You Can Rely On ESPN: They’ll Always Let You Down (UPDATED)
There is a reason ESPN has been gradually losing its status as the go-to television outfit for baseball.
It is not just the attempt to turn Baseball Tonight into some sort of summer-time version of the college football pregame show. It’s not the seeming pairing of every actual baseball expert like Buster Olney with an info-challenged sidekick like Wendi Nix. It’s not the ludicrous and already jab-pencils-into-your-eyes repetitiveness of John Kruk’s segments on the “best seats” in each stadium, each of which make the asinine features Steve Lyons used to do for our pre-game show at Fox look like doctoral theses. It’s not even the cancellation of the lumbering Sunday Night game telecast in favor of a new program that I think is called Bobby Valentine’s Three-Hour Autobiographical History Of The World.
I mean, seriously, another week of this and I’m sending Sherpas out to search for the bodies of my friends Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman. I only hope they are out there somewhere, doing the really good two-man-booth broadcast of which they’re capable, to an audience of St. Bernards and Yetis.
Those are just symptoms of the reason ESPN has turned itself into a distant No. 2 in the battle with MLB Network. The disease is: ESPN is no longer invested in baseball and no longer trusts it to carry its own weight. And this didn’t just start when MLB Network came on the scene with its necessary advantages of being the in-house outfit permitted to carry basically anything it wanted, almost any time it wanted. I can recall that in the middle of the “nuclear winter” of 1994-95, the Rangers traded Jose Canseco to the Red Sox. Canseco was no longer the incumbent MVP, but he had just been voted “Comeback Of The Year” and still had five 20+-homer seasons to go. The Canseco trade, instead of getting at least some of the attention it merited, was buried in a little tag-on feature at the end of SportsCenter called “News And Notes.”
We all know what the network, and that show, are about these days – promoting other ESPN products and reducing sports to merely another form of entertainment living somewhere in the neighborhood where Mariah Carey’s twins matter more than the Minnesota Twins. There’s nothing wrong with that neighborhood, just don’t impose it on actual sports fans.
But ESPN’s disconnect from baseball is now part of its DNA. It may in fact be the case that the last things that really tethers true baseball fans to the Worldwide Leader are its game broadcasts (especially for those deprived of access to MLB Net), and what had been an efficient and sometimes innovative baseball fantasy game. But even that latter slender thread is fraying. A few seasons back the computer program somehow “lost” more than a week’s worth of the daily roster juggling for literally tens of thousands of fantasy players, screwing up countless leagues and strategies. And now this weekend, the system by which ESPN manages the only “content” thing it is required to stay on top of – which real-life players are hurt, and which ones have been called up to the majors – collapsed.
Pablo Sandoval of the Giants broke a hamate bone and early Saturday was placed on the disabled list. As anybody who’s ever played fantasy baseball knows, an injury like that is mitigated only by the opportunity to place Sandoval on your disabled list and add another player to replace him in your line-up. In some leagues, you can do that instantaneously: as soon as a player gets hurt, you can rush to your computer, place Sandoval on your disabled list, and “pick up” his replacement. In others, the process occurs via scheduled “waivers,” which can be daily, or every few days, or weekly. But whatever the process, it’s possible to put Sandoval on your disabled list only after ESPN has put him on its disabled list, and as of Sunday evening, more than 24 hours after the Giants put The Panda on the shelf, the ESPN computer geeks had failed to do so.
For Sandoval’s thousands of “owners” – and by the company’s own stats he is “owned” in every single one of the leagues it operates – they are thus not only deprived of his services and the opportunity to replace him, but conceivably could have sat there in frozen and agonized horror while other owners in their league got to his potential replacements first. A call to ESPN’s fantasy “help” line revealed this disturbing fact: the phone operator said the game managers never updated disabled list eligibility over the weekend, so Sandoval would likely not be made DL-eligible before Monday. If it hadn’t happened by then, the operator helpfully suggested, they could write up a “ticket” and see if the problem could be corrected in the next few days.
