Monday, February 9, 2009

Rainy Monday

Early notes on a rainy Monday...

  • One of my first thoughts this morning was sympathy for the duffers who slept in their cars last night hoping to get a chance to play the all-Buicked-up Torrey Pines South Course as it reverts from PGA status back to a public course.  How many of them are shivering at the teebox as I write?  I am SO glad that golf has never hooked its claws into my psyche.  I'll stick with the less expensive (mostly) but almost as maddening game of poker.
  •  No Bynum, Kobe weakened by flu, Cleveland winning by 10 at the half in a building where they were did the Lakers outscore the Cavs by 20 points in the 2nd half and send LeBron and Company to their first home loss of the year?  The easy answer is Lamar Odom, who got his picture in all the (suddenly reduced) sports pages around the country with a 15 point, 10 rebound 3rd quarter(!) and game totals of 28 points and 17 rebounds.  The less obvious choice is Pau Gasol, not for his scoring but for his understanding of the Triangle offense and his ability to become a playmaker out of the high post.  A number of times in that 3rd quarter Gasol set up with his back to the basket at the elbow and found a cutting Odom for a hoop.  When Kobe is off his game or on the bench, Gasol can now have the offense flow through him smoothly, and his leadership is growing.  
  • Lamar, Lamar, just want to love him but you know he's going to break your heart.  Over the years I've come to understand and accept his contributions.  You CANNOT make Lamar Odom your go-to player and expect to have championship-level success.  Put the spotlight on the guy and he is more than likely to go 2-11 from the field, or a passive 1-6.  But he is an excellent teammate, and as a complementary player he can be scary-good.  The key is NOT to count on him, and then he will jump up with dominant out-of-nowhere performances.  Some NBA team is likely to make a multi-million dollar mistake this summer by pegging Odom as their #1 free agent target.  As the #2 scoring option on the Nets or the Bucks, Odom will have good games but let you down.  As a complementary player on a talent-laden team like the Lakers, he can be a championship asset.  
  • Somebody told me they played the Pro Bowl yesterday, and then in the paper it was confirmed: they played the game and the NFC won.  Somehow my life went on unaffected by the outcome, still trying to figure that one out.  
  • Wednesday's SDSU game in Utah already has me tingling with anticipation.  When I watched these two teams play in person at Cox Arena, it appeared clear to me that SDSU was the better team.  Since then the Utes have rolled off a string of wins, and they now stand at 7-2 in the MWC with the same number of home-road games remaining as the Aztecs (4 home, 3 road).  Hunstman Center in SLC is a very hard place to win, just like most venues in the Mountain West.  Lorrenzo Wade has been down with "flu-like symptoms" for over 2 weeks...somebody get 'Zo a box of Emergen-C and a vaporizer...he will be needed for SDSU to emerge victorious.  The Utah game is followed by Wyoming at home, New Mexico on the road and a home game against BYU, so after these four results, we should have a pretty clear idea of whether the Aztecs can grab an at-large NCAA berth or if they will be forced to win the MWC tournament in Las Vegas next month.  As for Wednesday's game, my feeling on a Monday morning is that the Aztecs' athleticism on the wing will again be too much for players such as Tyler Kepkay and Carlon Brown to handle, and SDSU will bracket Luke Nevill and keep him out of his scoring zone on the floor.  
  • The CC commiseration party yesterday was exactly what I thought it would be, both pleasant and painful.  Nobody has an answer for our industry anymore, and nobody has any pleasant or hopeful thoughts about the future.  Some folks are trying to grab on with a national syndicator or satellite radio, safe harbors for now.  Those still working have that lost look: they have nothing to offer those of us on the outside, and know damn well that they could be next to go.  Some are clinging to hope, others are dumping their careers and starting in other fields.  It was good to see several of my radio friends.  Some of them, I'm sure, I have seen for the last time.  I was about to bug out and leave when I saw Justin Biscotti and Mark Priceman sitting at a table in the back, they bailed me out of an unpleasant conversation.  Biscotti is still working at the gutted XTRA, Priceman is not.  It was a pleasant feeling to hang with them, shoot the shit like the old days in the sportspit, and feel for a couple of minutes like everything was normal.  
  • Two more notes from the party: #1) I did make a good contact with one of my old co-workers, who might have an inside line of the return of progressive talk to San Diego.  At this point I'd take any gig, so it was good to find out exactly who I need to be talking to...probably a longshot, though, given that it is basically impossible to come up with financial backing or the loans needed to start up a business.  #2) I heard through the grapevine some after-the-fact analysis from people still inside the building, trying to perversely justify the string of firings on Jan 20th.  "Elsten was struggling in the morning" was the phrase I heard.  Oh really?  Exactly the type of post-hoc, results-based simple analysis I reject in the sports world, now it's being thrown my way in radio.  Wow, shocking, on a show that had 2 months in its time slot before getting junked, with ZERO promotion, ZERO paid guests (when every other show had at least 2), ZERO support from upstairs, and a weak-ass signal which has doomed every format and show that preceded it to the stage, we drew ratings in line with the rest of the sorry station.  Against XX's best show, Jim Rome, in the same timeslot as AM's gorilla, Rush Limbaugh.  In our FIRST book.  I know what good radio sounds like, and we were doing it from 9a-12p.  I know when I'm on the air and nobody's listening, and I know when people ARE listening.  In our first month or so, nobody was listening...and then the audience grew, community-style, just like I planned it.  By January we were experiencing full phone lines, building momentum, and would have grown our ratings, undoubtedly, if not for the plug being pulled.  What happened on Jan 20th was an indictment of the company CC, and the industry radio, not a reflection on my work or the direction of my show.  After-the-fact analysts are trying to justify their own existence and blunt the guilt of not feeling the blade of the axe on their own necks.  


