Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bill Simmons can't think of a topic to write about

Here is the latest 'column' from Bill Simmons. This is part of why I can't stand him. He doesn't have an idea for a column, so he decides to feed his ego by reading and answering a ton of questions from his readers. Now I'm all for a popular columnist responding to readers' questions publicly, but why not answer a couple at the start and/or end of a column? I don't want to read an entire column of him responding to people trying to tickle his balls with funny ideas.

This is just scratching the surface of what is wrong with the self-proclaimed Sports Guy. Although it seems to me he has no expert qualifications: 1) He never played any sport professionally or in college 2) His extent in the comedy business is writing for Jimmy Kimmel. And yet, he considers himself an expert on both sports and pop culture. My problem with him is not that he has opinions. I love writers who actually write what they think and that is one reason why Simmons is entertaining; he really doesn't censor himself. However, he states his opinions like they are facts and should not be disputed. For instance, here's one response in his 'column.'

"Q: I was recently waiting on line in the grocery store looking at magazine covers when I discovered that apparently Kelly Ripa has A-cups. This brought to mind an intriguing question: Who are the five hottest female celebrities without much up top? I didn't even know where to begin, but I knew you would deliver the goods for me. Also, should we call them The A-Cup All-Stars, or perhaps just The A-Team?

-- Vroom, Waldwick, N.J.

SG: I love "The A-Team." Perfect. Our 2009 A-Team All-Stars: Kelly Ripa, Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and team captain Natalie Portman. This list should be released like the NFL All-Pro team every December. I'd also enjoy the B-Team, the C-Team, the D-Team and the DD-Team. These are the kind of ideas that give me hope for the next decade with the Internet: There are still a ton of great boob-related ideas out there. Wait, am I saying this out loud?"

See how BS just proclaims the A-Team exists. He doesn't offer his suggestions. He just states what the team is. It's not open for argument. Why does he do this? Because Simmons is an egotistical elitist douche bag. It would also be nice if the ratio of non-Boston related sports to all sports talked about was less than 90/10. Of course then it wouldn't be the Simmons we love though.

One other thought: how often does he come out with a new podcast instead of a new column and use that as excuse for why he hasn't written a new column (the hey I just uploaded a podcast defense). Bill Simmons has a voice for print; not a voice for radio. He sounds like he has a deviated septum wider than when Moses parted the seas. Please keep your nasally voice off the podcast airwaves and stick to actually WRITING. If you didn't bring so much traffic to I'm sure they would have dropped your pompous ass long ago.

Also, stop twittering. You are a 40 year old man for gods sake. Don't you have a family? Do they have to suffer while you twitter at the dinner table and laugh privately at whatever you're reading? Simmons is trying his very hardest to turn himself into a celebrity by constantly giving himself credit as being the most genius mind to have thought of ideas ever. Let's please not feed his Jupiter sized ego.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Buck Showalter solves what no one thought was a problem

I'm utterly convinced that baseball managers are the most useless coaches in the four major sports. Not that this was any sort of revelation, but Buck Showalter proved to me this weekend just how dumb managers can be. Either that, or whatever intelligence he had was vacuumed out of his brain when he signed his contract with ESPN. Probably a bit of both.

Anyhow, I turn on Baseball Tonight on Saturday to find Steve Berthiaume and Buck discussing MLB divisional realignment. "The Reds and the Pirates play 10 more times this season. I don't want to watch them play 10 more times this season. The Red Sox and Yankees play 18 times this do we restore fairness to scheduling?" asks Berthiaume (I paraphrase slightly).

Apparently this is some huge problem - baseball teams don't all play the same schedule!!! "This is one of my pet peeves and everybody in the field and the stands," says Buck. Grammatical errors aside, I don't think I've ever had a discussion about how unfair the baseball schedule is (nor any other pro league schedule for that matter).

During the segment, Buck made it clear that he didn't care for divisional play, and so he introduced a new plan that's supposed to be like the NFL and NBA in "getting rid of the American and National Leagues." I don't even know what that's supposed to mean, but the new schedule is basically the exact opposite of NFL and NBA schedules (and more like the Premier League schedule). Anyway, Buck wants to reshuffle the teams and form 4 new divisions of 7 teams each. Yes, Buck's masterful plan is contingent on contracting two teams! Who does Buck suggest should be contracted? The Marlins and the Rays, for some asinine reason. Never mind that the Marlins are getting a new fucking stadium. In the new schedule, the 28 teams would play each other 6 times each - 3 home, 3 road - for the sake of "fairness," of course.