When I was at ESPN, the then managing editor John Walsh used to forcefully remind us that all the research data on the constancy of the audience produced the same stark data: they were the most loyal in television, and planned to remain loyal for ever more – unless somebody came along and offered them a better product. Leaving a few thousand fantasy players remembering the weekend “ESPN” became a four-letter word may not seem like a back-breaking straw, but combine it with the soliloquies of Bobby V and the knowledge that the network’s key games will soon enough get trundled off to the backwaters of ESPN2 to provide space for football exhibitions – to say nothing of the existence of a truly superb 24-hour product from MLB Network – and you can almost watch the loyalty dissolving before your eyes.
You know what? MLB Network doesn’t offer its own baseball fantasy league product. I wonder what would happen to ESPN’s baseball audience if it did.
Update: two hours after I posted this, guess what happened? Somebody at ESPN’s Fantasy Games outfit…placed Kung Fu Panda Sandoval on the official computerized Disabled List.
Thank you as always for keeping us informed. I’ll be glad when I can see you again on air.
Wait a second… your evidence that ESPN is no longer the standard for baseball coverage is 1) you don’t like Bobby Valentine, 2) in 1994, a trade of Jose Canseco wasn’t treated like a bigger story, 3) their fantasy baseball system doesn’t update the DL on weekends.
Well, consider me convinced!
1) Valentine is a huge upgrade over Joe Morgan (as anyone would be). I could do without him, but whatever.
2) So what… Jose Canseco was dealt to the Red Sox. Um… really? That’s a big deal?
3) Probably something ESPN.com should fix, but hardly reflects on the networks coverage.
Besides, I, like millions of other Americans, can’t even get MLB Network on my cable system. Baseball Tonight is still the gold standard for daily baseball coverage. And their Sunday Night broadcast is better than any other weekly national telecast (TBS and Fox can’t compete).
CJ – just to inform you since you don’t get MLB network – Baseball Tonight is nowhere close to the “gold standard for daily baseball coverage.”
Baseball tonight hasn’t been the gold standard for daily baseball coverage for awhile. It’s been awful for years. And if you can’t get MLB Network, you should upgrade your package or switch to Direct TV. It’s worth it for MLB Network alone.
Maybe Mr. Hershiser (a Giant for one year) should take some time off in June/July to pursue his hobby: the World Series Of Poker. That’ll teach ESPN.
Very unfortunate that they’ve let things slide (no pun intended). We can be sure that the computer geeks in charge there will never have a chance to tinker with any hardware over at Current.
You’re kidding right? The game managers take the weekend off? Man am I glad I don’t play at ESPN! Wait, you can’t be serious. This is an urban legend, right? ’cause it don’t sound real. I gotta go check snopes…
That’s all fine and dandy Keith, but I’m a Dish Network customer and the impression I get is that they will never carry MLB Network nor offer a baseball package…so unless the Red Sox play the Rangers, I’m stuck with ESPN or Buck/McCarver…and they make Kruk and Co look like Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell in their primes…
No, nothing is worse than Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
Nail + head = You.
McCarver isn’t that bad; Baby Buck on the other hand is a nightmare.
Hey,Mr.O’sounds like a good idea for MLB to get its own league product!! Hummmm!!!
Preferences for TV sports announcers & color guys is very personal, like favorite pizza place.
I actually posted the original at 7:20 pm MDT May 1. ???
Wow, Keith, tell us how you REALLY feel.
Personally, I enjoy Bobby V. I think he brings a very, unusual for TV, managerial perspective on the game and I don’t feel that he’s overpowering his broadcast partners.
But I agree that I find myself watching a lot of the MLB Network, mostly because they have baseball 24/7 so I know that whenever I want to watch baseball, they have something going on.
I find Bobby V. unusual as well, as in strange and odd.
Wow, Bobby Valentine. Some very vocal fans in Seattle wanted him as the manager here–they felt he was the only one who could turn the team around. Apparently he really wanted the job but they hired Eric Wedge instead.
