Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Braves and Atlanta vs. ESPN: The Battle over All-Star Fan Vote (Updated)

((Video Update at Bottom))

We've tried really hard not to wade into this, but it touches on a few of our favorite topics.

(1) The Atlanta Braves
(2) ESPN

If you are a baseball fan, you know the all-star game is next week. And the last component to the two teams roster is a staged popularity contest known as the "Fan" vote.

And what this story is about is how polarizing it's become.

The reason. Well, that happened a couple of days ago. When the final 5-players who would be in said vote were announced a story appeared over the weekend on the popular website ESPN.com. And one of the links within that story is at the bottom of the image here to your right.

If you look closely--it said the following: "Puig in Final Vote" (link) and next to it "He Belongs" (link)

--Note the image that it replaced is on your left.

Look closely.

It didn't mention a single other nominee.

And that slight has sent quite a few people in the Atlanta area and well, just about anywhere outside Los Angeles, into a tizzy.

"ESPN is taking sides"  "They want Puig in". "They don't care about anyone else".

None of these are wrong.

And yes, we're not real thrilled about this either. But it is what they do. This is something that we and many other Sports Blogs have harped on for years. ESPN will tell you who to vote for, what you are interested in and what is an important sports story. And they'll make sure you have no other option to find it.

Management there has denied a bias or trying to influence a vote, and we sort of believe them.

But we sort of don't.

They have in the past taken sides with teams and athletes that they cover. It may not be done intentionally, but it's done. And once they find someone they love, they beat us over the head with them--endlessly (see Tebow, Tim--Heat, Miami--Eagles, Philadelphia)

See what happens if you live in Kansas City or Cincinnati or Minnesota if one of your teams plays a New York, Los Angeles, Boston or Philadelphia based team. You may win, but the headline will talk about the other team losing rather than you winning.

And this is wrong.

We're in the media business, have been in it for years and know why they slant this way. Certain cable news organizations do the same thing. They pander to their perceived audience.

They all hire high priced consultants who conduct polls with people who often know very little about what they are being asked. So they answer with a big market team or big name athlete. And that's whom they assume the entire country loves.

It's wrong. But that's how TV News on a national and local level work. It's not about doing the right thing, it's not about reporting things that are important. It's about reporting things that will get people's attention. And it's about reporting on people whom they and the consultants say will drive the ratings/profit meter. It's not right, but it's how things work.

And we understand it. There are so many voices out there, you have to do it. But you do it at great risk. It can quickly cost you the price of credibility.

In ESPN's case, they don't really care what the other sports media thinks about them, they don't have to. They can and do pander to the masses. They foist Skip Bayless and Steven A. Smith upon you and you mindlessly accept what they say as fact. They are telling you what they or the research consultant thinks you want to hear. Nothing more/nothing less.

The Atlanta Braves #votefreddie shirts
We'll end our diatribe with this. We tread into this arena carefully. We know that Sports fans often hear what they want to hear or interpret things they read through very narrow glasses. What they often perceive as bias isn't, it's being realistic. It's reporting facts. And a lot of fans don't want to read, see or hear bad things about their team. They don't want to see someone else get pushed over their guy. We get that. It does work both ways.

That being said, the Yasiel Puig story is intriguing. He's lighting up the baseball world. Will he keep up doing what he's doing? No. He'll level off. Should he be on the All-Star team. Eh, after a month, we aren't real sure he's earned it yet, a member of his own team, Hanley Ramirez has similar numbers over the same period and hasn't gotten an All-Star sniff.

And in the end, yes, we are Atlanta Braves fans (well, I am). And I think and feel like many in Atlanta do, not only is Freddie Freeman of the hometown team fighting 4-other deserving players for an All-Star vote, he's fighting the ESPN behemoth too.

And now video. Here's The Lame Cornholio (Tony Kornheiser) of PTI fame:

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