For extra flair, the 4 new divisions would be named after baseball legends. Guess which ones they are: Robinson, Clemente, Ruth and Aaron (why baseball has such a compulsion to name everything after these 4 people is absurd). Buck made a big point of "preserving regional rivalries" in the new divisions. Of course, it was completely lost on Buck that regional rivalries don't mean shit when every team in the whole league plays each other the exact same amount of times. If every team plays 6 games against the other 27, there's no need for divisions!

Buck made a big point about how well the new divisions are set up "time-zone wise." Buck, you dumbass, time zones don't matter in this system because every team plays each other the same amount of times!

If you just read this, and said "What the fuck?" well, I don't blame you. I said the same thing on Saturday night. Just know that this is easily the most retarded segment I've seen on ESPN since Who's Now.

Shut the fuck up Rick Reilly

Rick Reilly's latest column is about the Williams sisters. I beg you to read the first couple paragraphs here:

"What if I told you about two white brothers from a trailer park on the tattooed side of the tracks? Their father decides -- against all logic -- to teach them a rich man's sport, golf, even though he's a complete chop himself. They become great on the weedy public courses, turn pro and dominate the sport. Just wipe the Tour up. Golf harrumphs in disbelief.

Then the two brothers grow disinterested with golf and get into motorcycle building. They nearly stop playing altogether.Then they grow disinterested with being disinterested and decide, What the hell, let's go thump again. So they crush all new saps, until it's obvious nearly every major is going to be won by one or the other.


Well, change their color to black, their sex to female and their sport to tennis, and you have the Williams sisters, who now have 18 majors between them -- 11 for Serena and seven for Venus. Eighteen! If this were golf, Serena would be tied with Walter Hagen for third, and Venus would be tied with Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and others for seventh. From one family, one coach, one house in Compton. It's the single most underplayed story in American sports in the past 25 years. Where's their postage stamp?"

What the fuck are you talking about? Did you just create a 2 paragraph analogy so retarded that it couldn't possibly refer to anything except to perfectly match up with the scenario the Williams sisters went through? Then of course he saves it by saying 'change the color to black and the sex to female and the sport to tennis' !!! Wow what a brilliant story you just weaved for us Poet Laureate Reilly!

He claims that this is the "most underplayed story in sports" How ridiculous is that statement? First of all, the Williams sisters are quite famous. ESPN covers them all the time. They covered Serena when she wore that t-shirt that said 'can you see my titles?' Please Rick, the most underplayed story in sports is something we probably haven't heard of. Why? BECAUSE IT'S UNDERPLAYED. You know what I think a great story is: Nick Swisher's emotional impact on the Yankees clubhouse. I think he (with a little help from AJ Burnett and his pies to the faces) has helped transform them into a happy team again. Why hasn't this been a story? That could be the most underplayed story in sports! The Yankees have the best record in baseball. I haven't seen any Yankees specials this year except when they play the Sawx. Yes I'm a Yankees fan and I'm biased, but to say this is the most underplayed story in sports is a bit of hyperbole isn't it Ol' Riles?

And quite frankly, how can you possibly like the Williams sisters? How about the fact that they play each other so much in the finals because they're both so good, but they never have good matches? They're always blowouts because the sisters confess it's hard for them to want to beat the other. Where is the competitive fire there? These should be epic sisterly clashes. I don't want to watch one roll over and give up after the first couple games.

Also, I think they are both underachievers. Everyone knows they are by far the most talented players in the game, and they have plenty of majors to show for it. However, they are nowhere near approaching the records of the great women players of the past. I would argue this is because they don't care enough about tennis. They're too busy modeling and starting other careers to care. Sweet lord you could put a cup of coffee on that ass, but while she's modeling for that picture I think Justine Henin just won 3 majors. Whoops look how the time flies!

Reilly points this out as their greatness. They can take time off and come back and still be great. I would contend that this makes them the opposite of admirable. They have no drive to make history. Yes, they have done a lot for African Americans playing tennis already, but I don't think they have the same kind of fire that drives say, Roger Federer. Rick, I hope you die choking on Serena's giant black cock.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Are you serious, Matthew Berry?

