More Fun With “Those Guys Have All The Fun”

Justin June 13, 2011 0

As the SCP book club discussion moved past the initial edition, the writer expected it to continue at it’s initial pace. Quickly, though, it became obvious that would not be the case. The participants, busy with their own lives, struggled to to find enough time to read the hundreds of pages that SportsCracklePop expected to be covered. It became obvious that what was originally intended to be a weekly feature would actually work better for everyone as a bi-weekly discussion. So, the second edition of the “Those Guys Have All The Fun” book club finally makes its long awaited appearance. Edition two covers chapters 4 and 5 of the book, from page 215 to page 454, ESPN’s history between 1992 and 2000.

JUSTIN- Senior Writer, SportsCracklePop

I expected everyone to keep reading at a fevered pace. After all, the years covered in these chapters are the years we grew up watching. It’s the peak of Sportscenter’s cultural power.

KEVIN- SCP commenter “Scott Salley”

My favorite memory of this time was watching of Baseball Tonight.  Until the MLB Network came along, that was appointment viewing for my Dad and I each night to see how our fantasy baseball players did that night.  This was pre-internet, remember, so we were able to see how our guys did before the box scores were in the morning paper.  I thought that was the greatest show in the history of the world, and all I wanted to do was someday host it.

ALEX-SCP commenter “Beltway Buddy”

I remember being really excited that it was easy to keep up with my favorite teams from afar. This was a time when computers were still in a lab at the bottom of our dorm and it took 8.5 minutes for a photo of a, ummm, of any random photo you found on the web to load up. The internet was in it’s infancy.  Being able to get scores, news and updates made living away from home that much easier.

KEVIN

I thought there would be more about Stuart Scott, but I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I’m missing much.  He was never one of my favorites, but he certainly was on there a lot.  Maybe I’m a few years early with my memory.

JOHN-blogger, 200 Miles From The Citi

It’s the Patrick/Olbermann SportsCenter.  That was just such a great show. I liked Olbermann’s description of it as jazz improvisation – they knew what instruments they were bringing, but other than that they didn’t know which direction it would head.

JUSTIN

I liked Olbermann and Patrick a lot on Sportscenter, but my favorite show was the 2am edition with Craig Kilborn and Brett Haber. They called it the Feel Good edition. I wish there had been more on that.

JOHN

I’m not sure if it’s my favorite memory or I’m imagining it is because I just relived it in the book.  For example – Charley Steiner losing it after the Carl Lewis anthem. I’m 90% sure I saw that SportsCenter live, but I’ve seen it so many times on bloopers/anniversary specials I’m not sure anymore.  But I laughed out loud reading the section.

ALEX

Reading the book, you’d think every ESPN personality was on the verge of curing AIDS and eliminating world hunger with every report they file and show they put on. I mean, they take credit for just about everything else. I’m interested to see how the questions were posed to these folks. Were they encouraged not to be shy about their accomplishments? Their “ground breaking” achievements or “innovative” use of  the TV medium? They just seem to be getting more and more full of themselves as the book goes on.

KEVIN

I have no idea what to think about Keith Olbermann anymore.  All I heard about was what an awful and egotistical guy he was, but after reading the book I can say that I’ve worked with people at television stations that have the exact same attitudes and feelings of entitlement.  They complained about everything, made sure everyone knew when they did anything extra, and were just miserable to be around.  So is Olbermann actually more easy-going than I thought and people were just over reacting OR are the people I worked with actually worse human beings than I first thought?  I’m all confused.

JOHN

There were times I was disgusted by his behavior, there were times I was amused by him or sympathetic towards him.  I came away thinking he is tremendously complicated.

ALEX

Hearing about his inability to drive because of his lack of depth perception pretty much completed the picture for me. He had no real way to socialize with people, especially living in two car culture cities like LA (where he was before ESPN) and Bristol. Now I just feel bad for the guy. He seems to have this massive chip on his shoulder, and you can kind of understand why. Can’t wait to not watch him on Current TV.

