Monday, March 16, 2009

Maxless Monday Musings

As some of you may be aware, last Monday marked Max Kellerman's last show on 1050 ESPN radio for the forseeable future. As I had gone to court in the City in the early morning and knew that I was not going to do a post last Monday night (due to Purim starting that evening) I did not listen to the show. As such, I don't know if there were any on-air hints that it was going to be his last show.

I first realized that Max was not on 1050 when I turned on the radio on Wednesday at 10 AM and heard the program referred to as the Brandon Tierney show. This was disturbing to me for two reasons: (1) I had grown attached to the Max Kellerman show as background while I worked and (2) Brandon Tierney is difficult to listen to for more than a segment or two at a time. Why do I feel that way about Brandon? Very simply he butchers the English language (some prime Brandon invented idioms include "throwing a match on a pile of gasoline" and that a team had some "imminently winnable games"). Also, he often times will reverse his stance within the same segment, usually about things like statistics - he will quote a stat and then when a caller disagrees he will say that you can make statistics say anything. As has been noted in print, Brandon seems more interested in showing that he is slick than actually covering the issues. When he was doing the night shift there were at least Knick and Ranger games which cut into his slot. Now that he is doing the AM slot on a temporary fill in basis for Max Kellerman, I find myself listening to the National feed on my computer.

Why did Max leave? The sports media writers in the local newspapers have attributed it to one of two things: (1) Max being upset that 1050 cut Robin Lundberg and Louie Gold and (2) the network's decision to cut Max's show back from 3 hours a day to 2 hours (like it was when he first took the slot). I can't profess to having any knowledge as to whether either reason is correct, and Max also does not seem to be publicly commenting about it (his Max Kellerman army page only has listener comments and nothing from him).

So when will I next do a Max post and what will I do with Mondays? As to the former, this will depend on whether he gets another radio gig. The tabloids have been saying that he may join Mike Francesca on 660 WFAN. As a professor of mine in law school once said, we'll jump off that bridge when we get there. However, until then I will use this post to try to link daily sports issues to Torah, much the way that the Max Kellerman show always had a link to Torah thought.

My thought for today asks -- does professional sports stimulate more negative than positive thought? When rooting for a college team in the big dance, an alum will hope that his team wins every game. Unlike the regular season, what another team does is irrelevant, since the first time your team loses it is out of the tournament. However, if it never loses the team takes home the trophy.

In contrast, in the world of professional sports where no team goes undefeated, the average sports fan not only roots for his own team, he also actively roots against other teams. In some cases this is taken to the extreme as I have heard that Boston station sports reports contain daily Yankee updates. I can recall growing up as a Ranger fan in Long Island, after hearing the Ranger score, my first question was did the Islanders lose. (More recently it has not been as much of an issue since the Islanders haven't been competitive for a decade, but I digress).

So how does this link to Torah? Pirkei Avos teaches that one who is wealthy is happy with his portion. This can be contrasted with the teachings of the baalei mussar that one should not be jealous of another person since in so doing he openly questions Hashem's decision as to how resources should be distributed. To draw a parallel, a sports fan must take this approach if his rooting interest is healthy. Root for your team and focus on its results. If the team accomplishes, then great. But don't spend your time watching and rooting against the other team as this will not accomplish anything other than accumulate negative energy and frustration.

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