Fans love to charge commentators with being biased against their team. Being far and away the most popular source of nation-wide sports coverage, commentary and analysis, ESPN probably fields more such complaints than any other outlet. But I've never heard a prominent commentator himself remark on the leanings of the self-declared "worldwide leader in sports". Until today.
Discussing the controversial fourth ball call that gave Nick Green first base and pushed the tying run across the plate in last night's Fenway thriller, Mike Greenberg said at the top of the the Mike and Mike in the Morning show today, "I have yet to meet anyone in this building who thinks that was a ball. And this building is full of Red Sox fans. Half of ESPN roots for the Red Sox."
Thank you Mr. Greenberg, for confirming what we Yankee fans suspected all along.
51 replies on “E(pstein’s) S(ox) P(romotion) N(etwork)”
For the record, I actually don’t care if all of ESPN roots for the Sox. And being HQ’d in Bristol, CT it’s not all that surprising anyway. After all, the other half of ESPN probably roots for the Yankees. I just thought it was funny and notable that Greenberg said that.
What they like more than anything are ratings, and the emergence of the Sox around 2003 made for some great baseball rivalry. It makes their job easier when the stories write themselves like that.
Having said that, I think right about now they root for both teams pretty evenly. Much more than they do for the rest of baseball at least.
You just keep telling yourself that Atheose. I’m busy filing my complaint with the FCC :o)
THEY LIKE THE SOX CAUSE THEY’RE BETTER SUCK IT YANKEES FANS
Okay, now that I got that out of my system we can all get along again.
You know, the Yankees really need to stop hitting walk-offs. It’s getting ridiculous at this point.
um, which half?…maybe it just seems like the half who get their mugs on the air all day are the ones who root for the sox…and it’s not a given that the the “other” half roots for the yankees…might be some mets [or other] fans in there too…for example, i don’t think greenie likes the yankees, but i don’t think he’s a sox fan either…might be a mets fan, not sure, or maybe he doesn’t like baseball at all…what someone hasn’t been able to explain is how all that espn/sox love actually helps the sox…or it’s simply just annoying…i mean we expect the regional sportcasting types like orsillo and kay to be homers, but espn, a supposed national entity, should be above that somewhat one would think… ;)
Yes, but each walk-off FORCES the TRUE evil empire that is ESPN to feature prominently – though clearly begrudgingly – the Yankee team heroics. If it weren’t for the walk-offs, the poor under-appreciated Yankee franchise would get no coverage whatsoever on the national stage. (you can tell I’m really enjoying this)
Actually, on the walk-offs, the Yankees have now had 14 of them in 75 home games. That’s one walk-off every 5.35 games at the NYS. Crazy. That’s one way to fill an over-priced stadium…
dc, bias in coverage is obviously pretty tough to prove definitively, but beyond the joking way in which we are discussing this here (at least so far!) you can bet that a remark like Greenberg’s, if picked up on, will give grist to the mill of those who argue that the national coverage of Ortiz’s failed drug test hasn’t recived the national coverage that other marquee players in similar situations have; that Selena Roberts unfairly went after A-Rod and no one else on the list of 104 not just because he is one of the team’s brightest (not to mention most expensive) stars but also because he happens to play for the Yankees; that on-air commentators lavish disproportionate praise on Sox players and management (“Theo is a genius!”), etc.
I find these to be tiresome debates precisely because there is no “proving” of any of them, and also because as a diehard YF I know I am pretty incapable of being purely balanced in my own assessments of such things, but for people who want to argue for or against any of the positions noted above, a comment like this by one of the most prominent commentators will certainly add to or detract from the circumstantial evidence that each side will be able to cite.
um, which half?…maybe it just seems like the half who get their mugs on the air all day are the ones who root for the sox…and it’s not a given that the the “other” half roots for the yankees…
I was thinking more along the lines of overall coverage of the Yankees/Sox, not fanboyishness.
I wonder what ESPN was like back when the Yankees were winning four championships in five years, and appearing in 6 world series in 8 years. Maybe they rooted for the Yankees then, because they were the sexy pick?
