Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm back from vacation, and while I was on it I read that ESPN book that came out back in May

God, look at how proud of myself I am for having done something that literally billions of people are capable of doing on any given day. I couldn't wait to tell the six of you who still read this blog. I had to put it in the title of the post, didn't I? I feel like Jim Gaffigan, shoehorning it into conversation. "Hey, how's it going?" "I READ A BOOK!!!"

Anyways "Those Guys Have All the Fun" is a pretty decent read. It certainly had its boring and slow parts HOLY BALLS I REALLY COULDN'T CARE LESS ABOUT THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF HAVING YOUR CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS THREE HOURS FROM NEW YORK CITY RATHER THAN IN NEW YORK CITY but it's largely entertaining. (To be fair, the story of why ESPN originated in Bristol CT in the first place is actually very cool. The book follows the network's history chronologically and I think the first 150 pages were probably my favorite.)

Predictably (and with good reason) it gives ESPN the kid gloves treatment, failing to mention some of its biggest failures while glossing over the rest, but obviously I expected that. It was still reasonably candid on some topics that I thought might be considered taboo. I also learned to see some ESPNers in a new light. While Mitch Albom and Jemele Hill are obviously incredibly stupid people, they come off as very down to earth and normal in the book. Their egos seem to be under control. And while Stephen A. Smith is a jackass whose ego is out of control, he comes off as extremely smart. I didn't see that coming.

While I could probably do five huge posts about some of the shit ESPN's biggest and brightest said in there, for tonight I will simply share with you a series of quotes from one man. His identity should be immediately obvious. The samples below represent about 3% of the insanely obnoxious things he says throughout the book.

If you put my professional tombstone up, the first sentence would be: "He did [name of show]." First one. That show made [sport that was already one of the most popular sports in America before the show existed, if not not the most popular] famous. I would always hear "You guys made me a [name of sport] fan! Now I can watch a whole game!" or "We watch [show] together as a family."

I'll give you a hint as to which sport he claims to have helped make palatable for the average American sports consumer in the 1980s/90s- it's played with a ball, and you use your foot to kick that ball sometimes, and it's not soccer, and Trent Dilfer is really good at identifying guys who play it, teams that play it, and fields upon which it is played. So yeah. That's a reasonable thing to say.

Re: Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,131th consecutive game, which this guy announced:

In early August, I started reading a book on Lou Gehrig, which I thought would be a nice way to prepare. No one told me to do it; that was my contribution, all by myself.


I looked him straight in the eye and said "Cal, do you think you might get in tonight?" And he just lost it. Cracked up . . . He thanked me later. I'm the only person who put him at ease the whole couple of days-not that that's what I was trying to do.


Re: obnoxious former ESPN producer/manager Mark Shapiro, who is such a legendary fuckass that he probably deserves his own post later this week:

We would meet quite a bit. I was pretty secure in where I was and what I was doing. I had been there at that point for over twenty years, from the beginning, and I wasn't about to leave because this guy was there. I have the public. I walk down the street and it's like "Thanks for twenty years!"

Oh brother.

Here's my favorite:

I've been treated unfairly by the TV sports critics. They say I'm a clown. It's an act. When they use the word "act," it's like "aaact." "Act" would be playing a character who you're clearly not, by definition in Webster's. To act is to take on the characteristics of someone else. "We don't like Berman's style." Fine "Don't like Berman's act" is "WHAT ACT?!" What is that? What would that be? Or that he's a clown. You mean I don't come prepared? Stop. Stop. The most hurtful thing they write is that I'm just out there making events be about me.

Oops, did I leave his name in up there? Or did your brain just fill it in where I used a placeholder since it's so fucking obvious that this is who I'm quoting? It's a mystery. But in either case, have you ever heard a person be this blissfully self-unaware and so patently self-absorbed before? You think that people say you're a clown and in doing so mean that you don't prepare for your work? You think that your show (NFL Primetime) "made football famous?" FUCK. YOU. Christ, he makes Simmons sound like the Dalai Lama.

More to come later this week. Specifically stuff from Simmons (he claims to have "thick skin"- lollerskates), that obnoxious whiner Kornheiser, and a cast of thousands.


jacktotherack said...

I have to read this book now. I've always known deep down that Berman was an insufferable fuckface, but hearing him try to take credit for making football famous is just beautiful. Someone with that amount of exaggerated self-importance is really quite extraordinary.

I'm sure it was all of his "WHOOPS" and shitty nicknames that made the NFL what it is today.

Chris W said...

"Literally billions"?

The population of the world is six billion. Of that, 25% are illiterate adults. That leaves 4.5bb. Assuming a life expectancy of 70 and a normal age distribution 20% of the literate world is of the age where expctinf them to read a 300 page book isn't particularly reasonable. That leaves 3.5bb. Given that the book's publisher likely has very poor penetration in Eastern Europe, China and Central and South America, it is unreasonable to think that at least half of that remaining 3.5bb Could find the book readily even if they had any interest in reading about the history of an American company that primarily covers American Football.

So with a generous estimate that leaves 1.75bb people who could read this book. Literally billionS? LITERALLY?

For shame, Larry. You have become what you hated most: An ESPN announcer.

Great writeup, though, apart from your blatant "literal" hypocrisy >.<

Larry B said...

I meant that literally billions of people can read A book, not necessarily this book. You jagmo.

Chris W said...

"no no, I meant I didn't have VAGINAL sex with her"

--larry jefferson bailey

I would like to see you give sports figures you castigate for saying literally the same PREPOSTEROUS LEEWAY with SLOPPY LANGUAGE you clearly expect us to offer you.

For shame.

Tim N said...

I literally just saw "Heat"

Adam said...