JUSTIN

I actually have some personal experience with Keith Olbermann being a giant d-bag. I work at a newsradio station in New York. He listens religiously. How do I know? Every now and again, we’ll get an email into the newsroom telling us an anchor pronounced a name wrong or a reporter’s grammer was slightly off. It sort of sums up the entire Olbermann ethos. He’s 100% correct about what he’s saying, but you want to punch him in the face for saying it.

KEVIN

Considering all his accomplishments with the network it seems odd to call Olbermann a villain, but its amazing how literally no one has anything completely positive to say about the guy.  Everything is always with a but.  “He’s an amazing writer, but…”  “He’s one of the real innovators, but…”

JOHN

Who’s the biggest villain? Bobby Knight, hands down. For him to still call out Jeremy Schapp like that in his interview for thebook. How dare he not take a look at himself in that situation. And now he’s an ESPN employee! Disgusting. Almost 4 pages on Bobby Knight from Jeremy Schapp – Schapp gets the single-largest monologue so far. That story from Schapp did a good job of bringing back to mind exactly how enraged I felt towards Knight watching that interview.

This is by far a very large leap down from Knight – but everything Jack Edwards has to say is negative. I could do without reading anything from him anymore.

JOHN

Remember the scene where Mickey Mantle was watching Larry Bird on the feed? Great story. Wouldn’t be surprised if that was at Channel 7 in Boston…but really, the best Fairweather could come up with as a line was, “Yeah, but you’re Mickey Mantle.” After all that time that was the best he came up with?

ALEX

Justin and I had tickets to see the Yankees play the Indians that Sunday at the Stadium. Now, I was out all night the evening before, enjoying one of the great times during my “Summer of Freedom”, the first summer with my license. I was responsibly enjoying adult beverages as 17 year olds do with some other friends that Saturday night… well into the morning. When I finally got sober enough to drive home (don’t drive drunk, kids), I got my self together, freshened up and made it to our seats before the first pitch. I noticed all of the flags were at half-staff. Then I turned to Justin just as the stadium announcer asked everyone to remove their caps. I said to him “someone big must have died, huh?”

“MICKEY MANTLE, YOU MORON!” The entire section turned around and glared at me with this look like I just called all of their mothers whores.

Justin embarrassed me in front of 45,866 people that day (the largest crowd he’s embarrassed me in front of so far in our 33 years of friendship). Reading this passage brought up the painful memories I have suppressed for the last 16 years. I’ll get him back by telling you all he hadn’t..

JUSTIN

There is no getting me back when I have final edit on these things.

KEVIN

My hero is Jed Drake. I don’t know who the heck he is and I have no interest in flipping through 200+ pages to remember, but I made a special note to remember his story about punching the sat truck and breaking his hand. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to punch the wall, door, desk, van, co-anchor, etc in my time on the air. The fact that he did it – broke his hand – and kept working is classic. He also has the best advice anyone going into TV or the media should follow. He talks about his wife saying he’s taking “this television shit way too seriously”, and follows it up with “we’re no longer together.” Everyone in the media should date or marry someone in the media. Regular people just don’t get it. And that’s a proven fact.

JOHN

Mark Shapiro, I thought, came across very well. He definitely knows he’s good at what he does, but so many different people come across as wanting to help him that he must think highly of himself in a way that comes across well to others.

Bob Ley just seems tremendously professional. Pg. 357, when he renews his contract despite other offers, doesn’t dump on anyone in any negotiation…good for him.

ALEX

Leading up to the story of the first ESPY’s, John Lack was being made out to be a liar. Someone who was and is taking more credit than he supposedly deserves. And then Lack starts going on about he was the brain child of giving Jimmy V the Author Ashe Courage Award. I remember distinctly thinking “if this guy is BS’ing this, I’ll be furious.” My blood pressure was literally up. But then John Lack’s heroics started shinning through. In fact, it WAS his idea. And he was instrumental in helping to get Jimmy V on stage (both mentally and physically) to deliver one of the greatest motivational speeches I’ve ever heard. It’s worth buying this book for nothing else than the story surrounding Jimmy V’s final year of life, the ESPY’s and the speech that he delivered on that stage. It was so incredibly moving and heartfelt by all of the interviewees, I was crying by the end of it.

The readers all have vivid memories of watching ESPN at that time in their lives. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t still some surprises.