This article was a headline on ESPN mobile today. Being an avid fantasy football participant, I decided to check it out but was instead bombarded by a million plugs to play on ESPN. The unnecessary and blatant attempts to promote ESPN's fantasy leagues drowned out any legitimate insight of superdweeb Matthew Berry. By reading this article, I am curious how many royalties he gets per ESPN mention. Here are some of the many:

Now remember, we play with at least two [wide recievers] , with the option of adding a third in an ESPN standard league.

- OK, you can't do the same in a non-ESPN league?

First, I highly recommend an auction. The argument against was always that to do it correctly everyone needed to be in the same room. Now, thanks to our auction draft software, that's no longer a concern.

Try it once and you'll be hooked. And if you've never tried, you can do it now in our free, mock auction lobby.

- Wow, ESPN saved my life now that they have auction-competent software

Second, where are you playing out the league? You know I am a company man, so I'll just merely mention that everything you want or need for your league is here and free on And here's the thing. I've played on other sites. I'm not trashing other sites. But, and I am being honest here, the best experience is on And if you don't believe me, it's because you haven't tried it recently.

Look, it's 100 percent free to play. So if your long-term league has been playing elsewhere, set up a second "mirror league" here on ESPN. A taste test, if you will. And just see which one you like better. It costs you nothing except maybe an hour to set up the second league and, considering how much time you spend on your league every year, don't you want the best experience? The most fun, the most timely injury updates, the most tools in the game, the easiest interface, etc etc. Just try it. And if you hate it, I'll shut up. I promise.

- Really, you're a company man? Also, I'm actually going to set up the same exact league on two websites? I'm sorry I have a real life.

Obviously, you should be reading as much as possible. I would be checking at least once a day. Read the articles, listen to our daily podcasts, watch our daily videocast and stop by our twice-daily chats. I highly recommend our free mobile alerts, and for those who want even more of an edge you should sign up for ESPN Insider (or get yourself a Rotopass, which includes Insider as well as access to some other great fantasy sites).

- This is where the ESPN employee bonus comes in - I count half a dozen different features

Either way, knowledge is power. The more you know -- about players, lineups, injuries, sleepers, coaching changes, schedules, bye weeks, etc. -- the better shape you are in.

First, get yourself an up-to-the minute depth chart for every team in the NFL. We have a really good, easy-to-print version in our draft kit, and they will be updated throughout the preseason. But whomever's you like, print them out and bring them with you.

- A depth chart is a depth chart Berry...

By the way, if it's a salary cap/auction league -- did I mention you can now do auctions on for free? -- I also have a place to see how much money they have left. Those of you with laptops can have a spreadsheet do all this for you, obviously (or if you are using Auction Draft Lobby, we do it for you). If it's a keeper league with a salary cap, you start with how much money they have left for how many positions to fill.

- Did I mention you suck?

And finally,

Don't be shy! We're here to listen, to advise, to commiserate and to help here at Again, stop by our chats and our message boards, e-mail our columnists. Send in questions to our daily Fantasy Focus podcast, videocast or our twice-daily chats (and three-hour chats on Sunday morning). It's a long season and we're gonna be there every step of the way with you.

- One more plug! Keep Matthew Berry amused at work!

To spite ESPN, I am using Yahoo for all of my fantasy teams in the future.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brett Favre, Ron Mexico, and Turd Ferguson

Surely ESPN has gotten the message by now.  In SportsCenter's groundbreaking "Bud Light Freeze Frame" segment, a photo of Favre's return came in a distant third (just over 21% of the vote) this week behind - guess what! - Tiger losing and Bolt setting the WR in the 100 meter dash.  Thanks, SportsNation! 

By the way, I can't help but piggyback on Kyle's recent post reminding us of Michael Vick's priceless hotel alias: Ron Mexico.  When it comes to picking aliases, there are definitely some classics - check out the 2005 Yankees.


Rumor that ESPN isn't reporting of course

We cannot confirm this is a true story, but we can confirm that Yahoo Sports and Sports Illustrated among plenty of other news sites are reporting that Shaq's new TV show that debuted this week was an idea stolen from former teammate Steve Nash. To make the headache that could have resulted when Nash hired a lawyer go away, Nash was given an Executive Producer credit on the show and compensation.

Now why wouldn't ESPN want to report on something that puts Shaq in a bad light? At least they're consistent! Big Ben and Shaq can go jerk each other off as they celebrate being the darlings of ESPN.

