Happy Monday, you guys. Still walking on air after that Browns win? We’ll have a full run of orange and brown talk over the coming day. For now…
I’m a bit surprised it took this long to get some additional details on the matter, but SI’s Richard Deitsch made ESPN’s coverage of the Cleveland Cavaliers a focal point of his latest Media Circus column. When LeBron James returned to Cleveland, many wondered if the Bristol, Connecticut-housed company would make a “Cavs Index,” an obvious play off of the Heat Index that was created when James teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010.
While there will not likely be a Cavs-specific portal on ESPN.com’s pages, there will undoubtedly be added coverage of the team. Dave McMenamin, the long-time Los Angeles-based scribe will be taking the reigns while former Cavs beat writer Brian Windhorst will be very prominent. Said McMenamin of his move:
“On its face, I know most people just don’t understand how someone could willingly choose to leave sunny California for the endless winters of Cleveland. Some of the reactions I’ve received have been downright mean. If I hear one more joke about making sure I pack a warm coat, I swear. But it was something that I couldn’t say no to when I really thought about it … Add in my career aspirations of covering the NBA more from a national perspective than following one team, doing more TV and getting back to the east coast where my family is and it just feels right. As one writer who covered LeBron and saw his career go to another level told me, ‘LeBron has the Midas touch.'”
And to those who bashed ESPN for creating a team-specific focus in the way of the Index, here’s Patrick Steigman, one of the top editors at ESPN.com:
“It was really an eye-opener for us. It proved to be a successful formula on a story that was of importance both locally and nationally. I think that will be the same thing for LeBron in Cleveland. I have to no doubt we will cover all the stories in the NBA but LeBron will be at the heart of that. We will listen to our audience but, quite frankly, we also pay attention to metrics and I can guarantee you during the time LeBron and that team was in Miami, our Heat traffic was and away the single-most part of what was record-breaking NBA coverage each year. We know there is an audience for this.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Windhorst will have his own show on ESPNCleveland’s WKNR/850AM, that will be called “Hey Windy!” It’s will be similar to what they’ve done with Tony Grossi on the Browns beat, and marks the first basketball-secific show to hit the air in quite some time. Prior to LeBron’s return, hoops coverage on the local radio waves was largely an embarrassment. Good on KNR to take the first step.
Speaking of Cavs coverage, have you signed up for the WFNY newsletter yet? You’ve already missed out on three installments.
And speaking of LeBron, have you seen this Vine floating around? Apparently, James “forgot” what team he’s on.
Forget for a second that NBA Twitter (and Facebook, and web-based networks, and…) continues to destroy that of NFL and MLB as a whole. And forget for a second that it’s the NFL who holds the rights to their video in some incredibly high regard, blacking out local markets and getting super pissy any time someone attempts to post any of their footage to an embeddable source. Then realize that, despite all of the shortcomings possessed by several franchises, Major League Baseball (and Baseball Advanced Media) are on the cutting edge of some really, really cool stuff.
If you’re one of those baseball fans who really, at the end of the day, is just an Indians fan, you likely missed this weekend’s back-and-forth contest between the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles. Forget for a second that the series has been incredible—Kansas City’s run, really, has been something worth watching for any sports fan, regardless of affinity for baseball, but I digress. Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who has gotten some mention around these parts before, made a spectacular grab in right-center field—one that, in a postseason contest, is the difference between a win and a loss, but also one that is simply indicative of why the Royals are in the American League Championship Series and the Cleveland Indians are watching this slate of games from the confines of their own homes. Defense is important. And if you’re one of those baseball fans who checked out when the Indians did the same on the mathematical front, then you’ve likely missed the continued roll-out of Statcast—player-tracking technology that will, without a doubt, revolutionize the way fans absorb the game of baseball. Think of web gems, but with even more context.
(If the video to the right isn’t embedding properly, click here.)
Stacast has been around for a minute, but Lorenzo Cain may have put it in the baseball lexicon for good. The way that Cain tracked down the ball, the efficiency of his path, and the way the entire play was documented—it’s incredible. I realize that there’s still a faction of fans who long for the whole cell phone-free experience at games of all kinds, but technology isn’t going anywhere but up. Social interaction isn’t just a thing—it’s the thing. And in a day in age where the Internet cream continues to rise to the top, it’s great to see the leagues taking the onus on themselves to make the user experience that much better. Simply having a video or a gif or Vine of a play will be ephemeral. Detailing it the way Statcast does is next level awesomeness. MLBAM has installed the Statcast system in the stadiums of all four of the league championship series teams after testing it at Citi Field, Miller Park and Target Field this year. Expect detailed perspectives of a handful of important plays from each remaining playoff game, and thank all that is holy that the system wasn’t in Progressive Field in 2014.
