For nearly twenty years sports talk listeners have spent their mornings traveling to work with ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike”. For almost twenty years I have not understood why. Sports Talk is admittedly a vast wasteland for the most part, but “Mike & Mike” are the leading example why. From their manufactured takes to manufactured disagreements on subjects to Golic’s annoying “Hellloooooooo Greeeeeeeenieeeeeeeee” on commercials, the show is akin to listening to nails on a chalkboard. At least, I think so.
The two are supposed to be sports’ “Odd Couple” with Mike Greenberg being the uptight Felix Unger & former NFL star Mike Golic being the slobbish Oscar Madison.
Listeners tune in consistently and in large numbers. “Mike & Mike” is usually the highest rated sports talk show in the morning in most cities it airs. It also usually finishes highly against other mainstream radio shows. Why? Why do you all listen to this? I would rather shove pencils into my eardrums than listen to this manufactured drivel.
There are so many better options in morning for sports talk fans. The problem is accessing them. “The Steve Czaban Show” on Yahoo Sports Radio is the best sports show in the morning, and quite frankly, maybe the best sports show overall. Czaban is a long time veteran of yakking with stints in Milwaukee and currently Washington D.C. Czaban and his crew will not annoy you with manufactured takes and arguments. It is more like listening to you and your buddies talk sports and take shots at those who deserve it. The catch is, of course, finding Yahoo Sports Radio. More likely than not, you will have to listen online.
“Fox Sports Daybreak” with Andy Furman & Mike North on Fox Sports Radio is also much more listenable than “Mike & Mike”. Furman and North are both long-time sportstalkers with Furman hailing from Cincinnati’s 700 WLW & North a vet of Chicago sports radio. As with Czaban and crew, Furman & North will not manufacture friction. You can tell the friction between the two is real. The only drawback is you can tell the two are not in the same studio and sometimes the back & forth between the two can be awkward.
Of course, you could just listen to some music but what does it matter? Most of you will still listen to “Mike & Mike” trot out their tired takes and interviews with guests who are sponsored by some website. Sigh.
Fox Sports 1 or as it is now more commonly known as, FS1, has been making some news recently with its hires of former ESPN “Hot Take Artists” Jason Whitlock & Skip Bayless. One has to wonder if FS1 learned its lesson with the much ballyhooed hiring of noted shit stirrer Colin Cowherd last summer.
Cowherd brought some initial heat for the network at first but since has become buried in the sports talk landscape. Cowherd is consistently beaten by programming on NBCSN, MLB Network and CBS Sports Network, all of which are seen in far fewer homes. On a related note, are any radio stations (other than in LA) airing the simulcast of “The Herd”? It seems like when given a choice between Rich Eisen and Cowherd, most Fox Sports Radio affiliates are taking Eisen.
In what seems like desperation, FS1 has announced that Cowherd & Whitlock will debut a new show on June 13th where they will debate each other daily. Sounds like something to avoid.
FS1 started out with grandeur after taking over what was once known as Speed. You remember the Speed Network, right? You should, since it got better ratings than what is now FS1. In fact, one of the few popular shows on FS1 is “Nascar Race Hub” which came over from Speed.
Even FS1’s answer to “SportsCenter”, “Fox Sports Live” was a unmitigated disaster. Hosted by two smartassed Canadians, Jay Onrait & Dan O’Toole, it boasted an analyst roster ranging from Andy Roddick to Randy Moss…all of which gave “hot takes” on everything. Yes, Andy Roddick attempted to talk NFL Football.
The show eventually morphed into the two Canucks showing clips and making jokes from a storage closet.
Even Regis Philbin, yes Reege, hosted a show on FS1.
I hope Cowherd, Bayless and Whitlock enjoy their financial windfalls. Because they just sentenced themselves to “Hot Take Siberia” by joining the rolling tumbleweed known as FS1.
Yes, Bryce Harper is probably the best player in Major League Baseball right now. Yes, Bryce Harper is bringing younger fans and excitement to the game. Yes, Bryce Harper will probably end up in the Hall of Fame when it is all said and done.
But one thing remains the same. Bryce Harper is a punk. A spoiled, arrogant punk.
Monday Night, he cried in the fourth inning to home plate umpire Brian Knight after taking a clear strike for a K looking. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Harper was ejected after chirping at Knight when the Nats’ Danny Espinosa took strike three looking. Luckily for Harper, Clint Robinson ended it with a walk-off homer to win it for Washington.
After the game ended, Harper was clearly shown on camera saying “F-ck You” in the direction of Knight during the home plate celebration. Class act, Harper. Class act.
