All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, time for the mailbag.

Let’s dive right in:

Lots of you are asking a version of this question:

“What’s your take on what Robert Mueller said?”

Mueller gave us absolutely nothing we didn’t already have.

From his perspective Mueller believed his responsibility was to conduct an investigation into the entire Russia mess and then hand over his findings to Congress to do as they see fit. Based on existing Justice Department precedent he agrees that the president can’t be indicted for crimes that he commits while in office. That leaves Congress with the responsibility of determining whether a president’s actions require his removal from office through impeachment.

And he just told us all of that.

Which anyone with a brain should have already known.

Now on a larger scale, this is really fascinating to think about. What would happen, for instance, if the president committed a crime of violence in the White House? What if he was accused of domestic violence or, god forbid, was accused of murder in the White House but expressed his innocence?

How would charges take place?

What if he denied responsibility? Would his party remove him from office? What if he refused to resign and they couldn’t put together 67 votes to remove him?

It’s kind of amazing, honestly, that we’ve never had a president involved in a serious crime of violence during his presidency, particularly given how violent America used to be. Remember, we had a vice president, Aaron Burr, kill Alexander Hamilton, one of the most famous politicians in the country, in a duel while he was in office and HE RETURNED TO WASHINGTON AND CONTINUED TO SERVE OUT HIS TERM AS VICE PRESIDENT!

Can you imagine if that happened today?

That’s why I don’t get that worked up about what Trump does. Anyone who studies American history knows that Trump is a minor blip on the controversy radar compared to what has happened in the past.

Hell, WE HAD A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CIVIL WAR AND THE MIDDLE OF WORLD WAR II!

And some people are trying to tell me 2020 is an election with the most at stake in American history? Get the fuck out of here.

It’s just ludicrous.

Yes, I think Joe Biden will beat Donald Trump in 2020, but if the Democrats aren’t smart enough to pick Biden I think there’s a good chance Trump wins against anyone else.

Regardless, I think Trump wants to get impeached by the liberal Democrats in the House because it plays into the idea that everyone — meaning the Democrats and the media — is allied against him and gives him a battle to fight against a foe, which is when I think Trump is most comfortable.

Trump knows there’s a 0% chance the Senate would be able to put together 67 votes to remove him from office so the entire impeachment process would turn into a carnival sideshow and he’d likely benefit from the impeachment, just like Bill Clinton did. (Remember, Clinton’s poll ratings improved throughout the impeachment process because it made the Republicans prosecuting him look worse than it made him look. I think the same would be true for Trump.)

That’s why I think the worst thing the Democrats could do from a political perspective is impeach Trump.

To her credit Nancy Pelosi, who served during the Clinton impeachment, seems to recognize this and has been trying to encourage House Democrats not to undertake this process.

But somehow Robert Mueller coming out and saying the exact same thing in person that he’d already said in his report convinced some Democrats of the need for impeachment.

Did they not read the report? I don’t understand how Mueller’s statement could have possibly changed anyone’s mind about what they thought should happen to Trump.

Ultimately, the lasting impact of this story, especially from a historical perspective, will be near zero.

David writes:

“I applaud you for being one of the only voices in sports media to examine the evidence regarding the NBA’s popularity. As a huge basketball fan, it hurts to admit that you’re right and the association is not the juggernaut so many pundits portray it as. That being said, if you were commissioner of the NBA, what steps would you take to bring its actual popularity closer to its perceived popularity?”

NBA ratings were down 18% for game one last night, setting a ten year low for viewership. (Stop with your Canada Tweets too, the entire country of Canada’s population being added to America would only increase our population by 10%. Canada has three million fewer people than California.)

I think in the next NBA labor deal the league should still have a salary cap, but every team should have one player they can pay as much as they want.

This would mean there are thirty “mega” stars who are able to be paid whatever the market rate for their salary would be and then everyone else has to be paid under the salary cap.

The result, in my opinion, would be the end of superstars all teaming up together. Instead, if the market worked as I suspect it would, the top thirty players in the NBA would all end up on thirty different teams because those thirty teams would be able to offer them more than anyone else. That would allocate top talent more evenly leading to better competition and parity across the league.

Right now there isn’t that much difference between what teams can offer to pay top players.

That’s how Kevin Durant ended up with the Warriors for $30 million this year.

Would he have gone to the Warriors if another team had offered him $75 million a year? No way.

If LeBron’s worth $100 million a year to one team, I think he should make it.

As is, the top players in the NBA are subsidizing the salaries of players that aren’t as good and that is creating an incentive for top players to band together and pursue titles instead of spreading the talent evenly across the league.

Stanley writes:

“Do you think ESPN will ever realize that owning at least some TV rights for the NHL will be better than talking about Lebron’s taco Tuesday in the middle of the Stanley Cup Final? Or will they continue to be a multi-billion dollar SNL skit?”

I don’t think there’s any doubt that ESPN has drastically overvalued the NBA and as a result feels compelled to drastically over cover the NBA.

