So, lemme get this straight... Arod and his satanic agent Scott Boras destroyed the sanctity of our national pastime by releasing a press release a day early.
Every part of this controversy is patently and abjectly absurd. First, the convention that "no baseball news shall be announced during the World Series" is both completely arbitrary and entirely outdated. This isn't 1975, and sports coverage isn't limited to the last five minutes of the local news, the weekly arrival of the The Sporting News at the library and last night's boxscores.
If we have room for endless stories about Jason Varitek's moxie, Jonathan Papelbon's dancing and "Manny being Manny", we can make room for news regarding other people on other teams. Quite frankly -- there's a ruined phrase -- the abstract imagined community of "baseball" should be happy there's already a little hot stove action, considering this has been the most boring post-season in living memory. Out of seven series, five were sweeps and another ended in four games. Moreover, Game Four of a 3-0 World Series is certainly no more sacred than Game Seven of the ALCS was, during which the mostly pointless "Paul Byrd used HGH" story was briefly treated as a matter of vital importance. Remember, this is the same group of rich guys that floated the idea of contraction shortly after the 2001 World Series for nothing but dishonorable reasons. Going further, anything special about the World Series has already been by extra playoff rounds and interleague play.
Unwritten rules dictate that a three-day news cycle about Jonathan Papelbon's maniacal dancing is acceptable during the World Series, but any discussion of the contract status of the best player in the game and one of the ten best players ever is an affront to the game's dignity.
Second, even if you buy the idea that the days hosting a World Series are sacred, magical and subject to their own rules, a simple fact remains: nobody had to report the story, and they certainly didn't have to have it supposedly upstage anything.
Watching Sportscenter or PTI the last few days has been like something out of experimental French theater, with the whole Arod/Boras storyline emerging with a recursive logic. Somehow, the story was reported with all elements immediately assumed and jumbled together: BoSox win World Series but Arod announcement takes top-billing as selfish player trumps traditional team glory woe to us all and the fallen state of our nation. The top story was about what the top story was. This bit of insanity is straight out of the Bonds-coverage playbook, wherein the media creates a distraction then writes about the distraction and suggests distraction is end of civilization.
- Alex Rodriguez did not storm the field in Denver holding a "opt-out" sign.
- Scott Boras did not invade the FOX booth and hijack the microphone.
- ESPN.com was not hacked by malicious agents who posted a new front page.
- Fox Sports Radio was not jammed by pirate broadcasters who spoke only of Arod.
Its a wonder we even bother at all.
I truly don't know who is out there that responds to this current brand of sports-journalism, the one that only uses the actual games as segues to talk about religion, morality and endless fake controversies. Its as if everyone was disappointed that there wasn't a new choker to fixate on after this lackluster post-season, so they just hurled themselves in a frenzy at a manufactured story involving the most famous one left standing.
Yes, the announcement was in somewhat poor timing and in bad taste. Yes, it had nothing to do with the triumphs of the teams and their players. You can say the same for the endless cross-promoting in the Monday Night Football booth, any sentence that includes the words "steroids" and just about 90% of everything ownership has said in Minnesota, Montreal/Washington and Kansas City the last decade.
The fact is, however, we only need the sports media for one thing: live TV and highlights. With each passing day their ability to set the agenda and control the discourse, thankfully, gets weaker. For the last month, this site and others like it has provided better, deeper, more intelligent, coverage of the Royals than ESPN, the KC Star, or anybody else. Even during the season, we barely even need the mainstream media for post-game quotes anymore, the vast majority of which are inane, cliched, or simply untrue.
British America in 1760 was a prosperous, vibrant, mostly delightful place. In places like Charleston, Boston, New York and Philadelphia an elaborate social structure was in place, which in its own way, was effective and even beautiful. Certainly for the elite, it was a delightful place to grow up, court, marry, raise a family and wear a powdered wig. Still, it was a world that shortly, in fits and starts, would die out. Certain institutions survived, and certain individuals smoothly transitioned from one system to another. Quite a few, much more than we'd like to acknowledge, would hate the changes that would come, and would flee to Canada or back to Britain. Others, took the Bill Simmons route, briefly using the change to grab their own power, then quickly denouncing any further change.
I don't know what sports-journalism will look like in 2017. It will certainly be much more fractured, but I hope it will also be exceedingly more intelligent. The talking heads yelling at you each day about veteran presence and cheaters and chokers are on the losing side of history, whether they get to eat press room buffets or not.