Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We'we Hunting Wabbits

That's what Elmer Fudd says when he's chasing after Bugs Bunny. But as we all know, when he actually does take a shot, he never hits what he's aiming at and often causes himself more problems.

I'm starting to view EsPN in the same manner.

As I discussed over the weekend, there were some interesting things said by drunken analyst Dana Jacobson at a roast for Golic and Greenberg earlier this month. Two of them were knocks against ND, which, while unoriginal and not entertaining, are the kind of things you may hear at a roast. The third thing was a knock against Jesus, which is none of those things.

To somehow alter Jacobson's career path over her ND comments, I said, would be stupid considering her lack of insightful commentary and hosting ability hasn't done that already. I allowed, however, for the fact some people might get very upset about her alleged comment "F!@# Jesus".

So what does EsPN do? According to the Chicago Trib, they've suspended her for a week ... for the ND comments.

Who is running things over there?

First, why would they believe she deserves suspension over those remarks? If they wanted to suspend her because she was intoxicated at a company event and acted like an ass as a result, fine, do that. But does anyone out there believe she should sit because she rambled "F!@# Notre Dame" and "F!@# Touchdown Jesus"? I hear worse than that said about my school in my own house sometimes.

Second, the action doesn't address the only thing she said with which people may have an issue. Nobody gives a damn she (not allegedly) said things about Notre Dame. They give a lot of a damn she (allegedly) said something about Jesus, and EsPN doesn't address that.

I use the term "allegedly" because there's some dispute whether the third comment was made. Deadspin's source says she did. A poster on our board claims his brother, an EsPN employee, was at the roast and didn't hear her say that. There's still no video of the event.

But I find it odd EsPN wouldn't be in a rush to gainsay the most damning thing in the whole contretemps. They suspended her for the ND statements, which means she said them (and all sources seem to agree on that). But they're mum on the third statement.

I would think it'd be an easy thing to deny ... after all, if she didn't say it, she didn't say it. Since the Catholic League release came out yesterday, I would expect to see something from EsPN immediately, if not sooner.

I guess we'll see what today brings. No word if the network plans to wield its Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why the Long Face?

It should probably go without saying that, being an ND alumnus and all, I'm not a big fan of Deadspin. The poor dears have Irish Issues, and as such, don't draw my interest all that often.

But one of their reports the other day crossed over into one of my favorite topics, EsPN. They got some more info on "First Take" anchor Dana Jacobson's drunken ramblings on stage during the roast of Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic a couple weeks ago. To save you actually having to visit the site, according to them, Ms. Jacobson had a few choice words to say for some in attendance, physically and spiritually:

"F!@# Notre dame"
"F!@# Touchdown Jesus"

Not exactly original, but not earth-shattering either. She's Michigan born and (horse)bred, so I imagine her parents were probably teaching her that prenatally with the whole earphones-on-the-tummy thing.

"F!@# Jesus."

Screeeeeeeeeeeech Hold on thar, Baba Looey. That's a horse(face) of a different color.

Now let's get some stuff out of the way quickly. I'm not the type who gets offended by religious slurs. I figure if people are that ignorant, they probably lead a pretty meaningless life anyway. I'm also not the type that takes everything ... hell, anything at all ... Deadspin says as any kind of Gospel (no pun intended), so I'd prefer a report from a reputable news outlet before lighting any torches.

Edit: Just to make sure there's no misunderstanding here, I'm going off what Deadspin said. I realize that's not always the best path, but for the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to assume (and yes, I know what happens) they know what they're talking about.

I am also, however, not a big fan of hypocrisy, as my previous writings have laid out. And if this is what went down, our friends at the World Wide Lushes, er, Leader, are wading in that pool up to their necks.

First off, word is they're trying to suppress any and all video from the event. Granted, according to reports, the roast itself wasn't received all that well, and I can understand not wanting evidence of poor production circulating around. But here we have the lead anchor of one of ESPN's more prominent programs slurring her slurs on the dais at a public event. Jimmy the Greek got pilloried for life for making his remarks in a restaurant after a couple drinks, and that video got more circulation than the Zapruder film. This woman was on the mic in Atlantic City. Should the public not get a chance to hear her in all her (drunken) glory disparaging one of the world's leading religious figures? EsPN is always so quick with the video when someone else is the focus of the tragedy, comedy or perfidy. I guess when the foot's on the other hand, their perspective changes a little.

Second, I realize Catholicism is, along with obesity (and ugliness, for that matter), one of the world's few remaining acceptable intolerances to most. But here we have a sports reporter of the Jewish persuasion allegedly flipping the bird verbally to Christians everywhere at a public event, and the silence about it is deafening. If Charlie Weis had used his time on stage to say "F!@# the Torah", or if I suggested on this blog the Prophet Muhammad do something anatomically impossible, we'd be (rightfully) drawn and quartered on the 11 o'clock news and everyone would be falling all over themselves to decry such hateful bigotry. But this one, no, we're going to keep that quiet. After all, she was drunk (I missed the part where they tied her down and poured vodka down her throat against her will) and it was a roast and people get inappropriate at roasts and blah blah blah. If this isn't a big deal, fine, but then the next time someone says something that offends a different major religion, I expect the same radio silence.

