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Tag: Media coverage

Annie Savoy Would NEVER Go For This

I freely admit I am so starved for baseball happenings that I actually did a news search just now for “baseball” –as if I wouldn’t have read about it already, on a blog or Twitter, if anything big went down. Aside from the Matt Garza trade (good news for the Yanks this season, probably, but nothing I can get too excited about) there ain’t nothing going on today. Except Brian Cashman is talking more and more like some kinda internet zealot. Adam LaRoche is finalizing his deal with the Nationals. Okay.

Unfortunately what I did turn up, like some gross bug under a rock, is the story over at Radar Online that a new reality show about baseball groupies is being developed. Baseball Annies are now being cast, with the idea of filming in Arizona during spring training. I’m not much of a reality TV fan — I’m too easily embarrassed on behalf of other people — and doubt I will watch this, unless I have to write about it. Anyone with half a brain realized many, many years ago that the vast majority of baseball players sleep around, and I really couldn’t care less since I am not married to, nor dating, a baseball player; that’s between them and their significant others and as long as everyone’s a consenting adult, hey, not my concern. The entire subculture has always seemed deeply depressing, though, and this newest cringe-inducing exploitation-fest is doing nothing to change that impression:

“The girls will go to any lengths to go to games and practices with the goal of sleeping with and getting material things from athletes as a notch under their belt,” the source told RadarOnline.com exclusively.

Ooh, an EXCLUSIVE about soul-suckingly shallow groupies! Great job, RadarOnline.com. Also:

The show will focus on the women and their ‘cleat-chasing’ lifestyle more than the players and their participation, added the source.

Well, of course. Why deal with the legal and societal repercussions of showcasing popular men behaving badly when you can just vilify the less wealthy and famous women who, inexplicably, are volunteering for this? Not that they won’t deserve vilifying, most likely, and no one can go on a show like “Cleat Chasers” and not expect to come out looking horrible.

I’m not someone who bemoans the decline of humanity, because I think humanity has always been pretty messed up, and even a show as tasteless as this is still better than say burning a bunch of people at the stake every time you get freaked out by an eclipse, but still.

Happy Trails, Joe

Margo Channing had her Eve Harrington. McMurphy had his Nurse Ratched. John McClane had his Hans Gruber.

Every protagonist needs a good villain… and we, the baseball geeks,  just lost an excellent foil in the form of one Joe “Fire Joe Morgan” Morgan.

I’m sure there are people out there — indeed, lots of people — who enjoyed Joe Morgan’s work as an announcer on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. But I don’t know many of them; I don’t think we read the same blogs. For years and years, even before I discovered Bill James and Baseball Prospectus and, of course, the great Fire Joe Morgan, I rolled my eyes at Morgan on Sunday nights. He was a great, great player and is by all accounts a smart man (also a Hall of Famer and the winner of every conceivable baseball award, as you may have heard him mention weekly for the last two decades), but he has the intellectual curiosity of a halibut. He had a pomposity and a petrified worldview that was impervious to questioning or new ideas. Among the writers I read often, Craig Calcaterra was the only one to offer a semi-defense, if you count “Morgan annoyed me, but never so much that I’d celebrate his departure. Mostly because, for as wrong as he could be at times, he was fairly easy to ignore” as a semi-defense. That Craig didn’t feel compelled to mute Morgan, merely tune him out, is the nicest thing I’ve read about the guy’s announcing in years.

Nietzsche wrote that “He who lives by fighting with an enemy has an interest in the preservation of that enemy’s life”. Of course, he also wrote “Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up in us like fungus: one morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray.” So let’s not get too carried away with the Nietzsche, but I think that point’s well taken here. Everyone needs a good bad guy, and for baseball fans who were interested in sabermetrics and advanced stats and research (or at least respected those things), Morgan was perfectly cast. He was wealthy and famous and popular enough that you didn’t have to feel guilty about skewering him – not like some random beat writer, who you’d feel bad about ganging up on. And his counterarguments were not exactly reasoned and convincing, as can be seen in this immortal exchange he had with Deadspin’s Tommy Craggs more than five years ago now, recounted in a classic SF Weekly story:

[Craggs]:It seems that you almost take [the book] personally.

Joe:I took it personally because they had a personal thing about me saying Durham should’ve stolen second base in the game that they lost — he stayed at first base, and they hit three fly balls, and the A’s lose another fifth game.

[Craggs]: And that’s the chief reason you don’t even wanna read the book?

Joe:I don’t read books like that. I didn’t read Bill James’ book, and you said he was complimenting me. Why would I wanna read a book about a computer, that gives computer numbers?

[Craggs]:It’s not about a computer.

Joe: Well, I’m not reading the book, so I wouldn’t know.

I remember reading that story when it was published, and after that Joe Morgan wasn’t just another announcer I ignored or rolled my eyes at; he was the face of the enemy. Not in a personal sense; of course I have nothing against Joe Morgan, as a person, and wish him a long and happy life. But he had taken a stand against learning, or reading, or even having a conversation about new ideas, and he had done it in a particularly boneheaded way. He came to symbolize a way of thinking that drives me, and — judging by the comments here all season, every season – many of you right up the wall. But now that Morgan’s gotten the hook, who embodies what I want to argue against? Surely no one with as broad and loud a platform, so much money and influence, no one who will make it so much fun to play the righteous underdog. So yes, I think in a perverse way, I’m really going to miss Joe Morgan.

Sandy Alderson has assembled a super-Moneyball team over in Queens and is being showered with praise, and Morgan’s only real anti-SABR peer, former New York Times columnist Murray Chass, is off in a basement somewhere writing a blog that he furiously insists is not a blog. Who am I supposed to yell at on my TV screen now?

Of course, as was pointed out to me last night, we’ll always have Buck and McCarver. I have no doubt they will outlive us all.

Yankee Panky: Let’s Get Non-Traditional

It’s about time.

While scoping the coverage of this week’s GM meetings and perusing the papers, blogs, TV, etc., a shift occurred in the news flow, particularly with the timing of how and when stories broke. Understanding the sensitivity here between sports and politics, it should be noted that the major professional sporting leagues and the media coverage of them are one of the last true bastions of traditional conservatism.

(For an example of this, check out this link recapping Thursday night’s Broncos-Browns game, and Brandon Marshall’s thwarted touchdown celebration. Dave Zirin’s analysis at The Nation can be found here. Mike Shanahan’s sound bite is especially telling.)

It’s big businesses assessing a big business; rarely in the mainstream will you find writers like Zirin or Will Leitch of Deadspin openly challenging the establishment. Nor would you look to the supposed leaders in coverage — the mainstream newspapers — aiming to break new ground in reporting, scooping, or information presentation to their reader base.

This week, there was a noticeable change, and it occurred for a number of reasons:

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver