The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, which has plans to open a physical space in Milwaukee this spring about five miles east of Miller Park and just southeast of Marquette University, first created bobbleheads for its “Super Fans” collection in honor of Michael Poll, a Special Olympics manager of the Milwaukee Panthers sports teams. It also functioned as a way to raise money for Special Olympics.
Others added to the group include Dodgers fans Bluehawk and Bobby Crosby, the later commemorating his snowcone catch of a home-run ball in the Dodger Stadium pavilion in 2015. Also featured were McCovey Cove Dave (San Francisco Giants), Ronnie Woo Woo (Chicago Cubs), Front Row Amy (Milwaukee Brewers), Cane Freak (Miami Hurricanes), Soxman (Chicago White Sox) and Zack Hample, the famous ball-hawk from Chicago.
But none of them have had two bobbleheads in their honor like Frank Mercado, aka Hiccups The Clown.
C’mon, who was going to watch an NFL prime-time game on New Year’s Eve anyway? Didn’t the league learn anything from what college football tried even with some national semifinal games?
The NFL didn’t even need the prescribed six days before deciding that Dec. 31, the final Sunday of the 2017 regular season, didn’t have a game worth moving to NBC for a 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET kickoff.
“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. windows,” said NFL broadcasting chief Howard Katz in a statement. “This ensures that we do not have a match-up on Sunday Night Football on New Year’s Eve that because of earlier results has no playoff implications for one or both of the competing teams.”
Someone must have also reminded someone that the last time the NFL held a Sunday night game on New Year’s Eve was in 2006 — Chicago hosted Green Bay, in Brett Favre’s final game with the Packers, and thought to be his final game ever. It didn’t matter. It drew 13.4 million viewers, or about 25 percent fewer than usually watched a Sunday Night Football game that season.
While there were a couple of Week 17 games that could have been moved — consider the Chargers’ contest at StubHub Center against Oakland, even if that might terrorize the surrounding Carson neighborhood as night-time fell — there was more reason to keep things as they were, but instead shove all the playoff-implication games into the 1:15 p.m. PT window, head to head.
Even then, some were not publicly pleased.
“I don’t think the NFL did us any favors by moving it back,” Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday about the fact his team’s game against visiting Cincinnati was shifted from 1 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. ET. “But they don’t care about us. So, we just have to care about ourselves. We have to take care of our own business. That goes for our team, for our fans and for our city. Let’s go win the football game.”
It all sounds like one of those “us against the league” type of rally cries, so good for him. The Ravens are trying to capture one of the two final wild-card spots in the AFC as are the Chargers.
As as the NFL moves five games into that afternoon window, those East Coast teams affected are led to believe this will hurt their attendance because of people who already have New Year’s Eve plans.
Had Cincinnati-Baltimore, Jacksonville-Tennessee and Buffalo-Miami stayed in the early window, their outcomes could have an affect on how the Chargers treated their game against the Raiders.
With both Fox and CBS getting two games to show Sunday — and NBC left waiting for one more TV airing in the playoffs Jan. 6 — the problem now is whether there’s even a game worth watching in the early window.
(One more strange fact to consider: Dallas, Washington, Green Bay, San Francisco and the N.Y. Giants will all miss the playoffs this season — the first time that’s happened in the so-called “Super Bowl Era” of games since the mid-’60s.)
Here’s how it unfolds (no games Thursday or Saturday or Sunday night):
* Chicago (5-10) at Minnesota (12-3, NFC North winner): 10 a.m., Channel 11 (Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver). This one goes to 61 percent of the country. The other Fox choices are 8-7 Dallas at 13-2 and NFC East winner Philadelphia (Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber), 7-8 Washington at 2-13 N.Y. Giants (Sam Rosen, Matt Millen) and 7-8 Green Bay at 8-7 Detroit (Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth)
* N.Y. Jets (5-10) at New England (12-3, AFC East winner): 10 a.m., Channel 2 (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson). The other CBS choices are 0-15 Cleveland at 12-3 and AFC North winner Pittsburgh (Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta) and 4-11 Houston at 3-12 Indianapolis (Tom McCarthy, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein), both of which go to their respective markets of interest.
