Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Friday, November 11, 2005

The disgust is real, not simulated

Just when I think ESPN's SportsCenter has gone too far ("Fact or Fiction," "Hot Seat," etc.) and must be stopped, they top themselves with something even more ridiculous. Have you seen these simulated press conferences they've been running over the past week? Steve Phillips pretends to be the General Manager of a baseball team - Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, etc. - and takes questions about offseason plans from a fictional press corps (sprinkled with a few actual reporters).

It's not a stretch for Phillips to play GM; he used to have that job with the New York Mets. But these are essentially skits, and Phillips looks like a trained monkey who's been asked to sing and dance so his bosses can laugh and clap along. What's even worse is that good reporters, credible journalists like Sal Paolantonio, Jeremy Schaap, and Buster Olney are being forced to participate in this charade, too. They're being good sports, but looking closely into their eyes, I swear I can see them calling their agents and updating their resumes. (Of course, if you're not on ESPN, where else are you going to do sports reporting on TV, other than local news stations? You think that came up in a meeting or two?)

On one hand, I want to give ESPN credit for trying something different from a typical taped piece. On the other, I like those features. And I'd imagine most sports fans think they're fine, too. ESPN already has good baseball analysts like Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian; just let them run down a team's offseason checklist. Don't put on dinner theater; don't ask your analysts and reporters to engage in role-play. Just let them do their jobs, and give us the news and information we want.

▪ ▪ Just when I think I'm having an original thought, Deadspin beats me to the punch. (And frankly, they should.) They've been all over this for the past week. I love it.

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