So I turned on ESPN when I got back from my last class today, and what should I find? A SportsCenter "Right Now" segment in which the network is touting tonight's Sox/Rays matchup as the game of the century.
Seems as though ESPN is showing some sort of Red Sox/Yankees/Patriots coverage every time you turn on the TV.
Sure, I get it - ESPN is headquartered in Bristol, Connecticut, which is Sox/Pats/Yankees country. But seriously, there are hundreds of millions of Americans living outside that region that could care less what Dustin Pedroia looks like without a shirt on or what kind of designer clothing Tom Brady wore to his nephew's birthday party last weekend.
Enough is enough - ESPN televises at least one game out of every Yankees/Sox series per year, and according to my count, the Yankees and Red Sox make an appearance (whether playing each other or different teams) on either ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball or FOX's Saturday Baseball an incredible 23 of 43 (53.5%) overall telecasts, including four head-to-head matchups.
Tonight's matchup between the Rays and Sox is somewhat significant, being that the Rays are 6.0 games out of the Wild Card race behind the front-running Red Sox. But still, for the Rays to make the playoffs, they'd have to go on quite a streak in the last month of the season. No easy task, especially since the Rays have 12 of their last 31 games against the Sox and the Yankees, AL's best team.
It's interesting listening (in the "I want to mute these guys but I can't help listening to their stupid remarks" kind of way) to ESPN's commentators for tonight's game, Dave O'Brien and Rick Sutcliffe. As if prompted by ESPN management to tout the Red Sox as being the best team in the history of baseball, they frequently make ridiculous comments about the team, noting Pedroia's incredible scrappiness or closer Jonathan Papelbon's bulldog-like mentality on the mound.
I know this game has been scheduled since before the season started, but they have the power to change it at any time. How about showing the Giants (1GB in the NL Wild Card race) against the Phillies (NL East leaders)? Atlanta vs. Florida, just 3.0 and 5.0 games back in the Wild Card race, respectively?
Enough about this topic. What else ticks me off about ESPN? How about earlier today when, during the 5pm SportsCenter, host Steve Levy made the comment about how the only reason they were showing the Reds/Pirates highlights was because the 10,000th homerun in Pirates history was hit today. I know both teams are in the cellar of the NL Central, but wouldn't you think their fans and MLB fans in general would want to see highlights of the game in case they missed it? Hell, I know I do.
Don't even get me started about "Barry Bonds aficionado" Pedro Gomez, "Terrell Owens' superfan" Sal Paolantonio, or "Dallas Cowboys/Brett Favre enthusiast" Ed Werder. Incredible how they constantly have these three reporters covering every single moment about their respective stories. I guarantee you Ed Werder could tell you what size underwear Brett Favre wears, and Gomez could tell you how many syringes Bonds used when he was still playing. Do people really want 24/7 coverage of these people/teams/events? It gets to be unbearable, and I believe it is poor journalism.
Despite all this, I guarantee you I watch ESPN more than any other network on TV. My love of sports is the main culprit, and no other network can match ESPN in terms of the number of live events shown.
Nonetheless, ESPN is a highly, highly successful network, so they must be doing something right. I guess you just have to be from New England to understand what it is.