Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Mass for 24 Hr. Mass Media

CNN used to make me sad. Now I feel nothing for it as I watch it crap on its once pristine image. It used to be a fairly legitimate news network, where one could tune in to watch the World's Scariest Genocides or Today in British Monarchical Scandals, or every once in a while, even something as trite as Gambling with the Stock Market. But then it all went south. And by south, I mean from Atlanta (where CNN is based) to Hell.

Now they seem to cover celebrities and deliver random crap news that I'm pretty sure is only news because it was printed with the CNN letterhead and handed to a poor, drone-like excuse for a newscaster. Michael Jackson coverage? I get it, he's a freak. Brad and Jennifer? I get it, they're rich and attractive.

And why bother with Fox News when you have CNN? Everyone knows that Fox News is a vehicle for delivering an ultraconservative Christian agenda. But CNN should be better than a bunch of screaming idiots who don't know how to express opinions that stray from Republican or Democratic norms.

It was wonderful to see John Stewart go on Crossfire and tear them apart, enough that they got the point and cancelled Crossfire. But CNN is still only a little more objective than al-Jazeera, and that's kind of sad.

That's not where this blog is going, by the way. That's pretty much my opinion on CNN. If it's not inflammatory, black or white, A or B, crap it's who is fucking who in Hollywood. And if I want the latter, I'll watch Talk Soup (is that show still on? does anyone watch E! anymore? did anyone watch E! ever?)

I'd like to instead talk about another major source of news that is now falling into the dangerous territory of complacency - ESPN.

I used to love watching ESPN and reading their articles, especially the baseball articles. They were insightful and provided a lot of real news about teams and players. Now, it all seems like a lot of Red Sox vs. Yankees crap or stuff about how Kevin Millar is funny guy.

For example, go to the website and check out Buster Olney's AL or NL outlooks. He breaks down the teams one at a time with 4 headings. They are as follows: "What Must Go Right", "What Could Go Wrong" "X-Factor" and "Numerically Speaking". He's obviously taking no time on these, and it shows.

My question is this. What the hell is the difference between what must go right and what could go wrong? If his example of what must go right is say, Vladamir Guerrero has to hit well, isn't that also something that belongs in what could go wrong? This boggles the mind. If what must go right doesn't go right, is it worse than what could go wrong? Or not? It's enough to make you cross-eyed.

For example, for the Red Sox, he gives these points

What Must Go Right: Matt Clement must pitch well

What Could Go Wrong: The Red Sox's aging players might show their age.

I could just as switch them and write the following

What Must Go Right: The Red Sox's aging players, like Trot Nixon, need to have a healthy season so the Red Sox are not just Manny and David Ortiz.

What Could Go Wrong: Matt Clement could pitch like he did in Chicago, just enough NOT to win, and be a .500 pitcher, which would not make up for the loss of Pedro.

I understand the vague difference, but still, if you're going to differentiate between what a team needs to happen to have a good season, and what can bring their season crashing down, you better make your case damn clear for each section. And Olney does not do that.

I also think his numbers are pretty trite, sometimes absolutely meaningless, like this one:

"Numerically speaking: The Yankees' staff ERA last season was 4.69 -- the team's worst ERA since 1930, with the exception of the 2000 season (4.76), when the club's record was bloated by a rash of late-season blowout defeats."

Umm . . . worst ERA since 1930 except 2000 . . . ok . . . they WON THE WORLD SERIES in 2000!! And if you take away the blowouts, their ERA was still pretty damn high . . . so what's your point again? I understand that Olney was trying to say the Yankees pitching staff was bad last year, but I would have given this statistic: Javier Vazquez' ERA before the All Star break, and his ERA afterwards. nuff said.

Last, the term X-Factor needs to disappear. Dante Hall should copyright it or something.

This is just the start though. Over half their content is subscription only, and Jayson Stark is the only reason to regularly visit their MLB site, with Peter Gammons contributing sporadically. Two guys who can really write, Rob Neyer and Jerry Crasnick, never write anything for the free site. The amount of stuff labelled "Insider", for their pay site, is increasing every day and is now all over the page.

That's the funny thing. Buster Olney can actually write. His book "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty", was hailed as a great work of journalism, objective and well written.

Their Hot Stove Heaters section has gone from nice spring training previews to random questions, like who's the most exciting outfielder or who has the best arm, or who kisses the most ass in the clubhouse. Actually, that last one would have been cool, but the ones they did are pretty dumb.

The problem is that they aren't original or thought provoking. Last year, the best guy at calling a game would have been Pudge, after he led the Marlins to a championship. This year, it's Varitek because he's now the team captain and the Sox just won a series. This year's Heaters are just spouting the trendy thoughts of the moment, no matter how much they claim to be taking polls from various scouts and GM's.

Bill Simmons on their Page 2, color column and various op-ed stuff, is damn funny. He's a great reason to visit the site. But that's even more of a problem if ESPN stops reporting like it used to.

If ESPN turns into a bunch of op-ed pieces and some shoddy, opinionated reporting, they're just going the way of CNN.


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