By David Mullen
The Zoom call with the family has been made, the apple cobbler portion of the Swanson turkey TV dinner is bubbling and you are wearing your best pair of sweat pants. Welcome to Thanksgiving 2020 and the seventh annual Turkey of the Year awards presented by Rolaids.
Pour another glass of 2018 Carnivor Red Zinfandel as I carve up this year’s turkeys in a bad sports year. I am sticking my neck out and there will be no leftovers.
Jerry Jones. The first round of 2020 NFL Draft was held on April 23 via teleconferencing. Football craving fans watched in large numbers. While America was reeling in financial uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dallas Cowboys owner chose his on-camera appearances to take place aboard his $250 million yacht Bravo Eugenias. Instead of a war room, si.com called it a “war yacht.” As jobs at AT&T Stadium were being eliminated or furloughed, Jones flaunted.
While he sat inside the cabin of his yacht, many, including myself, took to social media to say that he looked more like a James Bond villain than the owner of “America’s Team.” All he needed was a white Persian cat in his lap.
The NFC L-East. L as in least. Not only will the winner of the NFC East have an under .500 record, the Cowboys, with two wins, are inexplicably still in the race. Author Sue Grafton has another book title.
“Thursday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football.” When is too much enough? The NFL has always put revenue over loyal revelers and seemingly spurn any thoughts of oversaturation. But the viewers are speaking.
Saddled with bad matchups, the off-Sunday broadcasts are in decline. While “Thursday Night Football” has dipped below 10 million viewers, “Monday Night Football” has reached an all-time low. The November 9 broadcast on ESPN between the New England Patriots (in the nation’s No. 6 TV market) and New York Jets (No. 1) was the lowest rated telecast in the nearly 50-year history of the television franchise. And one major factor is …
The New York Jets. The team known for Joe Namath, before he started peddling the Medicare Coverage Hotline on TV, are a laughingstock. They are winless after nine games in a mediocre division. With all due respect to Frank Sinatra, “if you can’t make it there, you can’t make it anywhere.” The Jets make the Cowboys look good.
Thom Brannaman. Longtime Cincinnati Reds and FOX Sports broadcaster Thom Brennaman resigned after he said an anti-gay slur in a commercial break that was heard on air. He later apologized for his remark. Brennaman is still an excellent broadcaster.
Dale Hansen. Longtime WFAA sportscaster Dale Hansen did not resign after he “made a bad joke” on air about the pay inequities for women in TV, citing that their smaller salaries meant that there was more money for weathercaster Pete Delkus and himself. He later apologized for his remark. Hansen is still an exacerbating broadcaster.
James Harden. Having never met a basketball he didn’t like to shoot, Harden is amidst his typical “come to a team, create havoc and then orchestrate a trade” exercise. Harden is like a cheap shampoo. Work everyone up in a lather. Rinse hands. Repeat.
Lou Williams. The Los Angeles Clippers sixth man, in the quarantine bubble in Orlando like all NBA players, asked for a leave on July 24 to attend the funeral of a close family friend in Atlanta. While on the way back to Orlando, Williams visited an Atlanta strip club called “Magic City” instead of returning immediately to the “Magic Kingdom.” He put his team and other players at risk and caused a social media cyclone because he was trying to “make it rain.”
Dwight Gooden. The former New York Mets and Yankees pitcher entered the major leagues as a 19-year-old phenom with a blazing fastball and took the baseball world by storm. But sunny days were not ahead for Gooden, beginning in 1986 when his career became altered by cocaine and alcohol abuse. At least seven different arrests ensued and, in November, Gooden was convicted of another cocaine possession charge.
Robinson Cano. The 38-year old New York Mets second baseman tested positive for a second time for using a performance enhancing drug and was suspended on November 18 for 162 games. Cano gives up a guaranteed $24 million contract for 2021.
Korean baseball broadcasts on ESPN. Broadcasting from home and not at the venue, announcers Jon Sciambi, Eduardo Perez and others talk about everything but the play on the field. That makes it easy to avoid pronouncing player names. Ratings are averaging 100,000 viewers, or about the same of a late-night infomercial for the Magic Bullet blender, proving Americans don’t care about the difference between a Doosan Bear or a KT Wiz.
There is nothing like the sound of the K-Pop off the bat at 3:30 a.m.
Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox. Both teams were found guilty of cheating during games. The Astros won a tainted World Championship in 2017. Boston won in 2018. Their managers paid the price. Or did they? Houston skipper AJ Hinch was suspended for the 2020 season, but recently signed to lead the Detroit Tigers. Red Sox manager Alex Cora was also suspended but will return as the team’s manager for the 2021 season. Cheaters never prosper. Except in baseball.
Justin Turner. After being removed from the 2020 World Series clinching game six for testing positive for COVID-19, the Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman returned to the field to celebrate with his teammates unmasked. MLB did not discipline Turner. Other Dodger players and personnel tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after.
As the Thanksgiving non-celebration is upon us, sports fans have every right to replace cranberries with raspberries in 2020.