I’m gonna walk you folks through a 30-minute portion of my day today. As I left the office for lunch, I turned on the radio. Not having satellite radio, and not wanting to listen to the crap on 99 percent of the FM stations these days, I turned on the AM frequency and decided to listen to some sports talk. You may be saying to yourself, ‘You idiot. Why would you do such a thing? I have no sympathy for you.’ I understand. But please stay with this post anyway.
Around noon here in Chicago, you have two options for lunchtime sports talk. The first is Mike Murphy on The Score. Listening to Murphy is like being transported in a time machine: his show is full of what other hosts on the station mockingly call ‘old radio bits’; he uses strange, old-timey sound effects and drops; and to top it all off, he’s as annoying as he is stupid. His co-workers openly dislike him. The only thing he is interested in is Cubs baseball, he talks about it approximately 90 percent of the time, and he consistently proves that he is clueless about everything else in the world of sports (i.e., a few years ago he famously claimed that the Bulls shouldn’t re-acquire Ron Artest because he ‘wasn’t a good defensive player’). Also, being a White Sox fan, I like to go without hearing about Ryan Theriot’s VORP or Jim Hendry’s decision to call up Johnny Whogivesashit instead of Ricky Suckmynuts when I’m trying to find a place to eat lunch. “Murph” is the kind of guy who would do two hours of Cubs talk the day before the Bears played in the Super Bowl.
So that leaves me with ESPN Radio. Usually during this time, Mike Tirico–who I enjoy for the most part–is on. But I forgot that this is Masters week, and Tirico is at Augusta National covering the first major of the year. So standing in for Tirico are Michelle Tafoya and Erik Kuselias. The duo’s first topic while I was listening was about the dreaded ‘east coast bias’ (ECB). While Tafoya tried valiently to speak to Kuselias as if he had a human, working brain, Erik wouldn’t have it.
Not only would he not admit that there was even such a thing as ECB, but he even asked for proof of such a thing. When told that only five–FIVE–of ESPN’s nationally televised baseball games this season did not involve an East Coast team, he said that was because those teams were the ‘most interesting’. Tafoya countered by bringing up the Dodgers and their new manager Joe Torre and the Angels and their new and improved ballclub. Kuselias wouldn’t have it, instead continuing to insist that the Yankees and Red Sox were just the ‘best and most interesting’ teams.
Talk then turned to the NBA MVP race. While discussing tonight’s New Orleans-LA Lakers game and its effect on both the MVP race and the playoff push, Kuselias said that the player who played better tonight–Kobe Bryant or Chris Paul–would have to be the frontrunner for the award. When Michelle played devil’s advocate and brought up Kevin Garnett, Kuselias said that was a good point, and that Bryant or Paul should be the West Conference MVP and Garnett should be the East Conference MVP, and then the voters should decide from there.
Let me first go back and tackle the ECB issue. The fact that Kuselias continually said that the Yankees and the Red Sox are the ‘best and most interesting’ teams goes a long way towards proving the existence of an ECB. Some may say he was just saying those things to get a rise out of his audience, something a lot of sports talk radio hosts do all the time. But not me. I truly think he believes that everyone thinks like him, that the Red Sox and Yankees are the most interesting teams in the sport. Also, this view is representative of everyone at ESPN as well as many of the douchebag Red Sox and Yankee fans that get torched in the interwebs on a daily basis. They really don’t understand that we (speaking for all non-Boston and New York fans) are sick and tired of the whole Red Sox-Yankees thing and have been for a minimum of four years, and that every time those teams start off SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight and 10 minutes of each of those shows’ telecasts features in-depth analysis of those two teams (not to mention the national telecasts of about 50 percent of the two teams’ games), the rest of us get more and more turned off. In turn, we get less interested in the whole thing. Not only are those two teams not the most interesting teams in baseball, the oversaturation of the coverage of the teams has made the rest of us immune to the rivalry. I am not the least bit interested in Boston-New York anymore. I’d much rather hear some analysis about how the Diamondbacks are doing or if Erik Bedard is going to push the Mariners to the top of the AL West.
The other thing about the ECB argument that caught my attention is that he kept referring to the Yankees and the Red Sox as ‘the best’ teams. I will grant him the Red Sox; they are the most successful franchise of the past five years. But the Yankees haven’t won a title since 2000. Sure, they are consistently in the playoffs and more often than not win their division. But here are the list of teams that have won the title since the Yankees (besides previously mentioned Boston): Arizona, Anaheim, Florida, Chicago White Sox, and St. Louis. The D-Backs have been consistently competitive since their title in 2001. The Angels, like I wrote earlier, are one of the most compelling stories in baseball this year and have been a contender since their title. The White Sox have had one sub-.500 season since the late 90s. And St. Louis boasts one of the most rabid fan bases in sports to go along with an always competitive club. So why don’t those teams get as much coverage as the Red Sox and Yankees? Why does Kuselias consider his teams to be the ‘best and most interesting’? Its ridiculously east coast-centric.
Now, as for the NBA MVP race, let me say one thing: if anyone reading this post doesn’t think that Chris Paul, LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant should win the award, I want you to turn off your computer and watch some NBA basketball before talking about the sport. Anyone who has paid ANY amount of attention to the league this year knows that CP3 is the best choice, followed closely by either King James or Kobe (I think Kobe is getting a lot of lifetime achievement votes, and he’s my third choice). But here was Kuselias today, claiming that (Boston player, mind you) Garnett is one of the top two choices for the award. I’m not going to argue that Garnett hasn’t been the most important part of the biggest turnaround in NBA history; but he missed 10 games. How can the league MVP miss an eighth of the season? Especially when you have guys like Paul up for the award, a guy who has almost single-handedly transformed the Hornets from a sub-.500 lottery team to the best team in the most competitive conference in NBA history? Or how about the suddenly easy-to-deny LeBron, who is playing with NO HELP and one of the worst coaches in the league, and still putting up 30-8-7-2 on average?
Seriously. Erik Kuselias needs to stop it. Just go away. Maybe its my fault for even listening.