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.


It’s a Gio!!!!

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Let’s look at the Gio Gonzalez trade and its ramifications for all parties.

B-B-B-Billy and the Nats.

As I said in my prior posting, based on the flurry of trades he made and prospects acquired, the floating barometer of genius for Billy Beane is back in the green zone.

Of course it’s nonsense. The players may make it; they may not. You can get analysis of the youngsters here on The way the trade is being framed, it looks like the Nationals overpaid for a talented but wild lefty in Gonzalez.

The A’s are building for a future that may never come in a venue they don’t have assurances will be built—ever.

The Nationals are again hopping between two worlds. On one planet, they’re building for the future with young players Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper—along with the top-tier prospects they’ve accumulated in recent drafts; on the other, they’re signing to massive contracts background talents of advancing age like Jayson Werth.

Which is it?

If he’s healthy and throws strikes, Gonzalez will add to the Nats improving starting rotation.

Those are big “ifs”.

Right now, if things go right for the Nationals, you can make the case that they’re better than the Marlins, are going to be competitive with the Braves and maybe even the Phillies if they begin to show their age.

That would be an extreme case of things going “right”, but we’ve seen it happen in recent years as the 2008 Rays came from nowhere to go to the World Series.

The Gonzalez Chronicles.

The Red Sox were said to be pursuing Gonzalez as well; with their limited cupboard of prospects, they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) match what the Nats traded away.

What their decision to bid on him at all does it open up a series of questions as to how much influence new manager Bobby Valentine is having on the composition of his roster.

When he was the manager of the Mets, Valentine was against GM Steve Phillips’s acquisition of Mike Hampton at Christmastime 1999; Valentine felt Hampton was too wild.

If that’s the case, then what does he think of Gonzalez, who’s walked over 90 batters in each of the past two seasons?

It could be that Valentine has evolved from his earlier beliefs.

Maybe he thinks Gonzalez would’ve been worth it.

Perhaps he’s being conciliatory and flexible in his first few weeks on the job.

Or he’s being ignored.

The Yankees stayed away from Jonathan Sanchez because GM Brian Cashman didn’t want a pitcher that wild. He wasn’t going to mortgage the system for Gonzalez when they’re still after Felix Hernandez.

Other teams were chasing Gonzalez, but the Nats blew them away.

Those teams were smart to steer clear; Beane was savvy to deal Gonzalez now and use the A’s teardown as a cover; and the Nats are taking an enormous leap of faith with a pitcher who’s going to aggravate them with his inability to find the strike zone.

There are better pitchers on the market via free agency (Edwin Jackson; Roy Oswalt); and trade (Gavin Floyd, Jair Jurrjens)—all are superior options to Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is a deep and risky bomb for the Nats that I wouldn’t have attempted.