The Dan LeBatard Show: A Dynasty of Irrational Genius
Sports and sports media are not what they used to be. Or is it that sports and sports media are no longer what we once fantasized them to be? The days of a sportscaster simply regurgitating stats and scores are already a thing of the past. The idea of gladiators in an arena fighting to the death never existed in our lifetime. At least, I don’t think they did.
Just in the last ten years alone, the athletes themselves have also gone through a metamorphosis in ways unlike what any of us could have ever imagined. Not only in how they train and the physical specimens they turn into (sometimes chemically enhanced), but also in how interactively accessible they have become to their adoring public and haters alike.
The days of little kids with posters on their walls of their favorite players in various superhero poses are long gone. Is the term “posterized” even current anymore? Is it still a thing? We think the athletes have become soft; that they care more about their livelihood, brand, and reputation off the field than their performance on the field.
Sadly, it’s become obvious more than ever the extremely difficult transition many professional athletes are having when their playing days are over. There’s no support system of any kind provided by any league to help players transition into life after playing. Many go broke within just a few years, spiral into depression, or worse. Unless they go into broadcasting or coaching, the level of helplessness they feel is insurmountable and the consequences can be so tragic.
We have become so aware of all of these things. So my questions are as follows: How did that happen? Why did that happen? Whom do we blame for that? Or thank? Is it social media? Is it the Internet as a whole? Is it concussions? How about the sports journalists who cover the careers of these athletes and the teams they play for? What’s their role in all this?
Insert awkward comedic relief transition here…
When it comes to the sociology, psychology, and anthropology of the world of sports, there is no better man asking all the relevant questions no one else even thinks to ask than Dan LeBatard. Now in its 11th year on the air, I had written an homage of sorts in the past. In less than two years since I’ve written that initial post, his local radio show was promoted to national status on ESPN Radio (104.3 FM locally and Sirius XM Channel 83) and, just recently, premiered on Fusion Television. That’s right, Dan LeBatard has gone the way of Howard Stern by having his radio show televised.
LeBatard and his cohorts never share positive reinforcement that they are given; only the negative. Which likely means that despite my hopefulness, it’s unlikely that anyone from the show will RT this post. (Roy did for my first one.) Sometimes I feel like I stand alone with having a positive experience because only the negative is discussed on the air. One thing is for certain. LeBatard doesn’t let the negative feedback or cheap shots about his weight discourage him. But they make it work.
How is this possible you may ask? It’s simple. Dan LeBatard is the freaking Leonardo DaVinci of sports journalism (and his co-host Stugotz is his lovable idiot muse.) Want more outlandish comparisons? They’re like George Milton and Lennie Small; like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson if Watson were an idiot. You get the idea.
Stugotz is a rare creature in his own right. This “nonsense ninja” who has the consistency of spoiled dairy products is steadfast on his assessments that the most recent sporting event is the greatest sporting event in the history of sporting events simply because it just happened. He will argue for both sides of every coin from both sides of his mouth while in the same breath argue against both sides of every coin of his original assessment. It’s one of the greatest tricks ever consistently achieved in human history. Forget David Blaine. Forget Criss Angel. The best magician in the world is Stugotz.
The segments are insightful parodies of themselves. They’re never organized and rarely planned. The crappy sports poll of the day that makes fun of crappy sports polls is a cacophony of idiocy that keep you engaged at the very least while you’re in the car talking to your radio on the drive home from work. At the end of every Friday show, they “open up the club” by playing snippets of the best (and often most awkward) moments of the interviews of the week. All of this is prefaced with playing the 1984 cult classic dance song “Look Out Weekend” by Debbie Deb in the background.
With Dan and Stugotz comes a supporting cast equally worthy of all being the human equivalent of sidekicks in a 90s animated Disney movie. Take Mike Ryan. He looks like a meerkat on LSD who has just witnessed his fellow meerkats being eaten by a pack of hyenas. Mike Ryan has been dubbed “the scared and incompetent producer” so definitively on the show that he should be proud to have it carved onto his tombstone.
Roy Bellamy used to do a Top 10 list that has absolutely nothing to do with sports. But it does. It was always the highlight of the show. Please bring it back for Fusion.
Greg Cote is a living pterodactyl. How does he not get an action figure?
And the rest…
I’m Miami-born and raised. Since moving to Los Angeles just about two and a half years ago, The Dan LeBatard Show has kept me sane in ways that only I could fully understand. Even though they’ll likely never read this-and if they do they probably won’t respond or mention it on the air-I’d just like to show my gratitude. So thanks, everyone. You’re all on fleek.