(Courtesy Of SB Nation’s Joe Mullinax)
I am sure the fanboys will continue to defend Harper. I even was beginning to sway Bryce’s way when it came to “Making Baseball Fun Again”. After his act Monday Night, I am going back to the “old rules”. Hopefully someone plunks this punk soon. At the very least, Dusty Baker better get his ass under control.
It is quite possibly (with apologies to Christmas) the most wonderful time of the year. It is the NCAA Basketball Tournament otherwise known as “March Madness”. Get ready for nail-biters, buzzer beaters and three weeks of one of the things that makes America great.
Yes, CBS’ “Selection Show” was painful as hell to sit through and Charles Barkley acted as if a touch board was some sort of sorcery but it was worth it to get ready for an exciting month of hoops.
This year’s tournament looks to be as wide open as in recent memory. There is no real solid favorite and no real superstar on any of the teams. Sure, Denzel Valentine (Michigan State), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma) & Perry Ellis (Kansas) are very good players but the alleged College Basketball Player of the Year, Ben Simmons of LSU, won’t be in the NCAA Tourney or even the NIT.
Now, let’s get to the subject of “Bracket Etiquette”.
1) STICK TO ONE SET OF PICKS
That is right. I don’t care how many “Bracket Challenges” you enter, you must stick to once set of picks. Actually I believe you should only fill out one bracket, but I know the lure of cash and prizes can be too much. If you make different picks on different brackets, you have no conviction in your beliefs. You are a “waffler”, a “flip-flopper” or some other names I probably shouldn’t use in this forum. MAKE YOUR PICKS AND STICK WITH THEM.
2) DO NOT MAKE FUN OF OTHER PEOPLE’S BRACKETS
You know why you shouldn’t make fun of other people’s brackets? Not because it isn’t cool, no. It is because we all know how this will play out. Jill in Human Resources who makes her picks based on team mascots and uniforms will end up winning the office pool. You know it, I know it. You may think you are the “Jay Bilas” of your office branch but you will probably end up dead last. So don’t make fun of other people’s brackets.
3) DO NOT TRASH OR DELETE YOUR BRACKETS
Trust me, I know how tempting it is to throw your brackets in the trash or delete your entry after a rough Thursday & Friday in the tournament. But guess what? Most of your friends are flaming out as well. Don’t give in. Stick with it. Who knows? By the end of the weekend you may be back in the mix….or Jill in Human Resources may be kicking your ass. Offer to buy her lunch to keep her from talking trash.
4) DO NOT ALTER YOUR PICKS
If you are like me, you fill out a paper bracket. You do it in pen. This shows that you have conviction in your picks. You know (or at least you think you do) which #9 seeds will beat the #8 seeds. Don’t be a weasel who fills it out in pencil only to try to erase it later. We can see the spots where something has been erased.
5) DON’T GO “ALL CHALK”
This is the NCAA Tournament. There will be upsets. That is what makes the event so much fun. It is true that a #16 seed has yet to topple a #1 seed. But you know there will be some #12 seeds who take down some #5s. Don’t be the guy or gal who picks “all chalk”. For those who don’t know, “all chalk” is where you pick the top seed in every match up, leading to a Final Four of all #1 seeds. Sure, your odds may be better off doing that, but where is the fun in that? It just shows your are a very dull individual.
Now that we have that out of the way, here is my one and only bracket. (Filled out in pen, by the way.)
Now for some shameless self promotion. Join me as I talk “March Madness” with Adam Lepp on WWGH 107.1 FM out of Marion, Ohio this Thursday (3/17) at 9;10am ET. Don’t live anywhere near Marion? No problem. Listen to us on the worldwide web at www.WWGH1071.com. We will discuss the NCAA Tourney and how it affects social media & vice versa. Listening to it should make for “One Shining Moment” on your Thursday.
GOP Presidential Candidate and current Governor of Ohio John Kasich got a very HUGE endorsement Thursday in his home state. Ohio State Head Football Coach Urban Meyer stated his support for Kasich in a video released by the Kasich campaign.
Kasich, who has been pretty much an also-ran so far in his bid for the GOP nomination. must win his home state of Ohio when it’s primary is held on March 15th.
It was somewhat surprising that Meyer voiced his support for a candidate. Just last month he had told the Toledo Blade the following, “No, my job description is very clear and that’s to coach Ohio State football and the focus is on 17 to 18 to 22-year-olds, I have strong beliefs, but I’m not going to share that with you guys. I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
Donald Trump is probably distraught by the news. At a campaign stop last week in Columbus, Ohio he told the crowd, “I don’t know if he endorses me or not, but he’s said awful nice things about me.”
I guess we now know the answer to who Urban endorses.
