TV mania

In one of the sneaky big sports stories of the summer, the AT&T and Time Warner merger was approved earlier this week.

Whether we realize it or not, this will forever alter a lot of the way sports are sold and distributed in the years to come. 

It also, as Clay Travis points out here, will have a dramatic effect on the following major sports players. And in a day and age in which more and more of us are a) DVRing almost everything we watch, b) are cutting the cable cord, and c) are accessing what we watch through individual devices, the need to have live sports has never been higher. Live sports are the last thing that will ever be DVRed. Live sports generate a ton of social media interaction. Live sports dominate the TV ratings, even if those numbers are falling.

Leagues — be them professional or major college — will benefit greatly from having another power player in the bidding process.

Networks now have more competition, and ask yourself if power internet players such as Apple, Facebook and Amazon and others are going to be happy letting AT&T getting a jump start on sports distribution rights. Think of the advantages of Apple having, say Mondaynight football. And if you think, well, Apple does not have a TV network (and remember there are a lot of Fox assets on the bidding block right now too), what if Apple co-oped the TV deal with the NFL Network but also broadcast the games for free on all Apple devices? This entire deal could change the way sports are distributed and the way they are viewed. Seriously.

We have long said that the best value in TV sports is the CBS deal with the SEC. When that deal comes up, the $55 million a year price could very well reach $250 million a year. Heck, if ESPN is paying billions for a crap-tastic Monday night game, the SEC title game by itself is worth $55 million, never mind the rest of the regular-season slate.

And then there is ESPN, which now has more competition on the open market. 

Yes, Travis has made a lucrative cottage industry out of throwing stones at ESPN. (Yes, the series of bonehead decisions from Bristol has made that stone-throwing much easier at times, but ESPN-bashing has become an ATM for Travis.)

ESPN has been losing money and sadly laying off people. Cable in general has lost millions of subscribers per year, and that has hurt ESPN way more than any decision viewed by whichever political side.

But can ESPN afford to get into a bidding war with Apple, AT&T or whomever for the billion-dollar MNF package? If not, without the NFL, how much does that hurt ESPN's asking price to cable providers, a number that already is the biggest among non-premium channels?

The answers are unavailable right now, but the questions just became way more interesting.   

U,S, Open preview

OK, let's get to this.

Which way are we going with our U.S. Open pick on a which way Wednesday?

Well, if Dustin Johnson is the favorite, he's out. Only once in the last 39 majors has the favorite won and that was Rory in 2014 at the PGA.

Tiger Woods still has some distance to make up, so he's out. (Side note: The story of Tiger putting his yacht in the Atlantic and sailing up to New York for this Open is pretty awesome sauce, right? It's pretty easy to forget that Tiger has made more than $1 billion in his golf career. Price tag on Tiger's "dinghy" as he calls it? $20 million.)

It feels like too many people are pro-Justin Rose, so scratch him off the list.

Justin Thomas seems a little too volatile on himself — something that has plagued Mickelson at this tournament for decades — so we'll leave him off. (Though his game is a strong fit for this course. We may regret this one.)

Jordan Spieth. Too many holes in his game right now, even if those holes are quite small. Here's the thing with Spieth: If he's going to ever get to that place Tiger was when we expected him to win every single major — remember the question being "Tiger or the field" back in the day? — Spieth has to get to the place Tiger was in this one specific aspect. It has nothing to do with the charisma, the tee ball, the club spinning or the clothes. When Tiger was at the peak of his powers, he made everything he stood over 7-feet and in. Everything. We were surprised when he missed a 6-footer and so was he. Right now Spieth is spotty from that must-make intermediate range.

Rory McIlroy. We stand by our contention that Rory's best is currently better than everyone else's best, so if he puts it together, well there you go. The demands off the tee help McIlroy's chances, and we expect him to contend.

But he is not our pick.

Yes, our pick is an old fav. A guy we have followed for years.

We'll take Jason Day this weekend. Which way are you going?     

End of the era?

Our Press Row cohost David Paschall has seen more than a few Lookouts games. He has covered the team for more than 15 years.

He readily admits that the best player to come through BellSouth and now AT&T was Miguel Cabrera, who was with a Carolina Mudcats team that crushed the Lookouts multiple, multiple times.

