Thy Heathen Wilbon: WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?

Today ESPN announced Jon Miller and Joe Morgan were being let go from their duties as Sunday Night Baseball announcers on the network after 20 years of service.

Mike Wilbon: Joe Morgan is a god.

No one was hit harder by the news than ESPN PTI co-host Michael Wilbon. Wilbon in the WASHINGTON POST on Morgan: Let me just say that Joe Morgan is God.

To each his ecunemical own.

Mike Wilbon

Myself? I prefer to worship at the altar of the above late-’90s Wilbon publicity glossy.
I don’t have much to say about the passing of Miller & Morgan, as in 20 years I probably didn’t watch enough of their games - check that - as in 20 years I probably didn’t watch enough of their games with the sound on to account for a single game’s worth of work.

So instead, I defer to this poignant tribute to Miller from the SAN DIEGO READER: Read more…

Morgan: ESPN National Role While On Reds Payroll

Former Hall of Fame Cincinnati Reds second baseman Joe Morgan has long had an informal, ceremonial role with the team, called a “special advisor” by management. Like most former baseball legends, Morgan could occasionally be seen over the years puttering around with Reds players at Spring Training. As it should be.

Joe Morgan

(ESPN: ‘Confident’ Check From Reds Won’t Affect National Game Call)

Today that relationship changed as the Reds formalized Morgan’s employment with the club, naming him a Special Advisor to Baseball Operations at a press conference in Cincinnati.

Despite Morgan’s formal affiliation with a MLB team, ESPN released a statement to me today indicating that his role as a national analyst for the network will not immediately change: “Joe has a long history with the Reds. He tells us he won’t be involved with day-to-day baseball operations so we are confident this arrangement will not impact his role on Sunday Night Baseball.

While there are no Reds Sunday Night Baseball appearances scheduled for the balance of the 2010 season, ESPN declined to specifically address what might happen if the Reds make the playoffs. Morgan works national ESPN Radio throughout the baseball postseason.

My qualm about ESPN electing to allow Morgan to formalize a paid affiliation with the Reds doesn’t involve any possible competitive or broadcast impropriety on Morgan’s part. I get that the Reds want to formalize ties with one of their legendary players and reap the public relations benefits.

But what if Morgan had taken a similar, official gig with the Yankees? Or the Red Sox?

How do you think the Boston (and national) media and Red Sox fans would react to Morgan calling Yankees-Red Sox games on national television or radio while he was getting a check signed by a Steinbrenner? Read more…

Baseball Announcers In Camera Wells? FINALLY!

We know that for years now, baseball fans have wondered to themselves, “gosh, this ESPN baseball coverage is so close to perfect, but it’s missing something.” It’s certainly what we tell ourselves.

Jon Miller Joe Morgan and the Atari penis home plate chalk
(”And now, Joe Morgan will put himself in harm’s way for no reason at all.”*)

Fortunately, ESPN thinks they may have stumbled onto the answer. For tonight’s game between the Dodgers and Cardinals game, they’re taking Orel Hershiser and Steve Phillips out of the booth and putting them next to the field. Why? Because it will blow your mind.

Read more…

Aaron Putting Screws To Selig To Reinstate Rose

You know, we could just make Hank Aaron our baseball commissioner, eliminate the middle man and save ourselves a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. For someone who’s been so reticent for the past few … well, his entire life, Aaron sure is surprising us this week with his high profile. A day after he came out squarely against steroid “cheaters” getting into the Hall of Fame, now he’s lobbying commissioner Bud Selig to reinstate Pete Rose.

Bud Selig, Pete Rose

And Aaron isn’t just speaking for himself. Two of his fellow members of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Joe (Silver Tongue) Morgan and Frank Robinson, have also come out in favor of lifting Rose’s lifetime ban. But neither, I would imagine, carry anywhere near Aaron’s weight with Selig. Read more…

Joe Morgan Tries To Repair Another WTF Moment

When Joe Morgan tells this story four or five years from now, it’s going to be a lot more interesting than it is today. President Obama will likely be involved, and Joe will be the hero, possibly saving a busload of schoolchildren from a bear. So I would advise waiting until then for him to relate it. Otherwise it’s just a simple tale of him trying to correct one of his many on-air blunders.

