Michaux: Giving Georgia-Florida game a new nickname is bad idea

In these polarized times, it's hard for Americans to agree on anything.

 

However, even Florida and Georgia fans presented a unified front regarding Saturday's annual bitter rivalry matchup. They universally loathe the branding effort to name it the "River City Showdown."

Has the game been moved to Iowa as the new centerpiece for a remake of The Music Man? I smell trouble with a capital "T" that rhymes with "P" and it stands for "please stop trying to label everything."

In one unscientific Twitter poll, someone named Logan Booker asked fans to rate how "dumb" the new game name is on a scale of 1 to 10. Ninety-two percent of 638 voters as of Friday afternoon rated it "10 billion" on the stupid scale.

One rabid Bulldogs fan who calls himself "Uncle Lou" posted a seven-minute bipartisan rant on YouTube denouncing the new branding effort.

It's perfectly understandable that both schools want to distance themselves from the popular title of the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" – a designation first introduced in the 1950s by a Florida Times-Union sports editor named Bill Kastelz. The City of Jacksonville officially used the nickname for years until 1988, when it dropped it because of some alcohol-related incidents. Both schools and the Southeastern Conference pleaded to de-emphasize the moniker in 2006.

That's a fine idea on two counts. First, it's a noble goal to discourage the kind of binge drinking that is already a plague on college campuses – especially on football weekends. Second, it's not even remotely accurate. See the Kentucky Derby, to just name one other event, where the annual party of assembled outdoor drinkers is roughly twice as large and twice as inebriated.

So in deference to Bill Maher's "New Rules," here's one that the overbearing branding agents need to adhere to – stop trying to give everything a clever name.

It's simply the Georgia-Florida game. That's all it needs to be. It's not the River City anything. It's not the Thrilla in Jaxvilla. It's not the Mid-autumn Classic. It's not the Sunshine Bowl ... the St. Simons Hangover ... the Battle Beyond the Swamp and Hedges ... the Silver Britches vs. Jorts Challenge.

It's just Georgia-Florida. Period.

Since we're on the subject of giving executive cease-and-desist orders in the sports world, here are a few other items of immediate concern.

HOME-FIELD SHAM: The Chicago Cubs won 103 games in the regular season, eight more than the second-best teams in baseball and nine more than the Cleveland Indians.

So why isn't Wrigley Field the center of attention instead of Cleveland enjoying home-field advantage in the World Series? Because a couple of Royals (Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez) homered off Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto in the second inning of what should be a good-spirited exhibition All-Star Game in July.

Since 2003, baseball has awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league in its midsummer classic. So in 11 of the 14 years since Bud Selig implemented the condition, the American League has held the postseason ballpark advantage.

It's a stupid rule. Before that, home field alternated between the leagues. A better option would be to reward the team with the better record over the 162-game regular season with the option for more home games, using a tiebreaker if necessary. Works pretty well in all other sports that determine champions via best-of-seven series.

GOOD DAY, GOODELL: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is an embarrassment to the league and needs to go. Anyone who can't distinguish between the severity of under-inflated footballs and domestic violence has no business running anything, much less America's top sports brand.

Goodell was the fool again in reducing the suspension of Giants kicker and serial spouse abuser Josh Brown from six to one game. That's three fewer games than Patriots quarterback Tom Brady served for the silly Deflate Gate saga that Goodell felt compelled to take to court. Brady was the victim of circumstantial evidence and speculation while Brown admitted his abhorrent behavioral issues.

This should be enough to prove Goodell is unfit for office. But the sagging on-field product and plummeting ratings of his ongoing greed campaign is another indication. The Thursday night games (and those hideous "color rush" uniforms) are unwatchable slogs between exhausted teams and the obsession with expanding into foreign markets with the London project (and eventually Mexico, Germany and China) further dilutes what already is proving to be a diminished product.

NEVER-ENDING SEASON: Speaking of greed, the PGA Tour's efforts to blanket the calendar and never have an offseason finally reached its zenith.

Technically, there were two weeks off between the Ryder Cup and the "season opener" in California, but that's really not accurate. The tour's card-issuing Web.com Finals ran all the way up to the end, with newly minted members needing to catch a cross-country flight immediately between the finale and the opener.

That ridiculous planning got blown up by Hurricane Matthew a few weeks ago when the Web.com Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach, Fla., had to be cancelled. Since there was no margin for postponement, players in position to earn their card got cheated out of a last opportunity. It's not like their careers depended on it ... oh wait.

With Tim Finchem finally retiring, hopefully incoming commissioner Jay Monahan will realize that carefully pruning an overgrown schedule will keep it healthier in the long run.

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