I know Craig covered Katy Perry being named the Super Bowl halftime show, but I wanted to take a second to discuss the annual table-pounding that occurs every year an act is named. The Super Bowl is, and always will be, about mass appeal. More than 115 million tuned in to watch the halftime show last year—this, compared to 113 million who tuned in for the game.
I love The Black Keys as much as the next Ohioan. I hate that talented hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar do not get a lick of radio play while Flo-Rida and Pitbull continue to churn out garbage. But I also know that the Super Bowl will never choose Lamar (or Kanye or Jay-Z…or The Black Keys) to headline their mid-way point when other, considerably more prominent and marketable pop stars exist.
Perry was recently ranked No. 5 in Forbes Most Powerful musicians. Like it or not, this is what’s more important—the money. Don’t like the selection? Don’t watch—the sound quality is usually awful anyway. Use that time to play something you prefer. Just know that next year, it’s going to be Rihanna or Justin Timberlake or Taylor Swift up there and not whatever arena rock band you’d rather hear. Thems the breaks.
Punt those power rankings, partner. Here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting:
“The Commissioner” by Brian Curtis (Grantland): “No newspaper ever had an NBA beat writer like Bob Ryan. No one talked in the same blustery, Joycean word bombs. “He talks like 78 RPM records,” said ex-Globie Peter Gammons. No one’s game stories glowed with more opinion, more enthusiasm, more — call it what it is — fandom. No one was quite as likely, after Paul Silas would grab a rebound and throw it to Havlicek to start the break, to turn to a fellow Globie and give them a hug.”1
“Did you get Joe Charboneau?” by Mina Kimes (ESPN The Magazine): “The line for Jason Kipnis’ autograph contains the convention’s rarest breed — women. A teenage girl whose Indians T-shirt is cropped above her navel marches up to the All-Star second baseman and beams, revealing a full set of braces. “I want it to say: ‘To Sidney. LOVE, Jason Kipnis.'” Another woman tells him she brought her bachelorette party. She squeezes next to Kipnis for a photograph, clutching his sculpted shoulder like a buoy. When she walks away, Kipnis chuckles nervously. “She really got cheek to cheek.”2
“Born in Royal Blue: The hope-filled struggle of a Kansas City fan” by Chris Plante (SB Nation): “In Kansas City, you don’t watch the Royals because you expect them to win. The Kansas City Royals, for most of the past 29 years, were at best ignored and at worst a joke. They were perfect for our cowtown, and a kid whose summer vacation felt like a series of torture tests. Starting in June of 2005, my jaw was wired shut for seven weeks. That summer the Royals went 56-108, and I watched every game the local channels bothered to air. We were busted, but we were busted together.”3
“The Split” by Michael McNight (Sports Illustrated): “The 58th-to-last game Donnie Moore pitched was Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series between Moore’s Angels and the Red Sox. It is the game that Moore will always be remembered for, although Al Michaels, who called that game and a hundred other momentous athletic contests for ABC, remembers it because it contained “the most dramatic hour of sports I’ve ever seen.”4
Due to my busy week (seriously, it was crazy), I didn’t get to imbibe as much as I would have preferred. Alas, I thought it would be best to not only discuss my Oktoberfest of choice (sorry Uncle Sam), but turn the tables a bit and ask you all what yours is. Standard foam and dark golden color is to be expected. The toffee-carmel scent and taste of this one is pretty common for most Oktoberfests. The hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste, however, is what gets me.
While the snoodiest of beer connoisseurs will tell you that true Oktobefests come from somewhere in Munich, Germany, Great Lakes absolutely owns this interpretation. I know that pumpkin beers are all the rage these days, but to me—this is what fall beers were meant to be. Liquid deliciousness that are Christmas Ales are right around the corner, but I’m going to be milking my Oktoberfests as long as possible.
What say you, kids? Where do your fall affinities lie?
Until next week, be safe out there. Bye for now.