The Rundown: Sports Seek Alternative Content to Retain Fans, Lester Likely Slated for Third Starter Role, Blackhawks Fire John McDonough
I’d like to share some of the more interesting sports and non-sports stories I’ve come across recently. Fear not, there will be plenty of Cubs and MLB stories in the sections that follow.
ESPN’s The Last Dance has really thrust a lot of forgotten 1990’s celebrities and retired NBA stars back into the spotlight, including Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra, for better or worse.
Twitter loves Rodman right now, but Michael Jordan is still the GOAT.
The Los Angeles Lakers have returned a government loan worth $4.6 million intended to provide small businesses with economic relief.
The NFL is considering a delayed start to its 2020 regular season according to a report from The Sports Business Journal. The league could start its season as late as October 15, roughly six weeks into the normal schedule, while moving the Super Bowl back 3-4 weeks or more. That bit of news certainly raises some questions regarding any resumption of the 2020 MLB season.
We have been lamenting the lack of live sports during the pandemic, but record ratings for The Last Dance and the recently-held live NFL Draft prove consumerism of sports is still very healthy. As a result, the country’s major sports leagues are making efforts to capitalize on the recent spike in media consumption by finding novel ways to engage viewers. That means deepening the pool of niche content available to sports fans. Some examples include:
- ESPN is nearing an agreement to broadcast live professional baseball from Korea.
- Marquee, MLB-TV and flagship sports entertainment platforms like Fox Sports are showing classic games, archived content, documentaries, and esports and niche competitions in a bid to keep consumers watching.
- The NFL is making every game since 2009 available for streaming on its direct-to-consumer channel Game Pass – at no charge to consumers – a strategy which has led to a 500-fold increase in daily sign-ups for the service.
Writer’s Note: Though more and more people are online every day and for longer periods of active screen time, sports websites and blogs are taking a huge hit in readership. I think we need to collectively come up with some ideas to reverse that trend, especially among Cubs and other MLB team blog sites. You help us a great deal by commenting on our posts and by sharing our content on social media, so thank you very much.
The future of live sports in a post-pandemic world could include live monetization models, such as gamified viewership (e.g. live payments for digital upgrades, proprietary camera angles, fan commentary, statistical analysis) and gambling.
This week’s Wag the Dog Award goes to the Pentagon. Now that it has been “officially released,” the Department of Defense would like you to disregard the fact that this video has been publicly accessible for years.
The Pentagon has officially released three short videos showing "unidentified aerial phenomena" that had previously been released by a private company https://t.co/G9yllIhBho
— CNN International (@cnni) April 28, 2020
If you’re struggling with anxiety or pandemic-driven mental health issues, you might want to stay off of Twitter and Facebook.
A hospital in New Orleans sent one patient home with a Mardi Gras-style parade after she successfully recovered from the coronavirus.
On June 3 a slew of country music stars will lend their star power to CMT Celebrates Our Heroes: An Artists of the Year Special that will honor healthcare workers and first responders as well as those in the food industry, educators, the military, and other essential workers, instead of the performers. The broadcast will air live at 7pm CT.
Imagine getting this patrol assignment if you worked in law enforcement.
Cubs News & Notes
- It’s time for the Cubs and Sammy Sosa to reconcile. I still get chills when I see this post-9/11 video.
- Sosa recently admitted his mistakes, but, though the ball should be in the organization’s court right now, I doubt there has been any movement toward forgiveness from the Cubs.
- John McDonough, former team president of the Cubs (1983-2007), has been relieved of his position as CEO by the Chicago Blackhawks. McDonough successfully marketed Sosa and Harry Caray to boost Cubs attendance to all-time highs, building the franchise into the financial juggernaut it is today. He is also credited with creating the team’s annual fan convention in 1985, the first of its kind in any sport.
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot believes that the Cubs and White Sox could theoretically play home games in Chicago this summer.
- The Cubs infield is ranked second-best in baseball. The team boasts a trio of MVP candidates in Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez, and Kris Bryant,
- Ian Happ has clinched a playoff spot in the MLB The Show 20 Player’s League.
- Once baseball resumes, Jon Lester is likely to be named the team’s number three starter behind Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks.
- Hendricks intends to be “better than ever” this season.
- José Quintana says he has been working on a new changeup grip that he hopes will better disguise the pitch.
- If MLB wanted to do a Last Dance type of documentary on the 2003 Cubs, Eric Karros has plenty of home videos he could make available.
- The sim-Cubs defeated the Pirates 6-1 in MLB The Show 20 yesterday behind a strong effort from Quintana. David Bote continues to be the offensive hero for the e-Cubs.
- The Strat-O-Matic Cubs, after inserting Jason Heyward into the leadoff spot seven games ago, continue to struggle offensively. They lost 4-1 to Pittsburgh, but at 19-10 lead the Cardinals by four games in the NL Central.
- Chicago Bears first round draft pick Cole Kmet is a Cubs fan.
- The most recent mock draft at MLB.com has the Cubs taking switch-hitting catcher Patrick Bailey of North Carolina State in the first round.
Find Your Inner Hero
Locals in the Punjab region of India have been able to see the Himalayan peaks for the first time in decades due to reduced levels of pollution. Delhi is believed to have experienced a 44% reduction in air pollution levels since the first day of its enforced COVID-19 lockdown.
Apropos of Nothing
Top five things I am doing to occupy my time during the stay safer at home mandates:
- Online guitar lessons.
- Mock trading (with mock money).
- Trying to keep my one plant alive.
- Strat-O-Matic baseball.
- Watching The Rant, hosted by Jon Strong, Evan Altman, and Danny Rockett.
What are your keep-boredom-at-bay challenges?
Odds & Sods
Your Jerry Maguire moment of the day. Finally, someone said it. Thank you.
Typing two spaces after a period, it turns out, is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong. https://t.co/eVZaU5CPfo
— Slate (@Slate) April 28, 2020
MLB News & Notes
There’s still hope for a 2020 season, maybe one that starts as soon as July 1. Someday, perhaps in 20 years, ESPN will do a documentary on the novel coronavirus and its effect on sports.
Any return to baseball will need to make financial sense to both the owners and the players.
The days of packed stadiums are gone for 2020, and thanks to expected social distancing measures, the days of record-breaking consecutive sellout streaks once fans are allowed into stadiums will probably disappear too.
NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and his fiancee, Haley Walsh, announced the launch of their new foundation, Homers for Heroes. The nonprofit corporation “aims to honor ‘unsung heroes’ – like teachers, coaches, medical professionals, first responders, and veterans.”
Four professional Taiwan teams are entertaining baseball fans worldwide these days.
San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler is downplaying any rumors linking free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig to the Giants.
I had forgotten that the Giants were considering a move to Toronto in 1976.
New Yankees starter Gerrit Cole loves analytics, but respects the human element of baseball just as much.
Former Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully is out of the hospital and happy to be home.
Missing dingers and bat flips y’all…
Never do a bat flip against your wife… she will get you back ?
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 27, 2020
They Said It
- “Our broadcasting partners are really understanding and we’re working with them on different forms of content. It’s not just the NBA, it’s all live sports – millions of fans around the world are looking for content. We’re working closely with our broadcasting, digital and marketing partners to find ways to engage at this time.” – Mark Tatum, Chief Operating Officer of the NBA
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Back Stabbers by Daryl Hall & John Oates – I always wondered if there was a Hall & Oates episode of the Live from Daryl’s House series. Now I know.