ESPN's Michelle Beadle is the host of Get Up, a morning talk show that—I confess—I have never watched, and probably never will. My guess is that I wouldn't like it, since I hate almost all sports talk shows. That said, my eyebrows were raised when it came out that Beadle doesn't actually watch football anymore. Her reasons are good, and she made them public in the aftermath of the Urban Meyer fiasco at Ohio State. Watch:
"I don't care anymore," she says, after running down the ways the NFL mistreats women and condones sexual harassment and assault and racism.
And, believe me, I totally agree. It's part of the reason I don't watch the NFL anymore either.
I also don't host a sports morning show, though, and I've been having surprising difficulty wrangling with the question of whether it matters that Beadle actively abstains from a sport that her show spends a lot of time covering. A whole heap of pundits think it matters quite a bit. Tom Ley at Deadspin thinks it does not, and his argument, as I read it, boils down to the idea that these types of shows are fundamentally superficial anyway, and don't require any level of expertise from the hosts. Again, I agree with that. But I wonder if I'd agree as a producer at ESPN...wouldn't that basically be setting a low bar, and saying "These shows are stupid anyway, so who cares?" That's a fine view from the outside, but as someone in charge of programming, you probably have higher ambitions.
Shortly after that segment, it came out that Beadle is off Get Up at the end of the month, and will be doing loads of NBA work for ESPN instead. It doesn't sound like a punitive move, and apparently Get Up hasn't been killing the ratings game, but the timing raises an eyebrow. If she was moved off the show because of the NFL comment, I can't really blame ESPN; football is an enormous part of their coverage, and a morning show host admitting she doesn't watch the entire sport isn't a great look. But it's also gratifying that there wasn't a total capitulation to the NFL industrial complex here, and that Beadle will land on her feet. If only life worked that way for everyone—complain about a certain facet of your job, and have your bosses immediately move you somewhere better.
Unluckiest Man of the Week: Roger Federer
Roger Federer, it's fair to say, has had a nice life. He's got a nice wife, nice kids, nice money. Also, he's the greatest tennis player who's ever lived, so there's that. In all, it's been a lucky existence. Hard work played its part, of course, but I'm not stepping out on a limb to say that fortune has smiled on him.
On Friday, though, the fates took a small dose of revenge. When the U.S. Open draws were announced, Federer got placed in the same quadrant as Novak Djokovic. Not just the same half, which would be bad enough, but the same quadrant, meaning the two are now on a collision course for the quarterfinals, and only one can make the semis.
Normally, this wouldn't happen. Djokovic, the reigning Wimbledon champ, is clearly one of the three best players in the world right now, and in my opinion he's No. 1. In his last tournament, the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, he dispatched Federer with relative ease in the finals. And if he were ranked inside the top four, it would guarantee that he and Federer would never be in the same quadrant. As it is, though, the Djoker fell off the face of the earth for a while, and during his long sojourn in the deserts of the tennis world, his ranking fell. He's in the process of the fighting back to the very upper echelons, but so far he's only done enough to reach no. 6.
Effectively, that means he was a ticking bomb in the U.S. Open draw. One of the top four seeds—Roger, Rafa, Del Potro, or young Alex Zverev—was bound to draw him. It was a matter of luck at that point, and the short straw this time fell to Federer, currently the no. 2 player in the world. The implications are actually pretty big, too. Fed is currently on 20 grand slams, while Rafa sits at 17 and Novak lags behind at 13. However, it feels a lot like Fed's record is eminently gettable, especially considering how Rafa plays at the French. But this draw is brutal, and if he doesn't win in New York, Federer, now 37, is likely looking at an extremely hard road to win even one more slam.
There's a good chance that his career after this year will consist of watching and hoping that his rivals don't catch him, and that he'll have very little say in the matter. The U.S. Open represents one of his last great chances to put some distance between himself and the Rafa/Djoker chase pack, and this draw makes that almost impossible.
Sweetest Victory of the Week: Efe Ajagba, Boxer
Like all professional fighting, boxing is a terrifying endeavor viewed from the outside, and even though its participants are theoretically trained to protect themselves from serious damage, we've seen too often how dangerous these sports can be...either instantly or cumulatively. Which is why it must be awesome for someone like Efe Ajagba to win a bout like this:
Instant victory! No pain! His opponent, Curtis Harper, was protesting his payment for the bout, not being a coward, but it's all the same to Ajagba, who gets a victory and a winner's share without having to subject his brain to another man's fists.
The Next Big Athlete-Cop Controversy of the Year: Nick Young
This story is just emerging, and the details are scant—Nick Young, Warriors guard, was arrested during a traffic stop on Friday night during what is being described as a "routine violation" hinging on an expired vehicle registration and illegal window tint. The LAPD story is that Young "didn't obey the officers," "became upset," and "caused a delay."
Young's story is not yet out, and as of now there's no video from the scene. All of that is coming, though, and while this is mere speculation at this point, I have a good feeling that we're in for at least a minor version of the Sterling Brown nightmare in Milwaukee. I could be wrong, but ask yourself this: When's the last time in our current hellscape that a story like this went away?
The Reanimated Baseball Man of the Week: Matt Holliday, Colorado Rockies
And with the Rockies, no less! Just hammering a dinger more than 3,000 days after his last one in a purple uniform. It's actually kind of perfect that he's on this team now, because the Rockies are in wild card position, and Holliday is just in time to make the playoff roster and commit a devastating, stupid blunder in the outfield.