The 2016 MLB Season for the Cincinnati Reds will be a difficult one for fans of the team. It will be one where there are absolutely no expectations for the team to win. In fact the team’s President, Walt Jocketty, even expressed as much during the team’s Winter Caravan. Much of the team’s core and fan favorite players have been traded away recently. 3B & 2015 Home Run Derby Champion Todd Frazier, Starting Pitchers Johnny Cueto & Mike Leake in addition to flame throwing closer Aroldis Chapman have been dealt. Stalwart 2B Brandon Phillips rejected, due to his status as a “10/5 Player” (10 years in the majors and five with the same team), not one but two potential trades to Arizona & Washington, which puts into question his thirst for winning as opposed to just collecting a hefty payday. RF Jay Bruce still is the subject of trade rumors but his poor stats the past two years, due to injury in 2014 (.217, 18 HRs & 66 RBIs) and a horrible season in 2015 (.226, 26 & 87) hurts any trade value he may have. Star 1B Joey Votto remains, mainly because of a huge contract that most MLB teams would not want and also because the Reds seem to envision him being part of a supposed resurgence in 2018.
The rest though, is “potential”. Can new 3B Eugenio Suarez fill the hole Todd Frazier left behind? Suarez showed potential in 97 games for the Reds last year (.280, 13 & 48) but can he do it over a full season? If so, will fans warm to him as they did to Frazier? Billy Hamilton is on his last chance being the Reds’ starting CF and leadoff hitter. Billy is a demon on the basepaths with 57 stolen bases but showed no progress at the plate. (.226 batting average in 114 games).
The old adage rings true; “You can’t steal first base.” Billy must learn how to bunt, IMMEDIATELY.
LF is a gaping hole that may take many games to fill. Journeyman OF Adam Duvall will get a shot at the job as will top prospect Jesse Winker. In five minor league seasons Jesse hit for a .292 average with 49 HRs & 223 RBIs.
The pitching staff will be led by RH Homer Bailey but due to injury he won’t return until mid-May. The rest of the rotation will be filled by “Young Guns” Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, John Lamb, Raisel Inglesias & John Moscot.
Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, Jonathan Sanchez & Robert Stephenson could also be in the mix whether starting or relieving. JJ Hoover, who rebounded from a horrendous 2014 last season (2.94 era over 64.1 innings in a set-up role) will take over the closer spot. Hoover doesn’t have the 103 MPH fastball of Chapman but he can bring it and is a tough competitor.
Reds fans must be patient in 2016 and even 2017. The farm system, while not stellar, is solid and should provide hope in a few years. Hopefully Reds fans will stick around.
I used to be a BIG Jim Rome fan.
Romie used to be a big deal “back in the day”. Talking “smack”, running bad callers & gaining a huge legion of fans…his ‘clones’. Rome even had tour stops (of which I attended three) that drew thousands. The “SmackOff”, which was a competition amongst the best callers, used to generate huge buzz.
But times & people change. The smack now seems stale, the personal appearances now only draw a few & the “SmackOff” is now just cringe inducing. Hell, ESPN even dumped Rome and he is fading away on the now near dead CBS Sports Radio Network. Once in awhile CBS throws Jim a bone and lets him appear on their NFL Coverage but usually those segments are now used by those on social media to goof on “Van Smack”.
It was a fun ride Romie, but it’s over. Time to put away the smack talk & call it a career.
Time to give yourself a ‘manual buzzer’.
It’s the beginning of a New Year and with that time once again for each of us to make our New Years Resolutions.
What are your ‘Sports Resolutions’ for 2016?
Is it to be a better fan of your teams?
Is it to be more critical of your teams?
Is it to actually get off the couch and participate in a sport?
Is it to lessen your sports spectating?
Is it to watch more sports?
Is it to ‘cut the cord’ and go to more streaming services to watch sports?
Is it to give up on sports altogether?
Is it to maybe start watching and following a new sport?
Is it to maybe help in coaching youth sports?
Feel free to share your New Years ‘Sports Resolutions’ with us and tell us how you do as the year progresses. The Sports Bus cares.
It’s the Holiday Season…so why not give our “Christmas Wishes” for fans of Ohio’s major sports teams?
CLEVELAND BROWNS- Hope, any glimmer of hope. All the fans of this downtrodden franchise want is a sign that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train.
CINCINNATI BENGALS- Success on the “big stage”. This is the season where the Bengals need to show their fans that they can deliver in ‘primetime’. Yes, Andy Dalton is injured…but AJ McCarron should keep the ship afloat until the “Red Rifle” can return in the playoffs.
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL- A convincing win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Yes, the dominating victory over Michigan was nice but Buckeyes fans need a big win over the Irish to take the sour taste of no return to the College Football Playoff out of their mouths.
