Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The trouble with milestones

This weekend ESPN's Erin Andrews conducted a sideline interview with gifted thespian Jon Lovitz at a Padres/Giants game, and Lovitz basically said everyone in baseball was cheating so let's celebrate Bonds breaking the most hallowed (and hollowed) record in sports, an opinion shared by many celebrities, especially those of the B-list variety and everyone associated with covering MLB in the media. On the Dan Patrick Show today, Mike Tirico opined that everyone should be happy to donate historic home run balls to the Hall of Fame as if it were some church, which actually counters Barry Bonds' recommendation to sell them.

I'm as big a sports fan as there is, but I don't understand the reverence being thrown around now just when someone reaches a milestone. Tom Glavine has been as reliable a pitcher in the regular and post seasons as anyone over the last 15 years, yet he's only now reached greatness because his win total reached 300? This is madness! It's the same in the case of Michael Vick: he's the devil incarnate because he's facing federal charges, but after the feds raided his house and reports surfaced of Ookie being a giant in the dog fighting community he was just another wayward athlete?

With Bonds this trend is particularly troubling, because celebrating the home run record could send the message to little leaguers that steroids can lead to wealth and fame. There are people lined up on Baseball Tonight and on Fox Sports that don't think steroids should be mentioned in Giants broadcasts right now, the same people that vilified Jim Gray for asking Pete Rose some hard questions as he was announced as part of MLB's All-Century Team. Why doesn't anyone want to actually report on sports instead of act as cheerleaders? The answer is obvious: since ESPN and Fox Sports broadcast MLB games, they to lose more than they stand to gain by being critical of a product that they help distribute. Ever since ESPN took Playmakers off the air it's been downhill for sports media. It's like media channels can't wait to sell out.

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