Your neighborhood bartender has returned from a short vacation. While away, Mrs. Bartender and I often found ourselves watching Sportscenter. Okay, it was usually my call to put it on. Last week, they launched a new segment called "Who's Now" in which they selected and seeded 32 athletes to determine, and I quote, "the ultimate sports star by considering both on-field success and off-field buzz." They then have the athletes, based on seeding, face off against one another and three panelists (they must have pretty incriminating pictures of Michael Wilbon to get him to do this) and an online vote determines which athlete "wins." This is beyond inane. Yes, I know that the only sport right now is baseball, but there is more than enough going on there to spend most of the hour show on the subject. Heck, some Cincinnati Bengal probably got arrested which would fill up 5 minutes or ESPN could rerun, for the 80th time, the segment on how Pacman Jones is actually a good guy. But Who's Now is ESPN trying to do something that must turn off a large number of their core viewers. (Remember ESPN Hollywood with Mario Lopez? Where were you that week? (To be fair, it lasted 6 months.)) As Mrs. Bartender said, "This is awful; you should blog about it." She's right, and I have.
Update: I see that Bill Simmons agrees with me and Mrs. Bartender about this wonderful new segment: "I called Time Warner to ask them for the ESPN package that didn't involve "Who's more now?" and they said it doesn't exist. So I think we're stuck with it. "
In related news, Dan Patrick is leaving ESPN in August after 18 years with the network. It was the Big Show that first made me a Sportscenter devotee. (That's when Dan and Keith Olbermann would host.) I wish him well and hope that the two of them continue to interact on the radio (or tv).