Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 06.19.03

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report. Hope this past week has been kind to you all.

A huge THANK YOU to Mike Zablow for taking my hours today so that I don’t have to work. Everyone can feel free to IM YankFreak9 and leave anti-Yankee/pro-Mets/pro-Red Sox propaganda.

This is the Week From Hell for yours truly – Tuesday, work from 3:45-11:30, Wednesday, it’s the 7:23 train from Hicksville to Penn Station, then the 8:35 from Penn to Union Station in DC so that I might help my brother move back from DC to Hicksville. Thursday the move takes place and then there’s band practice at night, and we have a show Friday night. THEN, work Saturday night, work Sunday morning, then off to Shea for Mets-Yankees (!!!) Sunday night. And to top it all off, I’m taking the GF to Atlantic City on Monday to give away our paychecks. It’s gonna be fun.

But you came here for game news, right? Well, there ain’t much at all. But hopefully you’ll enjoy what’s here. So here we go!

I reported a few weeks ago that Sega was considering changing the name of its sports series from 2K to ESPN. This has been confirmed as fact. The name change will take effect with ESPN NFL Football, which has a release date of July 27 according to GameSpot. We will also be seeing ESPN NFL Hockey, ESPN NBA Basketball, and ESPN College Hoops.

As I said last time, this is a ridiculous idea that was obviously orchestrated by ESPN. I guess it wasn’t enough to see every aspect of the 2K3 series dominated by ESPN, now the game has to have ESPN in the title. It’s not as if just throwing ESPN in the title is going to sell a million more units – remember all those 16-bit “classics” like ESPN Sunday Night Football and ESPN National Hockey Night? Those sucked!

Now, most people who played NFL 2K3 would admit that it was at least as good, if not better, than Madden 2003. So what Sega is doing here is taking a game that has NAME RECOGNITION as being a good game (despite what the sales figures say) and scrapping the name just because ESPN thinks it’s a good idea. And you wonder why Sega’s not making systems anymore.

When Vince McMahon mercifully closed down the XFL after one season, he did a whole lot of talking about “building a brand” and how difficult it is to do. A lot of people dismissed this as Vince rationalizing his failure. But he was absolutely right. In today’s ultra-competitive sports game environment, most people buy a game because they played it last year, liked it, and want to see how it improved. Sega’s ruining this for themselves. There are quite a few people who don’t keep up with the news and run to the game store during football season, and they will be looking for either Madden 2004 or NFL 2K4. When they don’t see NFL 2K4, do you think they’re going to try this “new game” called ESPN NFL Football? Hell no! They’re going with Madden. Why? It’s a name, and ESPN NFL Football is not.

Let me use a sports analogy to drive this one home. We live in an era where names only exist to derive a profit. For example, Candlestick Park stood for years as the intimidating home of the San Francisco 49ers. Then, some investors came along and gave Candlestick enough money to change the name to 3Com Park. Bye bye intimidation; hello modern world. Remember the Murph? Remember Joe Robbie Stadium? They still exist, but as bland Qualcomm Stadium and boring Pro Player Park, and nobody’s going to remember these names in 30 years. Sometimes, a name is more than just a name. Just like these great stadiums have lost their identity to corporate sponsorship, Sega is setting itself up as just another victim in ESPN’s never-ending quest to monopolize the sports world.

The only positive to come out of this news is that The Greatest Announcer Ever, Gary Thorne, will be on board for ESPN NHL Hockey this fall. Aside from that, the whole thing stinks and is the embodiment of how business is run today.

Oh yeah, Warren Sapp will be on the cover of ESPN NFL Football. Good for him.

We’ve been getting so much good content that these decisions are getting REALLY hard to make! That’s a really good thing.

This week’s Gold goes to Lee Baxley. He says this was an odd week for him because he wrote his column differently, but it came out awesome and it might be his best one yet! Lee gets better with every column, so make sure you read him every week.

Bebito Jackson gets Silver this time around for his excellent Rumor Down-Lo. He’s already got all the kinks out and is back to churning out the quality content, which is no surprise to anybody. This is the Bebito you remember – if you’ve never read the Down-Lo, this is the one to check out.

The Bronze belongs to Alex Lucard, who submitted a whopping three columns this week. Talk about a return to form! This guy just bangs ’em out like they’re very attractive women. The Bronze goes to his Retrograding Weekend News, which focused on some really bad games. Alex also contributed a Mailbag (with a letter from me!) and a co-column with Alex Williams, which came out really well. Alex and I were talking about Street Fighter 2 the other day and he dropped this gem: “Street Fighter 2 + Affirmative action = Super Street Fighter 2.” Gotta love it.