That’s how you end up with a story about LeBron, who isn’t even in the playoffs, liking tacos on Tuesday. (Seriously, the fact they sent a news alert for this story was flat out incredible).

Once ESPN stopped carrying hockey games they basically abandoned NHL coverage.

I think the NHL is in line for a massive rights increase when its television rights package comes to market and I suspect there will be many competing entities trying to get those rights from NBC. But I suspect NBC will fight like hell to keep the NHL too.

To me, the best move the NHL could make would be to split its TV package across multiple networks because that way you incentivize each of the network that air your games to cover your sport.

So if I ran the NHL I’d want to keep NBC — assuming they pony up for a big increase — but also add ESPN, Fox, or CBS as a major partner as well.

Remember, the benefit a league gets from a TV partner isn’t just the money for the games, it’s all the free marketing and advertising that comes from talking about that league on TV.

I’d want two different major media companies in line to advertise my product.

Josh writes:

“Thoughts on the Barstool towel explosion over the Boston Bruins game on Wednesday where their logo was on a rally towel handed out to fans . I know you have no love loss with Portnoy, but the reaction from everyone is way out of hand.”

I mean, it’s totally predictable, right?

Deadspin, which is a site close to being out of business, recognizes they gain traffic and attention from their pearl clutching fainters by labeling Barstool as racist and sexist.

Hating Barstool — and me, honestly — has become the reason they exist.

So anytime they can run a story like this, they do it.

Let’s think about this for a minute, it’s a free towel sponsored by a company at a sporting event. How many companies have sponsored giveaways at sporting events over the past fifteen years that Deadspin has existed? Hundreds? Thousands?

How many times has Deadspin ever covered any of those companies?

Zero that I can remember.

I’m sure every single person inside the arena hasn’t loved every company that has sponsored every giveaway. That’s because every single person is not a fan of every single brand, right?

Yet what do most people do when that happens?

They get over it!

I also think it’s ridiculous when journalists lose their minds over what people say to them on Twitter and blame someone else for making it happen. Look, I’m really confident people say worse things to me than they say to 99.9% of people on Twitter. And do you know what I do? I just fucking deal with it. Most of the time I make fun of it.

If someone is obsessively Tweeting negativity at me, I block them because they are clogging up my mentions, but I’ve probably blocked 500 people total out of 615k who follow me on Twitter. (And many of those 500 are probably the same person who has created multiple accounts due to his obsession with me).

I mean, I wish people only told me I was the greatest person ever all day long, but the negativity has almost zero impact on me.

Here’s the truth — if you don’t like something, don’t consume it.

I mean, imagine that Honda had sponsored the towel. If you don’t like Honda, don’t fucking buy their car. But some people do like their cars.

Are we really reaching the point where a team is endorsing every aspect of every advertiser in a stadium?

I mean, that just seems absurd to me.

Especially when just about every rapper — or singer — played at a sporting event has rapped or sang something way more controversial than what Barstool or I have written or said.

It’s also fascinating to me how this changes as you age.

When you’re young you’re a threat, but if you last long enough, you move from being a threat to becoming beloved.

This week I was at the SEC spring meeting cocktail party and they had a drink named after Paul Finebaum. It was the five year anniversary of the SEC Network’s launch. Finebaum used to be the most controversial radio host in the SEC footprint and now he’s got drinks named after him at conference events sponsored by ESPN and the SEC.

If you’d told Finebaum that was going to happen ten years ago he would have called you crazy.

I mean coaches and teams HATED him.

Yet now he’s all cuddly and beloved.

Outside the world of sports Howard Stern is an even a better example. He did and said the most controversial things imaginable for decades and now he’s sixty and he’s a beloved icon. Why? Because he’s lasted long enough to become mainstream.

My wife is terrified of what I say and write every day, but I kid with her all the time that if I keep it up by the time I’m sixty years old everyone will love me because I’ll have been doing this for 35 years at that point. Already I can kind of see it and I’m just forty.

People come up to me all the time and say they used to hate me, but now they love me.

John writes:

“When will we see a prime time match between Jeopardy James and Ken Jennings? 
This just has to happen, and soon, because:
  • Nobody will beat James – he knows too much stuff! The only person that could is Ken (and if he bids aggressively I think it would be a close battle). 
  • Alex Trebek is battling cancer and we don’t know how much longer he will choose to continue to host – and what better way to honor this guy’s career than an over-the-top event!
My proposal:
  • Make it a $10M winner take all contest – just the two of them (ignore all pleas from Arthur Chu to be included)
  • If James wins, he stops playing the daily game
  • If Ken wins, James can continue the daily game
  • All proceeds go to pancreatic cancer research (what a bitch of a disease)
Can you help me make this happen?”
This is brilliant, I love it.
Here’s a question I have — could you put this on pay-per-view and raise even more money for the event?
Especially if you did it this summer?
People are so bored in the summer I could see this turning into a major event.
I mean, I’d definitely talk about it on radio.
It needs to happen for sure.
I absolutely love the idea.
Okay, I’m off to the beach with the boys.
Thanks for reading Outkick.
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