Gamer’s Hangover News Report – 07.05.04

So I’ve been contemplating adding more features to this thing, taking a cue from two of the most popular and long-winded writers on the site: Eric S. and Hai-Ate. The problem is that I don’t want it to degenerate into just more spleen-venting (a la Eric S.) and I’m not interested in providing any sort of life coaching (Hyatte). So what do I do?

Why ESPN Sucks

It’s a bold statement, and I’m standing by it.

(So we default to “spleen-venting.” I like Eric S. Bite me.)

It was a long time ago. 15 “¦ no “¦ 18 years ago when Clay Center, Kansas entered the freakin’ electronic age and actually expanded the local basic cable service to handle something other than 5 Kansas/Kansas City channels, the Weather Channel, and WGN. Back then, ESPN was something cool. Well “¦ okay, no. SportsCenter was something cool. The rest of ESPN was kind of a joke, broadcasting strongman competitions, cheerleading competitions, caber tossing, fishing “¦ kind of like it is most of the time today. Anyway, SportsCenter rocked. A bunch of slightly-more-photogenic-than-you sports geeks spending an entire hour on highlights. A news report without the pesky news or weather. Chris Berman, Dan Patrick, and Keith Olberman brought thought and wit and comedy and “¦ and FUN to sports, even the sports we didn’t like. They were outsiders, never covering sporting events directly but reporting them better than anybody in the big three-and-a-half networks. They were like us. They were sports geeks who wanted to discuss TD/interception ratios, ERAs, and Goals Against Average with other people who knew what these terms meant.

Oh, but was that enough? NoooOOOoooo.

They started getting more mainstream sporting events, Berman stopped doing SportsCenter. Olberman had his hissy fit about Bristol (you’re a friggin’ HOUR from downtown Manhattan. I’VE done the drive, okay?) and left. So did Kilborn, who wasn’t nearly as annoying calling baseball highlights five nights a week and getting smacked around by Patrick.

I really should have seen it coming when Disney bought them. I mean, really, has anything good come from Disney since Walt hit the freezer?

Anyway, with the backing of the huge, multinational corporation, they stopped having to get cheap sporting events for filler. They started doing more national events. They starting getting an elitist edge. They televised the drafts. They got their own, personal Sunday night NFL game every week. Any night of the week they had a game from one of the big four sports on. The even got a sister station to handle the overflow and another one to show old sporting events. A new generation of athletes that had grown up watching ESPN were now playing and mugging and giving ESPN more pull than every before. ESPN was becoming “the” source for a lot of things and it starting acting the part.

And with that newfound power, they lost all desire to appeal to the national audience. Oh, sure, they put on a good front like every “news” source out there, but you started to notice the New England teams getting top billing a lot of the time. Hell, when the Patriots won their Super Bowls, you could almost see the on-air staff creaming themselves. Catch a SC broadcast during the baseball season, and it really doesn’t matter what else is on; the lead item will either be the Red Sox or the Yankees.

And what’s worse, the bigger budget allowed them to expand and start hiring more writers, some of which were excellent, some of which were good, and some of which were glorified copy editors who thought they were witty. Check their website for evidence of their bloated body journalist; a corpus with such vital elements as ESPN Gamer, written and researched by people who would get laughed out 411Games; and Page 3, a section which doesn’t discuss sports at all.

In fact, as I write this, I’m looking at their site. Greece has just pulled off an 80-1 upset to win the Euro Cup, one of the biggest soccer tournaments outside of the World Cup. Roger Federer defended his Wimbledon single’s title. What’s the lead story? A preview of next Tuesday’s Major League Baseball All-Star game.

Want more proof of their suckage? How about the latest lame-ass attempt by the king of all deluded editors: Dan Shanoff. This man gets a page worth of ADHD-inspired thoughts EVERY WEEKDAY, plus whatever crap he feels like putting together. He’s is wrong on his predictions so often that my friends consider it a good sign when he predicts our favorite teams will lose.

ESPN isn’t just about bringing sports news to the masses anymore. They’re making their own shows. They’re in the business of making stars (see also: LeBron James and Diana Taurasi) even when they don’t exist. They’re now a real player in the sports world, and I think they may just be worse off about it.

