Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Revisiting A-Rod

I normally steer clear of controversial issues, for a few reasons:

- I hate debating against stubborn people, and nothing gets them started like a controversial issue.
- Strong opinions tend to make others like you less.
- As David Sklansky has written, a debate becomes controversial precisely because both sides have a good point. If this were not the case, one side would have already won the debate.

Anyway, I probably went too far with my post on A-Rod's distraction of the Blue Jays' defense. For one thing, I was not aware of the rule that a runner is not allowed to intentionally distract a fielder. (Primarily because SportsCenter never mentioned this.) When I played baseball as a youth, it was common for the runners and fielders to distract one another, and I just considered it part of the game. One coach actually encouraged us to shout out "pop up" when an opposing player attempted a steal. This usually confused the runner long enough for him to be thrown out.

I wasn't trying to defend A-Rod's actions, even if it may have seemed that way. The focus of my post was not on the legality of the action, but that ESPN spends way too much time analyzing everything that a New York Yankees superstar does. This is nothing new, of course; the majority of ESPN's coverage of steroid use in major pro sports focuses on an athlete who has never tested positive for a banned substance, while a convicted cheater gets put on the cover of ESPN Magazine.

In a world where people are more concerned with what Paris Hilton is wearing than the most recent Supreme Court ruling, it's hard to single out the world's largest sports network for catering to a crowd that thinks the Yankees are the only team in the league. But it's still too bad they can't focus on what's going on in Cleveland, or San Diego, or Phoenix. Those cities all have young, exciting squads that are right in the thick of the playoff hunt--unlike a certain Bronx-based team--but are flying under the radar right now.

If Cleveland meets Arizona in the World Series, it may be the lowest rated Fall Classic of all time, but it may also be the most exciting. If you've never heard of Chris Young, or Jhonny Peralta, or Orlando Hudson, learn their names now before you hear them in October.

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