I like ESPN. I really do. But I take issue with the annoying tendency of their broadcasts to feel the need to deal in absolutes. Last night, the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Boston Red Sox to extend their AL East lead to 1.5 games heading into July 1st. In a division where outrageous spending by the Red Sox and Yankees made it seemingly impossible for any other team to contend, the Rays are defying all logic as they rip through the American League. Here come the lowly Rays- a team that never had a winning season, brutal attendance, and a team that has been an afterthought since its inception in 1997. It’s an underdog story and the public likes that. It deserves the amount of coverage that it gets from ESPN.
However, why does ESPN feel the need to ask questions on Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter like, “Next on SportsCenter: Are the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox the new “Sox-Yanks rivalry”? What the hell is that? The Red Sox and Yankees have been bickering back and forth and annoying to baseball fans across the country for decades. The Rays and Red Sox are battling in 2008 for the first time and played a close game on the last day of June. Calm down. Why must be everything be so hyperbolized? Fernando Vina and Chris Singleton are telling me that the Rays will definitely win the division. It’s 83 games into the season. The trading deadline is 30 days away. Way too much can happen to definitively assess a team’s chances moving forward and to do so is foolish. And anyone who puts stock into this drivel is an even bigger idiot.
Discuss what these teams may do moving forward, their strengths and weaknesses-that’s what these shows are for. But why, after 83 games, does ESPN feel inclined to talk about the Devil Rays like they are Big Red Machine of the 1970’s? The programming in Bristol is simply becoming more irresponsible and less educational by the day. It’s lazy, cheap, and says a lot about what they think of their average viewer.