Thursday, April 13, 2006

Randomization, 04/13/06

Bruce on Bonds on Bonds. Having only seen the segment where Bonds blubbers like George Brett on the day he retired, I can't vouch for the overall quality of the show. I do, however, have to address a couple of issues that come up regarding the show. First off, ESPN is not doing themselves any favors by entering into a business relationship with someone who they cover on a regular basis. The Bob Knight show they did was tolerable for a couple reasons, including the fact that there was virtually no chance of there being anything newsworthy eminating from the program. But the concept - entering into a business relationship with a newsworthy figure - still has its flaws. Can ESPN continue to cover Bonds without any biases, or do they run the risk of harming their business relationship with Bonds and the production company contracted to put the show together? ESPN has been doing more lately to blur these lines, with Knight's "Knight School" show, where prospects competed for a chance to walk on to the Texas Tech basketball team, and the Sebastian Telfair documentary "Through the Fire", which was "independently produced", but still required the cooperation of Telfair and his family. What is Bonds going to do that is worthy of a 30-minute show every week? He hates the media, and he seems to detest the idea that people would be interested in his life behind the scenes. Word is that this was the idea of Bonds and his agent, as a way of letting the public get to know Bonds a little better. But unless Bonds owns up to whatever he did to allow his body to blow up like it did, no one is going to be interested in what he has to say. So far, it's been typical "poor me" stuff from Bonds, complete with the crying episode at the end of the premiere. Bonds wants us to feel bad for him because he's been treated like crap by the media for all these years. Bonds, though, has done nothing about this treatment. Instead of being rude and condescending to the press, just ignore them, Barry. Put your headphones on, shut your eyes, and say nothing. Eventually, they will go away.

NFL Draft BS. That's what most of this is - BS. The final two weeks before the draft are all about GMs and coaches trying to convince us that they are going to do what they say they are going to do, when the exact opposite is true. Typically, if team representatives start talking publicly about a player they say they love, it means they don't like him. The converse of that is also typically true. Teams that are "certain to try to move up" are either going to stay put or move down. 90% of trades that are rumored before the draft won't happen during the draft. Instead, a bunch of trades will make their way in out of left field. Teams bring in players for interviews all the time, but those players are sometimes being used as smokescreens to hide the player that said team truly likes and wants with their first-round pick. Guys will move up the board because of their workout numbers and "athletic upside" (call this the Mike Mamula Principle or the Jonathan Sullivan Rule). Guys will move down the board because they passed gas during their interview or when their production in college is forgotten about because of poor measurables (call this the Deion Branch Theory or the Steve Smith Corollary). Teams will be rated on their performance after the draft, even though the players they drafted haven't played a single game, and even though such ratings (or "grades", if you prefer that term) have been proven a fallacy over the years, because we can't predict how well guys will perform at the next level, no matter how hard we try.

Despite all this, we all follow the draft, and we will all react to the picks that our teams make. I will do that here, and I will also preview the draft in the coming two weeks, looking at the top needs of the Packers and Vikings, speculating about the players available in this year's draft that best fit those needs, and talk about the draft itself, presenting a mock draft and looking at sleepers and overrated players.

If it's too much for you, I'll offer my apologies now. I'm one of those morons who will sit and watch the draft pretty much from start to finish. I love the drama of the draft, and I love the debates about individual players. It's great because we all watch the college game, and we all have opinions about players available in the draft. The arguments are often quite passionate, and it makes you wonder if people are discussing the same player. Frankly, it's one of my favorite single events of the spring, and much of it is due to the job the NFL does marketing it and the job ESPN does covering it. I can't imagine any other sport experiencing the same kind of rush with their draft.

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