Jobs Homes Autos For Sale










Columnist
ESPN.com's 'Mayne Street' proves to be less than a Web gem
By Ted Cox | Daily Herald Columnist
print story
email story
Published: 11/13/2008 3:19 PM | Updated: 11/13/2008 4:04 PM

Send To:

E-mail:
To:

From:

Name:
E-mail:

Comments:

Kenny Mayne is no longer writing a book. He's now streaming his own show, "Mayne Street," in three- to five-minute increments on espn.com.

A Web gem it's not. In fact, it's just more proof of how the Internet is ruining the world, including the sports world, which many believed couldn't get any worse.

"Mayne Street" releases new "webisodes" on Tuesdays and Fridays, with the debut out earlier this week and the follow-up due today. Mayne said in an Internet chat session this week that 16 are planned, but of course more would inevitably follow if it turns out to be a hit.

"Tell 10,000 co-workers to click on it so they order a second season," he wrote in the chat.

And clicks, my friends, are what it's all about in the current media environment. Page views - from different computers, not the same one over and over - are where it's at. So blogs make reference to one another and exchange links to get the click-go-round going. Altogether, it produces a narcissistic, self-referential attitude.

"Look at me, look at me, look at me now," says the Cat in the Hat, but remember he goes on to add, "It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how."

Mayne certainly knows how. His dry readings made him one of the stars of "SportsCenter" before he was reassigned, and he clearly remains a key figure at ESPN, despite the rumors that he could be spirited away by Comedy Central or some such competitor to do a sports-themed version of "The Daily Show."

"I'm on paper for another 16 months here," he wrote in the chat, "and very happy with what I'm doing for ESPN."

Still, am I wrong to read something into his being readily able to count the months?

Set free to do his own show, Mayne would no doubt produce. Not for nothing did Jerry Seinfeld once proclaim him the funniest guy on TV. Unfortunately, "Mayne Street" ain't it. It has the slapdash, anything-goes feel all too common on the Internet.

The debut concerns Mayne and co-host Scott Van Pelt mangling a late-night "SportsCenter" closing over and over. At first Mayne can't stop saying, "Raffi Nadal," instead of "Rafa Nadal," because his kids like the folk singer Raffi. Hoo-ha!

As much as I like and respect Mayne as a TV sports anchor-reporter with an offhand wit, "Mayne Street," like many a youtube video, has a funnier-than-thou attitude that it doesn't have to be really funny to amuse. In fact, it's so blithely unfunny, it makes me want to pick up the Robert Benchley compilation I keep on hand for inspiration.

You know, words, written down on a page, in an actual book, and arrayed in a way contrived to be surprising and humorous. Imagine the concept.

That, after all, was the basic idea behind Mayne's book, "An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sports," released earlier this year, but even that had an offhand feel. A similar devotion to actual craft is what's lacking in "Mayne Street." In fact, it was lacking in the chat, as it's lacking on most Internet exchanges. As I sat there, refreshing the site over and over, watching a bunch of clumsy, spelling-challenged typists try to amuse one another and succeeding all too rarely, I thought, is this what we've come to in sports journalism?

Mayne seemed to share that feeling at points, as when he was asked if he had a Twitter account.

"Twitter is beyond my understanding," Mayne replied. "I read newspapers, watch regular news. E-mail itself is a distraction many times. I like simpler times."

Unfortunately, those times are gone, and Mayne finds himself throwing crabapples back from the other side of the historical fence in "Mayne Street."

tcox@dailyherald.com

In the air

Remotely interesting: Comcast SportsNet Chicago carries the IHSA quarterfinal football game between unbeaten Antioch and Glenbard South at 3 p.m. Saturday. CSNC will also have an IHSA semifinal next Friday night.

Warm up for this weekend's Bears-Packers rivalry when the NFL Network reruns the 1985 Bears' game in Green Bay at 8 p.m. Friday.

End of the dial: Bill James has once again beaten everyone to the punch with "The Bill James Handbook 2009," including projections for next year and assessments of top young talent.

It was great to hear Wayne Larrivee on with WSCR 670-AM's Laurence Holmes and Dan Hampton on Thursday morning. Made me realize how much I miss him doing Bulls games on TV. I guess we have Chuck Swirsky to thank for that.

In the air

Remotely interesting: Comcast SportsNet Chicago carries the IHSA quarterfinal football game between unbeaten Antioch and Glenbard South at 3 p.m. Saturday. CSNC will also have an IHSA semifinal next Friday night.

Warm up for this weekend's Bears-Packers rivalry when the NFL Network reruns the 1985 Bears' game in Green Bay at 8 p.m. Friday.

End of the dial: Bill James has once again beaten everyone to the punch with "The Bill James Handbook 2009," including projections for next year and assessments of top young talent.

It was great to hear Wayne Larrivee on with WSCR 670-AM's Laurence Holmes and Dan Hampton on Thursday morning. Made me realize how much I miss him doing Bulls games on TV. I guess we have Chuck Swirsky to thank for that.