ESPYS 2018

Barry Laminack: The 2018 ESPYs were actually good

Barry Laminack: The 2018 ESPYs were actually good
Several Houston athletes made appearances at the 2018 ESPYs. Astros Facebook

I'm not really an awards show guy, but with nothing else on I decided to turn on the ESPYs while I worked on some other things on my computer. There were a few cheesy moments to be sure, but overall it wasn’t all that bad. 

I give host Danica Patrick a 6.5783745 out of 10. 

While it was cool to see the Astros get Team of the Year, there were a couple of poignant moments throughout the night that really stood out to me.

The first was the “Best Coach of the Year” Award. It wasn’t the usual suspects (no pun intended). Instead, the award was given to Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel and Chris Hixon, three coaches that were killed bravely trying to defend and save their students in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland, Florida back in February.

Secondly, I was really moved by Jim Kelly, winner of the 2018 Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. The man has been through some stuff in his life, and still seems like such a positive person who has become a really positive and motivational influence on people. 

Kelly opened his speech talking about his son, and boy did it get misty in my living room. He talked about persevering, and about the love and support that he has had throughout his life. 

“So I just urge everybody out there, if you have somebody out there who is suffering, it doesn't have to be cancer, it could be somebody not having a good day. It could be your mom or your dad. It could be your grandparents. What you say to them, the smile that you have on your face, that could be the difference in them making it to the next day. Remember that." - Jim Kelly

It was all very moving.

But there was nothing more moving, powerful, or impactful than the final award of the night — the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The award went to all of the victims and survivors of Larry Nassar. 141 of the 333 victims stood on the stage to accept the award. 3 of them, former gymnast Sarah Klein (Nassar’s first victim), former Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and former US Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, spoke — telling their story for the world to hear. 

To see that many women on stage — all victims of 1 man (and a failed support system of adults) was eye-opening. All 3 of the speakers did an outstanding job, displaying composure, grace, and poise beyond what most of us possess. 

The one quote that really hit me hard was when Aly Raisman said the following:

"All we needed was just 1 adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nasser."

Speak Up.

Speak Out.
 

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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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