[UPDATE:] Since this article was posted they did report on this article. I personally saw them discuss it on both Around the Horn and PTI. I am happy they addressed the issue, but that still doesn't excuse the fact this was going around all major sports news websites without being on ESPN for hours. Get on top of your shit guys.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reverse Psychology

Let's face it, Brett Favre is an annoying d-bag. We're all sick of his phony press conferences and interviews with reporters sycophants like Chris Mortensen and Greta Van Susteren. Well, it turns out that ESPN has finally caught on, about 3 years too late, that people hate Brett Favre. While every SportsCenter and NFL Live episode can't go 10 minutes without some worthless Brett-watch update, at least ESPN is starting to acknowledge this basic fact in the segments it airs.

While basically every football fan has gotten over Brett, clearly the big brass at ESPN hasn't. Before Mark Schlereth's announcement of his Top 5 NFC teams that had everybody sitting on the edge of their collective seats on the 6 PM SportsCenter, Schlereth had to pontificate about the explosive potential of every member of the Vikings' offense now that Brett is their QB. As to be expected, this piece of "analysis" was delivered in the typical ESPN fashion: say as many superlatives and adjectives as fast as you can while music blasts and a "hard-hitting" highlight plays on screen. Of note, Schlereth didn't include the Vikes in his Top 5. I'm so glad I got to hear how amazing Percy Harvin will be because he'll now be getting some 4-yard swing passes from Brett. This Schlereth piece was followed later by the despicable Colin Cowherd and that blond girl talking about the fantasy impact of Favre (as an earlier post mockingly predicted).

More to the point, now that ESPN acknowledges that Favre has long fallen out of favor with fans, the network has been quick to play the sympathy card. Jeremy Schaap came on just before 7 with an editorial arguing that Favre isn't to blame. "Don't blame Favre for remaining compelling," he says. Well, Jeremy, the only people who find him compelling are you and your bosses." "Don't blame Favre that fans still tune in and log on to track his comings and goings," he continues. Well, Jeremy, the only reason that fans still "tune in" is because your network refuses to cover anything else - Favre is still the lead story on as I write this. Never mind that Usain Bolt just ran a 9.58 or Tiger lost a major though he led after 54 holes. These are easily two of the biggest sports stories of the year! And Brett Favre is almost 40, and he sucks! Do you really want me to feel sorry for Brett Favre?

Blame it instead, says Jeremy Schaap, on the "current crop of quarterbacks." He went on to talk about the glory days of Montana, Elway, Moon, Simms, Esiason, each around during Favre's rookie year. What about Brady, Manning, Manning, Brees, and (dare I say it) Aaron Rodgers? None of those guys is any slouch. Here's to Rodgers' Packers torching the Vikings on October 5 and November 1. Afterwards, I hope Rodgers punches Favre in his bad rotator cuff as retribution for Favre preventing Rodgers from taking his rightful place at the helm of the Green Bay offense 4 years ago. Shut up Brett, shut up ESPN; your sympathy doesn't work with me.


What to expect from ESPN today?

- Reairing of Favre press conference

- Interview of reporters from Minnesota and Green Bay press on the morning Sportscenter (don't forget it's live!)

- Fantasy analysis of Favre's return

- Rachel Nichols' reporting the color of Favre's underwear at practice

- ESPN360 piece on Favre's disgusting hat

- Lack of criticism

- report about the extra minutes Michael Vick spent on the Eagles' practice field

- Yankees and Red Sox highlights

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ESPN ombudsman drops the ball

Many of you may not even know who Don Ohlmeyer is, but he is the the ESPN ombudsman. What this means is that his job is to convey the public response to what ESPN does to ESPN, and kind of be a voice for their displeasure. Here is his profile page.

He just wrote his first analysis for ESPN. After a lengthy introduction he specifically focuses on ESPN's handling of the Ben Roethlisberger rape incident and ESPN's decision to not report it (see older posts for more info). He quotes many followers who were upset by ESPN's decision. Then he proceeds to interrogate Senior Vice President and Director of News Vince Doria on the subject. Here's an excerpt:

Q: Do you feel you are consistent? One reader specifically asked about Marvin Harrison.

"With Marvin Harrison, we reported on a civil suit that related to a prior criminal investigation. It fit our criteria, so we went with it. In another instance, there were civil claims made against Mike Tyson for reportedly groping a woman in a bar -- because he had spent time in jail for rape, we felt there was a pattern, so ESPN reported it. In 2005, a woman filed a civil suit against Michael Vick, alleging that under the pseudonym 'Ron Mexico' he had unprotected sex with her, then revealed to her that he had herpes. We did not report the story, based on the same reasoning we used in the Roethlisberger situation -- no criminal component, no previous history on the part of Vick, it happened during the offseason. Vick never did respond publicly, the suit was settled, and we never reported on it. While many other media outlets reported the story, we faced no scrutiny, no criticism, virtually no attention to how we covered it. Times evidently have changed."

This is all fine and dandy but to me so far it just seems like a platform where it can seem like an ESPN rep can give reasons that sound legitimate, but really to me sounds like bullshit. Because of someone at ESPN who determined a pattern of actions they decide what to cover and what not to when it's a civil suit? What kind of standards are that? This Ron Mexico story sounds like news to me. Duh Vick didn't respond publicly, what is he gonna say? Of course the suit was settled so that Vick didn't have his name dragged through the mud for being a rapist. This most definitely is news that ESPN should have reported.

Ohlmeyer then goes on to some other complaints, namely ESPN protecting relationships it has with star players. Here's an excerpt:

Q: ESPN's motives have been questioned. One of the charges is being soft on the NFL and its players for business reasons. Your response?

"We've done a number of tough stories on the NFL over the years. We did a series questioning the league's handling of the concussion issue. More stories on the lack of funding on the retired players experiencing physical and emotional difficulties. The Pacman Jones situation, Michael Vick, Brandon Marshall, Spygate. None of these stories put the individuals or the NFL in a good light. Anyone who contends we shy away from stories that are critical of the NFL isn't paying attention."

This response does not answer the real question, and I think the problem is that the question is terrible because it is written by an ombudsman 'claiming' to be conveying the public sentiment. However, I don't think anyone is questioning ESPN's ability to objectively critique the NFL. The problem is the consistency. Pacman Jones is a complete scumbag who ESPN probably never wants to work with. They have no problem covering his off the field problems. However, Roethlisberger is a charismatic leader and 2 time Super Bowl winner. He's someone they'd love to have a good relationship with. THAT is why they didn't report on him, and THAT question was not asked. Why couldn't Ohlmeyer ask Doria: Were you afraid reporting on the Roethlisberger story would make him less accessable to your reporters? Doria's answer just says 'hey don't hate us we've covered the NFL in a negative light before!' But that's not a justification for not covering the Roethlisberger story.

Ohlmeyer then gives ESPN the defense it needs:

...the more I thought about it, the more that mantra rang in my ears: "Serve the audience." Even if ESPN judged that it should not report the Roethlisberger suit, not acknowledging a sports story that's blanketing the airways requires an explanation to your viewers, listeners and readers. And in today's world they are owed that explanation right away -- to do otherwise is just plain irresponsible. It forces your audience to ask why the story was omitted. It forces them to manufacture a motive. And it ultimately forces them to question your credibility.

I agree with Ohlmeyer here that they should have reported the story, but he has suggested that people have manufactured a motive for why ESPN omitted reporting on it. I don't think so. I think ESPN loves the access it has to Roethlisberger and showed what a friend does to help another out.

Lightning can strike twice

At least it can for ESPN. For today is a glorious day for them as they now have Brett Favre to talk about for another year. Favre and Vick both playing in the NFL this year? I think ESPN writers just collectively jizzed their pants.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sweet karma

Take that Wojo, and your sad excuses for columns.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tiger is good at golf says investigative journalist Gene Wojciechowski

Geney, as I affectionately call him, begins his article with a title no one would expect to read:

Tiger choke? He can't utter

the word

Yesssss another article about how Tiger is the man and is the best golfer in the world! I can't wait for the insight here. I'd love to put up a picture of Gene, but I couldn't find any embarrassing looking ones and don't want to dignify his writing with a
legitimate picture. With that being said...

"Woods choke? That's like asking Albert Pujols if he knows which end of a bat to hold. If Tom Brady can remember a snap count."

Oh man I just got a little hard, but I need more:

"Choking means your mind and nerves have been tasered by the pressure of the moment. Name the last time on a golf course that Woods was overpowered by pressure, by the weight of a situation. Woods is almost always the taserer, not the taseree."