The preceding was completely ad-libbed after a minimum of research. Thank you for your patronage. I promise, I’ll get better at this.

News

Really, The GameCube Doesn’t Suck! Really!
credit: GameDaily.com
IGN (like I should trust THAT news source) is apparently saying that Nintendo is preparing another novelty bundle to try and spike GameCube sales. This time it’s going to be packaged with Metroid Prime and a demo to Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Price of the bundle will be, as it was before, $99.99.

But remember that Nintendo hasn’t actually announced this yet. Here’s your grain of salt. Drink plenty of water.

EB Blows Wad On MK News
credit: GameDaily.com
EB Games is listing a Collector’s Edition for Mortal Kombat: Deception. For an extra 10 bucks, you’ll apparently get the game, an “arcade perfect” copy of the original Mortal Kombat, “special edition packaging” (oooooh!), character video biographies (“Hi. My name is Sub-Zero. My turn-ons include frozen margaritas, ice skating, snowball fights, and impromptu spinal surgeries!”), and some other stuff too silly to list here.

And Where Is EA In All Of This?
credit: Spong.com
“Reports” are saying that Lionhead Studios is being talked about as a possible acquisition for Microsoft, Activision, and Eidos. Upon the breaking of the story, Lionhead lead-monkey Peter Murphy commented that “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on what we believe to be unsubstantiated rumours.” Uh-huh.

Considering I’ve never heard of Lionhead Studios, and I don’t recognize the titles they’re talking about them developing, we’ll just move on.

Lord Please, Make Them Stop
credit: Spong.com
Constantin Films isn’t content with ruining the Resident Evil franchise, they’re now bringing their unique cinematic vision to Driver. The script is currently being ruined by James DeMonaco, James Roday, and Todd Harthan.

According to imdb.com:

DeMonaco’s major contribution to cinema to this point was penning the script to the Robin Williams (right. Like Robin actually read the script) “I’m a 40-year-old kid” movie Jack.

Roday hasn’t written anything, but he’s starred in a few things I’ve never heard of, including some movie called Rolling Kansas released last year. As the name would suggest, it’s about Kansas and marijuana. So there’s another misconception SHATTERED.

And Harthan has been Assistant Production Coordinator In Charge Of Donuts, Dry Cleaning, And Procuring Condoms for two TV shows.

Yep, it’s in good hands.

Anyway Constatin is also hacking out another Resident Evil movie and a Dead or Alive movie (I’ll only go if beach volleyball is involved.

That’s it. There isn’t a damn thing going on this week. At least I’ll own up to it.

Pimp-Licious

Misha, I got excited when I read “Pint, click,”¦” and damn-it-all, of course it had to be a typo.

Bryan, if you really need diet cola, drink Diet Rite. I’m not kidding. It’s sweetened with Splenda so it doesn’t have a funky aftertaste or do weird things to your metabolism. It’s also caffeine and sodium free, and I think it tastes better than any diet drink Coke or Pepsi have ever put out (by the way, Diet Rite is made by Dr. Pepper — a name you can trust).

A-Will

L.C., is back to being angry, thank God. Although he should’ve made some mention about cell phone drivers.

Lucard answers yet more mail. Oh, sure. It’s cute now that you’re “¦ what “¦ 25? 26? Actually, no. It’s only slightly creepy at 25 or 26. Wait four or five years, and THEN try to talk to people in Poke-speak when your age starts with the number 3 and the only dating that’s in your social life is the carbon kind. I’m setting the over/under at his 31st birthday before he makes a Pikachu-shaped “massager.”

Did I mention my 30th birthday is next week? Let’s move on.

Murphy talks about the ins and outs of the indie film scene, complete with Penthouse Pets, drag queens, and furniture moving. And you thought nothing exciting happened in Kansas.

Eric, there are two things that allow Kansas to charge tolls on otherwise federally funded highways. 1. Kansas chips in for part of the maintenance of that certain stretch of I-state, keeping it slightly better maintained than the rest. 2. Kansas has built and maintains periodic rest stops with gas stations and fast food places on the Turnpike so that motorists can travel without the hassle of getting off and traveling into Random Town #3 just to get basic provisions. Speaking as someone who has made a few “Please Lord don’t let me fall asleep and die” trips home from Kansas City, I think the toll for the Turnpike is nominal for the convenience and safety it provides, but I can see where make three or four runs on it every weekend would start to get annoying.