But honestly, any national entity that has Peter Gammons as its premiere reporter by definition can’t be anything other than Red Sox-leaning.
I don’t care so much about ESPN on the whole. I care more about Peter Gammons than anything or anyone else. I just wish he’d finally come out and admit his one sided, Red Sox loving point of view is factual and not just a figment. Something to the point of “My blinders are always on” or “I am wearing Red Sox boxers as we speak.” I understand that people hold him in such high regard and that he’s considered one of the great baseball people on that network, but come on enough is enough. Joe Morgan hates the Yankees, Tim McCarver likes them even less, Joe Buck would rather his children worship Satan…the best part of all of them is that they (somewhat) admit to it! Much like my ill fated attempts to wear all black and look thin, Peter you too have failed. It goes like this “Gammo”…My name is John and I am fat…Your turn.
Thanks for this post IH, perfect day for it.
That’s funny, we crossed posted but I couldn’t agree more Andrew!
“the emergence of the Sox around 2003”
Ath is that a sad to say as it is to see? :)
well, ESPN wasn’t around in the early 1900’s or even in the 70’s! :)
As for the ball four debate – gameday – pitch/fx has it in the middle, at the bottom of the strike zone, so the ump did get it wrong.
I kind of wish Texas hadn’t gone into a slump, would rather see the “genius” of Mike S sitting on the sidelines during the playoffs.
Joe Morgan seems to LOVE Jeter, though….based on the comments I’ve heard from him, UZR be damned. Mind you, I avoid listening to him whenever possible.
I think that ESPN just has a bias in favor of conventional “wisdom”, however unwise (or uninformed) it may be.
Before 2004, the Sox could never win anything when it counted – that was the tone which permeated all of the coverage I ever saw.
Now, even when the NYYs have the best record in baseball, backed up by the best offense in baseball accompanied by pretty damn good pitching (overall), the shoe is on the other foot.
Sox bias? Only temporarily, if at all (but I’m a RS fan)
Not so sure about the “I bet they were half Yankee fans during the late 90’s Yankee dynasty” argument. Someone who goes to work for a sports network would likely come in with allegiances – more so than your average fairweather fan – don’t you think? Regardless, I think we can all agree based on this one insider’s comment that ESPN is hopelessly pro-Sox and that it is a travesty of justice that ranks up there with the Dreyfus Affair, the false case to invade Iraq, and the recent return of rolling up your jeans cuffs as teen fashion statement.
If you want to be one of the first contributors to the Mike Greenberg Legal Defense Fund drop me a line. I’ll be preparing his whistle-blower-protection lawsuit suit against the suits at ESPN. Ever notice how none of them are pinstriped by the way? It all makes sense now.
“…dc, bias in coverage is obviously pretty tough to prove definitively…”
agree, IH…the examples you gave are not proof of anything…not even a individually motivated personal bias by the participants…they are certainly not proof of some media conspiracy or organized espn conspiracy to promote the sox and kick the yanks…on the other hand, my dad used to always root for the underdog…except notre dame [a long time ago ;) ]…he’d say that there are 2 kinds of fans: those who root for notre dame, and those who root for whomever is playing against notre dame…without turning this into another ‘yankees persecution complex’ debate, there is probably some lingering desire to take them down a peg or 2 when the opportunity strikes, while teams like the rays last year, or the sox [despite their recent success since the ownership change], the rockies, etc. are still considered the plucky underdogs…just a theory…as you say, greenie’s comments will raise an eyebrow or 2…the other thing is that the yankees are news…everything they say and do seems to be under a microscope…some of that’s their own fault…when you want to be high profile, you get noticed, good and bad…
“…I was thinking more along the lines of overall coverage of the Yankees/Sox, not fanboyishness. …”
yeah ath, they are 2 different things…last week some folks here said espn’s coverage of jeter was too much…gammo is the best example of fanboyishness i can find on the network…and i don’t mind that as long as it’s honestly portrayed…for all the flak rizutto took over the years, at least he didn’t hide behind some mask of phony objectivity…he wore his pinstriped heart on his sleeve…
“…Joe Morgan hates the Yankees, Tim McCarver likes them even less, Joe Buck would rather his children worship Satan…”
assuming we leave the homers from our respective teams out of the debate, is there a more classic collection of inept, unprofessional buffoons that these guys?
