Our tour of the AP and newspaper industry is taking a quick detour to the Sports page, today, because the MLB Trade Deadline is coming fast and furious in the next 30 hours or so (I even admitted in a tweet last night that my Desert Island news source until July 31st is MLBtraderumors.com).
Friends and any other people out there know that my favorite convenience is when all my worlds collide into one fantastic display. So, special thanks to my friend and resident Blogadilla contributor Brian Roundy for pointing me to this gem buried in a Yahoo! Sports notes section on the fantasy (yes, remember, geek here) recommendation for a pitcher recently acquired by the Seattle Mariners Ian Snell. Make sure to read the highlighted part closely.
I got a chuckle out of this inclusion for one reason: Seattle has been the center of a lot of my watching because one of its papers went online only this year. However, the presence of the additional media from overseas in Japan as a distraction? A little stretch, and certainly not “recommendation worthy.”
There’s a common divide in sports between major market teams – LA, NY, Boston being the standard bearers, but also Philly, DC, Miami and Dallas – your mid-markets and minor ones. The idea of “playing under the lights of a big city” as a distraction to some players is a common complaint. This new development is a first to me, at least in terms of two cities that actually have a lot in common as the mid-major markets.
If I’m Pittsburgh, I’ve just been told that we’re a smaller market than a city that lost one of its newspapers. Ouch. Then again, you have a Lombardi and Stanley Cup to keep you company, so, I’m not going to leap to very much more defense than this.
I ended up following a lot of TV bloggers recently. Partially because of all that Chuck ranting, partially because of my pop culture dorkiness. Yes, there is enough irony of a digital guy who blogs a lot about the struggles of mainstream media to move with technology who is completely obsessed with iconic, traditional TV.
I’m really happy I started keeping up with Alan Sepinwall and his What’s Alan Watching blog earlier this spring. To add to the levels of irony, please note that Sepinwall is also the TV critic for the NJ Star-Ledger. There’s about nine crossovers of interconnected media here, but that’s the purpose of the rant.
One of my favorite things that Alan has been doing this summer has been a TV rewind – with limited new programming worth focusing on, he’s utilizing the power of DVD to “cover” TV shows as if they were still going on and around for the first time. Part of his focus this summer is the exceptional Aaron Sorkin behind-the-scenes, pre-West Wing piece, Sports Night.
The show was great and its worth catching up with Alan’s coverage of it if you get a chance. This is one of my favorite moments, from the season one finale, when Jeremy (an assistant produce who has the dweeb setting up all the time, but in an endearing way), tries to convince his co-workers that all they need is a big rally. I could watch it over and over again.
This clip is property of Imagine Television in association with Touchstone Pictures.
Here’s the full text of the speech:
Jeremy: Listen to me, everybody. Stop your work. A writer once wrote “As if it matters how a man falls down; when the fall is all that’s left, it matters very much.” What did he mean by that? He meant ‘do not abandon blowouts’. Watching proud and accomplished athletes battle in the face of odds that are virtually hopeless is one of the more stirring sights in all of sports. The Phillies have been down 14 to 1 since the third inning. And I think it’s the best game we’ve got. That is all.
It was June of 1998, a day long before Twitter, Gmail, blackberries, SMS or any of the other myriad things I write about here. I was barely a high-schooler, and vividly recall reading a USA Today article about the record-breaking month for which a Chicago Cubs outfielder was on pace.
I was younger, obviously, but also still a bright-eyed teenager coming to grips with the resurgence of the game that once taught me about the loyalty and joy of sports before crushing a young kid’s hope within the 15 years before that moment. I cheered as McGwire’s 62nd home run sneak over the left field wall in St. Louis that September on an 11 inch TV I stealthily moved into my bedroom. I could cheer the return of the game on the back of these athletes.
Now I love the game, but like everyone, I’m suspicious of the athletes. I’m critical – I wrote my collegiate thesis on how the sports media, both on and offline, covered the steroid scandal of 2005 in light of what sports fans were looking to read. Do we want to hear more of this? No, not really. What’s changed between 11 years ago and today? Well, for one thing, we stopped caring about the greed of players’ unions as the inescapable vice of professional athletes and started pining for the purity of the game. However, there are a few bigger things in the works here regarding professional athletes, the sports media, access and doubt.
As Dan Shanoff wrote this morning:
“Accusing one person specifically of doing something wrong? You better have specific evidence to back it up.