I think some people won’t accept Wedge simply because he’s not Bobby V. They said he was probably a “yes man” and the M’s hired him because he’d cost less than Valentine. Of course, if the team ever starts winning under Wedge, all that will be forgotten, but I thought if Bobby V. was serious about wanting to manage again someone else would have hired him, since there were so many openings.
Love both your blogs, Keith!
Looks like Keith Olbermann was too late to apply to be ESPN’s next ombudsman.
MLB Network has Kevin Millar and Sean Casey, both of whom are great to listen to and have great stories about the game. I am sure ESPN guys do as well, but their producers have no interest in letting them share stories. The want them being pitch perfect in the network’s efforts to sell more products.
I really *hate* listening to analysts on ESPN these days. I get the games off MLB.tv except when they are nationally televised. On those days, I usually have the audio off and just turn up the radio. The delay on the video is never as bad as having to listen to the Fox / ESPN goons.
Anyone know why Jon Miller is no longer on Sunday Night Baseball? I think he’s the guest guy going today (don’t tell Vin I said that though)
Jon Miller was given the option to leave ESPN SNB when Joe Morgan’s contract was not renewed. Jon decided he’d rather broadcast SF Giants games full time (he took weekends off to do SNB) and skip the extra travel. As a Giants fan, I’m very happy listening to Jon and his partner Dave Flemming on KNBR via MLB.com’s GameDay. And Keith is correct, MLB TV’s coverage of baseball is far superior to ESPN’s; it can’t help but be better as it is a product by and for Major League BaseBall. Todibus is right; MLB TV ALWAYS has something BaseBall on!
Thanks, I agree, I’m a Dodger fan but I sometimes listen to the Giants games just because I love the radio team.
Of course, back in the day Vin Scully used to do NBC games on Saturdays.
I don’t know if I want to live in a world where anything about fantasy sports is really this important. And I PLAY fantasy sports!
The thing I dislike the most about Baseball Tonight is how they use the same cut of 3 or 4 highlights that Sports Center uses to cover the same game. The MLB Network will show more than one home run, one good defensive play, and one strike out. They are more willing to show the pitch sequence that eventually led to the play.
Mike – the reason they use the same highlight is because MLB puts a quota on the amount of footage that they can use in an hour. As KO pointed out, MLB Network has no limits as they are the in-house propoganda machine. If ESPN goes over a certain amount of MLB time, they get hit with overages. Same goes with other big properties, NFL, IOC, etc.
Man, you hit the nail on the head Keith– ESPN covers baseball like they hate it. Like it’s an obligation when what they really want to be covering is the NFL as a year-round sport, as well as NASCAR and soap opera stories about Tiger et al. And they think replacing the classy and classic Jon Miller and Joe Morgan on Sunday Night Baseball will help? Baseball Tonight is almost unwatchable. Karl Ravech’s smart-alecky approach to highlights wore thin circa 2005 and Kruk’s overweight slob jokes got old immediately. Bobby Valentine had the audacity to say Mariano is finished though he has never had more saves in March/April and the most useful analysis Bobby V ever gives is “exactly” to what ever Hershiser says. The best I can say for them is at least they aren’t Fox! (Chris Rose excepted).
ESPN has started covering baseball like they hate it as soon as TBS won the rights to the playoff games. ESPN nor ABC show the playoffs or World Series, so they don’t believe they should promote the sport like they used to. ESPN does this with every sport. Did you not notice they started promoting the NBA a lot more once ESPN and ABC won the rights over NBC and TBS? They stopped showing NHL highlights completely once they signed with Versus and now that Versus is about to be turned into NBC Sports you better believe that the NHL will get even lesser coverage because NBC sports net is going to be an actual competitor to ESPN now. ESPN started showing UFC fight highlights on Sportcenter when there was a chance they would get the rights to show some fights, until UFC resigned with Spike and signed a deal with versus. ESPN is basically NFL network 2.