Gagnon is damn proud to be Canadian, even if he may not be one any more if one of those referendums actually pass. I’d heard rumors that if Quebec actually seceded from Canada, the Atlantic provinces were going to petition to join the United States. Does anybody know if there is any truth in that? Or ever was? At least the Arkies and the Newfies would have somebody to make fun of then: each other.

I haven’t pimped Nute for a good long time, and I’ve been meaning to rectify that. The Finish Line is still one of the most informative wrestling columns on the net, even more so now that he’s done doing the finishers that everybody knows and is getting into the interesting stuff. Also, he’s moving to the O.P. in August. How in the hell does somebody move from D.C. to Overland Park f’ing Kansas?

For those keeping score, that will bring the total of Kansas-based 411mania writers to 4, with Platt a scant few minutes on the other side of the Missouri border and Baxley (Kliq 4 Life) not much further away in Tulsa. I think that would put us ahead of Britain and maybe Australia, and getting dangerously close to equaling Canada’s number of column inches per week.

It just occurred to me that I haven’t done anything special with the Pimps in a long time. I’ll have to come up with something topical for next week. Favorite mullets, perhaps.

I Hate Major League Baseball — Week 1 In Review

I learned something this week, freed from my giving a damn about the Major Leagues. I’ve found myself rooting for the Yankees.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Cretin, you said you were giving up on the Royals! You didn’t say you were changing allegiances! You Benedict Arnold! You “¦”

Relax. I’m not watching them or anything. It’s just that if they’re going to be the grim reaper for Major League Baseball as we know it, I might as well enjoy seeing the process expedited. The sooner they dishearten teams and destroy fanbases, the sooner teams will start going under and the sooner things will have to change. Also, whenever New York wins, it makes the Boston sportswriters all that much whinier, especially when it’s the Red Sox they’re beating up on, and

Now, I have some good friends who are Red Sox fans, and being from that area, they have every right to be. Of course these friends don’t subject their concerns about “Nomah”’s health or Manny Ramirez’s clinical insanity to the general public. Unlike the stereotypical Sox fan, they have a measure of perspective and decorum.

So, in respect to them, and any Red Sox fans that happen to be reading this, I apologize for what I’m about to gloat. Be assured that I have nothing against the Boston area (being a Celtics and Bruins fan for years), or anything for the New York area. I’m simply reveling in the annual fight between the two biggest wallets in Major League Baseball.

Now then”¦.

Who else is giggling at the Yankees’ prison shower handling of the Red Sox last week?

Hey, I might as well be the stereotypical evil Yankee fan voice. Have some fun with this whole detachment thing. Not only tweak the Red Sox fans but those Yankee fans that keep pretending that there’s “nothing wrong” with being a Yankees fan; or that you can be a Yankees fan without being arrogant. Riiiiiight. Bull****, folks. That’s like saying there were good points about the Nazi party, or that Marx just needed some help with his math. You’re the bandwagon riders of the single most self-serving, arrogant, and iconic professional sports team on the planet. You all think like this, even if you don’t even talk like it out loud to your evil brethren.

God, that bitch session was the sweetest yet this season, wasn’t it? All of them trying to say “Steinbrenner,” “Jeter”, and “Torre” without using the letter “r,” simply divine. Oh, they’ll hang on until September, but that’s okay. We all enjoy seeing that “dead man walking” portion of the Red Sox season, don’t we? They’re marching on to a wild-card spot, hoping against hope for a call from the governor, but by the time they reach the playoffs they resign themselves to the fact that they’re Red Sox fans. Of course, sometimes it takes a little help to get that switch pulled, the three mill we handed to Grady Little before Game 7 for example, but it always gets pulled.

And, while I’m thinking about it, it’s nice to see that David Ortiz is already in post-season Red Sox form, isn’t it?

And we’re not worried about the Marlins this year, even if they ARE battling for first place in the NL East. They lost Pudge, and he’s lighting it up for Detroit (snicker). Stick a fork in them. They’ll get hammered by the Astros. Got to admit that we’re scared of the Astros right now, but that’ll only last through the season. Once we sign that Beltran kid and sweeten the pot on Clemens (oh, like he’s got loyalty or something), they’ll be through. Maybe we’ll make an offer to Bagwell too, just to cheer him up.

