Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Wait, Something's Wrong.

Something's missing... everything's so silent... peaceful... quiet. Wait, I know what it is. It's the sound of Max Kellerman not trumpeting how great Derek Jeter is after yesterday's walk-off homer. I never thought I'd miss that, and not exactly sure that I do now, but it's noticeably abscent today. Nostalgia be damned, I'm sure he's off on vacation in Asia somewhere, desperately trying to make his cab driver admit Jeter is the best shortstop in the game.

Is that East Coast Bias?

This strikes a nerve with me because in a recent fantasy baseball draft, I was accused of being the "poster-boy for East Coast Bias" after drafting Manny Ramírez, David Ortiz, Pedro Martínez, and Edgar Rentería. I admit, I have a bias towards the Red Sox (since I grew up watching them!), but why should anyone, from any region, apologize for that? I am, in fact, the Poster-Boy for team allegiances that were forged in my youth. Yes. Even though I happily moved away from New England 16 years ago, those allegiances are still encoded in my DNA. No matter how passé Wilbon thinks it for me to hate the Yanks, I will continue to stereotypically do so.

But how is that different from any other rivalry? Here in San Francisco, the ancient New York rivalry of Giants/Dodgers began again yesterday and I saw so many "Beat L.A. Shirts" (a phrase coined by Celtics fans in the 80's! -East Coast Bias!). Even though that rivalry has taken on it's own Northern Cal/Southern Cal meaning that most people across the country don't understand, it still lacks the competitive intensity that sends the ratings through the roof when the Sox and Yanks meet. Most people watch the Sox/Yanks like I watch NASCAR or women's gymnastics. -They just want to see people wreck themselves, a donnybrook, Zimmer eat grass, etc. You don't get that when the Giants/Dodgers, Cubs/Cards, etc. play.

Actually, I was at the Giants game last year when Michael Tucker and Eric Gagne squared off on the field and it was the single most non-chemically induced thrill I've ever witnessed at SBC Park. -And it went a long way to further the rivalry (would have been even better if anyone on the Giants cared to back up Tucker). After the game, it was all we talked about. That's what brings in the ratings, the "Bird vs. Magic, never-back-down, it's more than a game" intensity.

Monday, Wilbon said he might get jumped wearing his Cubs jersey in St. Louis. Not likely. Maybe in East St. Louis, but that would have nothing to do with what you're wearing. I've been to Cardinals games in Busch stadium and the fans there are painfully nice (Mormon nice!), just as they are throughout the Midwest. -Which is not to say they should be more like the Sox/Yanks fans. -I wouldn't wish that upon any city. In fact, I've always said the only people who make obnoxious Sox fans look good is obnoxious Yankee fans. I certainly do not miss that at all in San Francisco.

I'm not saying an East Coast Bias doesn't exist. In the sportswriters college polls? -Yes (like there is for Notre Dame football, not on the east coast). In listening to blow-hards talk about Jeter and Joe Namath? -Definitely. And it does bother me, hearing Tone Def, a sportswriter, say he won't stay up to watch the Giants/Angels World Series (which was great, for all those who missed it) because it's on too late. But I will also point out, I've never heard a phrase, since its introduction, more over-used by sports fans not on the East Coast.
"It's not that we didn't win a Championship, it's the media! -and East Coast Bias! -and the French Free Masons! -and the Trilateral Commission! They all conspire to put only the East Coast teams in the championship because of ratings! Waaa! God-damn ESPN for broadcasting the Sox/Yankees and collecting those high ratings! They should be showing the Brewers!"
The idea of an East Coast Bias is fairly recent. Isn't it strange that it didn't exist when UCLA was winning all those college basketball championships, and when the Lakers won 5 championships in the 80's? And how in the world did USC football ever overcome it to win back-to-back football championships?

Bottom line is, we all have biases, that's what makes us fans. Objectivity in sports simply doesn't exist; oil & water. So, if sportswriters have been conditioned to favor the SEC in football, the ACC in basketball, and the Sox vs. the Yanks, it's probably because they've been competitive for a while. Is it annoying to listen to Billy Packer swoon over Duke? T to the K trumpet the Sox/Yanks? Absolutely. But because those teams are competitive, it makes sense.

