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Friday, July 30, 2010

Top Ten Reasons To Love Skip Bayless

(Note: Please click on the links. It makes the article that much better, like watching "Fantasia" on acid.)

(Note 2: Just say "No" to drugs.)

Every morning I wake up at 5:30, and I have the same routine. Hit my snooze button for a half an hour, because it bugs my girlfriend. Stumble to the bathroom for the morning number one or two (a combo if I'm really lucky). Wash up. Head to the kitchen and start a pot of coffee. Turn on the television, check the DVR for last nights "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (black nerd alert). Watch it and pretend I'm smart. Morning push-ups (for the ladies), prepare breakfast, drink coffee.

All this ends at 7 am.

At 7 am, I turn to ESPN2 for "First Take". Now, it's another story for another day, but just know that I'm aware the show is goofy. I know it used to be called "Cold Pizza". I know that a "real sports fan" would never watch the show. That's why most of you probably have never seen it.

Oh, what's that? You have? Let me guess why. Two words:

Skip Bayless.

Love him or hate him...well, more than likely you hate him. But that's cool. I'm gonna give you some perspective that'll change your mind in a second. Bayless is the polarizing, talking head who appears regularly (as in every damn day) on a segment of the show called "1st and 10" (here's a sample). A former journalist and author (a very good one, in fact), Bayless is supposed to represent the old-school, sports writer point of view on a variety of daily topics divided over, get this, four downs.

(Get it? 1st and 10? Four downs? Cliche' much?)

Anyways, Bayless has reinvented himself on this show as an entertaining curmudgeon who will often take positions on the debate topics that will leave you either A.) scratching your head, B.) wondering if he really believes what he's saying, or C.) yelling obscenities at your television. You'll rarely agree with anything he has to say, but you'll watch him as he says it.

And that, people, is what we in the business call "entertainment".

Whether its his ridiculous arguments, his passion, or his uncanny ability to look like a cross between Woody from "Toy Story", Ernest, and Heath Ledger's version of the Joker, he has that thing that makes people watch. Most who watch will say they hate him. I've even said it in the past. But I've realized the error in my ways. So, without further ado, the "Top Ten Reasons To Love Skip Bayless"

10.) He really was an excellent writer. Check out his Wiki page. He started out very young in the sports journalism business, and has carried a bit of that "young mentality" with him, even in his old (58) age. Hell Bent was a classic book about the crazies within the Dallas Cowboy locker room and front office.

9.) His brother, Rick Bayless, is a world renowned chef with a television show on PBS. He's even won a Humanitarian award. How can you not like someone who's related to someone like that? Did Hitler have a brother that did anything cool or nice? No, he did not.

8.) He usually argues against black people. Check out here, here, here, and here. That's harder than you think. We live in a very "PC" wold these days. Given the variety of topics, and the sensitivity of the issues, he navigates the whole "white guy yelling at black people" thing pretty well.
That's not to say that I've never questioned if he harbored some racist feelings at one time or another. And I'm not alone.

7.) He listens to hip-hop. Not like those old white guys who try and sound cool by saying they listen to hip-hop. He actually does, and has had Lil Wayne, and Bow Wow (amongst others) come on the show to debate him. He's had a rapper AND a sound a dog makes, debate him on TV. That's pretty damn cool if you ask me.

6.) He's made Chad Ochocinco's career ten times more relevant than it ever should be. Bayless first started critiquing Ochocinco for his behavior back in 2005-06, when he was known as "Chad Johnson", a pretty good wide receiver on a crappy team (Bengals) in a city no one cares about (Cincinnati).
What started as a few comments made on a small cable program quickly grew when Johnson/Ochocinco, a media-whore by nature, used multiple venues to respond to things Bayless said. Their war of words continued, and then this little thing called "Twitter" was created. Johnson/Ochocinco lobbed a few grenades, and Bayless did so as well. Before long, Johnson/Ochocinco was a guest on "1st and 10". Shortly after that, Johnson/Ochocinco appeared on "Dancing With the Stars". This summer, Johnson/Ochocinco debuted his own reality show on VH1 called "The Ultimate Catch".
I call this the "Bayless Bump". Johnson/Ochocinco has been on the downside of his career for three years now. The numbers don't necessarily show it, but his team hadn't been in the playoffs since 2005 prior to last season, and that was only the other time his team had done so. Meanwhile, Johnson/Ochocino's self-promotion now had "marketing" in the terms of Bayless making his actions conversational topics for each of the past 5 years.
But at least Bayless seems to like Johnson/Ochocinco. That's more than I can say for...