CINCINNATI REDS- A blueprint of a true, concrete plan. Most reasonable Reds fans probably understand the need for the mid-market team to shed payroll. But those fans also need to see what is being done to rebuild….or maybe just get some more sweet bobbleheads.
CLEVELAND INDIANS- A sense of direction. Is this team really in it to win it or just to keep their heads above .500? The franchise has made some vaguely interesting moves so far this offseason to pique interest among the fanbase but is it enough to compete in the AL Central?
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS- Leadership from within. Yes, the hiring of John Tortorella as head coach should provide discipline but the team needs leadership from the players themselves. Nick Foligno was elected captain but it still seems like someone, anyone, needs to start being a bit of an asshole in the locker room. Nice guys finish last especially in the NHL.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS- A NBA Championship. Pure and simple. This team is the only real hope Cleveland has of bringing a title to the city. If they fail this season, it doesn’t look possible anytime soon.
OHIO STATE BASKETBALL- A .500 season with maybe a couple of Big Ten Tournament wins would be nice. Kentucky win aside, this is a very young team and is due to disappoint Buckeyes fans a few more times this season. If they could sneak into the NCAA Tournament, that would be a bonus.
UC & XAVIER BASKETBALL- To use a cliche, “You keep being you”. Both of these teams exemplify why the city of Cincinnati is a true college basketball gem. UC & X are very good teams with great coaches at the helm. Added bonus, neither coach looks to be wanting to go elsewhere which should mean continued success for a long time.
955 The Game signed on April 1st, 2013 to give Columbus Sports Fans an alternative when it came to sports talk in the Capital City. With the power of CBS Sports Radio and personalities like Jim Rome, it began an ambitious quest to gain the ears and loyalty of Central Ohio sports fans. Long-time QFM96 stalwart Arch Madness was the first local personality to be heard on the station. Bringing his high spirited energy and sense of fun, Arch was soon joined by former Buckeyes & NFL star Matt Finkes to create the “FnA Show”. Yes, “FnA” covered the ins and outs of our obsession for Buckeyes sports but also made sure to give fans of the Blue Jackets, Crew, Reds, Indians, Browns, Bengals, Cavs & the PGA an outlet on a regular basis. Even NASCAR & Auto Racing were given ample coverage with Michael Shank Racing.
Crew games were broadcast on 955 The Game for one season (and no, we didn’t hate soccer fan much to the belief of some). Neil Sika, Frankie Hejduk and other Crew dignitaries were heard on a regular basis.
Sadly though, radio can be a cold business and Arch was let go & Matt went solo with “The BIG Show”. Personalities like Bleacher Report’s Ben Axelrod & former Buckeyes Basketball Star George Reese became regulars on the show. We also would like to think we had a small hand in helping The CBJ Artillery’s efforts in getting “We Are The 5th Line” off the ground for Blue Jackets fans.
Browns & Cavs games also became part of 955 The Game’s coverage. Heck even Super Bowl 49 made 955 The Game’s airwaves.
Eventually Finkes & 955 The Game parted ways and a long time Columbus favorite, The Torg, returned to sports talk with a hour long show at Noon. Torg brought a lot of fun to The Game with segments such as “I’ve Got Some Bad News” & his very own rant line. Plus, WWE talk…yes, the show was not ashamed or afraid to have some ‘rassling talk. Torg, of course, would also like you to know that he is the only sports talk host in Columbus qualified to talk Blue Jackets hockey. Humble braggart that he is.
“The Stiller Project” also became part of The Game lineup at around the same time as Stiller, a native of Northwest Ohio, finally realized his dream of being able to talk Ohio State Football & Basketball in Columbus itself. Of course, Stiller couldn’t resist taking shots at his producer “Research”, who sounded a lot like Torg’s producer “Lovestain”.
Stiller was a driving force for the Clark Kellogg Classic Radiothon, which aired on 955 The Game. With the help of many Buckeyes luminaries, the Radiothon raised funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Columbus, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio.
So many were instrumental in making 955 The Game a reality from Ron O’Harra to Eric Reiser to Adam Sabie, who I am grateful to for letting me be a part of “Columbus’ Sports Station” when the opportunity to blog and do social media for the station opened up.
I am a lifelong Columbus resident and sports fan & when the chance was presented to me to blog and post for 955 The Game, I pounced on it. I enjoyed it very much…the opportunity to see what was on the mind of sports fans in Central Ohio.
Sadly though, 955 The Game has come to an end. The reality of the radio business means stations are sold and when stations are sold, formats are changed. I would like to say on behalf of those who were a part of 955 The Game, thanks. Thanks for listening, thanks for calling, thanks for tweeting at us and thanks for posting on our facebook page…yes, Kenny McCoy, even you. Thanks for being a part of it.