...So Who Does That Guy Fielder Play For?
Lord, make it stop.
Bedtime and sheer drudgery forced me to turn away from Monday night's ESPN "Home Run Derby" telecast. I think it ended around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, roughly the time I get up.
I don't know if Chris Berman's voice lasted that long. He started the evening out in full holler and never, ever let up. He used to be the Everyman of the World Wide Leader in Sports...kinda pasty, kinda pudgy, the kinda guy you'd find two bar stools down. Now, he's still in the bar, but he's the one who's voice drowns out the jukebox, the t-v, the traffic outside and Battalion Five roaring down the back alley to a garage fire. His nicknames aren't funny any more, and the act is...well, tired.
Kenny Mayne in a kayak in the bay over the A-T-and-T park stands looked like a good idea, until the visual wore off and Mayne actually had to add something to the show. He...had...nothing.
The extravaganza is a truly unique event because, after all, more than just chicks dig long ball. No one would watch a double-play competition, or a hit-the-cutoff-man derby. The basics bore the the marginal fan, and sadly, that's what pro sports markets to these days.
Attention spans are short, though, and there CAN be too much of a good thing, even if it's endless shots of sky and seats before a baseball plops over a distant wall.
Shorten the Derby, find a new host, remove the showbiz and flash pods (no bands before, after or during, please) and make it a true long ball competition before the contest collapses under it's own weight.
By the by, did anyone catch the irony in Joe Morgan's soliloquy on Prince Fielder? The Hall of Famer pointed out that New York's Alex Rodriguez leads the bigs in home runs and gets more than his share of attention, while Fielder leads the National League but is hardly known because he plays in Milwaukee?
No, he's hardly known because Morgan's network lives only to cover the Yankees...or whoever New York is playing. If the Pinstripers are hot, they're the lead on Sportscenter. If they've lost two in a row--guess what? They're still the top story, under the headline "What's Wrong With The Yankees?" And, is it just me, or do the Yankees and Red Sox play about 82 games against each other every season, with each covered by ESPN as if they're the seventh game of the World Series?
The reason guys like Fielder, Matt Holliday, and virtually anyone who plays west of the Hudson isn't known is because Morgan's network is so flippin' Yankee-centric one would think that there's only one team in the bigs, with the other 29 clubs serving as back round.
Then again, ESPN isn't about educating fans--it's about delivering audience. It'll be hard to keep it if it keeps cranking out the kinda crap it did last night.