press-box confidential

The Sports Media Goes Political!

Mixing sports and politics has always been awkward. Almost as awkward as this handshake between Brady Quinn and Sarah Palin.

Given that the rest of the planet is obsessed with the presidential race, it’s little surprise that the sports media is also enraptured. Once we got over the jarring befuddlement of hearing Tom Cruise narrate a segment on SportsCenter, we switched to ESPN Radio and heard, yes, more election talk.

John McCain is likely wondering what he can do to get back into the race, but all he needs to do is listen to ESPN Radio’s Brandon Tierney, who last night laid out a simple two-step plan. First, he has to hope that the economy miraculously recovers in the next two weeks (simple, right?). Then, he has to hope that Barack Obama says something stupid in the 30-minute commercial he’s planning for October 29, which Tierney, a McCain supporter, thinks is a bad idea on Obama’s part. (In his terms — sports-analogy alert! — it’s an 80-yard Hail Mary pass when he just needs to run out the clock.) And why would Tierney even be talking about this? Because the commercial entered the domain of sports punditry the minute Major League Baseball agreed to push the first pitch of a potential World Series Game 6 back by about twenty minutes to accommodate Obama.

And in the interest of equal time, we invite you to head over to Obama supporter and excitable broadcaster Gus Johnson’s Website, where you can download, no joke, a ringtone of him introducing “the 44th president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama,” while a crowd cheers and “Hail to the Chief” plays in the background. We suppose it’s for the Obama fan who just wants to hear that phrase out loud, but in the absolutely coolest way possible. And all for the low, low price of 99 cents!

Of course, the real political sports news of the week involves McCain’s running mate (and former sports anchor!) Sarah Palin. Palin, like any politician, slightly alters her stump speech for different demographics and geographic locales. That’s fine. But one thing you CAN’T do is align yourself with a baseball team in one state, and then support their opponents in the next one. Is she cheering for the Rays? Or the Red Sox? Neither, of course, and both. (Wait until she speaks in Pennsylvania.)

If the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, we suspect Governor Palin will show less confusion.

The Sports Media Goes Political!