KO’s curmudgeon quotient is ramping up to full speed. By this time next year, he’ll be Murray Chass. Settle down, Keith. Your constant criticism of your former employer is taken with a grain of salt since you burned all the bridges after you left Bristol.
well one other thing, some of us follow the games on our PC’s and as such have up items like ESPN’s Game Cast and here we are a full month into the current season and I’m STILL seeing 2010 stats for players and they STILL don’t have pics of everyone, hello 2011! ESPN is fast going the way of the dinosaur, they’re so busy being ESPN and hosting their own awards shows et al, that they’re very much in danger of forgetting to understand the reason that they exist to begin with.
The Sunday night broadcast is now a three hour sample of Bobby V contradicting himself over and over again. Not his best side.
I see two issues here: broadcasting of actual games, and general baseball news and commentary.
My rule of thumb is that all national baseball broadcasts suck. I’m not quite sure why, though part of the problem is the common tendency of the color guy to prepare three or four talking points, run through them by the end of the third inning, and cycle through them a couple more times. Local broadcasts, at least the good ones, manage to have a six-month long conversation with their audience. The national guys try to swoop in for one game. The depth isn’t there, and it shows.
That being said, some national broadcasts suck more than others. FOX seems to really hate baseball, and will go to great lengths to show anything other than what is happening on the field. If there is a celebrity in the crowd, figure on missing numerous pitches while the camera lingers lovingly on the celeb. ESPN isn’t nearly so bad: it manages to rise to mediocrity. TBS is actually pretty decent.
I subscribe to the MLB extra innings package, which gives me most games. I also subscribe to the internet audio package (which is surprisingly reasonably priced), most to listen to game at work. But if FOX is showing the game I want to follow, preempting the local telecasts, I will listen to the radio feed instead.
As for news and analysis, television is a terrible medium for that. At best we end up with talking heads. At worst we end up with herculean efforts to show anything but talking heads. The written word is far far superior. Yes, there is endless blather there, too. But you don’t have to read it, waiting for something non-idiotic to come along.
Excellent points. Subscribing to MLB Extra Innings has spoiled me– listening to the local broadcasters makes it seem like the national analysts have nothing interesting to say. But the national broadcasts at least should have the best play-by-play guys and not just hope Ernie Johnson can do play-by-play when he’s a pre-game desk guy (and primarily the NBA). The game of the week, the All-Star game, the playoffs– it used to be a treat to hear the great voices of the game like Vin Scully and Jack Buck. Now I dread it.
It’s a shame there aren’t more people like you, who tell it like it is.
All the best.
When Valentine was manager of the Rangers, I was a radio sports reporter in the Metroplex. He was then as he is now: aloof, odd, distant, and not very interested in subjects that didn’t have anything directly to do with him.
Shulman is as good as what he does as anyone in the business and unceasingly prepared. Hershiser’s analysis is excellent. Unfortunately, the prescence of Valentine makes me go to a local radio broadcast on mlb.com whenever I tune in the Sunday night game these days.
ESPN’s baseball has been unlistenable for years anyway; I watch the video with John Sterling on the radio as the sound… but Bobby Valentine TRULY renders it an abomination.
the only good news is he’s relegated to television obscurity instead of managing a baseball team.
John Sterling? THE John Sterling??
An A-Bomb from A-Rod Sterling? Thaaaaaaaaaaaaa Yankees Win!! Sterling? That guy?
Sterling’s got more corn than Iowa. He pees ethanol.
If the choice was to listen to Sterling call a game or have a leg chewed off by piranhas, I’d need time to decide.
I’d take the piranha. Easy choice.
MLB runs through CBSSportsline for fantasy baseball. I’ve been useing CBS for fantasy baseball since ’02 and the product is great. They now work with MLB for live audio and video. It costs where ESPN doesn’t. But its a better product.
