The first new airing of ESPN’s Around The Horn went off today without regular panelist Jay Mariotti - who has effectively been suspended from the show. During today’s production, host Tony Reali quizzed panelists about media reaction to Mariotti’s recent arrest for felony domestic assault.
No surprises in the reax from panelists Bob Ryan and Woody Paige. Both were as candid as could be expected under the circumstances. Kevin Blackistone though did raise an interesting point about the motivation of Mariotti’s critics:
“I’m not really surprised Tony, Jay has always been a polarizing figure. There’s a lot of ego and envy in this business of sports commentating. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable that he’s risen as he has by being such a provocateur and always telling other people what to do and how they should run their lives and how they should be treated thereafter.
Few professions allow, nay - encourage, their practitioners to be so constantly and egregiously wrong as that of Mainstream Sports Columnist. Their entire careers are predicated on comforting their fellow old white men’s opinions that all change is bad, the NBA is full of “thugs,” and baseball statistics are the worst thing to happen in sports, ever.
(Would you call either of these men gay to their face?)
Such professional contrarianism has been lucrative for Dallas columnist Tim Cowlishaw, who has played his whitebread opinions into a daily gig yelling at his colleagues on ESPN’s “Around The Horn.” Not content to hate everything new and changing about the nation’s mainstream sports, he has now decided to focus his bland, toothless vitriol on the fastest-growing sport in the country: MMA. And he might have just, finally, gone too far.
Shaquille O’Neal to FSN Arizona today on the negative reaction of the media on the Suns acquisition of him: “I’m very upset. … I have cable. I watch ESPN. I listen to Mike Wilbon and ‘Around The Horn’ and all that stuff.”
We haven’t been watching Wilbon lately on PTI (shouldn’t he be resting?). But we did check out his column on the the Suns’ sudden Shaq-up with O’Neal. And it isn’t altogether complimentary.
More amusing is the thought of Shaq scheduling his day around “Around The Horn.” And The Big Judas wincing at the well-reasoned analyses of Jay Marriotti.
Before, we viewed that show as nothing more than inspiration for stroke recovery victims (Woody). But knowing now that Shaq gets his hot sports opinions from Tim Cowlishaw, it will be appointment viewing. At least while we await our next colonoscopy.