Posted on: August 9, 2008 7:31 pm

IRL joins NHL on Versus

The IndyCar Series will switch networks.
ABC will still show five races, but the rest will move from ESPN to Versus. I couldn't be happier. This is great news in my opinion. More leagues and sports need to jump on the Versus bandwagon. Like with the NHL, Versus will provide more coverage than the four-letter did. Other race fans I've talked to are happy about the move too.
Yet the the Indianapolis Star only published negative fan reactions. Though the headline is positive - IRL to get more TV time on Versus. The comments on that story are about 50-50. I can't believe so many people are negative toward the change.
It doesn't really matter much to me what those negative fans think; I'm really happy a majority of IRL races will be on Versus next year instead of the four-letter. This move is a positive, and I couldn't be happier about it. The four-letter's coverage of the IRL has been mostly dismal. I've blogged about it. Speaking of dismal - right now the four-letter is showing women's little league softball. Switching to Versus will be a good thing.
Here's Versus' take.
I'm so stoked about this move, it's beyond belief.
When the NHL moved to Versus many of its fans felt the same way, negatively, when it moved. Probably most still do. By all accounts it was a shaky first year, yet Versus' broadcasts have improved steadily.
With racing though, Versus, formerly OLN, is well steeped in that type of coverage with its Tour de France broadcasts. While Versus is in 23 million fewer homes, the network will more than make up for it with more extensive coverage.
I see this move as another blow, and it's a good thing, to the so-called "sports leader."
This announcement is like a big birthday present to me from Tony George. So thank you Mr. George; I appreciate it.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: ESPN, IRL, NHL, Versus
Posted on: May 6, 2008 11:29 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2008 11:32 pm

Nearing the two-month mark

Well it's the beginning of May, and I'm nearing my two-month anniversary of my boycott against ESPN broadcast products. It's hard to avert my eyes when I'm at sports bars, still it must be done. I think I'm better for it, and I am also happier.

The other day I was talking with members of an Indy Racing League team. They told me Fox Sports produced a Sports Science show, not just a spot, about IndyCars. Fox needed race footage from ESPN. Fox asked for it, and the four-letter network charged an exorbitant price because it's "in a pissing match" with Fox. Naturally, Fox balked at the larger-than-normal price. This featured Sports Science show would be a win-win scenario for the IRL and ESPN, but those in charge at the four-letter obviously don't see it that way.

Last month I posted that Robin Miller complained about the lack of IRL coverage on ESPN. I took his word for it and said there should be a symbiotic relationship between the two. The above example confirms my suspicion that there isn't.

It's logical to expand this thinking. If the four-letter did this to one league, it's bound to happen to others - like the NHL.

Boycott start post - http://auxlepli.blogspot.com/2008/0

Indy Racing League - http://www.indycar.com/
Sports Science - http://msn.foxsports.com/sportscien

Robin Miller - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_

ESPN rant post - http://auxlepli.blogspot.com/2008/0
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: April 19, 2008 2:55 pm