Cabrera has a strong argument as the best right-handed hitter of the last 25 years. He has a triple crown. He is a good season away from 500 career homers and two mediocre seasons away from 3,000 hits. (There are six dudes in that club: Aaron, mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and A-Rod. That's six pretty stout names.)

Cabrera's career numbers are awesome: .316 career average, 465 homers, 1,635 RBIs, .946 OPS. He has four batting titles, two home run titles and seven Silver Sluggers.

Now remember this: Cabrera is only 35. 

That makes Tuesday's news of a shredded biceps tendon so devastating. If he had, let's say three or four more average to below average seasons in front of him — something that is fair to expect since before battling injuries last season, his previous four years in Detroit were as productive as any he has had in the majors.

If he had averaged, say 30 homers — he has averaged 33 during his career — 150 hits (averaged 191) and 100 RBIs (averaged 117) — for the next four years, that puts him at 585 homers, 3,276 hits and 2,035 RBIs. Those numbers would rank 11th in homers (one behind Frank Robinson), 12th all-time in hits (six behind Willie Mays and 29 behind Eddie Collins for 10th) and fourth in RBIs.

(This does not even cover the investment the Tigers have in Cabrera, who is owed $162 million over the next five years.)

That price tag makes sense for the Miggy Cabrera of old. But who knows what he will be after missing the rest of this year and a potentially good chunk of next year.

And who knew it from the beginning? Paschall.       

This and that

— Andrew Luck threw a football Tuesday. It was not an NFL football. This whole story is weird. 

— On a serious note, I would literally set my money on fire before I bought a ticket to a Kathy Griffin anything. Seriously. You know the completely unfunny hack's back story by now and here is an awful and tail-kissing Q&A from someone named Lyndsey Parker with Yahoo Entertainment. Parker is either looking for a job on Griffin's staff, on Griffin's staff or working for the Democratic party.  Whether it was the gall or being completely oblivious, Parker asked Griffin about being cyber-bullied. WHAT? Griffin did something unbelievably stupid and in unbelievably poor taste and she paid the price for it. Now the backlash has come and like far too many of our citizens Kathy Griffin is trying to find ways to blame everyone but Kathy Griffin.

— And this is why we wish the Twitter and Chief would take one final bow on social media and unload a "This will be final commentary on this or any other social media platform. To those who have supported me, thank you. To those that have opposed me, your welcome for the thriving economy. To those that hate me, well, God bless all AMERICANS everywhere." Who is advising POTUS anyway, and how hard would that actually be. It came to me sitting here after making my dad breakfast for Pete's sake. (Of course the latest Twitter flap is the hubbub of misusing "to" rather than "too" in a response to arrogant potty mouth Robert DeNiro.

— Speaking of Hollywood, has anyone else noticed that way more male actors have time to throw curse words and insults toward the First Family than they have to say about the Weinsteins or the Woody Allens or so many other of the Hollywood predators? Whatever.

— Reggie Bush has never lived up to his RB1 hype coming out of USC. He got an RB1 paycheck Tuesday when a St. Louis court agreed with Bush's lawsuit that the Rams' concrete around the complex — which caused Bush to slip and tear his ACL — comprised an unsafe workplace. (Argue all you want about the ridiculousness of a job as dangerous as NFL running back, that the 'unsafe' part of his work place is the footing around the complex.) Either way, the court agreed with Bush and granted him $12.5 million. (Side question: Do you think the verdict would have been the same and as steep from a St. Louis court if the Rams had stayed in St. Louis? Discuss.)  

— Kudos to this high school football player who turned a misdirected text into a signed Mike Evans jersey. (Side question: How does misdirected texts not happen more frequently, you know?)

— Kick back? Fox, which has the World Cup broadcast for the foreseeable future, is missing the chance to show the U.S. team in this year's Cup. But the news that the U.S. landed hosting rights for 2026 — which also is on Fox — guarantees that the U.S. is in the draw. That will make some Fox Sports execs smile.

Today's question

Lots of which ways for a Wednesday above. Help yourself.

On this day in 1920, the US Post office rules that children can't be sent by parcel post. So there's that.

Red Grange would have been 115 today. Tim Allen is 65.

Wow, Tim Russet died a decade ago today. Chuck Noll died four years ago today. 

The Olsen Twins are 32 today. Wow, that will make you feel old, right?

Rushmore of twins. Go.