Monday Morning Round-up (aka Seaward Loves Bullet Points)

Well, its ****in Monday afternoon! You should get out of bed earlier!

"Well, it's ****in' Monday afternoon! You should get out of bed earlier!"

It was a busy weekend in Cleveland and I spent almost all of it out of town and away from a computer, so let’s take just about my favorite thing in the history of blogs–BULLET POINTS!–and wheel our way around the weekend that was along America’s North Coast.

  • Ohh… the Indians. People often look for turning points in seasons when a team figures it out and goes from mediocre to contending. Friday’s game was pretty much the opposite of that, I’m willing to wager; an anti-turning point, if you will, that took a team that was starting to get it together and kicked it right in the mommy & daddy button. The bullpen is not getting better and there is seemingly no end in sight.
  • When I was still at (the infamous) SportsTalkCleveland.com, I had a lengthy discussion with Bruce Drennan on how Major League Baseball umpires were, of the big four sports, the best in-game officials. I am officially ready to retract that opinion after watching the men in blue absolutely butcher calls with and without the aid of instant replay. The call on Garko’s would-be double yesterday was an absolute farce. And don’t even get me started on Troy “Jim Thome’s Bitch” Percival not getting tossed in the ninth. Here’s my 2009 order of competence among major professional in-game officials, from best to worst: NHL > NFL > MLB > NBA — that’s right, MLB umpires are now behind the crew that once upon a time botched a coin toss. Think about that.
  • About that almost-double by Ryan Garko. Here’s my reason why I think Wedge was ultimately not thrown out of that game: the umpires said to him, “Um, even if that was a double, your next batter is David Dellucci. Do you REALLY think that runner will get to the plate with rally kryptonite on deck? The point is moot, sir.”
  • Eric Wedge should have been immediately fired, with prejudice, when Kerry Wood didn’t put a fastball in Carl Crawford’s earhole Sunday. While I will admit that it may have been nearly as good to watch Crawford stand on the back edge of the batter’s box and submit one of the most cowardly strikeouts in league history, it should’ve never gotten to that point. Wood should’ve dotted Crawford before he even stepped onto the back line of the box. Say what you want about Jagmaster General Ozzie Guillen but, if he was managing the Indians, Wood would’ve either drilled Crawford or been handed a bus ticket to Columbus. Period. Continue reading

Where did this come from?

I was shocked today to see Flip Bondy of the NY Daily News write such a short, disjointed, trivial attack on our Cleveland Indians:

Good riddance to the Cleveland Indians, who can take their racist, cartoon caps and go home now. I can’t imagine working for an organization that requires such disgraceful garb.

Bondy had some other surface arguments about David Dellucci calling out Joba Chamberlain for being too boisterous on the mound. I agree with Bondy in that respect, Dellucci should just resign himself to the fact that Yankee players will rejoice over anything that they do, because that’s just what kind of team they are. But to bring up the issue of race after the Indians took two out of three from your team is just a bit well…interesting if you ask me. If the Yankees would have swept the Tribe, would there be such outrage? Moreover, should I as a Cleveland Indians fan disown my team because of a decision they made to HONOR one of their greatest players, because people in today’s society claim it to be offensive without first considering the history behind it? And it’s not like the Yankees really have a leg to stand on when it comes to being a champion against racism. Continue reading

Steve Phillips Enjoys Crack Cocaine

I am a Cleveland sports fan, and I will be until the day I die. I do, however, have a special relationship with the Cincinnati Reds. No, that does not mean that Ken Griffey Jr once offered to show me where the horse bit him. Let’s just say that a few summers ago I had the privilege to cover that team very closely. So, I keep an eye on them from time to time, and I would like to see them do well considering it doesn’t conflict with the Indians doing well, save for two interleague series a year. So, when I saw this article in ESPN the magazine, I took an interest. Steve Phillips penned this article, about how to right the ship in Cincy. I think Cleveland fans will take particular interest in his second point:

2. DUNN DEAL Use Adam Dunn’s power as a chip to get pitchers. The Reds have a limited budget and an even smaller ballpark, so they must deal for arms and develop them. Dunn is in the last year of his deal, so maximize the return by giving an interested team a 72-hour window to negotiate an extension. Go to the Giants, who need offense to replace Barry Bonds, and ask for Matt Cain. Go to Toronto and request a package that includes Adam Lind and Dustin McGowan or Shawn Marcum. Call Cleveland, which is desperate for bats, and ask for Cliff Lee and one of these three: OF Franklin Gutiérrez and lefties Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey. Continue reading

An aside, part II.

