All Brett, all the time

I have a theory. No, it’s not the one where I offered that everyone, at one point or another, has dined on a loogie at a restaurant. This new theory is totally different and much less solid than my other theory.

This one has to do with Brett Favre and ESPN, which based on the recent wall-to-wall coverage of all things Favre and the Packers, is almost like eating a loogie in a TV viewing sense.

Anyway, my theory is since the Olympics are set to begin and NBC has decided to devote 23 ½ hours of its programming per day to Olympics coverage, the so-called World Wide Leader is going to the dance without a date… so to speak. ESPN/ABC cannot show the Olympics – they can only attend and cover it like everyone else. So to turn away heads from the biggest sporting event in the world this year, ESPN has barraged the sports-viewing public with “All Brett, All the Time.”

No, I don’t think it’s anything as sinister as choosing to report a less important story. After all, the Olympics haven’t even started yet. However, a lot of newspapers have sent teams of writers to China to cover one of the more mystifying and intriguing set of Games in a long time. From what I recall, there was no such intrigue regarding the Olympics in Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney or Athens.

China, to those of us in the West, is still mysterious. That’s especially the case when one takes in account the political, social, environmental and human rights concerns. For Americans it’s kind of odd that we actually have someone to look down upon in those regards, but there China is, anchoring an entire continent with its sprawling landscape that is becoming more and more developed by the day.

Think oil prices are high now? Wait until the Chinese citizens in the outer provinces put down the bikes and get cars.

So with the writers heading for the Far East, the MLB season entering the so-called dog days and the football season still a month away, why wouldn’t ESPN try a little misdirection? It’s as if they are screaming, “Hey, don’t look at the biggest sporting event in the world – you know, the one where we are not the rights’ holders. Look over here – to Wisconsin, U.S.A. That’s where the real story is. Come watch.”

And like the Chinese government, ESPN adds, “If you choose not to, we will make you.”

OK, it’s just a theory. There are more holes in this argument than Swiss cheese, but it’s out there nonetheless.

Speaking of out there, my friend and all-around swell guy (and ex-Phillies writer), Marcus Hayes, is in China for the Olympics. He arrived Tuesday at 2 p.m., which was 2 a.m. Tuesday morning here on the East Coast… or 2 a.m. tomorrow — time zones always mess me up. Chances are he’s pretty jet lagged.

Nevertheless, Marcus will be updating a blog (do people even use that word anymore… seems outdated to me) for the Daily News and I suggest everyone read it.


Seriously, it might be the second or third place I go when I make my rounds through the Internets every morning. Meanwhile, I had hoped to do one of those e-mail exchange columns with Marcus and the Inquirer’s Phil Sheridan, but it seems as if they are going to be too busy.

Instead I’ll just tune in to the 23 ½ hours of daily coverage and write about it here.

In the meantime, Marcus reported that he made it to Beijing after a 14-hour flight. In response to an e-mail where I told him I was envious that he got to go to the Olympics and I get to go to Citizens Bank Park, our hero wrote, “You wouldn’t be so envious if you just spent 4 hours sitting across from a smelly Latvian with 4 spiked hairs.”

See, Beijing isn’t all that different than Philadelphia.

He also reported that he cannot read his own site because it has been blocked by the Chinese government.

Anyway, I told Marcus that it would not surprise me if he went to China and an international incident occurred. Marcus Hayes in China just screams “international incident.”

Better yet, remember Christopher Walken’s character in The Deer Hunter? You know, he went to Vietnam and never made it back because he went AWOL from a hospital in Saigon in order to play Russian roulette for money… for some reason I foresee a similar fate for Marcus.

OK, back to the Brett Barrage, which is kind of like Russian Roulette but only brain cells are in danger.

Read: Marcus Hayes’ Olympic Proportions site

Little pebbles make a big splash

Carlos ZambranoOf the piles of theories I have about things, only a handful are as solid as a bronze statue. One of those theories is that everyone has eaten a loogie at one point or another. Hey, I don’t mean to be gross, but let’s face facts – there are a lot of disgruntled people out there and most of them work in restaurants.

Another good theory is that sometimes it’s the smallest and seemingly insignificant bit of news that triggers much larger events. For instance, it took the 1914 assassination of an otherwise obscure Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria to light the powder keg that exploded into World War I.

Who would have guessed that Ferdinand would have ever become the presumptive heir to Austro-Hungarian throne, let alone his death spur the calamity that followed?

Along those lines it’s interesting to note that the reports out of Chicago are that ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano is headed for the 15-day disabled list. Certainly that’s big news for the Cubs since they currently have the best record in the National League and could be on the way to the World Series for the first time since 1936. Obviously it’s big news because the Cubs need Zambrano if they want to have any chance at all in the post-season.

Regardless, Zambrano should be able to help the Cubs relatively soon. That’s important because even though Zambrano has bum shoulder, an MRI revealed that the big right-hander has no structural damage. Unless something unforeseen occurs, Zamrano will be back pitching for the Cubs in no time.

Here’s why the MRI results, a two sentence bit of info in the fourth graf of the wire story, could be the powder keg of the National League pennant race:

Because if the Cubs have Carlos Zambrano, they probably won’t need to go out and make a big-time trade to land C.C. Sabathia or another pitcher of that ilk. Oh sure, they can still do it and it may even be cost effective noting that the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908. But they don’t have to.

It also means the Phillies might have a better shot at making a trade for a pitcher like Sabathia (or one of that ilk) if they can cobble together a package big enough to entice the Indians. That’s the really important part as it concerns us.

Nevertheless, despite reports that the Phillies have dispatched scouts to take a gander or two at pitchers like A.J. Burnett of the Blue Jays, Bronson Arroyo of the Reds, Greg Maddux of the Padres as well as Sabathia, general manager Pat Gillick told the gang on the Daily News Live! panel that it’s much too early to contemplate such a move. For one thing, most teams are still in the playoff chase even with the non-waiver trading deadline still a little more than a month away.

That means the annual summertime dance where teams get into position to get in position is just beginning.

Can’t you hear the music?

Still, it’s interesting to note that Gillick says he would not rule out the possibility of trading away one of the players on the current 25-man roster in order to get the piece the team needs.

Would that be interesting?

In the meantime, let’s keep an eye on Archduke Zambrano. The state of his shoulder could decide a lot.