Unlike Keith, I have switched away from ESPN and to MLB because I have interests in other teams besides the Yankees and Red Sox. I appreciate a network that equally emphasizes all 32 teams or tries to emphasize the teams that are winning at the moment. All teams have a chance to be televised. I think I have turned to ESPN 3 times in the past year and a half, and that was for news on the Packers. I don’t miss it.
This might be a real simple thing (and maybe its weird lol), but one reason I was immediately attracted to MLB Network is because (aside from the host or in very rare occasions) everyone on the set (during programs like MLB Tonight or Hot Stove) talk to each other. Face to face. They rarely look at the TV, but just discuss/argue amongst themselves. Somehow this creates a more intimate perspective. Now it grates when I watch ESPN and host asks expert a question, and the expert turns and lectures me by looking straight at the TV.
The other reason I really like MLB Tonight is because its always live. No editing or cutting or fine tuning. And I’m shocked on how well things run, always makes it more fun I think.
I know it’s like the proverbial fish/gun/barrel combo by this point, but thank you Keith for once again articulating what’s become of the WWL’s once admirable baseball coverage. I was a teenager in the first full flush of my nascent baseball fanatacism when ESPN started their baseball package; it was the greatest thing a kid could ask for, so it’s downright tragic to see what its turned into. The way that the WWL constantly shoves the NFL down our collective throats 24/7, while then enacting the self-fulfilling prophecy by claiming that it’s all their viewers/listeners want to discuss has done more to turn me against pro football than anything else. And yes, the MLB Network absolutely smokes ESPN in all things baseball, although I agree that the Shulman/Hershiser team is still well worth the time.
Keith, you really must learn not to hide your feelings. More seriously, yes, it can look like sour grapes for Keith to criticize ESPN. But the criticisms strike me as legitimate, or at least a legitimate, supportable opinion, whether or not I share it. And I’ve seen enough of MLB Network to know they have it over ESPN to the nth degree.
To add to something mentioned above, ESPN offered Jon Miller the Sunday night radio package–effectually switching with Dan Shulman–but he declined, partly because it was a demotion he didn’t deserve (my interpretation), partly for reasons he mentioned: weariness with the travel and the feeling that being around the Sunday night crew so much would be uncomfortable for them. There’s a rumor that Joe Morgan threatened a lawsuit against ESPN and Miller had to go so it didn’t look like Morgan was singled out.
As for Valentine … he really hasn’t learned the Madden Rule, which goes something like this: don’t second-guess, first-guess. Instead, we get his long-winded answers, which he stops when a pitch is about to be thrown. Apropos of Madden, when he started, he did a game with Lindsey Nelson and said, “When a play starts, I shut up, right?” Nelson–one of the greats–said, no, if you have something good to say, say it and let me worry about tending to any problem, but make sure if you are talking that you DO have something to say. That’s a problem for a lot of analysts.
On Valentine personally, I have my own bias. He is incredibly close to Tommy Lasorda, and one of the great forgotten moments in Dodger history is when, after his heart attack, Lasorda gave up managing to become a vice president. He had no significant role. Then, Valentine, as Mets manager, suddenly came up with the idea that he wanted Lasorda as his bench coach. Fred Claire, the LA GM, said the Dodgers always wanted Lasorda in the organization but wouldn’t stand in his way, and, just as suddenly, Lasorda didn’t become bench coach. Was it a pathetic effort to try to get the Dodgers to give Lasorda more authority? I think so.
Glad I saw your blog cuz I had wanted to reach thru the tv last night at Bobby Valentine just to get him to shut up. What a moron. I’ll never watch again if he’s on. If he wasn’t trying to make himself look good on any front that his moronic sidekicks would indulge him on – then he was bashing the phillies fans… for no real reason… Even telling the audience that the Phillies fans shouting of “RAUUUUL” for Raul Ibanez was them booing him. Evry1 whose ever been to a game knows what the fans are saying. The Mets coach Bobby Valentine knew what they were saying – he’s been to how many games of that match – up??? He just lied to suit his biased agenda. How bout you hire some intelligent sportscasters who talk baseball ESPN???