john, you’re fat?…me too…brother
oh, and IH, i share your desire to keep this humorous…so, if it sounds like there’s any w[h]ine in my comments, i owe you some cheese…
“…It all makes sense now….”
like espn.com’s “sports center highlight of the night”…hmmm
Joe Morgan hates the Yankees, Tim McCarver likes them even less, Joe Buck would rather his children worship Satan…
Woah woah woah. Joe Morgan LOVES Jeter/Cano, and finds a way to always work one of those two into conversation. I have no comment on McCarver, but Joe Buck LOVED the Yankees back in the 2004 ALCS.
As for the Sportscenter highlight of the night, the Red Sox and Angels is a preview of the ALDS, so the walk-off gets a little more attention. The Yankees walk-off against a team 27.5 games out of first place. Surely it’s understandable that the Sox are getting more attention for their walk-off.
Not to mention that the Yankees have 14 walk-offs this year, so the luster has kinda worn off for them.
And as for Gammons: he’s a damn good reporter, one of the best in the sport. But he is ridiculously fanboyish, and probably has Red Sox bedsheets. He’s only one person though.
Ever notice how none of them are pinstriped by the way? It all makes sense now.
Funny, last night as I watched the game on ESPN, all I could hear was slavish praise for the Angels and Mike Scoscia. At one point an act of non-retarded baserunning elicited a comment of “that’s Angels baseball!”, totally gushed.
It is not surprising that a business located in New England might actually employ a number of Sox fans. Whether it impacts their ability to report news (does Buster Olney negate Gammons?) is another question.
I find it amusing, this sense of persecution from some Yankee fans. The worm has turned.
Even worse SF, one of the ESPN guys (Phillips?) said that Bobby Abreu was an MVP candidate. I just about choked on my food.
One other thing: Peter Gammons has been effusive in his praise of the Yankees the last 15 years. I am pretty sure that he adored Joe Torre, and my sense of his writing, having read him a great deal for 25 years, is that his respect for the Yankees, especially during the Cashman years, has been stratospheric. Why isn’t this ever mentioned? Too inconvenient, doesn’t fit the narrative I guess.
The thing about Gammons is that he is an uber-insider at this point, and that is reflected in his reporting, about the Sox as well as other teams.
And to Greenberg: fan biases do not preclude said fans from recognizing mistakes. It was a horrible call. Sox fans are no more likely to justify a terrible call in their favor than any other fan base might, though that’s an intimation of his comment that is actually borderline offensive, if mostly harmless.
don’t get defensive…we said that we’re all just joking…i agree with you about the scoscia lovefest last night…it was gross…
“effusive” and “stratospheric” are a bit hyperbolic, don’t you think?…i have no doubt that gammons has a professional respect for certain yankee individuals, and that there is evidence to prove it…that’s not the point…the question was whether his man-love of the sox influences his thinking and therefore his reporting, and whether or not he’s being disingenuous by not, as john points out, coming out and admitting it…not that my opinion matters much, but i’d have more respect for him if he did…
You know this isn’t a serious post right SF? Most of what I said, I said in jest. While Gammons is a fanboy, he is also a pretty darn good insider and reporter. I thought the tone of the post and trend of the thread spoke for itself, but I guess not.
actually 2 bad calls…i thought the check swing was a real swing…but whatever…it doesn’t matter…bad/missed calls are part of the game…they fuel the “what if” debate, especially if they are at a critical, game-changing point, but they aren’t of any value to the conversation otherwise…they tend to even out over time anyway…i’m sure fans of some teams feel snake-bit or unlucky, but ultimately over 162 games, bad calls and luck, if it exists at all, won’t help you much…
Gammons is a good reporter when he’s not talking about the Yankees or Red Sox. But anything he says about either of those two teams can only be taken with a freighter full of salt. But, I think we all know this by now.
