• Temperatures are rising along with the collective blood pressure of many in the sports-and-media world over the LeBron James farce on ESPN. The best read I came across is from Jake Simpson of the Atlantic Culture Channel in a post titled “LeBron James and the Rise of Sports Reality TV.” Slam dunk bucket here:
“Skeptics would argue LeBron-mania is an isolated incident, an overreaction by the media and public to a transcendent sports figure making a career-altering decision. But that doesn’t explain why Dallas Braden is more famous for yelling ‘get off my fucking mound’ at Alex Rodriguez than he is for pitching a perfect game. . . . That Braden achieved perfection for a day and carved out a permanent place in baseball history is somehow less marketable than his outburst of bravado and his grandmother’s now-immortal comment: ‘Stick It, A-Rod.’ The sensational has won out over the sublime. And sports franchises are nodding happily.”
• Thanks to the Sports Business Daily for taking its roundup on “The Decision” out from behind its paywall. Lots of good behind-the-scenes details on how James’ publicist, the aptly named Maverick Carter, concocted this prime-time circus.
• John Ourand, the crack media writer for SBJ’s parent publication, the Sports Business Journal, is bothered by today’s column from ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer, which he calls “stupendously weak” for delving deeply into World Cup vuvuzelas but is stone silent about its James coverage.
• My Twitter follower Mark Zemek is upset, but for other reasons. Huffington Post is featuring a 39-shot photo gallery of Paraguayan model Larissa Riquelme, who has promised to run naked through the streets of Asunción to celebrate her nation’s World Cup team reaching the quarterfinals. If I had a body like that, I’d probably be bold enough to make such a pledge. 700 comments and counting, folks. It’s a bit more G-Rated than this item elsewhere on Queen Arianna’s “sports” page.
• Thank God they won’t have to be on the lookout for Diego Maradona in the rah in Buenos Aires. But I would cry for Argentina if he changes his mind.
• I’ll have plenty more on the World Cup finals tomorrow, but this piece from Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports about the “Oracle Octopus” has me very hungry. The critter correctly predicted Spain’s semifinal victory, and now some German fans want to “throw him in the frying pan.” One suggested recipe:
“Cut him up in thin slices and grill him on all sides with a dash of lemon juice, olive oil and garlic on it. Delicious!”
That does sound tasty, but it’s just too darn hot to stand over a stove tonight.