* Chargers (8-7) vs. Oakland (6-9): 1:15 p.m., Channel 2 (Kevin Harland, Rich Gannon, Amanda Balionis) That leaves us trying to decipher how the Chargers get in with a win (or even a tie) while these are being played simultaneously on CBS: 6-9 Cincinnati at 9-6 Baltimore (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts), 10-5 and NFC South winner Jacksonville at 8-7 Tennessee (Greg Gumbel, Trent Green), 8-7 Buffalo at 6-9 Miami (Andrew Catalon, James Lofton) and, for good measure, 9-6 and AFC West winner Kansas City at 5-10 Denver (Beth Mowins, Jay Feely).
* Rams (11-4, NFC West winner) vs. San Francisco (5-10): 1:15 p.m., Channel 11 (Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Jenny Taft) Look who gets a home game. Davis, the Dodgers’ TV play-by-play man, has his college football partner here for a game that becomes less important than the others — only 11 percent of the country will get it — so they’ve been enlisted. The other Fox games going on here that we will surely get updates from as the day progresses: Carolina-Atlanta (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, going to 72 percent of the country), as the Panthers can still get a first-round bye with a win plus a few other things to fall into place; New Orleans-Tampa Bay (Thom Brennaman, Chris Stillman) and Arizona-Seattle (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston)
Earlier this month, when the SportsBusiness Journal decided to name Donald Trump as its “Most Influential Person in Sports Business” this year, executive editor Abe Madkour wrote:
“This isn’t the choice we wanted to make. But when pressed to decide who had the greatest influence … positive or negative … for his angry, loud and visceral rhetoric that has divided the sports industry and caused massive reaction, response and reflection,” Trump checked all the boxes for them.
It pained Madkour and the SBJ that in a year when stories of what J.J. Watt, Chris Long, and Doug Baldwin did “represented the biggest influencers of 2017, examples of influence that bring us together rather than pushing us apart,” it was unfortunate “we can’t in good conscience” overlook Trump’s train-wreck-type impact.
That’s about the best explanation we can borrow in trying to justify the Ball family choice made for our 2017 Sports Person(s) of the Year.
Cases could be made for Rams coach Sean McVay, running back Todd Gurley, quarterback Jared Goff or GM Les Snead, reflective of the team’s turnaround. USC blind long snapper Jake Olson (Huntington Beach/Orange Lutheran HS) and his inspirational story. Dodgers third baseman and Lakewood native Justin Turner, relief ace Kenley Jansen or rookie teammate Cody Bellinger for their Fall Classic run. Summer Olympics negotiator and L.A. native Casey Wasserman, for what he brought, or retiring Kings broadcaster Bob Miller, for what he left us.
They all brought the goods.
But the Ball family had the goods, bads and the uglies. It was a 21st Century version of Fred MacMurray and “My Three Sons,” without network censors.
Yes, we got email from readers about this choice. Here are some of your responses (names withheld) sent directly to me, with my thoughts:
== “Needless to say I don’t need to waste many words in that I’m sure you will be inundated with responses to your embarrassing article featuring the Ball Family. While I have many obvious points to make it is the fact as a father of young athletes myself their circus act sets a horrible example. You should be embarrassed for promoting it!”
If you don’t promote the story, no one reads it. If you didn’t read it, you’d not have been inclined to respond. Thanks for responding and adding to the dialogue.
== “You must be kidding to make these guys sports persons of the year. Absolutely a joke. If I could get the Orange County Register I would drop you guys like a hot potato.”
Please, no physical harm. We didn’t intend to harm you.
== “This is why I’m just about giving up on Sports. I’m sick and tired of hearing sports writers praise a—whole people. And people like you just keep giving all of our (sic) more and more publicity.”
We don’t think we were praising anyone here, just pointing out all the news they made.
== “I find this totally appalling.”
We’re not all that pleased with the selection either, but it is what it is.