But accuse everyone of doing something? You’re in the clear! Accuse away!
That was the lesson of the [Raul] Ibanez thing last week, especially combined with the Sosa thing this week: Cynicism rules.“
I only linked to the coverage of the Raul Ibanez blogger-media-steroid accusation debate from last week that Shanoff is mentioning without going into too much detail, but suffice to say, Dan is right on. Here’s the difference: in 1998, we didn’t have any reason to suspect – or the means to blog and twitter – a sudden surge of power, we now have a motive and ability to express our discontent. The crime with a blogger calling on Raul Ibanez’s tremendous season was not the accusation, it was that it singled out the player.
The other change? Athletes now have the ability to remove that filter, too. Ibanez felt within his rights to respond directly to his accuser. Blogger or journalist, it didn’t matter – the playing field is now level when it comes to media relations.
Sports Illustrated covered the Athlete-Tweeting phenomenon in May, and the telling quote may have been from the real life version of The_Real_Shaq:
Another attraction: Twitter lets athletes speak on their own terms. “In this world we live in now, everybody becomes media,” says Shaquille O’Neal, who has an enormous Twitter following of 950,000. “If something is going to be said, hey, it’s coming from me.” Journalists may lament athletes passing over the middle men. But honestly, what’s more interesting, a “we gave 110 percent” from the postgame podium, or a tweet like this from Shaq last week: “Dam manny ramirez, come on man Agggggggggh, agggggggh, agggggh.“
Baseball has changed since 1998, along with our impressions of slugging athletes, communication and more. The communications revolution just so happened to coincide with the Steroids Era. Who knew that we would get something so fake and so authentic at the exact same moment of history?
I thought I asked nicely for people not to write this column. Sigh.
5. Give me the gas and I’ll see you in Moscow. Sooo…line up Utah versus Florida for the 15th in New Orleans, and USC versus Texas in Pasadena on the same day, and then have the winners do it here in Miami on the 22nd. When Patton reached the line of control with the Russians, he allegedly said, “Give me a million gallons of gas and I’ll see you in Moscow.” Give me the money to make it happen, and we’ll see you in Playoffland for the war we all really want to see.
Now, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised that the offender I thought (Shanoff) and the person who ended up making the call are both Florida fans. They want to shut-up the doubters. Fair enough. But stop whining. You have the crystal ball of the mythical national championship.
Hall’s full piece is actually really quite good, especially for being posted at 1 a.m. from Dolphin stadium. Check it out.
It is absolutely inevitable that before Thursday’s “Mythical” National Championship game between Florida and Oklahoma, the following two articles are going to be written by a online sports influencer:
(No offense, but I have a feeling Dan Shanoff will be responsible for both of the following).
1. “See, if we would have had a playoff this year…”
Look, we’re all smart. Yes, if there would have been an 8-team playoff, SC, Utah, likely Texas and the winner of Florida-Oklahoma would be the “final four.” Please please don’t try to put these match-ups together and try and break down hypothetical Utah-Florida and USC-Texas games. It’s tempting. Don’t do it.
Embrace what we have, embrace the tradition of the bowl system. The fact of the matter is that even an 8-game playoff this year would have left teams at home. In fact, your conference champions from the Big East and ACC would have knocked out Oh. St. and, unfortunately, Utah.
This year is no different, as Dr. Saturday pointed out, than any of the times in the last few years (as recently as ’04 with Auburn and USC) where we’ve contemplated splitting the championships. It is a part of history (in fact, my alma mater claims a share of the 1940 title. I’m ok with that). And I’m convinced that no matter how hard we try, someone will be left out of a playoff because separating 8 and 9, however you do it – computers, media, committees – is even harder than separating 2 and 3.
2. “Next year’s top five will be…”
2a. “Next year’s top five will be (if Tebow/Stafford/Bradford/whomever doesn’t declare for the draft)…”
Someone wants to be the first to say that USC, Texas or Florida will be next year’s preseason number 1. The problem is that the same people who build and vote in the preseason polls are usually the same ones in favor of a playoff. Ohio State got into the Fiesta Bowl this year based on nothing more than starting with a high rank, losing to two top ten teams, and inertia keeping them there. The computers aren’t smart enough to fix that. So, hold your judgement ’til people play.
I also expect the hypothetical top fives based on who’s staying and who is going. That’s just going to get annoying. Patience people.
End of rant. Let’s just watch some football.