No please Wojo don't go onto your next point! Continue to wax poetic on what choking means and
how everyone else on the PGA tour are 'taserees'

And finally:

"Woods shot a 1-under-par 71 in the third round and did it without a birdie on any of the par 5s. No way that happens two days in a row."

I think I just came. Geney's reasoning for why Tiger
Woods will birdie a par 5 today? HE'S DUE. Not once in this article does he provide any sort of golf analysis. There's no comment on how it heavily rained in Minnesota last night which should make the greens very slow and easy for good iron players to place the ball close to the pin. Instead the depth
of analysis he provides amounts to saying what everyone else already
knows: he's never given up
a lead after 54 holes in a major. Come on Gene, do
we need to read your 600 words of poop on this subject? You could
have tweeted the thesis of that article and given me 3 minutes of my life back.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Random notes from the week

As a follow-up to my earlier post on Ortiz, Bill Simmons happened to write a thoughtful piece on Wednesday about Ortiz and his skepticism in the steroids era in which he notes that there is no easy solution.  While I don’t agree with all of Simmons’ positions, it certainly comes across that he is discussing this issue sincerely.  I’m shocked to have commended Bill twice in my first week.

Also in response to my Ortiz post, we received this response from a reader:      

Thoroughly entertaining post, especially the Simmons refrain. I would also mention that ESPN had the ridiculous Ortiz commercial where he put on a Yankees cap a few years back with Posada. Ortiz has always been an ESPN friend, and ESPN has profited off of that friendship and Ortiz's likeness. As funny as these commercials are, when you profit off of the athletes involved, then can you really give them fair coverage? Anyway, great stuff. Keep sending the new posts my way; my capacity to check my usual rotation of websites has severely decreased since starting work.

Here's the video:

On a completely unrelated note, we are all dumber for having seen this.  Jay Harris looks like a moron.


Some food for thought...

Here’s a phrase you’ll never hear an ESPN employee say: “Michael Vick should never play in the NFL again.” The constant refrain I’ve heard since the Thursday announcement of Vick’s signing with the Eagles is that “everybody deserves a second chance.” Now, I’m all for second chances, but nobody at ESPN will ever cry foul that professional athletes seem to get second chances long before your average felon.

If Michael Vick happened to have any other profession, he’d be out of a job and bagging groceries for the rest of his life. I’m not saying that a lifetime of menial labor is a fair punishment; everybody deserves a shot at redemption. However, does anybody at ESPN really believe that professional athletes deserve preferential treatment? Can’t somebody say that these guys should be held to a higher standard because of the ridiculous money they make? I loved the headline from this Jeffri Chadiha post: “Vick swallows pride, makes smart move”. Other than the obvious question (how fucking dumb is Jeffri Chadiha?), should a columnist be reporting on how Vick had to swallow his pride to sign with Philly? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m sure Vick was going to take whatever offer came his way with whatever “pride” he has left. ESPN is living in a world in which athletes are superhuman and can do whatever they want.

Now, I could complain about Roger Goodell betraying his “tough guy” stance, but ESPN is certainly far from helping this situation. I can’t wait for the early-October Vick E:60 exclusive. By the way, that Michael Smith-Donte Stallworth interview was absolutely spellbinding!!! Yes, let’s reward a guy who was drunk and high when he ran over somebody with a pithy E:60 interview. Give me a break.

While I might not have hired him, the Eagles believe that some good will come of this. Now that Vick does have his opportunity, I sincerely hope he makes the most of it and truly comes around. ESPN needs to hold him to the standard he deserves.


Friday, August 14, 2009


We don't need a link for this one. Just head on over to ESPN's homepage to see Vick-related articles littered everywhere. ESPN now has a story-feeder for the entire season! They've struck journalistic oil! Future headlines to come:

Vick: 'just happy to be here'

Vick (or McGwire): 'I'm not here to talk about the past'

(by week 4): Is it Still McNabb's Team?

(by week 8 after the obligatory McNabb oblique strain): 2nd Chance Well Worth the Wait

Bill Simmons piece on how he's happy Vick got a 2nd chance, but would refuse to support the Pats signing him

Rick Reilly piece complaining about something

and by season's end: Vick Travels to Mexico to [legally] bet on Cockfighting

The 2009-2010 season just got a whole lot more interesting...

Monday, August 10, 2009

ESPN, Ortiz, and Steroids

Sorry for the long layoff again folks - Kyra is on a ballpark roadtrip in America's heartland while I am getting ready for trips to Vegas and the Jersey shore. But today we are proud to publish the first post by guest contributor Rob Warfield. Mr. Warfield is well known around the Central Jersey and Philadelphia region as a walking encyclopedia and his sports knowledge is second to none. We hope you enjoy his work on the blog as much as we do.

You may not have heard, but David Ortiz tested positive for steroids back in 2003. Since I arrived back from a London vacation last week, it’s been hard to watch ESPN for more than 30 minutes without some discussion of this fact. I have to admit, this revelation was not the least bit surprising to me: the obvious disparity in Ortiz’s physical figure from his Minnesota days to his large and in charge Red Sox glory years and subsequent jump in stats once arriving in Boston are cause for enough suspicion in the steroids era. That the positive test came the year he joined the Sox is surely not a coincidence. But regardless of these tell-tale side effects of cheating and doping, there is a greater point to be made here: I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if anybody was caught juicing.

It’s on this point where I think ESPN has dropped the ball. With the exception of Bill Simmons (I can’t believe I just wrote that) and Howard Bryant, ESPN has really misjudged the fans’ reactions here. I heard Mitch Albom open up the Sports Reporters on Sunday arguing that the fans “don’t care” anymore when players are caught. Steve Phillips, parlaying his miserable GM record into an equally miserable analyst’s job, happily relayed Jim Leyland’s assertion that fans “don’t care” during tonight’s Red Sox/Tigers broadcast. Shocking that he would use a game in which Papi’s team was playing to notify us. Can’t say I’ve heard Simmons’ or Bryant’s positions espoused on Baseball Tonight yet (Note: Simmons wrote in his July 17 mailbag that he would only be shocked to learn that Jeter and Griffey took PEDs. I agree, though I might add Greg Maddux to that list).

However, some people clearly do care. ESPN certainly cares, because they’re still discussing this in detail eleven full days after the original New York Times story went to print. It was also so important that Albom had to address it while opening the second episode of the Sports Reporters to air since the NYT piece. Fans care, because Ortiz was booed all weekend. Granted he was playing at Yankee Stadium, but I’m sure he’d receive the same treatment in Philadelphia, for instance.

If ESPN wants to cover a story like this for eleven days, they should actually get to the bottom of the story. Maybe I haven’t been watching enough, but I have yet to hear ESPN discuss Ortiz’ own hypocrisy on this issue; the NYT article quotes Ortiz as saying that he would “ban [those who test positive] for the whole year.” The assuredness of that statement wasn’t there this week, as Ortiz took nine full days to call a press conference to talk about how “careless” he was when buying vitamins back in the day. Regardless of these discrepancies and the obvious hypocrisy, ESPN is still more than happy to give Ortiz a platform after-the-fact (we also saw this in Gammons’ A-Rod interview). By now we’ve all been reassured by every episode of SportsCenter and every ESPN baseball telecast of the past couple days that it’s entirely plausible for some bad vitamins to result in a positive test. Last night’s ticker prominently displayed that a BALCO scientist confirmed this. Sweet irony. The hypocrisy is laughable.

It’s a shame that the network that currently holds a monopoly on sports coverage has no journalistic integrity whatsoever. There is no consistency to speak of here. Simply put, it’s disappointing, but this is what I’ve come to expect from ESPN. They’re more interested in making friends than exploring anything in detail.

I look forward to contributing to this blog in the weeks and months to come.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

SI's Frank Deford speaks about ESPN

He's in the Sportswriter HoF so he probably has something valuable to say. Here's an excerpt from his short article pointing out the biggest problem with ESPN:

"A couple of weeks ago, ESPN initially refused to report the news that was everywhere else headlined — that Pittsburgh's Super Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had been accused of sexual assault. The network's excuses were too noble by half, because there's a double standard, and ESPN is known to cozy up to the very superstars it purports to cover.

Just suppose that CNN regularly had cutesy commercials for CNN starring Nancy Pelosi, John McCain and Rahm Emanuel. Well, that's the equivalent of what ESPN regularly does with top sports personalities. The practice is, simply, a journalistic disgrace, and, because ESPN is so powerful, it diminishes the integrity of all sports journalism."