  1. Does anyone actually watch the Pro Bowl? I consider myself to be a football junky, but I just can't imagine watching that game of tag football. It just isn't a solid enough dose to take, not enough to hold over till the Draft. The Draft I will watch, but not the Pro Bowl.

  2. Utah game followed by Wyo here, New Mexico there, BYU here. :D

    ProBowl? Was there a football game yesterday?

  3. Correction made, thanks FemBone...I knew that, it was on my calendar, but I need good ATalkers keeping me honest!!

    Will 3-1 through that stretch of four big games be enough? I think so IF the one loss was to New Mexico.

  4. I think that CC self-justifying comment was just what you called it. It could very well be that the cuts had to come whether your show was building steam or not. It's how the whole industry is going, witness the U-T and NC Times.

    I thought your show was going very well, especially when you talked about SDSU. I'm very sorry that you got caught up in an industry-wide problem.

    I'm glad you're blogging and wish you much success in the future.

  5. I really enjoyed this sports weekend. I took my 2.5 year old son to the SDSU/AF game and we had a blast. We will be back for sure.

    The Lakers/Cavs game was fun to watch.

    Craig, I enjoyed you on the radio, when I had time to listen when on vacation. Times are changing in many aspects and I hope you land on your feet with new ventures. When you do, please don't forget us Aztec fans.

    My son and I will be at a few baseball games this year...maybe I will bring my 10 month old boy as well. Hope to see you there.

    BTW, I bookmarked your blog, so KEEP up the good is nice reading...something I don't get much from the UT anymore :(

  6. Thanks very much for the kind words my friends! Looks like I will be doing a lot of Aztecs' baseball games, either on the air or on the net, so I will certainly be blogging a great deal on the topic.

    You can count on daily posts at least here, with more when I am so inspired.

  7. Keep your head up! Life is good. Craig, you're a talented guy that I made a point to listen to. Life is throwing you some tough pitches. Hang in there, you'll find a place to flourish...I'M POSITIVE ABOUT THAT!

    Go Sycuan!

  8. Hey Craig,

    Thanks for being one of the small few who broadcasted and cared for our Aztecs. I couldn't always catch your signal, but I would listen online or watch the weekly "your name here" football coach show online. I will stay as long as you do.