The best of the rest (or is it rest of the best?) – We’ve got a review of NBA Street 2 from Cory Laflin. A review of MotoGP 3 by the tireless Polecat. A review of Finding Nemo by Jeff Watson – I feel bad because I haven’t read this review yet, since I got it Sunday and I wanted to play it a few times before I read the review. But judging from his other work, it should be great. Ultimate Muscle gets a review from Nick Vlamakis. Chris posted a review of MLB Inside Pitch last Thursday, too late for me to give it a plug, but Chris is a great guy so he still gets one. Chris also checks in with a preview of Charlie’s Angels for GameCube.

Last but not least, I wrote a Silent Majority dealing with sequels. I think it’s really good, so I want everyone to read it!

Non-411 Link of the Week
If you’re a typical college student in search of an internship, I refer you to Similar to Monster or HotJobs, except this site specializes in internships, and believe it or not, there are some still out there to be had. It’s a neat site, and hopefully you’ll have some good luck with it. I posted my resume Monday and I’ve already been offered a position as a “Financial Service Representative”, whatever that is.

CD of the Week
No CD, but instead I’d like to highlight a really bizarre movie I saw last week. My good buddy Vassilios invited me over to watch a movie called The Toxic Avenger. This was possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but in a good way. It’s the kind of movie you sit around with a bunch of friends and make fun of. The DVD itself is loaded with tons of goodies, so you might want to check it out if you’re a fan of the “so bad it’s good” movie – and you have a strong stomach.

Commentary of the Week
I screwed up the e-mail link last time, so the Ultimate Sports Game Quote Challenge lives on for another week. The current high scorer is 411 Games’ own Cory Laflin, who came in with 7 out of 13 – people, you can do better than that! All you have to do is send in what games these memorable lines come from and we’ll see who the winner is next week. Here are those quotes again:

1)”The pitch to the back… Gets the block… Turns on the speed! He’s hit and he gets to the 49-yard line.”
2)”You can’t coach that!”
3)”The New York Islanders have planted the seed of the tree called ‘Comeback’.”
4)”Don’t worry, Mac! Join the Nintendo Fun Club today!”
5)”Boom! Where’d that truck come from?”
6)”WHAT THE $#*#& WAS THAT?!?”
8)”New York needs to be making a line change soon!”
9)”That’ll play”. (Hint – this is a computer game)
10)”Serves up a facia”l!”
11)”Edge and Christian are competing continually.”
12)(sung like a real loser)”Rolling Start!”
13)”OH, COME ON!”

Good luck! And keep ’em coming!

And now, for something completely different…

To some people, Jared Fogle is a hero. Here’s a guy who weighed something like 400 pounds and got rid of half of them. And he did it by eating Subway.

Does that even make any sense? Of course not. But it happened. And Subway, to the surprise of nobody, ran with it and made Jared the focus of their “health-conscious” ad campaign.

It worked. Subway is no longer the place you go with the guys when you’re tired of McDonalds and Domino’s. Instead, it’s the place that when you go, your girlfriend wants to tag along because it’s healthy. Its focus isn’t on making good food anymore – it’s about being low in fat and low in calories, and that’s no fun.

But this isn’t all about health food. You see, when Jared went public with his ridiculous diet, everyone else wanted to try the same thing. Hence, a huge spike in revenues for Subway. With these revenues, Subway decided it needed to change everything. Out went the old 80’s logo, in came the new stupid-looking thing. Out with the dreary, in with the modern. And that’s no fun.

They even got rid of the one thing that meant more to Subway than anything else – the U-Cut. You might not want to admit it, but secretly, you thought the U-Cut was the coolest thing ever. And when they stopped doing it, it kinda pissed you off. You still go there (actually, I ate lunch there today), but it’s not the same anymore.

Subway is like the person you were friends with freshman year of high school. Gradually, they became more popular while you stayed a loser to the point where you couldn’t even relate to them anymore. That’s Subway now. And that’s no fun.

Realize that this is not me saying “Don’t ever go to Subway again”. Instead, it’s pure nostalgia, and anger that I forgot to pick up the Baked Lays that came with my Meatball Hero Combo. But two things cannot be questioned – Subway sold out, and it’s all Jared’s fault.

And their new commercials f*cking SUCK.

Thank God It’s Over
Just kidding. It’s been real, folks. Congrats to all the high school graduates who will be introduced to the harsh world of Reality this week. Ask your parents for skis – it’s all downhill from here.

Make sure to read Alex this weekend because he’s the man. Till next week!