I have known Bobby V. since he was a 20 year old AAA phenom for the Spokane Indians. I remember when I heard of his injury in 1973 that I had to hide the tears I felt welling up inside me from my fellow Marines. Later, when he was a Mariner, I was sorry to see that he was so hobbled, and never had the chance to be a great ball player. As a Rangers manager, one of his players, who I also knew from his days as an Indian, said don’t talk to that SOB, I hate his guts. He had become a strange man, and now when he speaks I mute him.
Keith, you really need to play a real fantasy game, one that is more challenging for users like yourself. Join the users at http://www.baseballmanager.com. Heck, we were the game promoted on ESPN before they had a game in the early 90s. (it was part of Prodigy back in those days)
What I don’t get is, my cousin works in the department there that handles the stats and rosters, and I’ve seen him work on it from home once. He was checking in on his day off from home, when I happened to be stopping by. He’s really into his job and they’re CONSTANTLY updating rosters. He says that it affects all the different stuff ESPN has, but I guess it doesn’t include fantasy.
ESPN has been going down hill ever since it was acquired by Disney. Disney makes everything into a marketing channel.
Just look at the eye candy on sidelines now, for example. The women on ESPN used to be there because they knew the sports. Now it’s all about their hem line — like we’re all a bunch of single-celled animals dazzled by shiny objects.
And don’t even get me started on what Disney/ABC/ESPN have done to Monday Night Football.
ESPN has ruined Monday Night Football. One of the biggest American sporting traditions and ESPN has pissed all over it since they have had the rights.
I don’t even look at ESPN for baseball updates anymore. If I didn’t get MLB network, I would look to the internet. Baseball tonight used to come one regularly and now I cannot even find it. I don’t care enough about Football, Basketball, or college anything. “Aloha means Goodbye”. RIP ESPN.
I guess I am lucky. I get to watch almost every Cardinals game on Fox Sports Midwest.
We have decent broadcasters (I think), Dan McLaughlin, Al Hrabosky and Ricky Horton during the games, with Jim Hayes, Pat Parris, Cal Eldred, Mike Matheny, John Mabry and Jay Randolph doing the pre- and post-game shows.
We also have Mike Shannon, John Rooney and Mike Claiborne on the radio. The Cards are back where they belong — on KMOX 1120 AM.
If that’s not an impressive line-up, I don’t know what is.
Now, ESPN is a whole ‘nother beast. They are so entrenched within the Mouseketeer circle-jerk that they don’t seem able to do any real reporting on anything that doesn’t involve another Disney property. They foist the UEFA and WPT on us without mercy, I guess because they are cheap to cover. They have stretched their “analysis” of the NFL draft to an entire week’s worth of postmortems. Their baseball coverage stops moving west at Philly’s city limits. When was the last time they mentioned the Cubs, the Royals, the Blue Jays, or the White Sox? I mean, unless they were playing the Yanks, Red Sox, or the Phils. Saint Louis is “The Best Baseball City in America”© and the only thing that ESPN wants to cover is the first baseman’s contract.
I do not watch ESPN programming. I watch their ticker. Once I find what I want (which CAN take up to 20 minutes), I move along.
By the way, does anyone really give a rat’s hiney about Lacrosse? What’s next, Dodgeball Finals on ESPN 8, “The Ocho”?
Keith, have you played DYNASTY League Baseball Online yet?
The real trouble is that most things on ESPN are not “stories” unless it allows them to talk and promote other things on ESPN. The network is basically its own VNR (Video News Release).
Besides your examples I go back to the months leading up to their coverage of the World Cup when every night there was a soccer goal in the Top 10 Plays of the Day. You would see a basic pass that you could see in a middle school soccer game at number three ahead of a diving catch in baseball. Even soccer heads were saying, “What is so special about that?”
