ESPN Thinks You’re Stupid

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In The Simpsons’ Halloween special Treehouse of Horror III, Bart Simpson finds a Waldo book in the library. He opens it and finds that there’s no “where” in Waldo as you can see below.

Bart then says in reference to the unhidden Waldo, “He’s not even trying anymore.”

That’s how I feel about ESPN’s latest display designed not to entertain or inform, but to treat you—the reader—like an idiot and use your interest in Bryce Harper and the Yankees to generate webhits.

Webhits = advertising dollars and it doesn’t matter how they’re accrued.

You can read the piece entitled “First Pitch: Bryce Harper, future Yankee?” by Andrew Marchand although there’s not much of a point since there’s nothing much to read. In fact, it’s a colossal waste of space.

Harper grew up a Yankee fan.


The Yankees always have the money to go after the players they want.

Blah blah.

Harper might want to be a Yankee.

Blah, blah, blah.

Maybe the Yankees will be willing to give Harper Cliff Lee’s old locker from his time as a Yan..kee…um…wait…

Oh. Yeah. Lee didn’t want to sign with the Yankees.

By the time he’s a free agent—if he’s a free agent—Harper might be a mature young man whose first priority is making as much money and/or the best deal possible and signing with the team that provides that rather than indulging in some adolescent fantasy to be a Yankee.

Why did ESPN publish this? I’ll tell you why: There are certain names that generate automatic webhits. Bryce Harper is one. Tim Tebow is another. LeBron James, Billy Beane, Tiger Woods. They’re obvious. ESPN has been a trendsetter in the mania with their market research. It’s not entirely their fault. They’re giving the public what it’s asking for by doling what’s desired—no matter how worthless—to their customers. But while they’re doing this, they can’t call themselves a “sports news” organization and be serious about it. The mixing of athletes and the “reporters” who are supposed to be covering them with objectivity has blurred the line between the two until we’re at the stage where we expect this type of sludge and don’t blink when it’s presented without even a pretense of genuine sports reporting and analysis.

For every quality person they hire to write or broadcast for them they have ten others whose resume is built on faulty premises of having worked in the front office of a team or because they’re a former athlete; whose work is sycophantic, amateurish and designed for public consumption at the expense of legitimate sports news.

I don’t blame Marchand or the ESPN personalities. They’re told what to do, whom to talk about, what to write and are nudged into disagreeing with one another to create “interesting” televised debates.

I guarantee you Marchand was instructed by an editor or a boss that they needed a Harper/Yankees connection in advance of the matchup between Harper’s Nationals and the Yankees in Washington. Of course he could’ve done it a little more smoothly and with less blatancy. But he’s following orders.

It’s not simply a matter of providing content to the public. It’s a matter of providing content to the public that is utterly vapid. Once it’s clear that the webhit accumulation is paramount and all it takes is the inclusion of one of the above-listed names to get what they want, quality work is one of the last things on the checklist before publication. That’s how you wind up with rapidly diminishing credibility and wind up where ESPN is now.

Harper may never see free agency; the Nats might sign him to a 10-year contract sometime next season to prevent just that eventuality; he might not be available to the Yankees; if he is, it’s seven years from now and the Yankees—really—might not be the attraction they are now.

It’s ridiculous to speculate on now.

But none of that matters to ESPN. What matters to ESPN is the number of hits they received and if it was a topic of conversation. Whether or not anyone read, liked, laughed at or believed the story is irrelevant.

If you keep indulging them, they’re going to keep doing it.

It’s a systemic problem and as long as you, the reader, partakes in it, it won’t stop.

But if you like being made into a fool, so be it. Click onto ESPN. They’ll give you what you want. They’ll give you your fix.


Coco Crisp Takes His Talents Back To Oakland

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When MLB Trade Rumors published the posting that Coco Crisp had made his decision as to which club he wanted to sign with, many things ran through my head to solve the cryptic mystery of the unnamed team’s identity.

Was the team that he’d chosen aware that Crisp wanted to sign with them?

Did they want him?

Was he in the midst of negotiations—albeit on a smaller scale—with ESPN to broadcast The Decision in a similar way to LeBron James’s taking his talents to Miami?

Or was Crisp purchasing time on cable access channels nationwide befitting his somewhat lower level of fame in comparison to James?

Where was Crisp taking his talents?




As it turned out, Crisp re-signed with the Athletics for 2-years and a guaranteed $14 million.

There was no fizzle; no wild celebration; just a blank stare.

The most interesting aspects to this bit of news were the reactions of the Billy Beane defenders. Rather than accurately gauge the signing for what it is—pointless—they found ways to continue defending the indefensible “genius” for doing things that make absolutely no sense.