Half of ESPN may root for the Red Sox, but the other half roots for the Yankees.
> Half of ESPN may root for the Red Sox, but the other half roots for the Yankees
Half of ESPN is 90% mental.
Good one AG.
I find myself watching less and less ESPN these days. I enjoy the MLB network more to be honest. I watch ESPN for college Gameday and NFL Gameday, but not much else unless it’s a live game. Never thought I would type those words considering in college we’d watch Sportscenter 3-4 times a day.
Yeah, ESPN isn’t what it used to be. I skim it for highlights of football, but I get all my baseball news from mlb.com.
Hell, last night I had the game on TV muted, while listening to WEEI for the audio. It was much better that way.
John, I wasn’t really arguing, per se, or being “defensive”, in fact I think this thread makes for a good discussion!
Ok cool SF.
Ath, with so many websites moving at the speed of light like MLB Traderumors, LoHud, us, etc…ESPN has actually become a little antiquated I think. Just my 2 cents.
Meh. ESPN has a locational/storyline bias that favors both the Red Sox and the Yankees. They make for good copy, plus they have the most energetic — and the largest — fanbases that provide the most ratings.
It’s difficult to say ESPN as a whole favors one or the other. As SF noted, Buster Olney loves the Yankees while we all know Gammons loves the Sox (though he was able to be a little more objective about it 10 years ago). Joe Morgan loves himself, and Steve Phillips loves making himself look like an idiot on a nightly basis. Overall, these wash into barely watchable television that is only worth turning on because there’s no real competition outside whatever regional network your team might have. If ESPN has any organizational bias, it’s toward hiring as many “insiders” as possible, without apparently caring whether they know anything about how the game of baseball actually works.
Joe C and Dave O’Brian on the Sox radio broadcast said they thought the check swing was a good call, and they have no problems saying when the Sox have been the beneficiaries of bad umpiring, so I’ll trust their judgement without having seen any replays of the pitch itself. The Ball 4 was, of course, as clear cut a strike as you could possibly get.
“…Half of ESPN may root for the Red Sox, but the other half roots for the Yankees….”
and, exactly how do you know this ben?…
“… ESPN isn’t what it used to be…”
boy is that an understatement ath…seems that when they started to emphasize the “E” part of the programming to the detriment of the “S” part of the programming, that’s when it went downhill…oh well…
sorry if i took your comments as defensive in error sf…seemed that way, that’s all, based on your rather strong defense of gammy’s objectivity, which some of us don’t think exists…
“…Joe Morgan loves himself, and Steve Phillips loves making himself look like an idiot on a nightly basis…”
hehe…good job getting us back on the humor track paul…
“…they have the most energetic — and the largest — fanbases that provide the most ratings. …”
and isn’t that what it’s all about, particularly for the guys selling ad time?…the network is in the northeast for a reason…if the san diego padres had the number of fans/viewers that the sox, mets, and yankees have, not to mention the other sports, espn would have been based in sunny calif…
“…Joe C and Dave O’Brian on the Sox radio broadcast said they thought the check swing was a good call…”
yeah, i don’t have a problem with their view on it…my yankee bias says it was a swing, but it was borderline, so not as egregious as the ball 4 screwup…
I am unclear on when I argued Gammons’ objectivity. I have argued for his utility, or whether his subjectivity has failed him in an ability to report.
But that’s all subjective.
“…I am unclear on when I argued Gammons’ objectivity….”
i got that sense from your comment at 10:43am:
“…One other thing: Peter Gammons has been effusive in his praise of the Yankees the last 15 years. I am pretty sure that he adored Joe Torre, and my sense of his writing, having read him a great deal for 25 years, is that his respect for the Yankees, especially during the Cashman years, has been stratospheric. Why isn’t this ever mentioned? Too inconvenient, doesn’t fit the narrative I guess….”
semantics…objective, fair, impartial, unbiased, not favoring one side or the other…so that wasn’t your argument?…i missed the point, what was it?…seriously, i’m not trying to be a wise guy…
On last night’s game, from the Orange County Register:
Angels’ composure collapses
September 17th, 2009, 7:10 am by MARK SAXON, OCREGISTER.COM
Just sifted through all the Angels’ comments from another Fenway meltdown and I found one voice of sanity. It belonged to Torii Hunter.
