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The end of sports isn't any one person's fault
Well, except for Crane Kenney
So here we are. The days are getting longer. The snow has melted (well, except for that one pile under the tree in the back yard that doesn’t get enough direct sunlight—and why is the dog laying on it again?). We’re supposed to be complaining about serious stuff, like how Jan from HR always wins the NCAA Tournament pool with her “which team’s colors would look cute on a blouse” strategy.
But in a dizzying 24 hours the NBA suspended their season after Rudy Gobert rubbed his Frenchness all over the media table and then tested positive for coronavirus, then the NCAA conference tournaments started getting canceled even while teams were playing in them. Our beloved XFL shut down. The NHL said, “Hey, remember us, we’re a REAL sport, too!” and they shut down. There’s not going to be an NCAA men’s or women’s tournament.
And then, worst of all, baseball announced they’re shutting down spring training and opening day is going to be delayed at least two weeks.
Won’t somebody think of the e-newsletters!?! These things don’t write themselves (even though sometimes they look like they do.)
It seems like it’s all Gobert’s fault. It was literally hours after he flunked his corona-test that the NBA pulled the plug and that started a chain reaction across all sports.
But the reality is that it’s not one person’s fault.
Well, actually, that might not be completely true. This could very well be Crane Kenney’s fault.
Let’s break this down scientifically.
Crane’s Folly is the much maligned, but seldom seen Marquee Sports Network (in many ways it’s the TV network version of a Milford Man.)
The Cubs launched this network that nobody wanted and despite a decade-long head start they did it with basically no programming.
Oh sure they have a hour of suitably boring footage from the lamest Cubs Convention ever (and boy, is that a low bar to scoot under), a 90 minute Ernie Banks documentary in which his sons show all of the on-camera charisma of Mujibur and Sirajul,
some leftover crap from the Cubs YouTube channel and a pair of ponderously terrible MLB Network produced Cubs Countdown shows.
What they do have are 20 exciting Cubs spring training broadcasts to show over and over and over again.
They still don’t have distribution on Comcast, and I’m sure Comcast is really motivated now to charge customers $5 a month to watch scintillating programming like the six hour infomercial block, the Banks documentary run four times in a row and “Ryan Dempster’s 50 Favorite Fart Jokes.”
Marquee’s mind-boggling lack of preparation and stunning inability to program themselves didn’t cause the deadly global pandemic. At least, I don’t think so, but then again I am not an epidemiologist, so I guess I can’t say that for sure.
But, if decades of watching this clown show of a franchise bungle their way from one doomed idea to another have taught us anything it’s the chances of some unforeseeable event completely botching the launch of this network were like 119%.
They were so starved for something to show on launch day that on a day when most Cactus League games were rained out they delayed the start of the Cubs’ spring training opener by six hours because they had nothing else to show. Nobody sits around six hours waiting for rain to let up so they can watch a practice game, but these geniuses had no choice.
And now they have at least a month to fill with…nothing.
If they had put any one of us in charge even six months ago they would be awash in programming. Things like:
Luis Valbuena’s 100 Greatest Bat Flips
A documentary on the time Brian McRae had to buy Frank Castillo a Mercedes because Frank hit a batting practice homer
The 23 greatest mustaches on the 1977 Cubs (I mean you’d think Bill Buckner would win this in a walk, but Jerry Morales would like a word.)
You could show the Greg Maddux 76-pitch shoutout against the Cubs for the Barves 11 times in one day!
They can show the game where Hee Seop Choi rode off the field in an ambulance (I think Kerry Wood, Roger Clemens and Eric Karros might have done some stuff in that one, too.)
Great injuries in Cubs’ history, which could include: Mike Harkey falling down the dugout steps, Shawon Dunston missing an entire season when he hurt his back taking a baby seat out of his car, Sammy Sosa’s sneeze in San Diego, Brandon Morrow throwing out his back taking off his pants, Todd Hundley passing out in St. Louis during a game due to “heat stroke,” Ricky Guttierez pulling his hamstring then falling down and separating his shoulder, all 12 times Kerry Wood hurt his back while sleeping, Mark Prior running over Marcus Giles hurting his shoulder and Dusty leaving him in to pitch,
Mark Prior getting hit in the forearm by a Brad Hawpe line drive and Dusty leaving him in to pitch,
Mark Prior being hit on the mound by a jet ski and Dusty leaving him in to pitch (I may have made that one up), Nomar leaving his groin in the Busch Stadium batter’s box,
Dempster breaking his Sargent Hulka while trying to jump over the dugout fencing to shake hands on the field after a win,
and, there are just so many more. How is this not a real show?
The Brian Matuz Game.
Ken Burns’ 10 part documentary on Jason Heyward’s favorite groundouts to second.
An easy way to kill an hour: show Albert Almora running from first to third in real time.
Jim Hendry can give us an update on how the Brian Roberts trade talks are going. GETTIN’ CLOSE!
Jon Lester’s three favorite pickoff throws.
An hour of Javy Baez doing literally anything.
How had can it be to program this network? Well, we’ll have a few more weeks to come up with many more suggestions for them.
Oh, and good news, Hulu-plus subscribers can now access Marquee live through their app. Just in time for…nothing.
And, with camp shutting down Theo Epstein said he was concerned how it would impact their minor leaguers. He told Jeff Passan that since minor leaguers only get paid in season that many of them rely on going to the facility every day for their meals, and now they won’t be able to do that.
Yes, that’s certainly an unsolvable quandary.
IT’S NOT LIKE YOU COULD PAY THEM! They’re not on strike. All it would take is actually paying them so they could afford to eat. Gee, who could fix that?