Third and finally, hearing this story, I can't help but hearken back to December of 2004. Notre Dame had just fired an under-performing coach who had proven he couldn't get things done for the program either on or off the field. But EsPN (and their Mouse owners) got it into their little heads that ND was a racist institution because that coach was an African-American. So they led the charge on this vacuous story, even though they had no evidence anyone at the school had a racist agenda, and refused to reconcile that alleged agenda with the high graduation rates for African-American athletes the school has. Now we have one of their anchors engaging in bigoted behavior in public. Where is their outrage? Where are the talking heads calling for Jacobson's termination? The University of Notre Dame was declared guilty as charged for much, much less.

I really don't care whether or not Jacobson is fired. I've watched her show once or twice, and if they weren't willing to fire her for something meaningful like her not being very insightful or entertaining, it'd be dumb to do it now. Allegedly, she's sent a long letter of apology to Charlie Weis, and since he was there and not me, that would probably suffice. But the raging hypocrisy of EsPN's behavior here is yet more evidence of their sizzle-not-steak mentality ... a mentality contributing to the dumbing-down-to-a-sound-byte of American society. The less that network is watched, the better off we'll all be, so anything that makes them uncomfortable is A-OK by me.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mostest Bestest

That's how my daughter, many years ago, described Sesame Street's Elmo -- her mostest bestest friend. I thought it captured the relationship perfectly.

So I would describe this week as one of the two mostest bestest for Notre Dame basketball fans in a typical season: one featuring a game against Marquette. As SC is to Notre Dame football, the Warriors (none of this Eagle or Golden Gold crap) are to Notre Dame basketball -- a rival without peer.

Yes, the Blue Demons had Ray Meyer, and for that they will always have a special place in ND lore. And our history with UCLA is certainly a vibrant one with multiple high-stakes contests won by each side.

But the statistics and lore are undeniable. Marquette tops the list.

Saturday's meeting will be the 109th between the two schools, far and away the most ND has played against any opponent, with the Irish holding a 76-32 advantage (and 32-21 in Milwaukee). And were it not for Marquette's Conference USA commitments in the 1990s and the horrible accident that resulted in Eddie Hickey being born without testicles, the number would be even higher.

Note: For those unclear on the concept (or who haven't read the book), Eddie Hickey is to ND basketball what Fielding Yost and Fritz Crisler were to ND football. Moose Krause recruited Dick Rosenthal right under Hickey's nose when he was at SLU, and the little man was never able to let go of it. He blew up the ND/SLU series, and once he got to Milwaukee, did the same to ND/Marquette during the 1960s.

Lopsided as the series may be in ND's favor, people on both sides can point to games where they stuck daggers into their opponent's hearts. Digger having his players sneak back into the arena to cut the nets down in Milwaukee after breaking the Warriors' 81-game home win streak, or pulling out the green socks at the (then) A.C.C. before a 65-59 win when Marquette was ranked #1. The triangle-and-two that shut down Adrian Dantley and left him 1-4 against Marquette in his career.

But even if none of those things were true, Marquette would still sit in the catbird seat for one reason:

Al McGuire.

Was there ever a basketball coach you loved to hate more? Heck, maybe you were like me and couldn't bring yourself to hate him. For someone who never walked a sideline or scored a point for the Irish, Al was the closest thing to a Notre Dame Man you'd find out there. He spoke the blarney. He had the attitude. He was a spunky Irishman from New York City. And the minute he became a broadcaster, you couldn't find a bigger Irish booster out there. He was Dickey V before even Dickey V was Dickey V.

Trying to remember my favorite Al McGuire story is like trying to remember the best hot fudge sundae I ever ate. But after thinking, I decided it was the story Digger told in his "Tales from the ND Hardwood" book. He had opened his practices early in his career, trying to get the student body out and interested in the team. Lo and behold, about three weeks later, he gets a letter from Al along with pages and pages of diagrams. Apparently a life-long Marquette fan had decided to attend Notre Dame, and not only had gone to every practice, he had diagrammed ND's offense and mailed it to Al in the hopes it would help him prepare for ND. Sportsman that he always was, Al sent the data back to Digger rather than use it against him.

If you an Irish hoops fan, you have to love this week. Forget the antiseptic nature of the Bradley Center and think about the plethora of watering holes surrounding it for pre- and post-game libations. Forget the antics of Tom Crean and remember he's taken a team to the Final Four and Mike Brey hasn't (yet). Forget the attitudes of Warrior fans and remember the reason you don't like them is, down deep, they're a lot like you.

It's like a late-arriving Christmas. ND basketball as it should be, as it always should have been.

Irish and Warriors, together again.

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