5.) Terrell Owens must have done something terrible and personal to Skip. Because, atthis point in time, there really seems to be no other logical reason that Bayless saves his most vitriolic critique for Owens. If you're reading this blog, you know enough about sports to know the name Terrell Owens. All-pro wide receiver with Hall of Fame numbers who's burned his fair share of bridges on different teams he's played for.
Well, that's putting it lightly. Owens (allegedly) called one former teammate "gay", said his team would've won the Super Bowl if not for another quarterback (watch this starting at 4:30), and cried for a quarterback, then claimed he was conspiring against him.
What's not to like?
Still, Bayless has never let up on Owens. He refers to him as "Team Obliterator", among other names. He claims that he is a real life cancer in a locker room. He "poo-poos" his great plays and accentuates his dropped passes. Unlike other athletes, he doesn't seem to want Owens to appear on "1st and 10". At times, I get the feeling that he really wishes harm on Owens. And that makes for good television. Here's a classic example.
He even goes in on T.O. on Twitter. Check this out from @RealSkipBayless today:

"Bill Walsh once told me 1) T.O. was as smart as any player ever had in meetings 2) psychological issues made him unreachable, uncoachable."
Walsh, then a 49er advisor, loved Jeff Garcia. T.O. criticized his arm. Yet Garcia-to-T.O. led NFL in TDs 2 yrs before Niners said enough."
My challenge stands: I will debate Ocho AND Owens on live TV. Any time, any place. But Owens is afraid of me because I know too much."

What does he know? I want to know.

4.) Again, he usually argues against black people. This is something extremely unique to this. Think about it. Hoe often do you get to see black people in sports media? Now, subtract the number of those who are former athletes, musicians, or actors promoting a new movie. Now who comes to mind?
See, not as many as you think.
Bayless gives a lot of black journalist/media a platform to show their face on a pretty popular program. He's been able to raise the profile of people like Michael Smith, Jemele Hill, Rob Parker (who regularly gets his ass handed to him), Scoop Jackson, Howard Bryant, Doug and Ryan Stewart (The 2 Live Stews), Terrence Moore, and a host of others. This is a big deal to me, because I'm black, and I'm not above playing the race card if it'll get me some face time. Works for Jesse and Al.
Seriously though, there is something to be said for Bayless providing his stage, since most who come on will be in disagreement with what he has to say. I know for a fact that it is what pulled me into watch so many years ago.
But... when Stephen A. Smith is on there with him, I sometimes want to stab my eyes out.

3.) Charles Barkley HATES him. See this, and this. Enough said.

2.) He'll never concede an argument, even when he's been proven wrong. The proven wrong part gets him the most. Watch him squirm as Jalen Rose counters his argument and breaks down his hatred T.O. of a certain player we'll talk about in a sec. These are the best moments of the show to me. Not because I like to see a grown man squirm, but because I love to see it. Especially when it's someone who has taken extremely critical stances on people and situations without being called to task on their own shortcomings, or the error in their judgment. (Note: please do not show this post to any children I may have in the future. I'm a hypocrite. Sue me.)

1.) He was absolutely right on Lebron James. You may not remember this, but it was only about a month ago that Lebron James was the most beloved athlete in all of the NBA, and the highest approval rating of celebrity athletes according to a Sports Illustrated Poll. The day after "The Decision", James saw that approval rating dip from 78 percent positive, to 81 percent negative.

There was one person, though, who never had their opinion changed. Mr. Skip Bayless.

The "Diabolical Hater", as he's sometimes known, has been railing full force against "Prince James" for a full five years now. He actually began to let up once James made his announcement that he'd be going to join the Miami Heat, citing James recognizing his inability to come through in the clutch. Scoop Jackson summed up those of us who'd watched Bayless bash James over the years waiting for James to prove him wrong in a recent blog post titled, "LeBron James, you've proven Skip Bayless right". If you're like me, you read it, you remember everything he'd said, you nod your head, and shake it off. Basically, you now know how Bayless feels every time he gets owned on "1st and 10".

And in my opinion, you gotta love it.

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