Even Mike Scioscia, who normally composes himself as well as any manager before the reporters shuffle into his office, appeared to be simmering well after the cooling-off period. He wondered what the count was on Nick Green before he walked to drive in the tying run. “Three-and-four?” Scioscia asked.
The only problem with Scioscia’s perspective: the calls weren’t that cut-and-dry. Yeah, Green probably went on his checked swing, according to the replay. But replays almost always indicate a player committed to the swing. It’s not uncommon for the umpires to blow that one.
The 3-and-2 pitch was borderline. It appeared to cross the plate at the bottom of Green’s knees. It was far from an egregious non-call.
Closer Brian Fuentes, the man (again) in the middle of the storm, suggested umpires are afraid to rule against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“It’s either a mistake or they’re scared,” Fuentes said. “One of the two.”
Normally, I’m all for bluntness and genuine emotion in baseball quotes. Anything that breaks from the drab, repetitive soundtracks some players recite in front of reporters is refreshing.
In this, I think the Angels are just shooting themselves in the foot. No matter what happens (other than a miraculous Texas revival) in the next few weeks, they are going to have to play playoff games at Fenway Park. Why make it more haunted than it already is? Why create any more doubt in their own minds? Why give the Fenway fans any more ammunition.
Back to Hunter, the lone voice of reason. Here’s what he said:
“A lot of players on this team are getting it wrong,” Hunter said. “It’s not more important to play this team (the Red Sox) than the Tampa Bay Rays or Seattle Mariners. You play the same game. You do what you do. You have fun. You don’t change your game because it’s the Red Sox or the Yankees. If you play nervous, you’re going to make mistakes. Show some (guts).”
What he said.
On this thread, which probably should have a ‘humor’ tag …
I have long derided ESPN for its news judgment and lack of objectivity. I’m not alone. Dan Patrick, since he left, has said many times that ESPN’s worst trait is how it repeatedly gets in its own way.
I recently stated that here on their overempasis of Jeter moving into 53rd place on the MLB career hits list. Big story to New York, no doubt, but just good/interesting/noteworthy on the national scene. Not worthy of the lead story, even on a slow news night. This is one example.
Until 2004 ESPN fell all over itself with the “Curse of the Bambino” theme, a curse that didn’t exist until Shanks wrote that book in 1990. (If I had $1 for every time I saw the Buckner play on ESPN, I’d be a wealthy man.)
See, it wasn’t fun to report how the “curse” was the Red Sox FO and its unwillingness/inability to assemble a good roster and build a good farm system. Same with the Cubs. Enough with the fucking billy goat. We’ve heard it a billion times.
Last night during a BBTN break-in during the Sox-OC game, Karl Ravech made a comment that I clearly interpreted as a Red Sox Fanboy remark. I don’t remember what it was. It just struck me as very unobjective.
Ravech ain’t the only one. It was sickening.
For each great thing ESPN has done for sports journalism, it has done something equally bad. It has hired some great reporters, but it overemphasizes game highlights.
I hate that ESPN has the attitude that if ESPN hasn’t reported it, it hasn’t been reported yet.
I hate that ESPN overdoes EVERYTHING. It’s coverage of Ed Thomas, the Aplington, Iowa, high school coach who was shot to death by a mentally short former player, from the day of his death to the first game of the season, was nothing short of grotesque and idiotic. National story? Yes. Heartbreaking? Yes. But again, they fell all over themselves in bringing it. (I grew up in Iowa and covered high school sports there for 12 years.)
I hate Stuart Scott and his catch-prases. I hate EVERY catch phrease ever uttered on ESPN. I hate Chris Berman. I hate Dick Vitale. I hate Hannah Stormer (her real last name before she changed it to Storm, according to a former co-worker who attended Notre Dame with her.)
