East coast bias
Posted by mizzou1028 on April 20, 2011
So far in the early going of the baseball season, I have noticed a not so subtle theme to the ESPN baseball broadcast schedule. As usual, it is heavy on Yankees and Red Sox and no one else. Sure, the defending champion Giants got some love in the first Sunday night broadcast of the year, but by and large ESPN is once again operating under the assumption that the Yankees and Red Sox are the only two teams in the league. In doing so they continue to ignore many other teams that are worthy of attention. While there are several teams that deserve more national attention this year (Cleveland and Kansas City have two of MLB’s top five records and even die hard fans can’t name their players), I’m going to put on my hometown hat and bat for the Rockies.
In five years the Rockies have appeared on ESPN exactly one time, and that was when they were in town to play one of the network’s beloved east coast teams, the Mets. Their playoff appearances in the past five years are double the number of times they’ve been on ESPN. The Rockies have the best record in Major League Baseball as of this writing, and yet are not scheduled for a single appearance on the mother ship this season. In Colorado’s case it’s not limited to ESPN. When the Rockies made the World Series in 2007, TBS announcers butchered the pronunciation of Troy Tulowitzki’s name more than once. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the Rox had not been on any national network during the 2007 season. Thus, the announcers were completely unfamiliar with the team when they made the playoffs. While it was comical to watch them fall over themselves and laugh at their clear lack of preparation, it illustrated just how much the national networks don’t care about smaller market teams like the Rockies.
Speaking of Tulowitzki, I am convinced he would be of America’s most popular players if he played in New York or Boston. Because he plays in Colorado, many national pundits don’t appreciate how good he is. When the Rockies re-signed him this offseason to the tune of seven years and $134 million, many national “experts” scoffed at it. They claimed the Rockies wasted money foolishly on a player who is not among the elite. Well, so far this season Tulo is hitting .343 with seven home runs. Albert Pujols has five. Tulo also makes a highlight reel play seemingly every night and is the consummate team leader. I think had Tulowitzki signed that same contract with the Red Sox, it would have been lauded as a great signing by the ESPN folk, but because it’s Colorado they don’t care.
This also has an effect on national fans. An ESPN.com poll asked fans whether the Rockies were smart or foolish in their decisions to re-sign Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. While this seemed like a clear no brainer to me to keep two of MLB’s ten most talented players, more than 60 percent of fans nationally thought the Rockies were making bad decisions to give these young players so much money. I think if these players were on the east coast, national fans would have a much better idea of who Tulo and Cargo are because they would be on ESPN much more often. Because the Rockies are never on, even big baseball fans in other markets aren’t familiar with what these players can do.
I think the national attitude toward the Rockies can best be summed up by an article in a New York newspaper that suggested the Mets could get well against the “weak Rockies” during a four game series last week at Citi Field. The article suggested that the Mets would have easy pickings against Colorado. While this may have true for many years when the Rockies were struggling, times have certainly changed for this franchise in the past five years. The Rockies ended up sweeping the four game series against the Mets in rather emphatic fashion, so perhaps if the Rockies can continue their high level of play they might finally get the respect they deserve. Than again, I’m sure ESPN will treat us to 15 more Yankees games before they decide to grace the Rockies with an appearance.