Dave Cameron summed up the Beane-defenders’ reaction with the following on Twitter:

Whether A’s should be team paying for 32-year-old CF is another story. But Crisp is a solid average player, easily worth $7M per year.

Would those who aren’t sacred cows in the stat revolution have gotten this pass? What if it was Royals GM Dayton Moore, Giants GM Brian Sabean or Phillies GM Ruben Amaro who had made this decision?

If they’d made suspicious trades of young pitchers who should be the foundation of a rebuild, there would certainly be multiple articles, blogs and comments tearing into the haphazard maneuvers being made. But because it’s Beane, there’s a desperate search for justification and a reluctance to criticize him in anything other than the most wishy-washy and general terms.

The money is irrelevant and the justifications flawed.

My theory has always been that teams should overpay for what they need and set a line—based on a myriad of factors—for what they want.

The Athletics don’t need Crisp.

Can they use Crisp?

Why not? He’s a good outfielder; has some pop and speed; and appears to be well liked by the media, teammates and fans.

But did they need him?

You tell me.

The A’s are in a nightmarish division with two powerhouses, the Rangers and Angels; they just traded their top two starting pitchers for packages of youngsters and are starting over in anticipation of a new stadium in San Jose that may never come.

What do they need a veteran center fielder like Crisp for? They’re going to lose 90 games with him; they’ll lose 90 games without him.

If Beane were the “genius” and ruthless, fearless corporate titan his fictional biography portrayed him as being, he’d have found a center fielder on someone’s bench or Triple A roster, traded for him and installed him as the new center fielder giving him a chance to play every day—sort of like he did with Scott Hatteberg at first base in 2002.

Teams are no longer fearful of doing business with Beane because the perception that he’s picking their pockets has been destroyed by reality, randomness and consistent mediocrity.

Would the Giants be willing to deal Darren Ford? The Astros J.B. Shuck? The Blue Jays Darin Mastroianni?

The “who” isn’t the point, but the “why” is.

Why do they need Crisp?

They don’t.

Technically, based on ability and markets, they didn’t overpay for him; but overpaying isn’t only about giving a player too much money, it’s also about signing him at all.

Either Beane’s running the team with a plan or he’s not; what the Crisp signing signifies is that there is no plan. He’s just “doing stuff” like so many other executives do, except they’re not relentlessly defended for it, nor are they doing it with the appellation of “genius” hovering over them and placing everything they do under the microscope of a fictional tale.

And the microscope is telling all.


Hate The Game, Don’t Hate Tim Tebow Or ESPN

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Having heard what ESPN football analyst Merril Hoge said about Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, I don’t see what the big deal is. He stated his opinion about whether or not Tebow’s style will work in the NFL. (He doesn’t think it will.)

You can listen to a small portion of what Hoge said on the Mut and Merloni radio show on WEEI here.

Naturally others chimed in as the story took on a life of its own and none other than LeBron James took to Twitter to defend Tebow.

Much of the vitriol directed at Tebow is similar to the hate that engulfs Brett Favre and Alex Rodriguez—they get a lot of attention from ESPN.

What you need to realize is that the likes of A-Rod, Tebow and Favre are only playing an off-field game that’s not a competition, but is a business.

Tebow, A-Rod and Favre generate attention, webhits, ratings and the resulting advertising dollars. These things are studied, paid attention and adhered to. So when ESPN is called “NESPN” and is accused of catering to the Red Sox, it’s not done out of allegiance; it’s done because that’s what people search for. Once that stops, so too will the non-story-stories that pop up all over the place.

People were interested in the Colby Rasmus and his dad Tony Rasmus and Colby’s departure from the Cardinals; how their father/son/coach relationship affected the Cardinals organization and manager Tony LaRussa.

It’s a terrific tale of a Hall of Fame manager clashing with the dad of a hot prospect.

Because that’s what was in demand, that’s what was provided. It’s purely democratic and is how lines get blurred with what’s legitimate reporting or wagging the dog to deliver a fast food style meal for the web surfers.

Who knows whether Tebow can play in the NFL or not? There have been players who were supposed to be stars in every sport but haven’t for one reason or another; the same thing works in the opposite direction as there are athletes from whom nothing is expected and they suddenly burst onto the scene due to late development, opportunity or connecting with the right coach/manager/team at the right time.

Don’t blame Tebow or ESPN. Blame yourself for partaking in it.

If you’re going to ESPN for hard-hitting sports journalism, then you deserve your fate.

Ignore it and it’ll go away.