Now we here at ESPNfail did not cover the Roethlisberger issue because it was in the past when we started writing and we try to stay as current as possible. However, while we're on the subject, we might as well say something. It took about 48 hours for ESPN to report the story that Ben Roethlisberger was accused of raping someone. Why was that? They had issued a 'do not report' memo to all their employees. They claimed this was because the matter was a civil complaint, which they don't cover out of fairness to the athlete. however it was picked up by the Associated Press. It was clearly a story, and it was clearly a story ESPN had reasons for not covering.

Why was this? Speculation said from sites like Deadspin that it might have something to do with the fact that ABC is a sister network of ESPN. Big Ben is set to appear on ABC's upcoming reality show Shaq Vs. where he competes against other athletes in their sports. It would not surprise me at all that they did not want this story to come out because it might hurt ratings on this show.

Even more scary though, is when Deford says that "ESPN is known to cozy up to the very superstars it purports to cover." This is hitting the nail on the head. ESPN wants to have all the

access to these athletes so they ask puffball questions like when Jim Rome asks a typical guest "Peyton, you won the MVP last year and had your best statistical season yet, how awesome is it to be you?" (I paraphrase). Jim Rome can be saved for his own post though. ESPN is grooming plenty of these guys to be future talking heads on their shows. I definitely wouldn't bet against Brett Favre appearing on NFL Live in the next couple of years. How are we supposed to trust a network that clearly doesn't ask the tough question? It seems to me Deford is saying we can't, but that ESPN has such a stranglehold on the industry that we have no alternative but to obey their false idols. We are not worthy!


ESPN controls employees' thoughts

Please read this article on Deadspin that contains the memo that ESPN passed around to all its employees regarding their use of twitter amongst other social media. Here's an exerpt:

"If you are an ESPN talent, reporter, writer, producer, editor or other editorial decision maker or a public-facing ESPN employee, you are reminded that when you participate in public blogs or discussion activities, you are representing ESPN just as you would in any other public forum or medium, and you should exercise discretion, thoughtfulness and respect for your colleagues, business associates and our fans. All posted content is subject to review in accordance with, ESPN's employee policies and editorial guidelines."

So basically, you aren't allowed to live outside the ESPN all-controlling universe if you work for ESPN. I'm sure LeBron James is applauding this policy of thought control.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This sounds familiar

GM Thompson won't rule out Vick

At this point, only quotes are necessary.

"Asked whether Green Bay might be interested in the scandal-tainted quarterback, general manager Ted Thompson didn't rule it out Tuesday.

But that doesn't necessarily mean the Packers are in hot pursuit of Vick.

'What is the answer that we give to questions like this? We're always looking to improve our team,' [GM Ted] Thompson said. 'We look at all options at all times. I wouldn't care to speculate in terms of the odds or the percentages [of signing Vick] or anything like that.'

But they've at least discussed Vick internally?

'We look at everything,' Thompson said."

Like I said, GMs and coaches are always "looking to make the team better" or "working with the players they have on the roster." Thanks for the headline ESPN.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekend Update: We have no idea if Michael Vick is joining the Patriots

Sorry for the quiet weekend everyone but I couldn't sleep last night after I saw this article posted on Friday. Let's ignore the fact that this was the top story for a few hours.

The first two sentences truly sum up this fail:

"New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick won't rule out the chance the team will sign quarterback Michael Vick."


"He's not saying it's a possibility, either."

OK, so if Belichick didn't say yes or no, then this is not a news story. In other words, there is nothing to report. Most coaches use quotes such as, "We're coaching the players that we have on the field right now, so that's who is here. So, anybody who isn't here, is there potential that they could be here? Yeah, there probably is. But right now they're not" when asked about potential signings. I think we've been hit by ESPN's perfect storm of Patriots' love, Michael Vick supercoverage, and trying to make a headline out of nothing.

The incredible factcheckers in Bristol then reported that Michael Vick had a workout in Foxboro. Those rumors were quickly proved false. Now, according to this morning's news, it looks like Cleo Lemon was that shifty QB trying out Friday.

Any intelligent sports fan asks the question "why would arguably the best team in the NFL with the best quarterback in the league take a chance on the man recently voted the most hated in sports?" We see this crap on ESPN and sigh because some less-aware sports fans actually think Michael Vick may sign with the Pats.

Fail thee well ESPN.