O'Donnell: Caray, Piersall and truth would help cut through the looming Chicago baseball fog
Oh for the days of Jimmy Piersall and "South Side" Harry Caray in an untethered Chicago baseball broadcast booth.
Truth. No sycophancy. No ceaseless word dancing to appease the lords of the franchises and protect the tedious brands and team-owned technologies and product streaming to come.
Instead, as MLB 2019 begins with a silly snowman's start, the Cubs and the White Sox cast off once again through a massively masquerading media mist.
Real points to ponder?
Begin with the Cubs: Theo Epstein has emphasized urgency from the gate ever since the team's abrupt two-and-out in last fall's postseason. Yet that urgency didn't extend to the off-season exchequer of the Ricketts family. So a window of contention continues to close and only extraordinarily good luck is going to reverse that.
Continue with the White Sox: The young meets the restless as a committed fan base continues to buy into a perennial of hope, no payoff. New horizons beckon. One would be a 75-win season -- 75! And let's not forget, the last time the White Sox won 75 games was 1999. And six post-Y2K years later, they were world champs. So set your fireworks for 2025, if man is still alive.
A compelling internal factor should be that both franchises are now in seasons with enormous implications regarding future profitability. Those future dollars, predictably, hinge on all-sources distribution of both games and brand.
Best-case scenario when the Cubs launch their new Marquee Network would be a theatrical chug to the World Series.
Worst case would be a debut on the blues of a 77-85 season and an Epstein exit. (San Diego, hello.)
A prudent business mind might suggest that all steps should have been taken in the past five months to absolutely minimize the chances of such a significant disconnect.
Instead, the Ricketts clan was busy pleading poor and burning through goodwill like Joel Osteen adding My Victoria slot machines to the pews at his Lakewood Church.
Post-Cubs, the White Sox will be flying naked next season as the only MLB team remaining on NBC Sports Chicago.
According to Nielsen data, the Reinsdorf ensemble also ranked 29th and last in regional ratings for American-based MLB teams in 2018. (Toronto isn't included.)
That's not good.
Nor, apparently, in Chicago, are hard truths as yet another uncertain MLB season drifts in.
PORTER MOSER WENT FROM postseason back channeling to national limelight late last week when the CBS/Turner combine summoned him to Atlanta to serve as a guest studio analyst on its second-round coverage of the NCAA tournament.
"They called my agent on Wednesday, I was in Atlanta Friday night and did a brief run through before going on air late Saturday afternoon," the Loyola head coach said. "They told me they wanted naturalness from a coach's perspective rather than a lot of statistics and stuff so that's what I gave them.
"I think the most personal insight I had was when I was commenting over video from the locker room of Johnny Dawkins and Central Florida after that incredible loss to Duke. I was saying with deep honesty that the scene and emotion looked just like our locker room last year after the (Final Four) loss to Michigan."
The Naperville-bred Moser also didn't flinch when asked about his coaching future.
"I love Loyola, I love Chicago and I'm happy," he said. "But I'm also not going to be a hypocrite and not say that someday, somewhere there might be a different set of circumstances and a different job for me."
STREET-BEATIN': Absolute classic "Oceans Forever" Final Four should have been Kelvin Sampson's Houston, Bruce Pearl's Auburn, John Calipari's Kentucky and whatever alligator baiter is coaching LSU. Championship weekend games could have been officiated by FBI agents. … Those rumors about Jim Paxson and the Phoenix GM job won't go away; Big Brother has been with the Bulls since 2006 and was also the exec who drafted LeBron James for Cleveland in 2003. … Suburban prodigy Doug Ghim -- low amateur at last year's Masters -- is back in the Peach State this weekend in the Web.Com Tour's Savannah Golf Classic; he's also using a new putter crafted by Titleist's venerable Scotty Cameron. … Remarkably snoozy Opening Day morning show Thursday on WSCR-AM (670), the Cubs play-by-play rights holder; Les Grobstein recounting Jose Cardenal's five greatest hits would have packed more wallop. … News that once extremely angry singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette is pregnant with her third child renewed some interest in who, exactly, was the object of her gut-punchy classic "You Oughta Know." No. 1 answer has always been ex-Blackhawks enforcer Mike Peluso, now assignment scouting out of Minneapolis and much too much of a gentleman to confirm or deny -- publicly. … And slicing into a staple of neo-goofy sports truthiness, Graham Couch of The Lansing (Mich.) State Journal runs a regular "Made-Up Mailbag." This week he reports: "(Football-weary) Michigan State fans would rather lose to Duke in the Elite Eight than to Michigan in the Final Four."