(Hint: they're unrelated.)
ESPN2 was presumably launched to supplement ESPN1, showing showing important games when time conflicts would prevent them from being broadcast on the primary channel. And it was good. Between additional baseball broadcasts to more hockey games and NHL2Nite, I enjoyed ESPN2 for quite a while.
Gradually, things began to go downhill. I was (and remain) comfortable with poker, but it got worse. Magic tournaments. Cheerleading. Jump rope. Activities that don't belong on television were finding their way to a major sports network, aired for all the world to see. And just recently came the news that ESPN2 would be launching a new series, entitled ESPN Hollywood, which documents the lives of popular sports celebrities.
However, it wasn't until today - just fifteen minutes ago - that the channel really jumped the shark. There, flashing on the screen in front of me, was a display of what appeared to be competitive juggling. Followed by more displays of competitive juggling. Evidently, there exists a World Juggling Federation, complete with official equipment and a handful of well-known superstars (who could forget such names as Scotty Cavanaugh or Ivan Pecel?).
Needless to say, it took me by surprise. How this stuff deserves to be more readily available to viewers than, say, college baseball or hockey is beyond me.
A universal truth: first-round draft picks flame out. It happens to everyone, because players that young are often impossible to project.
Another universal truth: organizations get upset when high selections don't pan out, because the team will have spent a bunch of money and passed over other tremendous talents in order to choose that particular player. (This doesn't apply to the Mariners, who like to collect failed first-rounders like trading cards.)
Occasionally, two teams can grow frustrated with two different former first-rounders at the same time and consummate a deal. To the team that drafted him, a failed pick will usually look worse than he really is, whereas to another team, he'll look like a guy with enough physical ability to have been a first-round selection at one point.
Such a transaction went down today, with the Padres sending Jake Gautreau (#14, 2001) to Cleveland in exchange for Corey Smith (#26, 2000). What's interesting is that, while Gautreau has the better chance of contributing a little something to an ML team down the road, Smith has a lot more breakout potential, by virtue of being 2.5 years younger. Given a choice between a disappointing 25 year old infielder and a 22 year old disappointing infielder, you'll always go for the latter - Gautreau could become a decent bench player down the road, but those guys are available everywhere. Smith, on the other hand, has an incredibly quick swing, which enables him to wait on the pitch for a split-second longer than most hitters can afford. This has translated into improvements across the board offensively over the past few seasons.
While Smith doesn't really have a position - he's a miserable defensive third baseman - he's beginning to realize some of his offensive potential, which makes him a worthwhile gamble. Gautreau, on the other hand, will have to work hard just to become Cleveland's very own Justin Leone.
As soon as Magglio Ordonez signs a bloated contract with Detroit, I'll write my final winter market analysis post. The content is going to be new and improved! At least I hope so, after spending several hours editing the spreadsheet last night.
Where once there were two, there is now one, albeit one almost overstuffed with good things. As you've probably read by now, Peter White and Jeff Shaw (who had already moved once) will be joining the USS Mariner crew, the latest stage of the latter's brazen policy of neo-Manifest Destiny. All right, that didn't come off sounding the way I wanted, but the terminology is neat. Anyway, it's interesting to look over the evolution of the Mariners' blogosphere:
Stage 1) A few, isolated blogs.
- An upper-echelon blog develops, and others gather around it in forming a more cohesive community.
- Main blog sparks several offshoots, and the community grows to enormous size.
- Where some new blogs succeed, others wither away, leaving a handful of quality sites run by individuals.
- Sites combine, resulting in more content in fewer places. Blogosphere shrinks, but suffers no decline in value.
I'm looking forward to it.