Seaward is one of many who have crafted a superb response to the actions that all of us bloggers witnessed on Costas Now. I do have to question the Seaward’s accuracy though. I graduated from Miami University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Political Science. That aside, I was proud that I was able to wake up this morning and read on our site such a profound and well written take on what occurred last night.

I’m going to assume all of you that are reading this are aware or at least have been made aware of the Bissinger vs. Leitch one sided slugfest, so I will not bother to go into as great of detail as The Seaward did, I would just like to present my angle that I have yet to see represented in the blog world.

Comedian Chris Rock has a bit that he does that I just couldn’t stop thinking about today as it relates to this whole fiasco, and I think it does a great job of describing why Bissinger is so mad. The idea that any member of the media that doesn’t meet a certain standard can’t blog, or doesn’t have the right to have their opinions published is the nexus of all of the arguments that Bissinger personified last night. The people that yell the most about blogs are those in the established mediums. But why do they care? I’ll tell you why. Because they perceive that all bloggers don’t hold themselves to any sort of standard whatsoever.

This blog and the ones that I have contributed to in the past have had one purpose: take a stand, inform, and be funny (in that order). We don’t write our blog like Kissing Suzy Kolber writes theirs because we are disgusted at what they write, just the opposite. I see what is on that site every day and think to myself, “there’s no way I could ever be that funny in my entire life.” KSK holds themselves to one of the highest hilarity standards that exists. Different bloggers, different sets of priorities, all with standards. To simply stick with the dichotomy that all blogs are bad because the people that write them are not “established”, and that all other media that exists is acceptable because the people that are writing it are respected is the idea that WILL dumb-down sports media in the future.

Here’s where Chris Rock comes into play. He explains that certain things are all right, because they are all white:

Alcohol! Tastes great, I love it, you love it, we all love it. KILLS [people] every single day. Some of y’all won’t even make it home tonight ’cause of alcohol. You’ll be like “Oh that Chris Rock sure is funny, Oh! [Crap]!” But it’s alright cause it’s all white. Cigarettes! Cigarettes the most dangerous product known to man. Kills [people] every single day. Cigarettes so dangerous it kills [people] that don’t smoke. That’s how dangerous cigarettes are. Thats right, first hand smoke, second hand smoke. People talking out of their necks into a machine like “Hey whats up man, I love cigarettes this [stuff] is kool.” But it’s alright cause it’s all white. Could you imagine if the Phillip Morris family was a bunch of jheri-curled [african-americans] from Mississippi? Do you know how illegal a pack of cigarettes would be. You would get sixty years just for a pack of Newports. But it’s alright cause it’s all white.

Now, here is that same paragraph with the words in bold replacing Rock’s words.

Books/newspaper articles about sports! , I love it, you love it, we all love it. Misinforms [people] every single day. Some of y’all won’t even know that what you read was wrong because you’re trained not to question it. You’ll be like “Oh that Mitch Albom sure is a good writer, Oh! [Crap]!” But it’s alright cause it’s mainstream media. ESPNESPN’s the most dangerous product known to man. Makes mistakes every single day. ESPN’s so dangerous it makes people reach out for new media every single day. Thats how dangerous ESPN is. That’s right, ESPNESPN2, ESPN NEWS, ESPN Radio, etc. People talking about why they can’t just watch a clean, highlight-filled episode of Sports Center without seeing “gasbags on parade” anymore. But it’s alright cause it’s mainstream media. Could you imagine if the ESPN family of networks was a bunch of bloggers? Do you know how many people might start watching ESPN again? You would finally have people that hold athletes accountable, among other things. But it’s alright cause it’s mainstream media.

I love ESPN, I watch it every day, I also read something from Mitch Albom’s paper every day, I have nothing against either one; they make their mistakes just like everyone else. But those people (like Bissinger) who think that one thing is good because it’s always been around and another is bad because it’s new, and resign themselves to that fact without gathering any information is just the highest form of ignorance.

An Aside

I will briefly move away from writing about our beloved Cleveland franchises (particularly the Cavs) for just a second this morning as I join likely hundreds of other sports bloggers in responding to what occurred last night on HBO’s Costas Now as it pertains to blogs and new media.

First off, if you didn’t see last night’s edition of the HBO show you should stop right now and go try and find a way to see it, especially the segment on internet media that featured Will Leitch of Deadspin, author Buzz Bissinger and Browns WR Braylon Edwards (oh hey look, this DOES kinda deal with Cleveland!). Find a friend who DVR’ed it, scour YouTube or, if worst comes to worst, come down to Kentucky and watch it on my DVR. I don’t plan on ever deleting it.