I’m sorry folks, but I have to resort to this to get any enjoyment whatsoever out of the sport media this week. We have two of the world’s most famous sporting events going on simultaneously (Wimbledon and the Euro Cup for those hopelessly mired in U.S. sports culture), and what’s the lead story on ESPN? How New England Team A beat up New England Team B in a game that moves as fast as a cheese-dominated bowel movement and is as exciting as watching security video from the DMV.

Meanwhile, the University of Texas is making me reconsider keeping my support of collegiate baseball. Bull-f***ing jerks. You lost a double-elimination tournament. What are you going to do, blame it all on Don Denkinger? You got your asses handed to you. Suck it up and pick up your silver trophy like the men you pretend to be.

Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed my first week of open disdain for Major League Baseball. Oh, it’s not like I’ve changed anything. I still skip right over televised baseball games, but now I skip over them with a measure of glee, and that’s worth something right there.

Hot, Buttered Mail

Hey.
As usual, I enjoyed your report.

I disagree with alot of what you said about MLB, but I’m not here to debate you. (And I’m a Blue Jays fan, not a Yankee fan).

I’d just like to suggest you visit http://www.robneyer.com

Rob writes for ESPN and is a life long Royals fan. Might give you some reason for optimism/a different perspective.

Keep up the good work.

Paul

I actually checked out the website at his suggestion and found “¦ a well put-together Royals fan site. Amazing. Good writing, insightful analysis, and the sort of optimism that one needs rooting for the Royals. Thank you for pointing me there.

Now, of course I’ll have to destroy it, since they’re just deluding people into thinking the Royals have any shot of winning anything. I do hope they come back after the revolution, though.

Thank you for the compliment and the address Paul, and you can thank my alma mater, Wichita State University, for Joe Carter.

Next up, an f’ing regular who needs more f’ing props than he f’ing gets:

I can completely understand your frustration with the Royals. I have a similar situation in dealing with Dan O’Brien and Carl F’ing Linder. I’ve given up on all hope of the Reds ever spending any kind of money as long as Linder is alive (which, if I’m lucky, he’ll die soon). The Reds brass promised for a long time that the 2003 season would be the season that they were building to. 2003 comes, Griffey gets hurt, after the annual Reds winning streak in April/May, they faded into obscurity, fired their manager, GM, and had a fire sale. Within the last year, they’ve traded away Jose Guillen, Chris Reitsma (one of the guys the Reds got for him was Jung F’ing Bong. Smell the merchandising opportunities), and (I don’t care so much about this one, but it had big implifications) Aaron F’ing Boone. As much as small market fans hate the management of their team, I think that’s a reason the fans are still interested in the team. We all want to see the collection of mediocre players (for the most part) defy the odds and win. If that doesn’t happen, it just gives us all the more to complain about people like Linder and O’Brien. I think the fans of these times sometimes like to lose just for the sake of being able to complain about Major League Baseball in General.

Also in regards to crappy trades, I think the Rockets’ deal for McGrady sucks. So the Rockets are trading away 2/3 of their franchise (Francis and Mobley) along with Kelvin Cato for McGrady (yeah, I’ll enjoy watching him hoist up 40 shots and hope to hell that Yao can rebound off of that and be somewhat successful), Juwan Howard (is this guy still alive?), Reece Gains (who?), and Tyronn Lue (oh wow, he guarded Iverson pretty well in 2 games, whoop-dee-freaking do).

I’ve played some Tiger Woods PGA this year, but I’ve found that it pales in comparison to Links. When playing Links, it feels like you need some serious skill to do well on each hole. In PGA, it feels like it’s all luck. Also, I don’t see how it’s that easy, but maybe my created guy just
hasn’t gotten good enough yet. How the hell are you supposed to judge how far left and right 8 inches in regards to the hole is? I mean, it must be easier for you in some way since you’re and engineer, but I’ve had terrible luck in the putting game. I’ve also been pissed during the past two weeks or so because my Links disc chose to stop being recognized by the XBOX, leaving me with PGA until I can find myself a cheap copy of Links.