I hate Mark Schlereth and almost every other former player-turned-NFL analyst who works for ESPN.
I generally like BBTH.
I hate Barry Melrose and John Buccigross.
I like the ESPN house ads.
Look, I think every single complaint listed above is legit.
I also think the biggest problem here is that most of us seem to forget that on those rare occasions when ESPN gets it right, it’s probably an accident.
We need to stop giving them so much credit.
(Wow. I didn’t mean to pontificate.)
As as to whether ESPN favors the Red Sox or Yankees more, I can’t really tell. But suffice it to say that if I was a fan of any other team, I’d be offended. OK, maybe offended is a little strong, but you get my drift.
They certainly seem more than willing to play up anything Red Sox or Yankees.
“…The 3-and-2 pitch was borderline. It appeared to cross the plate at the bottom of Green’s knees. It was far from an egregious non-call…..”
i stick by my description…i conceded that the check swing was borderline, but “ball 4” was a strike by all accounts, including “k-zone” or whatever it’s called, and almost everyone who saw it, including some sox fans here…the knees are in the strike zone…that makes it “egregious”, or as webster defines it “conspicuous, especially conspicuously bad”…
hunter got it right…pros shouldn’t be whining about bad umping…that’s what we fans are for…especially if the calls are game-changing…remember jeter’s homer that wasn’t?…folks are still whining about it…they need to get over it already, just as the angels and their fans will get over this…
“…I recently stated that here on their overempasis of Jeter moving into 53rd place on the MLB career hits list. Big story to New York, no doubt, but just good/interesting/noteworthy on the national scene. Not worthy of the lead story, even on a slow news night….”
you’re entitled to hold your ground IBM, even though i explained to you several times why it is a big deal…i wasn’t alone in thinking that, including some sox fans here…so what would have been a more appropriate lead story when it happened, particularly since espn was televising the game where he tied the record?…like i said, the version of sportcenter i saw the next day [after breaking the record] had michael jordan and tiger woods as the lead stories…jeter was 3rd…which points out, i think they jumble the lineup when it suits their purpose…by 11:00 that morning, jeter was no longer news…
i will agree with you that espn has lost touch with it’s original purpose, as i see it anyway: sports coverage…they have morphed into this self-egrandizing, grandstanding caricature that is more about them and their programming content that it is about providing information about sports…it’s entertainment [well, not really], with a little [oh by the way] sports thrown in…
Wasn’t it ESPN that had the inexplicable “Who’s Now?” segment?
I would argue that the Ball 4/Strike 3 call wouldn’t have mattered if the Angels had properly executed the rest of the inning, but that was probably the luckiest sequence of hits and baserunners I’ve seen in a long time.
At any rate, the Angels scored eight runs and had a lead in the eighth. Whining about the second to last pitch of the game is definitely unprofessional.
And the other half are Yankee fans. Relax
Buster Olney loves the Yankees and cancels out Gammons? Really? Does he do fundraisers with Cashman then call Fenway a “joke”?
Olney knows about the Yankees because of his connections, but give me one example where he’s ever been effusive. Hell, just last week Gammons was pimping Epstein as a future commissioner (according to “sources”) in his chat.
And of course, they just launched ESPNBoston. To fill content there they’re assigning the national guys (e.g., Crasnick) to write glowing stories of Boston teams. I mean, if that’s not bias in coverage I don’t know what is.
Whining about the second to last pitch of the game is definitely unprofessional.
Wow, do you ever take off your red underwear? Next time you argue a blown call, especially an egregious one, I assume it will be okay here to say “Quit your whining.”?
38pitches said Jeter wasn’t covered enough. Of course, he understands the history of baseball.
It’s difficult to say ESPN as a whole favors one or the other.
Hmmmm. An high profile employee there just said half the company roots for one team. What’s the counter evidence? Has even one employee publicly disagreed? Did the statement get challenged by his co-host?
I thought the whole ESPN Boston thing was some kind of joke.
Wow. How embarrassing.