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It's the 2016 Stupidstars Competition! - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
It's the 2016 Stupidstars Competition!

You might remember what that riffs on.  In the 1970s, before cable turned anything and everything into programming, the big networks needed to fill their airwaves with available, affordable sport.  Football wasn't the 24-7-365 media thing is now is, and the other sports' seasons began later and ended earlier. So you got things like Wide World of Sports covering lesser-known events; American Sportsman took you into the outdoor sporting world; and, in one of the earliest examples of reality TV, you had the Superstars.

These shows had nothing to do with Jesus Christ, or even Karen Carpenter. ABC put it on for just over its first decade.  The idea was simple: get athletes competing in events outside their professional wheelhouses.  Each entered ten events other than those he (men only the first time out) competed in for his day job. The initial events ranged from baseball hitting to bowling, with track also heavily represented.  The final event, open to all, was the dreaded obstacle course.  The first year's events were announced by Keith "Whoa Nellie" Jackson and Howard "The Mouth That Roared" Cosell,  and the participants included future felons Pete Rose and Orenthal J. Simpson.  Women debuted in the second year, perky gymnast Cathy Rigby being the only recognizable name from that year's finals.  It carried on, in various forms, on different networks almost into this decade.

I mention it because this week's news has brought a Stupidstars competition of sorts among the four major professional sports in this country.  And at the moment, it's close to a photo finish: they're all losing.


* Basketball.
    - Rah Rah Ree, kick him in the knee!
      Rah Rah Rick, kick him in the other knee!

The best team in the NBA's regular season, breaking the single-season record for most wins, is (are, if you're British) the Golden State Warriors. They find themselves surprisingly down in the conference finals to a plucky lot from Seattle now stranded in Oklahoma City. One of OKCs players also found himself down last weekend:

The NBA elected not to suspend Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green for his kick to the groin area of Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.

Green's foul was upgraded from a flagrant foul 1 to a flagrant foul 2, with a $25,000 fine attached, but the league has decided not to issue a suspension.

With his flagrant foul on Steven Adams being upgraded to a flagrant foul 2, Draymond Green now has three flagrant foul points this postseason and is one more flagrant away from an automatic suspension

But Green, you see, is a Star. Star Star Star! And the advertisers aren't paying ABC the big bucks to have a bunch of scrubeenies out there while groin-kickers take their punishment.

Best of all, though, is the name of the league's chief of discipline who meted out the financial punishment (roughly two dimes and a nickel to you or me):

Though Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations, said in a statement that Green's actions were "unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine," he seemed to agree with Green's explanation that he was exaggerating his shooting motion.

Good thing Pistol Pete Maravich isn't still alive and in charge of levying the penalties. Adams might have been shot dead on the court.


* Hockey.
   -"Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crooded."  - NHL legend Yogi Berr-eh

This sport's having a hard time getting flies to land on its shit playoff ratings.  With no Canadian teams in the playoffs at all, and the hotbeds of Chicago and Minnesota eliminated early, the games among the remaining teams are routinely being outdrawn by infomercials.  Still, fan interest in tonight's Eastern Conference game between Tampa and Pittsburgh was expected to draw a big in-person crowd to the Lightning's Florida arena for a big pre-game party followed by a mass viewing of the game itself on the Jumbotron.

Or not:

The NHL told Deadspin that the Lightning were only allowed to host one official event per series, and that they’d already used up their slot on the Game 5 party. But the Sharks and Blues have each hosted multiple parties during the Western Conference Finals, and sources tell us that the NHL and NBC pressured the team to cancel tonight’s event because of worries about low TV ratings.

We’ve also heard the NHL is threatening to fine teams for violating the watch party rule, again at NBC’s behest. The NHL is most likely enforcing this policy with such vigor because of the disastrous TV ratings these playoffs have drawn.

See, Neilsen doesn't count those 8,000 people, but they will count them if they're watching in sports bars or other paying group venues where the bar owners have to report (and pay for) their body counts. And the league caring about how much an audience of 8,000 people would move the national ratings meter? Tells you all you need to know about this "major league sport."


* Baseball.
 - No runs, no hits, many errors of judgment.

In this instance, like the final one, the league itself isn't the source of the stupidity. No, I have my own beloved teams to thank for these.  The Mets are doing Mostly Okay on the field so far, despite a rash of early season injuries and some possible illness, possibly mental illness, afflicting its biggest star pitcher.  Matt Harvey, christened the Dark Knight after last season's heroics, has turned into a Silent Knight this spring- after stinking out his last two starts, he disappeared from the clubhouse after the second of them Tuesday night and wouldn't face questions from the press. 

But we don't need no stinkin' kids to kindle our Metsian love.  No, this weekend is the team's celebration of the 30th anniversary of its last World Series win. Almost all the alums are back in town, and their flagship radio station, right now, is broadcasting the holy recording of the team announcers' play-by-play account of that October 1986 game.

Said flagship station comes in over the air like shit lo these 400-odd miles away- but I have an app to listen to their games (which I pay for), and the station streams its broadcasts.  The app is dark (the 2016 Mets don't have a game today), and the stream is blacked out.  Instead of hearing the immortal Bob Murphy call of Mookie Wilson's little roller to Bill Buckner, I'm getting an informercial....

and it's probably STILL exceeding the ratings of tonight's NHL Game Seven conference final.


  -  I know NOTH-INK, NOTH-H-HINK!

Leave it to the Buffalo Bills to top all of this.

The team began its Not Training Camp pre-season this week.  Members of the media were handed a new policy statement, telling them, in essence, that they could not report on anything bad, or specific, about what the players in attendance were doing. Among others: how many interceptions a quarterback threw; which players were on the first, second or third-team segments of the practices; or anything concerning what plays are being practiced, be they ordinary or "trick."

Well, Bills, now you've done it: you've kicked sand at a press box full of English majors.  We may be puny, but we know how to fight back:


I won't even mention the even bigger shitstorm that the team's general manager got into the following day, but that's probably just as well. I wouldn't want this blog banned from future organized team activities.

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