Joe Morgan

You recall last week when Morgan was called out for his story on Sunday Night Baseball, involving himself, a no-hitter, pitcher Don Wilson and Hank Aaron. Which turned out to be completely false. Morgan addressed the situation on Sunday during the Angels vs. Dodgers telecast. And we are left as confused as ever. Read more…

NHL Players Sue Golf Developer Over Porn Parties

When you give someone $25 million to build golf resorts, you might be a bit miffed when they use your dough to host parties with porn stars. And for an even bigger slap in the face, they don’t even invite you.

golf girl

But that’s just what 19 current and former NHL players are alleging against golf course developer Ken Jowdy. The hockey players are suing Jowdy to get back the $25 million they invested in two luxury golf resorts in Mexico that have yet to be built, plus $15 million more in additional damages. The lawsuits claim that Jowdy put their putting money towards prostitutes for “lavish parties”. And check out out who was on the invite list.

Read more…

Speed Read: Donte’ Stallworth Reaches DUI Deal

Sometimes, all you can ask for is closure. Not revenge or punishment or the eye for the proverbial eye; just enough to begin the healing process.

Donte Stallworth

And so, according to the MIAMI HERALD, the family of Mario Reyes, the man Donte’ Stallworth stands accused of killing in a March DUI accident, have been described by prosecutors as “the primary force” in a plea deal that is expected to be accepted today. And rather than spending years and years in prison, Stallworth may only have a short jail stay:

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to driving drunk when he struck and killed a pedestrian on the MacArthur Causeway in March, The Miami Herald has learned.

Stallworth’s attorney, Christopher Lyons, confirmed that the case was expected to be resolved Tuesday in court. Lyons declined to detail terms of the plea, which are not yet public.

While this is good news for Stallworth and his family, it doesn’t mean his NFL career is back in play; even after the jail stay imposed by the judge, Stallworth will still have to be reinstated by the notoriously unsympathetic Roger Goodell.  This will be a remarkably tough decision for the commissioner; no matter what length of suspension he decides on, it’s still going to be met by (not entirely unreasonable) protests of “Oh, so that’s how many games a human life is worth?”

But all the same, the person who’s really going to be haunted by the specter of death here is Stallworth, not Goodell. That he, even accidentally, killed a fellow man is a fact that will saddle him long after he’s gone from the league.

*UPDATE*: Stallworth gets sentenced to 30 days in jail & two years of house arrest.

Okay, we need a fun story after all that. So, as we warned you earlier, Joe Buck’s talk show career just started last night. And, judging by what AWFUL ANNOUNCING found, it may have ended last night too.

Joe Buck

The milquetoast play-by-play announcer for FOX had put together a decent, meh-but-not-terrible first episode, with appearances by Brett Favre (more on him later), Michael Irvin, Chad Ochocinco, and other famous members of the sports world. And then to close it out, he had on longtime friend Paul Rudd, a practically non-existent Jason Sudeikis, and, inexplicably, Artie Lange.

The audio is ludicrously NSFW, but if you’ve got earphones and/or a door to your office, you’ll want to check out Lange single-handedly derailing the show:

And then yes, Favre. Favre Favre Favre. He was the first guest on the show, and allowed make unironic claims like he’s not looking for attention. While he’s on, y’know, a nationally televised talk show. And to his credit, the fact that this is his first public appearance while ESPN has hammered coverage of his dalliance with Vikings management into viewers’ brains (we think Ed Werder’s been tasked with rifling through the trash down at Favre’s ranch in Mississippi) should be noted. That said, this happens every damn year, and it’s so tiresome. Here we are in June, with training camps underway. Teams want to have their summer rosters in place. So is Favre going to play this year? “Maybe.”

Brett Favre Vikings
(Here we go again.)

Also, the fact that Favre’s first public comments aren’t to ESPN should be noted as well. So rather than think of Favre as a caricature of an attention whore or drama queen or whatever, perhaps it’s best to - yes, we know this is neither fun nor easy - recognize the shades of gray and think that while he knows how easy it is to attract attention after spending two decades in the spotlight,  part of him actually is a country-bred bumpkin from Mississippi who would play football forever if he could.

But then again, we don’t know where the annual retirement charade fits into either side. And how many years in a row is this? Eight? C’mon, man.

Here are more stories to consider as you mourn Shawn Johnson’s euthanization

  • Look, this is clearly not the appropriate forum to discuss the ongoing turmoil in Iran. We’re not nearly qualified enough to comment on it, and that’s not what you’re here to read anyway. That said, if you’re wanting to find out more about watching the seeds of revolution occur in real-time, Andrew Sullivan’s blog is a good place to start. So why even bring it up? Only for the most epic picture in tOSU history, via 11W (click here for higher res, pops):

Tehran Buckeye
(Your move, Michigan.)

