The Couch Slouch

A fun look at what ESPN is doing without sports

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ESPN without sports is like NASA without space. But ESPN is smarter than NASA – it can still thrive even if its world explodes into the atmosphere. Here is a look at the new ESPN 24-hour coronavirus programming schedule:

8 a.m. ET: "Don't Get Up!"

10:00: "Stephen A. Smith: Unfettered." The real Stephen A. lets loose – unvarnished, unbridled and uninhibited – at a Brooklyn barbershop.

11:00: "Greatest NFL Coaches' Challenges (Season 1)."

11:30: Stephen A. Smith talks smack to first responders on their coffee break.

12 p.m.: Chris Berman runs down his all-time 250 favorite nicknames, alphabetically.

1:30: 1998 French Open women's bracket draw.

2:00: "Burning Bridges with Keith Olbermann." The once-popular "SportsCenter" anchor documents his seven tours of duty with the worldwide leader in sports.

3:15: "Best NASCAR Pit Stops, Volume 3 (2010)."

3:30: "Kiper and Lunardi: The Art of Coaxing." The two iconic ESPN savants discuss how they persuaded the network to turn one-day events into year-round pursuits.

4:30: Stephen A. Smith yells at gate agents at O'Hare Airport.

5:00: "Around the Shoehorn." Nike, Adidas, Puma and Under Armor reps examine best self-quarantine footwear.

5:30: "Pardon the Interruption, Undercover." A hidden camera documents Tony Kornheiser complaining about Michael Wilbon and every single guest cohost with whom he's ever worked.

6:00: 2001 Mid-American Conference men's basketball tournament third-place game.

6:30: "Backstory with Don Van Natta Jr." An investigative look at Adam Schefter's cellphone log.

7:00: "Outside the Lines: The Sunset." The award-winning OTL team chronicles the sun setting in Bristol, Conn. ITAL Live. END ITAL

7:30: World Series of Poker 2003.

8:30: World Series of Poker 2004.

9:30: "Outside the Lines: The Sunset (Pacific Time Zone)." The award-winning OTL team chronicles the sun setting in Pahrump, Nev. Live.

10:00: Stephen A. Smith moonlights as a tollbooth worker who will not give out change.

10:30: "Cricket Tonight." Adnan Virk returns as host.

11:00: World Series of Poker 2005.

12 a.m.: World Series of Poker 2006.

1:00: "Stephen A. Smith: After Dark." The very eligible sweet talker tries his best hot takes in several New York City singles bars.

2:00: World Series of Poker 2007.

3:00: World Series of Poker 2008.

4:00: "The Sports Reporters 2.0." Veteran correspondents from Bleacher Report, The Big Lead, Deadspin and Barstool Sports debate the hot issues of the day.

4:30: "The Making of 'Cold Pizza' (2003-2004)."

5:00: Jeremy Schaap reads select passages from Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged."

5:30: Shuttle run highlights from 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.

5:45: Charley Steiner ITAL is END ITAL "Macbeth."

6:00: 2014 Pub Darts Challenge (Ireland vs. Wales).

6:30: "BodyShaping" (any year).

7:00: "Kraft Mac & Cheese Presents The Craig Kilborn Show." With sidekick Downtown Julie Brown. Why not?

Meanwhile, Fox Sports 1 has a simpler, adjusted schedule:

9:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET: "Skip and Shannon: Undisputed."

1 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.: "Skip All Night." Skip Bayless at home!

9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.: Off air for routine maintenance.

Ask The Slouch

Q. After several days of all major sports sidelined, I watched the PBA and saw statistics of MPHs and RPMs on the screen. As a bowler, can you tell me if I am withdrawing from baseball and NASCAR, or is it real and I need some help? (Steve Hintyesz; Spokane, Wash.)

A. It is real – we all need help. I have begged the powers-that-be to wipe the screen clean; alas, they will not listen to a 140 bowler.

Q. Being the wise man you are, can your readers assume that you anticipated this pandemic-related sports hiatus and have a mitigating stockpile of columns to get us through these rough times? (Kim Hemphill; South Riding, Va.)

A. I am currently watching dozens of old Dick Vitale broadcasts that will provide me column content through Labor Day.

Q. Is it true the only reason your marriage to Toni has lasted 12½ years is ever since your wedding night, she has strictly enforced the six-foot social distancing rule? (J.B. Koch; Macomb, Mich.)

A. Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt on our wedding night.

Q. After you've written, edited and submitted your column, do you then "take no responsibility" for it? (JC Hodgson; Spokane, Wash.)

A. Many of my columns write themselves; thus, indeed I take no responsibility.

Q. I see Sean Payton has the coronavirus – can't he challenge that? (Kirk Long; Spokane Valley, Wash.)

A. Not reviewable – NFL competition committee will take a look at this during 18-month offseason.

Q. Is it true that Robert Kraft is suing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for entrapment? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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