== “Sports Persons of the Year? Give me a break. LaVar Ball deserves Jackass of the Year, but that’s about it. I really don’t understand the obsession of the press with the Balls, especially LaVar. I guess you will do anything to sell papers. LaVar is nothing but an obnoxious, self-serving, loudmouth, publicity hound exploiting his children for personal gain. My life would be immeasurably improved if I never heard or saw another word about the Balls.”
Truth is, the Balls made the news, we just reported on it.
== “I have been a long time subscriber of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin but after reviewing the article on the Sports Persons of the Year I’m contemplating canceling my subscription. I’m appalled at the recognition given to a person representing our country and local community to boldly steal items in another country. They should have paid the price for their actions but were released possibly from the assistance of our government officials. Unfortunately some members of the family didn’t appreciate efforts to have them released.
“Then there is the issue of taking a 16 year old out of high school for “Home Schooling.” I’m just questioning where the checks and balances come into play for this child’s education. Was this action in the child’s best interest?
“So you recognize this group for “Sports Persons of the Year.” What kind of example are you setting for our children? It’s OK to steal and drop out of high school? You put this group in the same category as past recipients such as last year’s winner Vince Scully? Unconscionable.
“You have disgraced this award and I hope that some of the past recipients return their awards in denouncing your actions.”
You bring up many points that what we brought up as well — they questioned our values and believes in what is right and what isn’t. Have they hurt anyone along this way? Sometimes, they make a lot of noise that isn’t pleasant to hear. If you look at the past recipients, there are a few in there who aren’t really ‘winners.’ It’s how the thing is framed.
== “Giving any publicity at all to that unethical egomaniac LaVar Ball just shows how far we have fallen as a country. God help us all!”
== “Great pick for your “Sports Persons Of The Year”. You and the rest of the decision makers at OC Register Sports are morons. Merry Christmas!”
== “I can hardly keep my lox and eggs breakfast down after reading your story on the selection of the so-called “Sports Persons of the Year.” So something called the Southern California News Group decides to ignore several legitimate candidates (Andrew Friedman comes immediately to mind) in favor of a basketball family headed up by a loud-mouthed Little League Dad who is best known for his obnoxious self-promotion? This is the same guy who basically defended his second oldest son, who, while a guest in China and a representative of UCLA and the NCAA, decided along with a couple of other players, to go on a shopping spree of the five-fingered discount variety, resulting in embarrassing the school, the NCAA, the country and himself. Of his three sons, only one has legitimate professional-legal talent, and he is one you have heard little from. Since this News Group has become involved with this fish wrap of a publication, the paper and this Sports section has gone steadily downhill. This, however, is too much. It is a sad symptom of the Kardashian/Trump society we now live in, and the paper, and anyone who tries to defend this move (that would be you), should be absolutely embarrassed. Shame on you.”
We agree. It is a bit sad. But all we are trying to do it point it out.
== “Not saying you’re wrong, but how sad it is that you might be right. LaVar has marginalized his children while seeking attention. And yet, we paid attention.”
== A great pick, but not worthy. Anyone whose father is so controversial, and who says he wants to be the Afro-American version of the Kardashians, is just a crass opportunist IMO.”
== “For Southern California? Sure, a great choice. I guess McVay, Spanos and Candace Parker were possibilities, but Ball DOMINATED headlines.”
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James (81) has a knee down before crossing the goal line with a pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against New England. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
First, a Week 15 wrapup:
== CBS reports that its New England win over Pittsburgh in the national 1:25 p.m. PT window — the one with that most controversial of endings — had a 17.0 rating and 32 share, the network’s best since Week 10 of the 2015 season.
The fact it drew an average of 26.9 million viewers also made it the most-watched NFL game this season on any network.
The previous most-watched game was CBS’s Thanksgiving Day game between the Chargers’ win over the Cowboys in Dallas — 26.3 million viewers.
The Rams-Eagles contest in Week 14 on Fox was previously the best-rated game of the year with a 16.0 overnight rating.
