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With their recent claiming of the National League’s best record, albeit for day, the national news media is finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the Padres. On the Internet especially.

Pitching gets the most web ink (OK, all of it), but whatever works. FoxSports.com, SI.com and Yahoo have all paid much closer attention to San Diego baseball this season, but ESPN.com has been especially interested the last two weeks. Obsessed, actually.

ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark got the ball rolling May 31 with a tabbing of Jake Peavy as his first third of the season Cy Young winner, if there is such a thing. But stay tuned.

In just the first 10 days of June, ESPN.com has run no less than five articles with the Padres as either the sole focus, or one of several key subjects. Bret Saberhagen look-alike Jerry Crasnick has written three all by his lonesome.

On June 1, five days before Trevor Hoffman notched save number 500, Crasnick wrote a piece about an ESPN.com poll, which asked 62 baseball writers whether or not they’d vote for Hoffman the Hall of Fame, if the election were held today. While 58 said yes, ESPN.com columnist Jim Caple said this:

Oh, I may vote for Trevor Hoffman. But if so, it will be the same way I voted for Michael Dukakis — not very enthusiastically.

Crasnick wrote another piece entitled “Changeup is the key to Hoffman’s success” the very next day. On June 5, Crasnick posted yet another piece, and a rather long one, on Jake Peavy. 1,289 words long, to be precise, which I suppose explains why Crasnick missed two days of fawning all over the Padres.

Not playing favorites with the writers, ESPN.com also posted an ESPN The Magazine piece by Whitney Pastorek June 5. Subject: the Giles brothers.

And yesterday, Buster Olney chimed in with an article of his own about Hoffman.

It’s nice that someone, someplace prominent gets that major league baseball actually is played west of the Mississippi. And I have a theory about “East Coast Bias.” First of all, it absolutely does exist. Second, it’s senseless because sports play is not better on the East Coast. What a ridiculous idea. But it’s really more a case of laziness than bias, particularly with baseball.

Writers watch the teams they cover at night, file their stories, and hit the sack the second the 11 p.m. EST SportsCenter says so. The guys with initiative catch a morning showing to get up to speed on West Coast action, but most just check the box scores, if that. By October, they’ve slept through an entire season of the national pastime.

Since it’s really more about laziness than bias, what do you say we change the name. Instead of “East Coast Bias,” let’s call it “East Coast Lazy.”

— HOWARD COLE

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