What else is Joe Morgan lying about?

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Speed Read: Floyd’s Follies Continue to Roil USC

Tim Floyd, USC’s men’s basketball coach for the moment (and this after almost becoming a leader of Wildcats), allegedly paid a handler a thousand dollars in cash to be delivered to O.J. Mayo in a successful attempt to encourage the young point guard to follow through on joining USC for a season after signing his letter of intent.  (No, the handler wasn’t Li’l Romeo.  Good guess, though.)

O.J. Mayo Tim Floyd

Everyone from the handler to Floyd to USC could be in varying levels of trouble if true.  Therefore, absolutely no one except YAHOO! SPORTS’ source will speak on the record.   Their investigative journalism has been hit and miss, though their commitment to providing original reporting has not wavered.

It’s unclear how seriously the reporting from the site with the silly name can be taken, though, as they clearly do not have fake conversations where they hype their stories around a ridiculously small table while being filmed in black-and-white.  It’s not really journalism if it’s colorized.

E60 from ESPN

(Journalism!)

From one stereotypically smoky back room to another, Delaware’s legislature has passed a law permitting sports betting in a desperate attempt to fill a gaping $600 million maw in the state budget.  The governor has promised his signature on the bill once the state Supreme Court has spoken to the state constitutionality of the bill.

Delaware is one of only four states with a legal exemption to a 1992 federal law banning sports gambling and the only one east of the Mississippi.  State lawmakers have high hopes of becoming a gambling mecca for sports enthusiasts; one called the opportunity “an unbelievable cash cow”.  Again, it’s unclear how true this can be if no one will be allowed to gamble on the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Wilmington Blue Rocks - Rocky Bluewinkle

(The only thing you can tease here is the moose, sir)

Finally, from one set of rocks to another, Boston came back to defeat the Orlando Magic 92-88 last night to take a 3-2 series lead in a highly predictable collapse from the team in blue that has only one mode: jack the three up and cross your fingers.

Magic against Celtics

Houston also got a condescending pat on the head for their Game 4 effort without Yao Ming before being penetrated 118-78 by the Lakers and falling behind 3-2 in their series. The Rockets now only have one reliable position: fetal.

Phil Mickelson and wife

(”… so that’s winning!  Interesting.”)

On the other hand, three fine NHL Game 7s have now been scheduled after wins by Anaheim and Boston last night.  Detroit never found its offense despite approximately 40392109 minutes on the power play while Carolina’s Cam Ward couldn’t quite figure out what all that goalie equipment should be used for. One possibility: handing off $1,000 in cash to the next O.J. Mayo?

Anaheim Ducks

And now a hail of bullet points discovered behind the olive loaf sandwich in the break room fridge; you know, the fridge that sent half your office to the hospital

Do you believe sports betting should be legalized?

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Big Red Machine Helps Ellen, Clooney Hook Up

Since most of our readers are male, I am going to assume that you have never watched an episode of Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. Apparently, she has been obsessed with getting George Clooney on the show since she moved into a new studio in Burbank on the same lot as the Oscar-winning actor. (Seriously, what’s up with lesbian daytime talk show hosts and their crushes on leading men? First it was Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Cruise, and now Ellen and Clooney.)

Ellen DeGeneres with guests Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and George Clooney

Calling on friends and co-stars of Clooney such as Brad Pitt and Noah Wylie didn’t help Ellen get her man (insert joke here), but Wylie did give her a useful suggestion: Clooney’s nuts for the Cincinnati Reds, so why not get some members of the old Big Red Machine to help you out. And it turns out that was exactly the hook that was needed, as MLB.com reports that Clooney taped an appearance on the show along with Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench that is scheduled to air on Monday.

Read more…

Miller And Morgan Know Nothing Of Their Demise

Bob Raissman of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reported last weekend that ESPN may be considering breaking up the Sunday night baseball broadcast team of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan after 19 years.

John Miller Joe Morgan

Raissman claimed in the report that ESPN staffers, on and off-air, had tired of Morgan’s arrogance and lack of preparation and were pushing for a change.

Prior to Game 5 of the World Series on Monday, Miller guested on ESPN 710 in Los Angeles on “Mason and Ireland and was asked about the possible Sunday night breakup. Read more…