Yeesh, I’m rambling.

-Jeffrey Kenneth Motherf’ing Patterson

“¦and KNOW this, bitch.

Man, I have to admit that I was tired of the Griffey overexposure by the end of the 90’s, but even I wouldn’t have wished for what happened to him. He went from being the next icon of the industry (and f*** Barry f’ing Bonds) to swan-diving into obscurity in less than five years. What’s sad is that he’s STILL going to be a Hall-of-Famer; because if he hadn’t gotten gimpy all of the sudden, the record books would probably look a bit different. Personally, I’m happy he’s finding his second wind.

And I don’t know about the Reds, but you need a bong to get through a Royals game this season.

The only thing that the Rockets can be thinking is that they’re going to run the plays through Yao, a la Shaq in the last few Lakers championships. Instead of having T-Mac create the scoring opportunities and then dish it to Yao when he starts drawing doubles, you go the other way around and run the ball through Yao, he draws two big men down low, and then he kicks it out to a (hopefully) open McGrady. Will this work? Everyone bags on T-Mac’s inability to share, but I don’t see that really coming into play IF (and this is a big if) 1. The rest of the team knows NOT to pass him the ball, and 2. He doesn’t start throwing Kobe-like tantrums on-court when he’s not getting enough touches. If they can go on an early streak next year playing like this, it’ll be easier to keep T-Mac in line later in the season, since he would see that he can be unselfish and still win. If they can’t get their act together and/or they break and start letting him shoot at will in the first two months of the season, forget it.

And, apropos of nothing, I get this feeling that Iverson, now that Stern has finally given up on him being the next Jordan, is due for his second wind. Maybe not with Philly, but before he’s done he’s going to make his presence known again.

And yes, Links takes some skill, while Tiger Woods 2004 only takes skill points. Start playing PGA Tour events, and you’ll be maxed out in stats before you hit your first major. As for the putting game, I guesstimate the width of the cup at around 3 inches, and I use that to help aim the close-in stuff. One general rule I follow, though: ALWAYS aim a little bit further than what they recommend. If you try and get the distance measurement spot-on you’ll short the putt every f’ing time.

And dammit, I LOVE the word “implifications.” I know you meant “implications,” and I almost edited it, but I just couldn’t stand to. That should be a standard sports-speak word, like “upside” or “impact.”

That WAS Jeff F’ing Patterson.

Quasi-Random Thoughts

Saw Spider-Man 2 last Wednesday, and this thought, having nothing other than the most tertiary connection with the movie, occurred to me: Weddings are the single most self-absorbing event that a human being can go through. For the major players involved (and I’m talking not just the Lucky Couple, but the entire wedding party and both families) there isn’t a single thought given for anybody else, is there? The Bride is thinking about how this is “her” day and that she MUST be the most beautiful woman in attendance, even if she has to get a vat of acid and pull a Jack Napier on her younger sister to do it. The Groom is thinking that he’s finally going to get some tonight and has to go to the bathroom to duct tape his member down before the service even starts. The wedding party are all dealing with their own unrequited issues with the Bride and Groom and/or trying to hook up with other members of the wedding party. The Bride’s family is checking receipts. The Groom’s family is on their eighth bottle of wine and their third tin of caviar. And everybody, save for the attention-whore Bride and the horn-dog Groom, is feeling lonely; either too old or too young or too fat or too skinny or whatever else.

And remember that I’m a very happily married man with a potential Kevin McHale of a son, and I’m even saying this. This isn’t an indictment against marriage. It’s an indictment against weddings. As P.J. O’Rourke once said, no good can ever come out of mass emotion.

Look, if somebody needs to ref the Manes/Melchor fight, I’ll do it, okay? We’ll have it here in Wichita, so both of them have to travel the same distance and neither has home-basement advantage. Sumo suits. Best 2 out of 3 falls.

And another thing: Apparently there’s been a new by-law passed here at 411 that every column in every section has to devote at least five column inches to Michael f’ing Moore. Now, I’ve been as guilty about this as everybody else up to this point, but I expected it to die off faster than the F-9/11 box office receipts after Spidey 2 hit. Unfortunately, I was wrong. There are STILL knock-down drag-outs going on between staff members over the guy. Frankly, I stopped caring sometime ago. I’m glad he can make challenges to authority and have people watch it, even though I’d rather get my information from more credible sources. Still, by-laws are by-laws so here goes”¦.

