April 27, 2007

It's Not About The Sock

The reaction of many fans (Red Sox, Yankees, and everyone else) and media members to the Thorne/Mirabelli/Sock controversy of the past two days can be summed up thusly: "Arrgg, not the sock again! Enough already!"

But this is not about the sock. That simply happened to be the subject matter of Gary Thorne's lie. Here is the reason why I posted the MASN transcript and emailed Gordon Edes:
Does an announcer bear any responsibility for what he or she says on the air?
Debating whether blood seeped out of Curt Schilling's ankle and stained his sock on two separate nights in October 2004 may be silly, but the idea that Thorne should not have to answer for what comes out of his mouth is not.

If you've been reading this blog for even a short amount of time, you'll know that one of my greatest annoyances is announcers that spew whatever shit pops into their heads and are never called on it. Granted, most of the stuff we are subjected to -- from Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan, John Kruk, Michael Kay, and the whole long list of them -- is simple stupidity.

When they spout information about Fenway Park that is at least 20 years out of date (as Morgan often does, calling it a home run paradise) or have no idea of new players on the team's roster (meaning they haven't bothered to even look at the local sportspage that morning), they show both their ignorance and disdain for their audience. We are left asking why are these people blessed with plum broadcasting jobs when they show no desire to actually do their jobs?

Thorne and Palmer were saying moronic things about Schilling (and the Sox) all night: he's a ground ball pitcher, he broke the news about asking for his 2008 option to be picked up on his blog, that an option for 2008 even exists. Two people wearing B hats pulled at random out of the stands would have known more about the Red Sox. But the Mirabelli comment was different. That was more than just being dumb.

Searching for "Thorne" on this blog, I see he has annoyed me many times before. This is a good example, as is this paragraph from June 10, 2004:
ESPN's Gary Thorne said the entire Red Sox organization has NO idea where BH Kim is -- "He may be in Korea, he may be in the US, they have no idea." Does Thorne know he's just making shit up -- and being exposed as an unprepared idiot by the tens of thousands of fans who actually know which end is up -- and does he (or his employer) care?
We should be glad that Thorne was forced to accept responsibility for what he said on the air. It doesn't matter whether he was talking about fake blood, a corked bat, or a player's sexual orientation. It comes down to this:

Should an announcer be free to say whatever he wants with no consequences whatsoever?


9casey said...

Redsock said:
Should an announcer be free to say whatever he wants with no consequences whatsoever?

Should anybody?

rob said...

sing it, brother. sports broadcasting is the last refuge of the unaccountable in our society. if i was as loose with the facts in my job as are the vast majority of broadcasters, i'd be on the bread line. it's a sad reality that in the calculus of modern sports, entertainment renders accuracy and accountability nothing more than quaint relics.

L-girl said...

Nice post.

Woti-woti said...

The price I pay to watch baseball on TV is to suffer through the commercials. I do that because I love the product on the field. I have never asked, or even expect, to be 'entertained' by the announcers in the booth. I certainly don't expect them to be 'the story' rather than the product on the field. The fact that I don't find the bulk of them to be entertaining, or even informative, only adds to the irritation of suffering through the commercials. That some of them think they can gloss over facts and say whatever pops into their head is just plain arrogance. Unfortunately, that's the business these days.
Keep calling them out, Redsock.

chief said...

Exactly the point, redsock. Most of responses I saw to this story, including Curt's response at his blog, Edes' article and many others completely missed the point.

I don't think sports broadcasters are even close to alone here. This lack of accountability is all over profit-driven "journalism."

This incident reminds me of Jon Stewart's visit to CNN's Crossfire a year or so ago. He called them on their bullshit. It also reminds me of the shoddy, practically criminal cheer-leading conducted by our media in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.

That's a much bigger and more heinous issue, since thousand upon thousands of people have died, but the basic issue is the same: There are consequences to everything you say (or write) - more so if you have a regional or national audience.

I think this goes much farther up the food chain than just the talking heads though. Which is unfortunate - it's much harder to fix than just putting Gary Thorne in his place.

Ok, rant over, back to baseball.

L-girl said...

Chief! All hail! Beautiful. I thank you.

redsock said...

And I don't expect any sportswriter to call out Thorne on this -- he's a colleague of theirs.

They are in a tough spot when it comes to reporting on stuff like this objectively. So most of them go for the LCD angle: the sock.

This is what bloggers can do -- make sure people are doing their jobs, calling them out when they need to be called out.

You used to be able only to write a letter of complaint to an editor or network. The internet has changed that forever.

That is, as I've said, one big reason why the mainstream media belittles blogs. They see them as a direct threat.

But besides "watching the watchers", bloggers can also offer die-hard fans the kind of in-depth analysis that is absent from any mainstream newspaper or magazine. Hell, the die-hard fans can have an audience reading their own analysis.

It is revolutionary.


"practically criminal cheer-leading"? No. Obscenely criminal. Hands dripping with more blood than Schilling's got in his whole body.

chief said...

"Obscenely," yes - I understated it for some reason. I was halfway through your post, redsock, thinking "this is why 'blogger' is a pejorative whenever used by the main stream media" - then you wrote it right there. I agree about Sport-writers not calling out Thorne - it's just not going to happen.

I used to think sports writers were in a difficult position with respect to objective reporting. But it turns out that they are only different from political reporters and such by degree.

Bloggers have done a lot of great work over the last few years. They've done some shameful things too, of course. But I find it incredibly satisfying that, since the Fourth Estate was purchased, technology has allowed us to create a Fifth Estate.

chief said...

With all due respect to Wily Mo's bat, I'm really happy to see Coco in CF tonight.

Eric said...

Very well said. The professional journalist's disdain (or maybe the mainstream media company's disdain - I've come across more than a few journalists who are also bloggers) strikes me as a mix of first estate contempt for the existence of the third estate (think Marie Antoinette and her cake comment) and very real fear that a non-existent level of surveillance for shoddy work now exists across the world. I think it may be by far the most revolutionary thing the Internet has generated.

L-girl said...

Just catching up on this thread, it's great (though unsurprising) to see such intelligent comments here.

Eric makes a good point re mainstream media as opposed to professional journalists. Allan is a professional writer, as am I, as are many bloggers. But the blog as a medium - if the blogger keeps it free of commercial influence - is still an independent voice (and eyes and ears).

I think you may be right about "the most revolutionary" product of the internet, which is really saying something.