KEVIN

I was shocked at how much money they spent on the first X-Games and how completely unorganized the entire thing was. After reading about the first one – its a miracle the thing is still going on today. Although – to be fair – you could probably say that about almost everything in the book. Its really the theme – “spectacularly screwed it up in the beginning, but now its amazing.”

ALEX

ESPN President Steve Bornstein owns the email address “steveb@aol.com”. He was one of the first thousand users of the service. That’s mind blowing to me. I’d have that kind of thing tattooed on me somewhere. That’s a geek-trophy that is hard to match. On a side note, I’d like to formally apologize to “Alex@aol.com” for signing him up on every site that required an email where I didn’t want to receive SPAM. These were the days before verification emails were sent.Alex@aol.com signed up for some crazy sites back in the day.

JOHN

I’m surprised that someone like Steve Bornstein, on pg. 349, has the nerve to say “Michael Eisner will turn any circumstance into why he was a prescient genius.” All I have to say about that, after reading what everyone else in this book, Bornstein not least among them, has to say about themselves is, “He’s not the only one.”

ALEX

I was also shocked by the stupidity of the Phillies. They had no clue that SportsCenter was repeated a thousand times in the morning from the 2a show, and were in complete disbelief when Brett Haber walked into their clubhouse in the morning while he was giving a report on SportsCenter. This is why the city lost the US Capital, it’s just not filled with smart people.

JOHN

I was also surprised that Gary Miller’s peeing out the window story was pretty tame. No other sides to the story, so it’s just him defending himself (like Mike Tirico who got his paragraph of personal PR), but I believed him…but then again, what was up with that story where he’s just picking fights with mascots? Idiot.

JUSTIN

The Tirico thing is this long rumored story that’s been sort of whispered about on the internet for years. I wish there had been more than just an italicized version and his one side of it. Someone there must have a differing opinion

JOHN

I reached my saturation point with Chris Berman on page 344 when he talks about Cal Ripken’s streak night and how him not saying anything was this pre-planned great idea. And then, My God, do we have to know you played how important you were to get to a game in Toronto when you’re telling us about how you heard Tom Mees died?

But as interesting as these sections proved to be, the book club members were struggling to get through them. Two original book club members fell off after the first edition. While the door always remained open for their return, everyone kind of figured they were out for good.

JOHN

The beginning of Chapter 4 I was just rolling along – that was stuff I was tremendously interested in. When they got into the ESPN/ABC negotiations, NASCAR negotiations, the X Games, the NASCAR stuff – that all I could have done without.

KEVIN

I’m still very interested in the book, but its only life events that have slowed me down. I read with the same interest I had before, but it does seem like its never going to end. No matter how much I read, the book just doesn’t seem to get any closer to the conclusion. I’m hoping I’m not still plowing through it in a nursing home 50 years from now.

ALEX

The book is covering every aspect of ESPN, and I mean EVERY ASPECT. There were pages dedicated to covering a coffee table book. AN ESPN COFFEE TABLE BOOK?!?! That’s important enough to document, eh? No less, it was right after the borefest that surrounded ESPN: The Magazine. At some point around here, the book brought up memories of Space Balls the Movie with it’s ridiculous branding of things like Space Balls, the Toilet Paper. And that’s what The Magazine was, toilet paper. For every 10 words written in the book about the magazine, I read about 1. I couldn’t get out of this part fast enough.

The book has a weird way of completely turning you off, near to your breaking point of wanting to ditch it (i.e. all of the Getty business dealings in the beginning and now the Coffee Table Book) and then immediately immersing you into some amazing stories. First hand accounts from the personalities about their short comings, run-ins with the law and personal tragedies. The editors of this book have a done a fine job keeping me coming back to this behemoth of a book.

JUSTIN

I was done with these chapters within two days. I finished the entire book in like 3 weeks. I’m half way thru Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” while I write this.

The fourth and fifth chapters of “Those Guys Have All The Fun;” Step 2 in SportsCracklePop’s effort to cover the biggest sports book of the year. If anyone else would care to join in, feel free to add your voice to the comments section or email Justin@sportscracklepop.com to become a formal part of the SCP Book Club.


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