That's what IRL officials, and, by extension, ABC/ESPN have to be wondering heading into Sunday's Indianapolis 500, as Danica Patrick has been taking heat from fans.
Patrick was booed last week in Indianapolis, when it appeared that she was blaming her pit crew or the car itself for her placing 23rd in her qualifying run.
"There's those that felt like she threw her team under the bus," said Marty Reid, ABC's lead race-caller. "As (driver) Tony Kanaan pointed out, that's the same group of guys that helped her to fifth in the championship last year, and a lot of those guys were on her car when she won at Motegi."
Said race analyst Eddie Cheever: "I think it was a childish tantrum that she'll get over in a hurry. The beautiful thing about racing is you can go from being the village idiot to the world champion in one afternoon. (If) she has a great race, it will all go behind her."
According to Reid, there may have been another reason for the scorn Patrick received last week, and it stems from her dalliance with NASCAR, which chased the IRL for years in terms of popularity with the American public.
Today, stock car racing is king, and the IRL is largely reduced to having one day -- the Sunday before Memorial Day -- in the sun.
"I was really surprised when I talked to a number of traditional IndyCar open-wheel fans and they didn't like the fact she was dipping her toes in the waters of NASCAR," Reid said. "They're looking ahead and saying she's already gone. As far as they're concerned, she's made her jump to NASCAR."
"You know, I was really surprised by that because I would have thought that, like myself, and I think many others, she's bringing attention back to IndyCar after being over there. Some stock car people that I've talked to when I've been at those events covering the Nationwide Series are actually saying, I'm following IndyCar more because I want to see how she does so when she comes back again, I know more about her. It's really an interesting dichotomy."
Patrick isn't the only person to have their toes dipped in both the NASCAR and IRL ponds. For instance, car owner Chip Ganassi will have entrants in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday, making for a rather interesting day, especially given that the Ganassi team won the Daytona 500 behind Jamie McMurray.
"He has put together a group that's capable of winning at the Indianapolis 500 and obviously winning on super-speedways like Daytona," Cheever said.
"To accomplish that and to win both those races on the same day, occurring Memorial Day (weekend), I think would be incredible. It's never happened. The math is pointed against it, but it would be a great technical accomplishment because you're doing it from two totally separate perspectives.
ABC will begin its coverage at noon ET Sunday, with Brent Musberger hosting a one-hour pre-race show. Meanwhile, FOX's Coca-Cola 600 telecast, its last NASCAR race of the year, airs at 5 p.m., ET Sunday.
Greet the New Arrival
They'll need another key for the FOX Sports executive washroom with this week's announcement of the appointment of Eric Shanks to the post of department president.
Shanks, 38, is believed to be the youngest person to serve as president of a broadcast network sports department, or so FOX is saying.
Shanks, who began his television career as a broadcast associate first with CBS in 1993 and then with FOX the following year, had most recently been executive vice president of DIRECTV Entertainment, where he helped create the 101 Network, as well as the NFL Red Zone channel and the satellite provider's NASCAR coverage.
Shanks succeeds longtime president Ed Goren, who will inherit the newly created post of Vice Chairman, where he will work alongside chairman David Hill on the entire FOX Sports empire, which includes the broadcast operation, 19 regional sports channels, FOX Soccer Channel, FOX Sports en Espanol and SPEED.
Can't We All Just Get Along
If the Orlando Magic make NBA history and advance to the league's championship series by erasing a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Celtics, one of the most intriguing moments of Game 1 of the NBA Finals won't make it to ABC's air.
That would be the moment when Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has a conversation with ABC/ESPN studio analyst Michael Wilbon, in light of Van Gundy's rather pointed attack on Wilbon Wednesday in particular and on sports talk shows in general.
Earlier in the week, Wilbon, who is also a Washington Post columnist, said during an appearance on a Miami talk show hosted by Miami Herald columnist Dan LeBetard that he had heard rumblings that Van Gundy might be fired if the Magic doesn't win the Eastern Conference championship. It should be noted that Wilbon was supportive of Van Gundy, saying he didn't understand how or why the coach would be in jeopardy of losing his job.
Before Wednesday's Game 5, Van Gundy was asked by a reporter what he thought of Wilbon speculating on his job security, to which the coach said, "No, I'm not worried about my job security and I'm less worried about what Michael Wilbon would think about anything."
Van Gundy added, "People comment on things and that's fine -- whatever. Michael Wilbon, to my knowledge, has never done anything competitive, never been in a locker room, never had to play, never had to coach, never had to make a decision. He's one of those guys who is a talking head."
As if that dismissal wasn't enough (and in many places, it would be), Van Gundy went on to challenge the uprightness of Wilbon and of talk shows, saying such programs have arrangements that people who don't agree to go on those shows get ripped by the host and vice versa.
"I've refused to be on PTI (ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption") over the years," Van Gundy said, as quoted in the Orlando Sentinel. "Look, I follow this stuff. If you're on guys' shows, they don't criticize you and if you won't go on their shows, they do (criticize you.) That stuff is never made known. There's a lack of integrity in the business. So whatever Mike wants to say, that's fine. He's certainly not an expert in my business and I'm not going to worry about it too much."
Not surprisingly, Wilbon fired back, telling the Sentinel, "There's no deal in place that if you come on our show, you don't get criticized. Charles Barkley is one of my close friends and there's praise for Charles and we have to criticize Charles. (Charlotte Bobcats coach) Larry Brown, same thing. (Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach) Mike Brown was just on the show and we had to criticize him after the playoffs. I don't know where that comes from and before [Van Gundy] questions my integrity, he needs to check his facts."
Perhaps Stan's brother, Jeff, now an ABC/ESPN analyst, could get the two guys together to join hands and sing "Kum Ba Yah." Of course, the Celtics could make all of this moot with one more win over Orlando.
Hopefully, for Saturday's return trip to Phoenix for Game 6 of the Western Conference championship series, TNT will figure out some other locale for its pre- and postgame shows than the plaza near USAirways Center.
The channel used the aforementioned spot for Games 3 and 4 and the results were predictable: Anchor Ernie Johnson and analysts Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller spent the two evenings trying to shout over obnoxious louts.
That's what usually happens when television sports pre- and postgame shows relocate during the playoffs from the sanity of the studio to the arena/stadium in an attempt to bring the ambiance and flavor of happy fans to the home audience. All it usually brings is a peek into the idiocy of crowds who shout over the television crew. It's just not worth it for the home audience or the program.