It was bad enough that on July 8th, ESPN facilitated one of the most ridiculous, self-centered events any professional athlete ever perpetuated on the sports public by airing LeBron James’ prime time special, all in the name of ratings and money.
That was tough enough for New York Knicks fans to take (although not nearly as difficult as it was for Cleveland Cavaliers fans to watch).
But, if you happen to be a New York fan of the orange and blue in both basketball and baseball, ESPN probably annoyed you even further on Monday night.
The New York Mets had the night off after limping home with an awful 2-9 road trip and Met fans like myself were trying to forget about the western excursion which might have ended the Mets’ season by taking in ESPN’s broadcast of the Detroit Tigers at the Tampa Bay Rays.
So, with Detroit’s Max Scherzer and Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza locked in a scoreless, dual no-hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning, what did ESPN do?
Well, the network which sold out to give “LeBrat” his platform to further sell his “LeBrand” eighteen days earlier, decided to cut away from the no-hit duel in Tampa to celebrate the pursuit of admitted steroid abuser Alex Rodriguez’s chase for 600 career home runs in Cleveland.
Rather than see Scherzer attempt to hold Tampa Bay at bay and keep up with Garza’s no-hit bid, we witnessed a player stuck on 599 career homers — some legitimate, many illegally aided — uneventfully and weakly ground out.
If a Met fan wanted to see that, he or she could have joined Yankee fans (not very likely) and tuned into the YES network to see A-Roid try to finish cheating his way to 600 home runs. I don’t know about other Met fans, but I preferred to stick with pitching history attempting to be made, especially knowing Tampa Bay had been one of just three franchises (including the Mets) never to have thrown a no-hitter.
I only missed one out, and it was long before Scherzer lost both his no-hitter and his shutout on a Matt Joyce grand slam.
However, as a not only a baseball fan but a fan of what’s right, I was disgusted at the attention ESPN paid to the Yankees’ charlatan.
How many homers would A-Fraud have been going for on Monday night had he not cheated himself and the sport that made him famous? Would it have been 400? 450? Whatever the number, it certainly would have fallen far shy of 600. Yet, ESPN cut way from the shot at real history to the attempt at artificial history as if every one of the first 599 Rodriguez homers were honestly earned.
We of course know that Rodriguez is by no means the only major leaguer ever to cheat his way into the record books. But, when a network as big as ESPN sells out and rewards that type of player with that kind of coverage in the hunt of a phony milestone, it sends a severely wrong message to the future fans of the game growing up with baseball today.
It tells kids (and the rest of us), “It doesn’t matter whether it was accomplished legitimately or through dishonest means, it will be celebrated and honored just the same.”
Of course, it got even tougher for Met fans later on, as Garza completed the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay history (which goes back 36 years less than Met history), leaving only the San Diego Padres and the Mets as the only two major league franchises without a no-hitter.
But, that would have happened regardless. Making it tougher for Met fans though, was seeing ESPN sell out and paint the cross-town rival Rodriguez as if he was truly trying to accomplish something meaningful instead of the sham that it is.
For the second time this month, ESPN chose the wrong thing over the right one, all in the name of money.
And, why? Because fans make it so. Fans tuned into James’ “Decision” in droves, and made fans like myself be among the minority for wanting to see a no-hit battle over A-Roid’s fake chase to 600.
Until most fans finally stick up for what’s right, huge media outlets like ESPN will be there waiting to pounce and make money with no conscience at all.