(Typical action on a summer evening at ESPN studios)
This is not breaking news by any stretch of the imagination, but it just gets so frustrating to have to deal with ESPN's love affair with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. I bring this up because once again this weekend, Sunday Night Baseball will feature one of these two teams. This will mark the 4th time already this season that Boston has been on baseball's featured game of the week, and that doesn't even count all the times they've been shown on a mid-week game. What makes this frustrating is how ESPN puts them on TV against mediocre teams even though there are much better games available. This week they play against a decent Twins team, which is a good matchup but definitely not the best of the weekend. Instead, ESPN could have shown the Diamondbacks (Currently the best team in baseball) versus the Cubs (a team with a better record than the Twins), or possibly shown matchups like the Cardinals-Brewers or Angels-Rays, all of whom have over .500 records. Fox is also choosing to make Yankees-Tigers the featured game of their weekend. Both these teams have struggled greatly making this game much less interesting than originally thought.
This weekend's selection of games brings up the greater point of how narrow ESPN's baseball focus has become. The Sox or Yanks are pretty much guaranteed to lead off Baseball Tonight telecasts, often at the expense of more important and exciting games. Sportscenter barely mentions any other team on its telecasts, and buries games not featuring Boston or New York deep in its telecast. ESPN has also done away with showing any late-night games, which means west coast teams get virtually ignored. This is an especially dubious decision in 2008, because western teams like the D'Backs, Dodgers, Angels and Athletics are all solid teams and could very well factor in not only the playoff race but the World Series. Yet these teams barely get mentioned, while non-stories such as Joba Chamberlain yelling after a strike out becomes newsworthy somehow.
The Yankees and Sox have always been popular teams, but in recent years as their rivalry has become exceedingly overblown and overhyped, their nonstop coverage has begun to hurt the rest of the league. I bet 80% of fans can't name 5 hitters in the Diamondback lineup, or name any starter on the Angels besides John Lackey. While to some this may not be a big deal, isn't it the media's responsibility to completely cover a story from all angles to inform the viewer to the best of their power? And therefore shouldn't ESPN be responsible for informing their viewers to all of the best teams in baseball equally, so that viewers can be as knowledgeable as possible about the events taking place? I guess its too much to ask from a network more interested in creating the news than actually reporting it (Tejada, Clemens, etc.), but hopefully more voices can speak out so that ESPN realizes that baseball fans actually exist outside of the northeast, and that we demand a much more balanced description of what is happening in MLB on a nightly, weekly, and season-long basis.