The sad part is that it works. ESPN’s absolute power does make you feel like every human being is watching every second of every NBA game and every minute detail about the NFL outshines anything else going on in the world.
Yahoo still runs the best fantasy leagues and they were one of the first to do it. Great interface, easy to use.
And I agree, MLB network is amazing. Far surpassing my expectations. I don’t even watch ESPN for baseball anymore.
I don’t watch much on ESPN anymore since they went to the widescreen version – which makes it difficult to watch on a smaller tv set. I very seldom go to ESPN’s website anymore – at least 25% of their articles are subscriber only and you can find elsewhere on the internet.
The problem with the fantasy leagues isn’t unique to ESPN. I had the same problem a couple of years ago on Fox’s fantasy baseball site when Jose Reyes got injured in mid-May. It was June before Fox decided to put him on THEIR DL and until then Jose had to sit on my ‘bench’ taking up an important slot for weeks.
Let me just say that I realized all of this a few weeks ago when, instead of covering any sport in the world (including MLB, NHL, NBA, PGA, MLS, international soccer, rugby, world cup of cricket, among any other sport you could mention [because every single one of them is going on RIGHT NOW except the NFL!]) the only thing ESPN was talking about was the NFL lockout, and the draft. Honestly it’s almost enough to make me boycott the NFL next season.
Keith, will you next write a diatribe about MSNBC? Or some other place where you’ve been fired? What an ingrate.
Yes, KO, you are correct. I could give a holy hoot about baseball, but I know that ESPN/ABC do not cover NASCAR correctly, nor for that matter does FOX. But what confuses me — and it really should confuse any sports geek (regardless of their S.O.C.) — is how Speed does racing better than FOX when they are both Rupert’s?
My semi-blind analysis is that the folks on Speed, even though part of NewsCorp, CARE.
So, the obvious and truly dumbass question: Why not, for the misguided, such as yourself, who enjoy a ponderous and sleep inducing contest, create a NERD network? You are a sports guy, and a baseball fan from birth or close to it. You are the only person I know whose mom was hit with a ball for gawd’s sake!
Think about it. And think about this: I love stock cars running in circles and will watch them whenever I can. But I might, if you were involved, learn to watch baseball again as I did with my Grampy when Curt Gowdy or Red Barber were on (I would include Vin Scully here, but I am an East Coaster and his was not one of the voices I heard regularly).
Think about it. Go to a car race, BTW
I miss Jon Miller and Joe Morgan!!!!!! Orel, Bobby and whatsisname just don’t cut it for me.
Here’s what I hate about MLBN: they black out BOTH the Braves AND the Nationals in my viewing area (Charlotte), so when either team plays the Phillies, I’m stuck. BOOOOO!
If you live in Charlotte you should get Sports South and FS South which between the two show every Braves game. And I have been able to see the MLB Network telecast, which have all been just rebroadcasts of the regional coverage, of the Braves games this year and I’m right in the middle of Braves country.
ESPN is basically useless for baseball coverage. They’re too busy covering Brett Favre’s decision to take a dump or talking about LeBron James or the 2013 NFL Draft. Since MLB Network came along, the only reason to check ESPN is for the Sunday Night game, and even then, only if the Yankees or Red Sox aren’t involved (so never). I like Schulman and Hershiser, could live without Bobby V, hated Morgan, and miss Miller. But I like the radio guys for the Sunday Night game.
And I’m not real fond of their fantasy baseball site. It’s free, but only because no one would pay for it.
That is why I play in Yahoo’s leagues. I also watch the MLB Network far more than I watch ESPN’s baseball coverage that masquerades as Baseball Tonight.
And I miss Hershiser and I miss Miller..a lot. Valentine is a boob and really wants another managerial job..which ain’t happening as he has made it clear he was interested in many of the recent openings and his ass is still on ESPN.
At least I still get Vinny on the Dodgers games at home or in the NL West. I wish he traveled to all of them but I get why he doesn’t..he is getting up there in age and I thank the God’s that he still works in baseball..a little Vin is better than none at all.
