Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday October 7, 2010
Last week in this very space, BSNews reported that Brian France had been given the Stupidest Man Actually Living and Loose (SMALL) award. Now, as you may have figured out by now, (and if you haven’t, you may give France a run for his money during next year’s awards) BSNews is just that… BS!
However, during that report, I made up some quotes attributed to Brian. I do my best to try and write like he talks whenever I do that, but quite frankly, it gives me a headache thinking down to that level. The following is a prime example… and I assure you it is not BS! It’s on the subject of upcoming changes that NASCAR is planning for the Chase…
“We’re going to make changes in the Chase that we think would serve us well for many, many years,” NASCAR chairman Brian France said earlier this year. “If that means it’s not something we’re reacting to, whether it’s lower ratings than we want… we look at these things annually. We looked at it very hard last year…but we didn’t think the timing was right. But whatever we do, it will be with the industry having lots of chances to weigh in, and us in the end thinking this is something that we can build around that enhances winning, enhances the championship, gives us more of a playoff field than we currently have now, if that’s where we end up.”
Go ahead, take your time and re-read it as many times as you need. Everyone else does, including myself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many times you read it, you still will not have a clue as to what was actually said after the first sentence, so I will begin there.
First of all, we started this Chase nonsense in 2004. Since then, it has been modified from 10 drivers to 12. There have been 6 “Chase Cups” handed out among 3 drivers: Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and of course, the last four to Jimmie Johnson. This year will mark our seventh Chase Cup champion. Those are facts. But wait, let’s back up the train a bit here!
Wasn’t the whole idea of the “Chase” back in ‘03 supposed to be the biggest and best thing to last us for “many, many years?” Oh, that’s right… Junior was having trouble making it in…better expand it to 12…oh, and let’s give the drivers ten extra points for a win ‘cause that’s what the fans want! NOW it is good for many, many years!
But wait once again! In the only seven (obviously “many, many” in Brian years) years the Chase has been in existence, it has been “tweaked” twice, but that wasn’t good enough. Now all of a sudden Brian France and NASCAR think they have FINALLY come up with the changes that WILL serve us well for many, many MORE years? Give me a freakin’ break!!!
The reality is, they don’t have a clue as to what to do and are just too damn stupid and stubborn to admit it. Instead, they are grasping for straws and excuses.
When France says “whatever we do, it will be with the industry having lots of chances to weigh in,” what he means is “the networks who paid me billions of dollars might know what to do,” so let’s look at one of those network’s ideas, namely ESPN.
That network, mind you, is almost as stupid as France, and I offer the following as proof:
“It’s concerning to us. We’re looking at every single factor that we can possibly look at,” said ESPN Vice President of Programming & Acquisitions Julie Sobieski. “There’s so many things that are potentially at play. The rating declines that we’ve seen are not from broadcast-only homes. We know it’s not from the drop of broadcast to cable. Last year, ESPN outdelivered ABC. We don’t think it’s attributed to that.”
And just what does ESPN think the problem is? Well, the start times are too early! Can you believe that? It’s true.
“While during the rest of the year that may not be a factor, it is something we are paying attention to in conjunction with the start of the NFL season,” Sobieski said. “Whereas when it was at 2 o’clock, we were ending that race at the beginning of the 4 o’clock [NFL game] window. We’re now concluding those races right up against the 1 o’clock windows. That’s just one factor we’re trying to looking into. We need some more research. The first two weeks isn’t enough to tell us that.”
All that, just after NASCAR got done trumpeting how “they listened to the fans” and gave us earlier, uniform starting times! Guess us fans are stupid after all. I can see it now… one of the changes to the Chase will be… first 26 races will have the same earlier, uniform start times, all Chase races will be started when ESPN sees fit. Since when does ESPN know a damn thing about what NASCAR fans want? In the end, ESPN wants to sell an “elimination style” playoff system to us fans and NASCAR. What they fail to realize is that we ALREADY have that…its called sucking in the last ten races!!! Duh! Any Chaser who doesn’t do well the first few races is pretty well out of it anyway! What a bunch of morons. ESPN does stand for Entertainment & Sports Programming Network… maybe this whole Chase thing is just not good “entertainment” (it sure ain’t sports!) Perhaps that is why ratings are down. But what do I know?
While NASCAR’s best idea is to once again increase the number of spots in the Chase from 12 to 15, stars of our sport, past and present, have their own ideas on how to change the Chase…
Kurt Busch suggests the Chasers have their own points system.
“The first Chase guy would get 12 points no matter where he finishes, and the last Chase guy would get 1, that could be a scenario,” said Busch.
Man, you can almost feel Kurt’s brain hurting after thinking that hard! Way to go, Kurt! I think Jeff Burton feels the same about Kurt’s idea as I do…
“Our series is built on racing the entire field,” Burton said. “If you finish 35th, you should get 35th points, not 12th-place points. You should get the points you earn that day based on the entire field. If you win the race and you are a points guy, let’s say three people finish second, third and fourth that aren’t in the Chase … well the next guy that’s in the Chase, he didn’t finish second, he finished fifth. He wasn’t second best, he was fifth and should be awarded fifth-place points.”
While Burton did agree that a separate system might appear to be more exciting, “…it is not the most fair way to crown a champion.” Score one for common sense!
This next one is almost unbelievable…
“You have to remember these guys have built this sport over the last 60-plus years because they’re smart and have good people around them who are smart,” Tony Stewart said. “Guys like myself, we don’t worry about it, because there is someone else thinking a lot deeper than we are. It doesn’t matter to us. As long as we know what the format is, then we know what we have to do to win it.”
Tony Stewart said that!??? Tony Stewart, once considered the most outspoken, rebel voice in NASCAR!? Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Tony must have secretly gotten married since he became a team owner? Someone sure has his balls tucked in their purse somewhere! Sounds like they might be found in Mr. France’s purse! “…they’re smart and have good people around them who are smart.” Man, that is RICH!!
Possibly the only one who truly doesn’t care, as Tony said, is Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus.
“I don’t care what the points system is, how many drivers, what tracks, I will show up and do everything I can to try and win the championship,” Johnson said. “I could care less. Whatever the scenario is, I’ll race it, and I feel like our team is strong enough to be competitive in any format.”
Yup, been there, seen that! Hopefully not again this year.
There is, however, another voice of reason…someone who sounds like he has been reading this very column for the last 7 years, former Cup Champion and now ESPN employee, Dale Jarrett.
“I hate that scenario, (ESPN’s idea of elimination) even though the company I work for proposed it,” Jarrett said. “Our sport is different because others participate and so many things can happen. It’s not like those two drivers are going head to head. If we’re going to get down to two drivers, they should have their own race.”
This next part is the déjà vu part…getting rid of the Chase altogether…
“People say, the drivers don’t think enough about winning,” continued Jarrett. “I promise you everybody thinks about winning, and I’ve said that forever, and I know that’s the case, but if you want to put an emphasis on winning, make that first spot worth 60 more points. Even if someone jumps out to a 200-point lead, he can lose that lead in three races if a Tony Stewart or Kyle Busch gets on a three-race wining streak. Even if that driver who was leading finishes second, he’s lost 180 of his 200-point lead, and now we have a battle.”
Why should anyone listen to Dale Jarrett? Well, the Bible says in Proverbs, and I am paraphrasing here, gray hair is a sign of a long life, and of the wisdom gained from their experiences throughout their years!
Who wants to bet that Brian France is lining up Just for Men as his next corporate sponsor!
Stay off the wall,
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