Monday, August 28, 2006

ESPN Double Talk

While perusing the recent ESPN mag, I couldn't help but notice that they employed the use of the "plus additional headlines" trick, not once, but twice. What is that about? They have the lead headline, which is "College Football 2006: Who's No 1?" Obviously, the only way to sell magazines in this day and age is to spell out every article right there on the cover (can't expect people to flip through it, after all), so they chase that with a "Plus:" menu that lays out four more college football stories. So far, so good.

Things got a bit confusing when I glanced at the right side of the cover and saw. "+ LeBron, Serena & Snakes on a Plane." Ignoring the fact that this little teaser has thus far failed to get me to read the ensuing article (I've had the magazine for over a week), lets focus on the fact that this a blatant attempt to get away with using the "plus!" gimmick twice on the same cover. What do we make of this?

I went back and looked at the last few magazine and they all used the "Plus:" menu in the bottom left-hand corner of the page, but this is the first I've seen of using the actual + symbol. Should this bother me? For some reason, it does. You wouldn't make a point in a column, follow it with one more statement phrased as "plus ..." and then simply do it again. For example:

"Cedric Benson is a hated by his teammates, is constantly injured, and isn't even very good. Plus, he needs to learn how to carry the ball in his left hand. Plus, I hate him."

See? That doesn't work at all. So if we aren't going to let people just throw a bunch of transitional words like "plus" in a column, why would we let page layout editors do it? I'm telling you, this is an outrage.

The only other question is how it happened. Did ESPN overlook this? It is hard to imagine that a magazine with a subscriber list this large and with a sticker price of $4.99 could overlook something so basic. The other option is that they think the readers are so dumb they won't notice the multiple pluses. Or, possibly worse, they think that no one will care. Perhaps that all rules of grammar, layout, and journalistic style have gone the way of the Great Auk (I don't care for references to the Dodo bird - it is time to popularize the unfortunate demise of the Great Auk).

Anyway, it has been driving me crazy. Plus, I don't even like ESPN the Mag that much. Plus, their college football preview was terrible. + they focus too much on Notre Dame. + ....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Nothing will force me to end a blogging hiatus quicker than an NFL injustice. And that is what we have brewing in the City of Chi, where Cedric Benson is the frontrunner for the Bears' starting running back position.

On the surface, there is nothing terribly egregious about the running back battle taking place in the Chicago organization. Thomas Jones is a veteran looking for a contract extension and Benson is a recent #4 overall pick that the front office would like to see take over the starting gig. Hey, teams draft new blood all the time in anticipation of replacing an aging running back - nothing inherently wrong with that. The problem comes from the fact that Benson has been nothing but worthless for his year in a Bears uniform, while Jones served as the heart and soul of the offense in 2005.

To truly understand the situation, you have to go back a year. The Bears had Jones slotted in at running back with glaring needs surrounding him at the offensive skill positions. Sitting on the #4 pick, Chicago had a desperate need for a wide receiver (Troy Williamson went #7 to the Vikings) and a QB (Aaron Rodgers famously slipped to the end of the first round), yet they doubled up at RB with Benson. Almost immediately, they wanted him to be the guy, but Benson held out, got off to a slow start, and eventually got hurt. It was pretty much a wasted year for the rookie out of Texas. Meanwhile, Jones finally realized the talent that made him a #6 overall pick coming out of Virginia. He ran for over 1,300 yards while playing hurt, running into eight-man fronts, and generally carrying a horrific Bears offense on his back. Had Chicago drafted Williamson, they could have simply extended their workhorse back and everyone would be happy right now.

Instead, they drafted Benson, which is turning out to be a mistake. However, instead of just accepting that mistake and moving on, the organization seems dead set on trying to validate the selection of Benson. They are refusing to extend Jones' contract and the front office is still pushing for Benson to be the starting back. Jones, understandably pissed, decided to express his displeasure at not getting an extension by missing VOLUNTARY workouts. For this, he gets demoted to the #2 running back, behind Benson, who, to my knowledge, has yet to do jack for the Bears.

The latest has Benson leaving a game early from the sidelines, getting ratted out by teammates that obviously hate him, and then getting bashed by still more unhappy teammates in the media. It is no surprise that Bears players want their boy Jones to be the starting back. This is a guy that went to battle for them week in and week out and he's being run out of town for a mistake. It is just a sham. And the worst part of it is that the Bears were the #2 seed in the NFC last year. Why mess with a good thing? They have the best defense in the league, a strong running game (they don't even need Benson for depth - they have Adrian Peterson in the fold), and a potential upgrade at QB with Brian Griese on the roster. In a weak conference, everything is there for a Super Bowl run. Instead, things are about to blow up in their faces.

All because they are trying to cover up a dumb draft choice. Where's the justice?