This isn’t specifically Midwest-related, but I found it to be pretty interesting.
Bengie Molina, the catcher for the San Francisco Giants, wrote a blog post yesterday at his Behind the Mask blog taking ESPN to task for mocking his slow running. (Note: I didn’t see this section of SportsCenter, so I’m going off of how Molina described the segment.)
Essentially, Molina calls out ESPN for sophomorically making fun of his Konerko-like speed around the basepaths and ignoring other aspects of the game like a strong start by Matt Cain and Nate Schierholtz’s first home run of the season.
I’ve ruminated on this for a good 30-45 minutes now since first reading it and have come to the following “conclusion”: I sympathize with your point Bengie, but dude, get a sense of humor.
Here is an excerpt from Molina’s post:
Until recently, I had thought of ESPN as a network run by professionals who know sports. I thought the people at ESPN, because they focus only on sports, actually understood the game and what pro athletes do to reach the highest level of their sport.
Look, you can say I’m the slowest guy in baseball or in all of sports or in the entire world. I don’t take issue with that because I AM the slowest guy. I have always been the slowest guy. I can’t challenge that criticism. But ESPN’s intention was not to criticize but to humiliate.
As our regular readers (both of them) know, I am rarely quick to defend ESPN or say anything nice about them. In fact, I abhor a lot of what I see at ESPN now; case in point: the unnecessary and always ill-timed LeBron-to-NY obsession.
But in this case, I just can’t jump on the bash ESPN bandwagon.
Part of the reason why, admittedly, is probably self-serving. I engage in a lot of sports figure mockery here on MSF so it would be highly disingenuous of me to call out ESPN for something similar. We always try to not to go over any of the nebulously defined lines of good taste (unless, of course, it involves ARod, Purdue, the Cubs, or Jay Mariotti, in which case good taste can be damned) and we mock ourselves just as much as we mock sports figures.
And this is where I think ESPN can stand on relatively strong footing.
Bengie Molina makes it sound like ESPN is vicious and purposefully wants to humiliate he and his fellow athletes. I don’t think this is true at all. ESPN simply wants to entertain. Clearly this is both a strength and a weakness for the WWL, and you can argue whether they balance entertainment and pure sports coverage well; however, I don’t think accusing them of malevolent intentions is really warranted.
While they will show a slow-as-molasses runner like Bengie Molina with “Chariots of Fire” playing in the background (which is funny, if you have a sense of humor), they also mock themselves in their always entertaining commercials. ESPN certainly takes itself too seriously in a lot of ways, but their commercials and the self-deprecation that we often hear from their hosts at least makes them an equal opportunity mocker.
I don’t really have a problem with it.
Someone else who obviously does have a problem with it is Henry Schulman, who writes the Giants Splash blog for SFGate.com. I’ve never met Schulman and I know nothing about him. After reading his article though, my first thought was to wonder when the last time he laughed might have been.
Here is an excerpt from Schulman’s post on ESPN’s “inexcusable” mocking of Bengie Molina:
…or a network that considers itself the worldwide leader, that is a partner of Major League Baseball, such a showing was inexcusable.
The media don’t have to like certain players. They can criticize players, but to show that kind of disrespect to a player such as Molina, who has been a Major League catcher for more than 12 seasons, who owns a World Series ring, who shepherds what might be the best starting rotation in baseball, is beyond belief.
My goodness. I’m beginning to think ESPN would have been better off showing an image of the prophet Muhammad.
Bengie Molina is obviously entitled to his opinion, and I applaud him for doing what many athletes will not do: candidly express it in a forum that reaches fans. I understand why he’s upset and frustrated with ESPN, I just don’t share his viewpoint.
Yes, baseball is a business, but at its heart, baseball is a game. And games are meant to be fun. A little good natured ribbing – I think it was good natured, you may disagree, as Molina and Schulman obviously did – about a notoriously slow guy’s speed is fun for the majority of fans. In fact, I think it helps Joe Six-Pack, like me, relate to a guy like Molina and even appreciate what he has accomplished on the field more.
But I’m just one person with one opinion. What do you think? Was ESPN over line the having some fun/mocking Bengie Molina’s speed? Do blogs like MSF go overboard in the same way? Sound off below.
Update: A reader on Digg posted a link to the YouTube video. Here is the segment in question. It doesn’t change my opinion at all. The slow clap thing at the end is just kind of dumb, but more humiliating for the fool clapping than Molina.
* – Bengie Molina photo credit: Flickr.com