Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baseball's Day on the Hill -- and a suggestion to ESPN

Streaming video over at ESPN.com. Jayson Stark is liveblogging it here.

A few minutes in and a couple of things are obvious: (1) Don Fehr is going to get the crap beat out of him today; and (2) there will be a lot of "think of the children" rhetoric.

Update: I'd like to take a moment to say that I think Stark is doing a hell of a job with the liveblog, exhibiting some real fangs while maintaining an intellectual level of discourse suitable to the subject he's covering (anyone can riff; he's riffing and thinking).

I mention this because, as many know, ESPN is not necessarily at the forefront of blogging. Typically its content -- even those things categorized as "blogs" -- is filtered through an editorial layer that often dulls the edge and seems to sap the spontaneity from the final product. For once we're seeing what happens when that editorial layer is taken away, and the results are simply lovely.

It is my sincere hope that ESPN brass are watching and (a) leave Stark's liveblog untouched in later site updates; and (b) realize how effective an umoderated voice can be.


Pete Toms said...

What do you think of the theory that ESPN can't objectively cover the MR because they are business partners with MLB?

What about the recenty edited interview for ESPN with Hardin?

I saw some of it today, maybe 30 minutes of Mitchell's performance. Trotting out the dead kids and the parents of dead kids is appalling. Entertainers - that's what pro athletes are - are NOT role models and you are a poor parent if you're child believes they are. MLB is complicit in this though, they like to trumpet the importance of their product to the "fabric of the nation" or whatever and it's importance to youth etc. The MR even makes reference to the "moral high ground" - I think that's verbatim.

Gag me.

Shyster said...

On some level there is always going to be what cautious lawyers call "an appearance of impropriety" given the distinction between ESPN the news organization and ESPN the sports programmer, but I don't see it as a real problem. I think their coverage has been pretty good, and I'd need someone to point to an instance where they've been party to a whitewash before I'd be willing to say they couldn't be objective. Such an instance just doesn't seem to be out there.

The Quinn/Hardin interview seems to be more a function of sloppiness than anything else. The edit was a bit tricky. I think it would have been worse to leave it as-is because it unfairly made Hardin look like he was hiding the ball when, in fact, Quinn had his facts wrong. The correction, however, should probably have been done in the form of a note indicating his mistake as opposed to a simple edit to remove the misinformation. Transparency, you know. It's why bloggers so often use the strikethrough function.

The "think of the children" stuff was pretty base. I think Fehr did a good job of pointing out the nuance here -- baseball is not unique, HGH is not necessarily the tool of satan, and "being tough" for its own sake is a close cousin to being an ignorant jackass.