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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Industry Versus ESPN

It's the Sharks and Bruins on Versus tonight; a battle of the top two teams in the NHL. (Note that the Rangers are not currently one of the top two teams in the NHL.) Wow, what a third period by the visitors, with a surprisingly large contingent of San Jose fans in attendance.

Racing has gotta get itself on a network, if not Versus itself, as only half-kiddingly suggested here in the past, on which it can be treated as a priority instead of an afterthought. In fact, does it even qualify as that on ESPN? I sometimes get the feeling that it's more of a nuisance. The deal with The Worldwide Leader in Sports has to be amongst The Worldwide Leaders in Clusterfucks as far as I'm concerned. ESPN hasn't come close to its promise of an all-out marketing effort utilizing their various properties. Rather than build on some perfunctory efforts the first year, in 2008 the network, incredibly, went into hibernation mode for six crucial weeks of BC preps, and buried the Filly program on a Friday afternoon. Disgraceful.

On a network on which racing could be given the attention it needs (and deserves!), if not owns!, it would take just a little foresight and creativity to come up with, for example, a weekly racing show, preferably of course in prime time, from Del Mar or Hollywood, the Meadowlands, Penn National - it really doesn't matter from where. Get people involved by devising free web-based contests utilizing the social networking sites of the moment, mic up the jocks and trainers, add a reality component by following the fortunes of a couple of each, and let people bet on their favorite humans too. Maybe I'm just a dreamer, but I don't see why they couldn't, with just a little ingenuity, make a racing show into a bit of an event, considering all the crap out there that qualifies as such.

Hell, why am I wasting my breath? I've been saying this since I started writing this thing, and I'm just spitting into the headwind. The toughest thing for me as far as maintaining my enthusiasm for carrying on with this blog at this stage is that nothing ever changes. How many times and in how many different ways can you say or write - get rid of drugs, crack down on cheaters, keep the stars on the track, take care of your best customers, market the game, get people involved. And where are we with respect to any of these things, whether a result of the lack of unified leadership or a matter of economics beyond anyone's control? It's tiresome, man. I don't really want to write about it anymore, and will stick mostly to the sport, handicapping, and (not always) related political happenings with my blogging time more limited now anyway. You can always read HANA and Finley for that stuff.

I had to bring up the TV/contest idea though, again, because it ain't brain surgery folks. I do believe that this game can have another go-round in the public eye, but certainly not with its current fractured structure. But, as I said, I don't wanna write about it anymore. So let's gamble.

On the train heading back to Manhattan after the Rangers' desultory 3-0 loss at the Devils' impressive new arena in Newark on Monday night, there was one fan of the slumping Blueshirts who maintained a wide smile and cheery attitude. "I'd rather root for the Rangers and lose then be a Devils fan anyday. It's the choices you make in life, not whether you win or lose."

OK, maybe that was a bit too profound for the Blueshirt express funeral procession to Penn Station. And I don't know if that entirely applies to handicapping either. Sure, I can take satisfaction from a bold wager that falls just short. But I don't remember ever feeling particularly bad about cashing any ticket (other the one on Foolish Pleasure in the match race), even if it was the "wrong" horse in an entry, or an unwise investment, borne out of desperation, on an over bet horse. I'll always take the win (and the Rangers could sure use one now).

- Jeannine Edwards was just dissed by Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie. He made her repeat her first question, saying that he didn't hear it, and then sort of accused her of putting words in his mouth when she told him that one of his priorities was to "take away Nick Calathes' vision." "You know more about than I do, obviously. Some of these things I haven't heard of." That drew an awkward laugh, and I was thinking that she missed Iavarone a lot right about then.


Anonymous said...

Maybe horseracing needs a David Beckham type boost.

o_crunk said...

"Conflict is king in cable television," Wald says. "You want more than one guest at a time. You want cacophony, not a symphony."

The horses don't talk.

The owners and trainers look creepy. REAL creepy. If you didn't know Mullins milkshaked horses, you'd still have to agree the guy is rocking some guido, southern CA wise guy getup that smells bad.

Iavarone looks like he walked off the set of Wall Street.


You'd think these type of characters would fit in just fine among the Jose Canseco's and Pacman Jones' of the sports world.