You forgot to mention that ESPN regularly shows either the Yankees or the Red Sox as much as is humanly possible. The reason for their drop in the baseball business may be because NOT EVERYONE CARES about the Yankees and Red Sox. I LOVED the early days of their baseball coverage… Games darn near every night, DH’s on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you weren’t watching the same teams over and over again.
I’ve called it ESPNFL for a while now. Somehow their football shows get constant rotation during the offseason while baseball tonight gets next to nothing. What, does baseball not exist outside of February-October. I’d rather watch MLB net any day. Give me 10 hrs of Kevin Millar before 10min of the Kruker
Olbermann is right, I believe. I’ve bben griping for a while about ESPN’s lack of baseball cverage and it is a relief that I wasn’t losing my mind. Not only is the tv programming largely geared toward otehr sports (NFL and NBA), so is its radio programming. Mike and Mike is a joke. None of the orher network programs feature any baseball-centric personalities. It’s a shame.
For me, and those of us over 45, the gold standard will always be the NBC broadcasts of the mid 60’s to mid 70’s, with Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubeck and Joe Garagiola. And the fact that we had, in Detroit, the great Ernie Harwell (along with Paul Carey) on WJR radio and the magical pairing of George Kell and Al Kaline on WDIV, well, we never knew how lucky we were until they were gone. ESPN, along with FOX, has ruined so many things in the past 15 years that the list would take all day to produce. Putting no-talent people on the air is one thing, but then to continue to promote them in the face of their no-talent is quite another. How someone who knows nothing about anything can stay on the air even after being exposed as nothing but a airhead-victim, is beyond me. Somewhere, Gail Granick is cringing every time she watches a ESPN game. Keith, and others like him, (Jayson Whitlock, Granick, and Rich Eisen) have all spoken out about the dilution of talent at the Worldwide Leader. The people who broadcast these games today are all inter-changeable. Even the network’s attempts to top HBO’s Sports Documentary’s have failed miserably, “30 for 30” has been a disappointment, filled with delays and lawsuits over non-payments by Disney. And here is one more truth: Howard Cosell would never get hired in today’s market.
You are so right!
We had Vin Scully, Dick Enberg, and Chick Hearns in Los Angeles. And, Keith Olbermann to give us the Hi-Lights!
Those were great days!
Thanks for your post…I enjoyed it!
Dear Mr. Olbermann,
Huge fan, first time caller.
Indeed. ESPN is so in love with the NFL and NBA that baseball has become about as popular as Premier League Football and the NHL (which I both adore).
I am sorry you aren’t in love with “The Zen of Bobby V.” He was great here in Japan, but he wore out his welcome with the Chiba Lotte Marines (as he did with the Dodgers, Angels, Mets, Rangers et. al). I do like Hershiser and Valentine talking baseball (far better than the old crew). I know…if Bobby Valentine was so great, how come he only has the 2005 Japan Series (and Asian Championship) to his name. And, as for Orel, 1988 wasn’t a poor season by any measure…but it was just one magical season.
I am so sorry I will not be able to see your new show when you start in June. I don’t believe AFN will be showing your latest incarnation of Countdown here in Okinawa. I hope your show will be available as a podcast. (We do still watch the Maddow show every Tuesday through Saturday…thanks to you…and her, and AFN!)
I’ve been a fan since your days on the local LA dial. Wasn’t your competition someone called “Vick the Brick?” Stu Nahan was a good guy and a huge fan of LA sports. Jim Hill wasn’t too bad either. But, YOU RULED! KTLA and KCBS (KNX?)
All the best, sir!
Love Olbermann…Great Hockey Analyst. Smart and Opinionated. We need more of that in Sports. Not just talking heads that don’t piss us off! Come on!
Watching tonight’s Tigers vs Bosox game (June 11, 2017). Commentators are talking about everything but the game going on. Horrible. Prefer to have live feed with no voice over. That threesome is useless.