With that behind us (how's this for East Coast Bias?), the Sox are screwed! If it's true what they always say, pitching wins championships, we will not win. They definitely have all the bats they need, but 'Drew's right. Boomer Wells as #2?! What... the... fuck?! It would have been nice if we landed Hudson or Mulder. Now all we can do is wait for whatever mid-season acquisition Theo can brew up. Until then, we tread water and think about last year.


btw, which one of those players would you like me to drop to dispell that shameful East Coast Bias perception? MVP candidates Ramírez and Ortiz? All-Star Edgar Rentería? Or 3 time Cy Young award winner Pedro Martínez?



At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're probably right, but still as a Cardinals fan, I get REALLY sick and tired of hearing about the Yanks and the Sox seemingly all the time. I just don't care if Jason Varitek shoved A-Rod.

And it reached its height of annoyance for me during the LCS last year, when the Cards and the Astros were having a pretty good LCS themselves but until the Sox finally disposed of the Yanks, the NL was an afterthought. ESPN would have something like 5 ALCS headlines for every 1 NLCS headline. It just got a little maddening.

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will mention one thing, and one only. Remember when the Rangers won the cup back in '94 or whatever...that shit was forced down the throat of everyone in the country. They were on MTV's beach house of all things. Bodi in San Diego couldn't care less, and wouldn't recognize any of those guys, but I guess it was such a monumental occasion that the euphoria must have leaked out beyond the sports world. I'm still waiting for the Colorado Avalanche to make their appearance after winning the cup from a few years ago.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

I remember hearing about the Rangers "not having won it in twenty-so years...", but I can't say it was forced into my exhisence, other that seeing that cro-mag Messier do Doritos commercials. Then again, I don't follow the hockey that much. I have no doubt, as you say, that everyone in that beach house was throughly confused, as they should be.

Matt, can I borrow your M-TV Beach House video tape? -Just so I know you're not making this up? I promise to promptly return it to your library.

It does suck that ESPN would back-burner the Cards/Astros series last year, because it was really good. I do think ESPN is the main offender, if there is a bias. Maybe it's because they're based in Connecticut, or just that, in an effort to promote ratings, they tend towards the already established rivalries.

Honestly, I was upset they burried last Sunday's women's Final Four games, which both were fantastic comebacks, behind: 1. A positive steroid test in baseball, and 2. The Yankees blow-out of the Sox to open the season.

Still, any team that comes back to win a series after being down 3-0, is a big story, regardless of where they're from. It just happened to be the Sox against the Yanks. If it was the Cardinals, do you really think we would have forgotten it due to lack of exposure by now?

At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you remember the ESPY's (which quite possibly could be the much ridiculous awards show). The entire Rangers team processed from the back of the venue, with jerseys on, like they were royalty, deity, whatever. Give me a break. I think the reason I do remember it so much is because I caught myself thinking, "who the hell are these guys, and why are they getting so much attention?" Just let me ask this. Do you think the Giants, after 50+ years of futility, get the same treatment if they win the World Series?
PS - MTV was very important to me at the time. We had just gotten cable television, and they were actually showing music videos!

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Drew said...

As a Ranger fan, I just want to clear a few things up; It was 54 years without a title and there were all kinds of close calls and cursed events.

I think that's what makes for a good sports story. It's much more interesting for a team to finish 2nd for 20 years and then win then it is for a team to win out of nowhere like the Florida Marlins. Also, teams that have just moved (Colorado Avalanche, Baltimore Ravens) aren't as interesting because no one grew up watching them in that city.

The reason that people wouldn't care as much if the Giants won is that half of that 'futility' was 3000 miles away and most New York Giants fans are dead or have switched their allegiance to the Yankees. Same thing with the Dodgers.

So I don't think the Rangers hoopla was a matter of bias as much as being the only interesting non-Gretzky related thing that's happened in hockey in 30 years or so.

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Drew said...

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