But you don't see Mullins, Iavarone and Dutrow suiting it up on the field of competition.

The horses don't talk.

o_crunk said...

ooopsss. wrong link.

here's the relevant link.

alan said...

>>The owners and trainers look creepy. REAL creepy.

Any more so than poker players? Of course, you're right that the horses don't talk, and that's too bad. I'm sure they'd have more interesting things to say than most of these guys. Not that they're paid to be entertainers, so I don't mean to be critical....but it sure wouldn't hurt to have some personalities in the group.

Anonymous said...

ESPN has failed miserably.

Randy "Dr. Evil" Moss sold out. He got Crist and Co. to publish his pace figs in the Form, and he's off moonlighting on the NFL Network. It's too bad, because he's a good handicapper. One of his big drawbacks is that he usually only touts a horse when it's half way into the starting gate, knowing full well that nobody can take the plunge. I'd like to know how much people like him bet, the same with Joe "Mr. Serious" Tesitore. They have Jerry Bailey analyzing the race for them, too. Seriously, how much are these people pushing through the windows?

ESPN's Web site doesn't even offer live video. They have some sort of arrangement with Youbet, and you get two or three small name tracks. Where is the ESPN360 marketing for racing, say Keeneland, Belmont, etc.?

Alan, what say you about the Dutrow of hockey? Sean Avery is heading back to the blueshirts.

Here's one for the marketing gurus -- Michael Phelps, A-Rod, and Kobe Bryant all in the Guitar Hero commercial. Let's see -- one admits to an adulterous affair and slides through any legal wrangle, the other smokes pot and slides through, keeping millions of ad dollars, and the other uses steroids, gets away with a suspension in his sport and and no fine, and will not even be tried in the legal world.

What is amusing in all of the cheating in the sports world is the fact Gaylord Perry is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The guy used Vaseline for years as an agent to cheat batters. And to think the Marty McSorley illegal stick call was the downfall of another Gretzky Cup run. That was with the Kings, not the Blue shirts.

DC said...

FWIW, the Track Net fiasco is still keeping the Gulfstream and Santa Anita signals out of Nevada. So not only could you NOT watch Stardom Bound or Pioneerof the Nile on ESPN, you couldn't watch them in a Las Vegas racebook either. Rumor is they're getting close to a deal, but the races have been blacked out for a couple of weeks now, and the racebooks have been empty. Most casinos are not booking the races themselves (even though they can) because there's very little demand for it. People just don't seem to care anymore; they'd just as soon take their gambling dollars elsewhere. Racing is in dire need of a wake-up call.

Btw, unless this Track Net thing is solved by the weekend, i'm told Nevada will be shut out of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Not that anyone should be betting those things anyway; the odds are a freaking disgrace.

Handride said...

Thanks for the link, i feel your pain about writing. I felt the same way a couple weeks back. How long can we spit in the wind, shovel shit against the tide?

El Angelo said...

In an MTV-driven world, horse racing's a tough sell on TV. There's only action every 20-30 minutes at a track, so unless you want to jump around to 3+ tracks, you're going to have a lot of downtime for Olympic-style schmaltzy stories or discussion by the panel of hosts/analysts, which always is somewhere between rudimentary and inane. It's just not an easy sport to televise to the masses. It's a lot harder than poker, which is a card game that most people at least know how to play.

Anonymous said...

Horseracing Is a Bad Gamble,That's why It's not growing.

ESPN Can't help!

Anonymous said...

A one week TV show can be done, I have the outline on my computer.

It will be a hell of a lot more exciting than bass fishing, and idiotic alleged poker players styling for the camera. IT has excitement and drama, is a combination of on track and on line playing, with sufficient prizes to provide interest to the casual fan.

I have sent letters to NYRA customer service and have not even gotten an acknowledgement, about this and other issues.

I sent a letter to KEE last week about something different, and within an hour got a sufficient professional reply. But this tv show works only with NYRA due to its year round nature and they appear uninterested.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever think to ask the Breeders' Cup or the NTRA or anyone else how the deals actually work with ESPN? How about any tv deal involving horse racing? Doubt it. That's the problem with these blogs. You comment with no knowledge of what you write about. Please ask the questions and the write an informed piece for your loyal followers! All 17 of your followers would appreciate it.