention. I think this is a cyclical thing. In the late 1990s, a lot of websites put their content behind pay walls. Or you had to have a specific ISP (either AOL or MSN or Prodigy) to get at certain content. Slate.com and other popular sites experimented with paid subscriptions. Then, in 99 or 2000, they all went wild and let us all have it for free. Why? People didn't feel like paying for content when they could get just-as-good opinions for free somewhere else, and the web companies gambled that ad revenue was a better business platform than subscriptions. Now, it seems like the pendulum is swinging the other way.

I kind of think it'll swing back away from the subscription model. Give it a few years. But, I'm worried because the NYTimes shit is really good and almost worth the 25 bucks a year or whatever it will cost. Check out the amazing video and flash animation from North Korea here. Seriously, amazing shit. They're showing off before they start making you pay. I'll try to hold on to a boycott, but I love me some high-quality web video of the Asian variety.

m. leak said...

the ny times can shove its subscription services up its virtual paper ass. like i'm going to pay jack bitch to see some low grade video of a bunch of little commie fucks skip rope. fuck that, man. i can still get free porno on the internet.