So even though the Pats-Steelers game peaked with 31.6 million watching from 4-4:30 p.m. PT (a 20.5 rating/36 share), the L.A. market posted just an 8.9 rating and 21 share for it on KCBS-Channel 2, next-to-last in the 56 metered markets.
It was up against the Rams’ rout of the Seahawks in Seattle on Fox’s KTTV-Channel 11. But even that –with a 7.2 rating/17 share and 594,000 viewers — wasn’t the most-watched NFL game in L.A. this last weekend.
That would be NBC’s Raiders-Cowboys contest on Sunday night: A 12.8 rating/23 share and average of 1.08 million viewers.
They’re still drinking the Raider-ade.
Saturday’s Chargers-Chiefs game in Kansas City, on KCBS-Channel 2, had just a 4.9 rating/10 share and 390,000 viewer average in L.A. on Saturday night. It was also on the NFL Network, which got a 3.1 rating and 6 share for 260,000 viewers in L.A.
Other L.A. market numbers:
The Chicago-Detroit game on NFL Net on Saturday afternoon had just a 2.3 rating/6 share and 173,000 viewers.
KCBS-Channel 2 started Sunday with Cincinnati-Minnesota (a 5.8 rating/16 share) from 10 a.m. until 11:45 a.m., when it switched to N.Y. Jets-New Orleans, which finished with a 6.5 rating/17 share from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
HOW WEEK 16 PLAYS OUT
SATURDAY * Indianapolis at Baltimore: 1:30 p.m., NFL Network (Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl) The same CBS crew that had the Chargers-Chiefs game last Saturday. Exclusive to NFL Net. As if that’s some sort of reward. * Minnesota at Green Bay: 5:30 p.m., Channel 4 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya) If there was a Sunday night game this week, it would be here. And then perhaps flexed out.
CHRISTMAS EVE SUNDAY * Rams at Tennessee: 10 a.m., Channel 11 (Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin) This one saves us from having to consider Detroit-Cincinnati, Tampa Bay-Carolina and Atlanta-New Orleans. * Chargers at N.Y. Jets: 10 a.m., Channel 2 (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn) CBS has only game that they’re allowed to offer this entire weekend. And this is it. Passed over in this window are Buffalo-New England (Jim Nantz/Tony Romo), Cleveland-Chicago, Miami-Kansas City and Denver-Washington, plus Jacksonville-San Francisco in the afternoon window. * Seattle at Dallas: 1:25 p.m., Channel 11 (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews) The national game that can’t go to New York because they still have to endure N.Y. Giants-Arizona (with Dick Stockton). It also goes to Syracuse, all of Connecticut, most of Vermont, some of New Hampshire, and areas north of Portland, Maine for some reason. Plus, almost all of Arizona. Sorry, man.
CHRISTMAS DAY MONDAY * Pittsburgh at Houston: 1:30 p.m., Channel 4 (Mike Tirico, Kurt Warner, Heather Cox) What would have normally have aligned as a Thursday night telecast by NBC is put on Christmas Day instead. Bet everyone involved in this telecast is pleased about it.
Also: NBC announced this week it has a deal with the NFL to expand live streaming of “SNF” on mobile devices starting next month. The news comes just one week after Verizon gave up its exclusive rights to live stream NFL games on mobile devices. Sunday Night Football was already available through mobile to cable users who linked their accounts to the NBC Sports app or subscriptions on over-the-top services like DirectTV or Sling TV. * Oakland at Philadelphia: 5:30 p.m., ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters) Last Monday, the Bucs put Gruden in their Ring of Honor for his seven seasons as a head coach, including a Super Bowl. Gruden started his NFL career as an Eagles offensive coordinator (1995-’97) and then head coach of the Raiders (’98-2001). Couldn’t both teams at least tip their cap to him at halftime of this one?
Also: ESPN announced this week it has a deal with the NFL to expand live streaming of “MNF” on mobile devices starting next month. The news comes just one week after Verizon gave up its exclusive rights to live stream NFL games on mobile devices. Still waiting to hear if/when CBS and Fox land mobile rights.