I found the entire show riveting. As somebody who works in the sports talk radio realm, (infrequently) writes a blog, has been a beat reporter in the past and constantly consumes sports on television, this show really had it all for me. While I won’t directly address it here, I will say I found the final segment on race to be the most interesting one, with great points made by Costas, Wilbon, Carter and Whitlock. Now, onto the real reason I’m writing…

Obviously Leitch walked into an outright ambush last night. For a quick and dirty recap, check out Ken Tremendous’ recap on Fire Joe Morgan today. About 15 seconds into Leitch’s first response, Bissinger cut him off and launched into a blind, profane tirade against all things blog and united it under the banner of Deadspin. I was struck by a number of things, first of all how Bissinger really picked and chose the more subversive corners of Deadspin such as Big Daddy Drew’s (or Balls, I was confused) columns or vulgar commenters–in a 100% context-less manner, might I add–and used these isolated examples to lambaste the entire institution of new media. Costas, to a lesser extent, did the same when he cited A.J. Daulerio’s column on mainstream media. Context, in these cases, was flagrantly ignored to bend Bissinger’s arguments to a point where if anyone had bothered to invoke said context the discussion would’ve abruptly ended. I really wish someone had been there to explain that Drew’s columns are satire pieces rooted in sophomoric humor or point out that commenters were not, in fact, the actual writers, editors or contributors to the blog, but were, in fact, readers commenting briefly and anonymously on an article. Of course, time to explain such things was at a premium with the rapid-fire nature of the segments that were jammed into the 90-minute format. This is of course more of an evaluation of the points Bissinger made as opposed to how he made them, which is an entirely different story.

The content of Bissinger’s tirade was a bit shaky but certainly not uncommon fodder for old-guard mainstream media when assaulting the blogosphere; the delivery of the content, however, could nicely be described as hypocritical and rude or, more critically, as vulgar, paranoid and borderline-psychotic. I still cannot get past the fact that one of the main points Bissinger tried to convey was that new media was hugely flawed thanks to its propensity for vulgarity and led off that point by telling Leitch, “I think you’re full of shit.” Of course, that was only the beginning of the profanity-laced assault Bissinger had planned, all while decrying Deadspin and blogs as being too profane. Just a staggering double-standard, there, Buzz. The hypocrisy aside, the part of Bissinger’s tirade that left the worst taste in my mouth was his constant interruption of Leitch. It seemed that every time Leitch was asked to respond to something by either Costas or Bissinger himself, he could barely get out a, “Well, I–” before Bissinger would cut him off and start screaming onto his next point. It got so bad that Costas, at various points, had to scold Bissinger for interrupting the guy who was ostensibly brought in to be the hostile witness. All in all I found it to be a juvenile display by a needlessly desperate man… a man I lost a great deal of respect for as a result of his premeditated televised blow-up.

Another thing that spins out of this sort of argument that gets me is the din of mainstream media voices who do their best to make it sound like every blogger is an unemployed drop out with a computer who doesn’t know the first thing about sports journalism. Michael Wilbon said as much in the pre-taped piece that led into the new media segment on Costas Now. Well I’ve got news for all you folks who love to fall back on that: we aren’t. Certainly not on this blog: I have a Bachelors of Science in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University; JTBI has a Bachelors of Science in Mass Communication from Miami University; we are both sports directors at real life over-the-air broadcast entities in the midwest. We have call letters and everything; it’s really great. Can we finally dispel this perception of bloggers as the sports equivalent of the Comic Book Guy? It’s getting really, really old.

Sadly, as Leitch pointed out in the wee hours of the morning in a reaction piece, these voices are not going away, at least not yet. Bissinger really did speak for a good chunk of the mainstream media last night, sad though that may be. The aforementioned Daulerio addressed the topic this morning on Deadspin, though I personally disagree on the debate being put to bed, as I tend to think that it may have been ratcheted up a notch last night. I tend to think, however, that Bissinger’s rant may ultimately be viewed analogously with the Germans’ final surge in the Battle of the Bulge… that is, a pointed, desperate attack that worked initially but ultimately signaled the last gasp of a cornered combatant. (NB: I’m not saying MSM’ers are Nazis… I AM IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA)

Finally, I think the biggest thing the mainstream media needs to do is stop assuming all of its consumers are morons. Most people can read The Sports Pickle and realize that it’s satire, just as most people will read A Modest Proposal and realize that Swift is not actually backing the idea of eating babies. The same thing goes for stylized vulgarity and over-the-top fandom. Give your readers/listeners/viewers just a little credit and you’d be amazed at how discerning and intelligent they can actually be.

Thank you, that is all.

Now back to bagging on that idiot DeShawn Stevenson!