Wealth of NHL outlets, ESPN rant

Fans of the NHL have it pretty good in my opinion, despite ESPN's hatred of the League.
I was in the Philadelphia area the other morning and watched SportsRise again.
Another NHL player bump, and the show started out with about 10 minuets of a recent Flyers - Capitals playoff game. Outstanding. This is what I'd like to see for every game, especially during the playoffs. Versus should have this amount of in-depth coverage. Every sports network should, especially one that bills itself as the world wide leader.
Anyway, about the same time last week when I was raving about the improvements to NHL.com, Eric McErlain wrote an article that the NHL has a wealth of outlets. I had meant to comment on all he did, but instead focused on NHL.com. He has some really good points, and I agree with him.
By the way, the NHL.tv improvements there are pretty impressive. That's where the NHL made the upgrades as far as I can tell. Seven channels of NHL goodness. I have two complaints, and they're pretty minor - commercials and the look and feel. If the advertisements were of a beer I liked, they'd be easier to swallow. Also if the look and feel were more Mac-like, then I wouldn't complain about that at all.
Anyway there are many outlets for the NHL besides online - Fox regional networks, Versus,  and NBC in the states. Also there's CenterIce and the NHL Network. I'm sure there is a wealth of coverage in Canada already. In any case, I'm tired of many fans who say the NHL should be back on ESPN. With the wealth of other outlets the League doesn't need the four-letter network.
Excuse my while I rant, but the League went with two other American networks post-lockout - NBC and Versus. Versus caters more to the League's liking. Versus, then OLN, offered more money than ESPN, if it even did. I can't remember now and would have to do some research. Research I've done numerous times, each time I read fans advocating the League go back to the four-letter network. By the way, three ESPN employees - Colin Cowherd, Mike Greenberg and president George Bodenheimer, routinely ridicule the NHL. Many more of its employees do too. This obviously starts from the top and continues all the way down. The company's employees make it a very harsh environment for the NHL. Given that, it doesn't make sense to me why the League would want ESPN to broadcast it's games. Sure it's in more homes, but that isn't good enough. It has to be willing to show games and showcase the League in other ways, which it didn't. A classic example of this but in another sport is the IRL on ESPN. That should be a symbiotic relationship, but I bet it isn't in IRL's view. I know it isn't to IRL fan and writer Robin Miller. I heard  him the other day with JMV on WNDE that during a recent SportsCenter the talking heads spent all of 44 seconds mentioning Graham Rahal's win. The talking heads then went back to NFL coverage. IRL is in season now, the NFL is not. This is a classic example and there are many others of how the four-letter network treats leagues it doesn't like or favor. This is the same way the it treats the NHL now and when it broadcasted NHL games. The network ditched NHL2Night in 2003 - pre-lockout and when it broadcasted NHL games. Add to all this ESPN would rather showcase its own talking heads and make them celebrities, than cover sports in a meaningful way, there is absolutely NO reason for the NHL to go back to ESPN. Pardon me; rant completed.
Anyway, it's been more than a month since I started my ESPN boycott. Aside from occasionally seeing it when I channel surf, or when I am at a sports bar, I'm doing pretty well. I am missing some baseball games and IRL races, so that hurts. Still, hockey takes precedence, and I will continue with my boycott. I'd be more upset if I watched it than if I don't.
Category: NHL
Tags: ESPN, IRL, JMV, NBC, NHL, Versus, WNDE
Posted on: March 21, 2008 3:01 pm

ESPN Badness, FSN Goodness

Bad as in not good, not bad as in good.
So I've been pretty quiet about the boycott. All is going well on that front, as I'm now into my second week.
There is one other thing, or should I say person, who I miss. That's Coach Knight. I'd love to hear his analysis on there. I've read he does a great job. Still, it's not enough to change my resolve.
Anyway the other night I was listening to a Red Wings game online as I watched the Pacers game on FSN Indiana. That was a good night. The Wings won after trailing, Henrik Zetterberg scored three unanswered goals and the Pacers won. A rare feat for them these days.
Watching FSN that night reminded me, FSN Final Score is much better than SportsCenter. With FSN's highlight show, the talking heads aren't the story. Also the show makes it a point to show all highlights, not just the ones hockey-haters choose.
More badness from ESPN, and it pains me to write that it's about its website, the one thing I like about ESPN.
Check out this link.
Observant people, and I must thank a LetsGoWings.com member for bringing it to my attention, will notice the photo caption is wrong.
It reads, "New Jersey Devils defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, left, congratulates Colorado Avalanche goalie Martin Brodeur ..."
Wow! When did Brodeur start playing for the Avs? I missed that trade.
Could be an honest mistake. Everybody makes them. I do. You do. Nobody is perfect. Most publications have a mistake in them somewhere, especially ones that deal with news and ones on deadlines.
Then again, as I posted on the Lets Go Wings, it's probably the photographer's error. Still I would think somebody at the "world-wide leader" would catch it. The page was posted nearly a week ago, and it's still that way.
On the other hand maybe it's not the photographer's mistake. The photographer who took it an AP photographer, and the AP is very reputable.
I could live with it being ESPN's mistake, I like that. It's easy to understand too since it's ESPN and hockey.
This isn't the first ESPN, hockey mistake that was brought to my attention or that I've noticed on my own. It is ESPN after all, and most people who work there don't seem to give a hoot and holler about hockey. It's been proven again.

To see the full blog with photos, check this link, http://auxlepli.blogspot.com/2008/0
Posted on: March 17, 2008 9:56 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2008 9:57 pm

Losing, Boycott and Selection Sunday

The Red Wings look like they're on another streak. This time a losing one. The Wings are having a hard time with Central Division teams this year. I don't know what's wrong with them. Sure they're still having injury problems, but so are the Avalanche, and they're doing very well.
Listening or watching hockey keeps me away from ESPN. So continuing the boycott was pretty easy. I also watched some college basketball on CBS. Speaking of which, the Hoosiers are on a losing streak too. It was a tough weekend. The Hoosiers also have a tough draw in the tournament, but I can understand it, given the losing streak and inconsistent play since Kelvin Sampson left.
Hopefully both my teams will turn around their recent fortunes.
Category: NHL
Posted on: March 14, 2008 5:56 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2008 5:57 pm

ESPN Boycott Day 2

Note: Still a day behind. As I noted in yesterday's blog entry, I'm traveling and the Internet at my hotel leaves a lot to be desired. Sometimes slow Internet service is worse than none at all. It's tempting, yet leaves an unsatisfactory feeling. So even when at times I have four bars of signal strength sometimes pages still time out. So that's why I'm still a day behind.
Anyway I woke up and was running a bit late. Didn't turn on the TV to check scores. Instead I checked the complimentary paper. Plus I get the TSN.ca hockey scores sent in my e-mail. My work gave me a BlackBerry, and I was able to check all the NHL scores that way.
Didn't miss anything really. It would have been nice to see the college basketball highlights, if there were any. I know the big conferences started today, so I might have missed some mid-majors. The NBA I couldn't care less about, and baseball hasn't started yet.
When I came back to the room, I finally checked to see what sports stations this hotel has. It wasn't good news for me - all ESPN ones. Would've liked to have watched some of the conferences tournaments, but I'm sticking to my guns.
So I had a dinner function to attend. All the TVs there were tuned to ESPN2 and the conference tournaments. I glanced from time to time, big plasma screens are hard to ignore, but mostly I socialized.
Besides what I care most about is hockey and it's not like ESPN highlights that anyway.
Category: NHL
Posted on: March 13, 2008 11:04 pm

ESPN Boycott Day 1

Note: As a result of traveling and slow, intermittent Internet access this is a day late.
On the drive into work I kept the radio off, I missed the Bob Picozzi college basketball scores, but that's about it. I realized if I had had the radio on and listening to 1000 from Chicago, an ESPN affiliate, I probably would have been mad not hearing the hockey scores. Even though locally I might have heard that the Blackhawks lost to the Red Wings the night before.
Anyway I turned on the radio at about Columbus, Indiana and picked up CKLW from Windsor, Ontario. Now it's not a sports specific radio station, but about every 20 minutes they give sports updates. I heard all the hockey scores - including NHL and OHL scores, heard the Pistons and Raptors scores, and also the Tigers split-squad scores.
As I got closer to Indy I turned the station to 1260 WNDE, a Fox Sports affiliate. To be honest it's not really good at providing the NHL scores. At least Fox, as an organization, doesn't seem as anti-hockey from the top down as ESPN is. Most if not all the regional Fox Sports networks showcase NHL teams too.
Oddly enough almost right after I posted my blog entry yesterday, I found an ESPN related topic on a Red Wings message board. A poster there posted that Tim Comlishaw mentioned  the NHL on Around the Horn yesterday.
This was my response:
I don't care what ESPN says anymore. I'm officially boycotting everything ESPN except the website. ESPN is obviously run by hockey haters, from the top down. This mindset is ingrained in all of its employees. It's obvious to me that Comlishaw is just throwing hockey fans a bone, but in my opinion it's not enough. I hope the NHL never goes back to ESPN. I've decided I'd rather hunt to try to find it on the web, NBC, Versus, Fox Sports regional networks or any other network besides the world-wide entertainment leader.
I should edit that to read "ingrained in most of its employees" instead of all. I doubt John Buccigross or Barry Melrose hate hockey, but that's probably just two out of thousands.
Posted on: March 11, 2008 8:14 pm

Boycott Expanded

So I've been listening and watching ESPN radio and TV. It's so disappointing; it's so not what I'm about.
I'm expanding my Mike and Mike boycott to all affiliate ESPN radio stations and  all ESPN channels. If they choose not to spotlight hockey, I choose to not to watch or listen to ESPN, in all broadcast varieties.
Colin Coherd has admitted he doesn't like hockey and won't talk about it. So has Mike Greenberg. I read that last bit in an article; I certainly didn't hear from him.
I watched a bit of SportsCenter Sunday morning and no hockey coverage, for at least 20 or 30 minutes - no hockey highlights, no hockey scores. After that I gave up.
It's a shame too, I've liked Outside the Lines, Sports Reporters, and Bob Ley is top notch. He is the exception to most ESPN talking heads.
So bye bye ESPN, hello Fox Sports and Versus.
As a side note - I will continue to check the ESPN website, where I can choose what I want to read and hear, and where I'm not force-fed what hockey haters want me to see or hear.
While I really like myespn.com, I don't check it with the same regularity as I do with this site and The Sporting News. The conversation is usually better at the latter sites, even if it's not as customizable as I would like.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com