Loose Lug Nuts by Mike Sanders
Let's Start With A Rant, Shall We?
I am not a journalist or member of the media. That's obvious from what I write and how I write. What I am is a schmoe with an opinion and a platform from which to give it. I speak only for myself; I don't pretend to speak for anybody else. That would be extremely presumptuous on my part. What I hate is when the sports media, either local or national, DOES take it upon itself to speak for me, and also to tell me who I should like and who I should dislike. According to the national sports media (and a certain four letter network in particular) if you don't worship Tiger Woods, the Los Angeles Lakers, and Notre Dame football, you're un-American (personally, I despise all three, so I guess that makes me a hardcore Commie or something). Hey, sports media: I don't remember signing a power of attorney document giving you the right to speak for me, so QUIT DOING IT!!! This bubbled to the surface a couple of weeks ago when I was reading the blog of a person (who shall remain nameless) who works as the news editor of a Michigan newspaper and who also writes a NASCAR blog (his profile says he "knows a ridiculous amount about...NASCAR..." umm...okay). The partial title of that particular blog was "Danica Patrick is tied in the points with Tayler Malsam, so where's his coverage?" Promising title...maybe this guy gets it. Ummm...no, he doesn't get it. It was a bait-and-switch. A couple of doozies from the blog:
1. "Maybe I should give him (Tayler Malsam) a call? But then again, how many of you would want to read about it?" Hey dirtbag, maybe a lot of us would like to read about him. Have you actually spoken to any real race fans about this, or are you just going to take it upon yourself to speak for us?
2. "We in the media know Danica is really not that much more special of a driver than many of her lesser-know competitors. But, and this is a really big but, they are lesser-known, and most people don't care about them." Again, who the hell are you to speak for race fans? If you want to speak for yourself, fine; don't say "most people" because you AREN'T MOST PEOPLE!!! And the reason they're lesser-known is because you and your brethren in the media are too damned lazy to cover them, and instead would rather shower undeserved praise on some low-talent semi-good looking (at best) publicity whore.
The Bimbo And The Un-Bimbo
Yes, Danica shall forever be The Bimbo, and Johanna Long is The Un-Bimbo, in that she drives under the media radar, and gets the best out of her underfunded car. I was hoping she was going to win at Daytona this past Friday night; she was in the top 10 with a handful of laps left, but alas, she ended up wrecked on the final lap and finished in 12th. Still, not bad. One thing I'm noticing the last few weeks as I read through NASCAR blogs and news articles is that Johanna is picking up quite a following. Some of the writers and commentors are saying that the main reason for this is that they're tired of The Bimbo being shoved down their throats, and instead of following someone who underperforms in the best equipment around, they would prefer to follow someone who is over achieving. I couldn't have said it better myself. Of course, The Bimbo still has her apologists out there. I had a little back-and-forth with one on Saturday. My point was that The Bimbo was receiving media coverage that was way out of proportion to her achievements on the track. This guy came back with "check the facts, she's 9th in the standings". So, I checked the facts and came back with "the facts are that only 16 drivers have run all 16 NNS races this year, so that puts her in the lower half of the full-time teams, along with such guys as Jeff Green, T.J. Bell, and Mike Wallace. I wouldn't be bragging about that". His retort was the oft-used and very tiresome "well, you think you could do any better?" Oy...and my answer to that, which ended our little internet conversation was "well, if I had been racing competitively since the age of 10 or so, and now had the best equipment money could by, then yes, I would be doing a hell of a lot better".
When Junior finally won at Michigan, you would have thought world peace had broken out and that cancer had been cured. Alas, no, it was only one win. But the long national nightmare was finally over...or something. I did think it would finally give rest to those incessant "is this the week Junior finally wins?" articles that were increasing in quantity over the last couple of months. But no. The day after his win, I actually saw an article that asked "when will Junior win again"? Jeez, give the guy a break. If he's consistent, his next win will be at Michigan in 2016. As I was watching the end of the race, two things came to mind: first, the TNT booth bozos (who are just about as bad as the FOX booth bozos) spent so much time talking about how great this win was going to be for NASCAR, blah blah...that they completely lost focus on the other cars on the track. So much so that when the 55 car, which had been in the top 10 for literally the entire race, and most of that in the top 5, blew an engine with 5 laps to go (eventually finishing 29th), it was never mentioned, even after the race. The only reason I knew something was wrong was on that the crawler showing the running order and intervals the 5's distance behind the 88 suddenly grew at a very fast rate, and in one cycle he went from 5th to 29th. I kinda figured it was another blown engine for the 55 (the third in 7 races) and I was right, with no help from the guys in the booth. The second thing that came to mind with a handful of laps to go, was that this was the week that there would be no phantom debris caution to bunch up the field at the end of the race. I think the NASCAR officials figured that if they threw a bogus caution with three laps left and Junior leading by 5 seconds or so, the members of Junior Nation that were present at the race would have stormed the booth the officials were operating out of like the villagers storming Frankenstein's castle... torches, pitchforks and all. Anything short of a 50 megaton thermonuclear detonation in turn 3 wasn't going to be flagged, and even that would have been debated.
Longing For FOX?
As bad as the FOX broadcasts were for mangled camera angles and excessive booth stupidity, TNT seems to be trying out do them when it comes to horrific race coverage. Yes, their camera work is infinitely better than FOX, but the guys in the booth are getting worse instead of better, constantly talking over each other and sometimes not paying attention to the action on the track (which is what I thought they were being paid to do...silly me). And of course, the biggest concern for race fans: the gazillion commercials each race. There have been times when the race coverage is 3 minutes and the commercial time following it is 4-5 minutes. And it's happened more than once. When commercial time exceeds race coverage time, you've got a BIG problem. I know, I know, the bills have to be paid, and the rights fees have to be recouped from ad dollars, but enough is enough. And we're stuck with this TV contract until after the 2014 season. Maybe then we'll get a break. Or maybe not...
Time To Take The Wins Away?
After his dominating performance in the NNS race at Kentucky, Austin Dillon's 3 car failed post-race inspection. The win stood, and there were slap-on-the-wrist point penalties and fines. After winning the pole for the NNS race at Daytona last Friday, the 3 car again failed inspection. His time was disallowed and he was sent to the back of the field for the race; further penalties are forthcoming. In my very humble opinion, if a car wins a race and then fails post-race inspection, the win should be vacated. Everybody else in the field moves up one spot; the car that finished second is now declared the winner, and the original winning car goes to 43rd place. The argument against that is "the car that finished 2nd originally didn't cross the start-finish line first, so he can't be declared the winner". The counter-argument is "how do we know the original 2nd place car wouldn't have won if the original winning car wasn't cheating"? The discussion can go back and forth forever, depending on your point of view, but if wins that were gained because the winning car wasn't legit aren't taken away, what is to keep teams (*cough* 48 *cough*) from cheating every week? Something's got to be done, and that's the easiest and most direct thing. Instead of winners' points, you get 43rd place points for the race. That'll get drivers' and CC's attention, and quickly. Keep the win and only get docked 6 points (such as the 3 car last week)? BFD. Seriously, BFD. Six points can be made up in one week. 46-47 points (which include the bonus for winning the race and the bonus for leading one lap or the most laps)? That'll take a bit longer.