I’m not even going to discuss his filmmaking or his politics or his editing or whatever. That’s all been done. I’m going to discuss Michael f’ing Moore. Mostly that the man is fat. I mean almost orca-fat. 325 pounds isn’t svelte, no matter what part of Detroit you come from. And how can you be an activist when you’re that fat? Don’t you burn calories by walking around with the picket signs, handing out fliers 12 hours a day? I didn’t think activists made enough money to get fat, let alone maintain the level of portliness that Mr. Moore has maintained for 15+ years. I’m a big guy, and I make a decent wage doing what I do, but even I couldn’t get that fat. I’d stop before I did; I have self-discipline like that. There are some fat people in my family, but I don’t think I could let myself get that big. I just put on 10-ish pounds and saw myself in the mirror and thought, “Damn! I need to lose some weight!” I’m laying off the tortilla chips. Seriously. And I’d only made it up to 225. If I had gotten as fat as Michael Moore is, I’d be living on the treadmill. If I got that fat there’d be half a chance that I couldn’t see my genitalia and I’m like Denis Leary, I have to see him first thing in the morning EVERY morning. Still, the guy didn’t look bad in the tux. Michael Moore, I mean. Oh, he could’ve looked better, if he’d worked a little bit on the beard and the hair; maybe spent the afternoon in a salon getting a metrosexual touch-up. I mean, I’m assuming he has the money for it, since he has enough cash to get that fat and maintain it, obviously. He’s even fatter than Rob Reiner, and Rob hasn’t done anything for years. Mike’s been making movies and writing books and doing the media rounds; Rob’s been sitting on his ass since Gore lost and Mike is fatter than Rob! How does this happen?! Maybe he jogs with Guest and McKean. Anyway, I guess that’s why suits are made the way they are, to make pudgy guys like me, or kinda-fat guys like James Gandolfini or really fat guys like Michael Moore look good.

Both Bush and Kerry are pretty skinny guys. Surprising really. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, you’d think George would be shoveling lobbyist-provided beef every meal. And it’s a wonder how Kerry hasn’t had a damn stroke yet, with as much ketchup as the guy has to swill, but both of them look pretty healthy. Nader needs a good steak though. He’s probably healthy enough, but he’s looking a little gaunt. I’m not talking a porterhouse or anything, just a nice fillet with a baked potatoe and a nice spinach/romaine salad. Put a fat-free vinaigrette on that sumbitch even. He just needs a little padding. Or maybe some Botox. I heard that Saddam Hussein swam something like two miles every day to keep in shape. It must’ve been the body doubles that had the potbellies then, although even then he looked way trimmer than Michael Moore.

Anyway, back to Moore. Why didn’t he wear the ball cap on stage? Was he showing manners? Did he leave it in the limo? It’s his trademark; he should have had it on. Okay, so even Jack takes his shades off when he’s presenting at the Oscars. You’ve got me there. I guess he didn’t want to alienate the Academy or his peers, and I respect that. Of course, that speech he gave was a bit opportunistic, wasn’t it? I mean, being where he was, with those particular people in attendance, wasn’t that speech analogous to yelling the word “banana” in a room full of trained monkeys? I’ve actually seen that done (the monkeys thing, I mean), and I can tell you that the responses are pretty darned similar.

And about that cap; does he follow the Tigers closely? Is he happy about this season? You never see him with a Lions or a Red Wings cap (and please correct me if I’m wrong about this) so one would assume that he’s a big Tigers baseball fan. Does he have season tix? He certainly can’t have enough money to maintain that belly on ballpark food, can he?

Is that five inches? Close enough. (And *I’m* bitching about Melchor and Manes?)

For those of you reading on, hoping against hope for something even vaguely related to video games, I’m sorry. I’ll try and work something in here, but understand that we’re in the game doldrums for a while. Other than the yearly EA Sports roster updates it’s pretty boring through the summer. Later this month things will pick up, and me and Berg will be playing Rock/Paper/Scissors to see who gets to review what, so bear with us until then. Thanks.

Next week, more stuff to bore you with.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory