Friday, March 17, 2006

A Media Frenzy

That is what all major sports events are. ESPN did to sports what FOX Netwok News has done to politics: changed it from a thing that existed for itself to a thing that exists for TV. The sound bite and the highlight are really more or less the same thing--the subject's moment in the sun, national exposure that feeds both the ego and the wallet. The congressman with the best quip and the baseball player with the home-run swing, or the basketball player with the best dunk, are really just he same thing. They have encapsulaed, in an easilly digestible bite, the essence of their endeavor. They have attracted the eye, and the attention of a TV producer, with their skills, and having been deemed good enough to get on the air, they can capture the attention of the paying public, which can lead to either a few more votes or perhaps a new shoe contract. I wonder: how many pro-basketball players would rather get their dunk on ESPN then win a game? How many politicians would rather get their soundbite on FOX or CNN then get their bill passed? Just asking.

It's worth noting because I, for one, think the penchant for highlights over fundamentals is one of the many reasons why we, the USA, were so ignominiously dismissed from the World Baseball Classic last night. We got beat by small ball, by teams with great pitching and great defense and great fundamentals; teams that can bunt and run and steal bases and throw strikes and that were strong up the middle. We had some great power hitters in the middle of our lineup against Mexico last night. A lot of good it did us. One of the announcers said that these games looked like games from the sixties, when teams struggled to scratch out one run and let guys like Marichal and Kofax just do their thing. We don't play like that anymore. That is to wimpish and unmanly. We swing for the fences and launch home runs that travel as far as our juiced players can hit the juiced ball. Korea, the only undefeated team in the tournament, has no erors. Think of that. No errors for the tournament. Of course, when you can pick the ten or twelve best pitchers in your country to play for you, most hitters are going to look foolish, even guys with names like Jeter and Damon and "A-Rod." But there are no excuses. We do not play small ball anymore.

We did not deserve to be in this tournament. At least, we did not deserve to be considered contenders. We had to fend off South Africa to advance to advance to the second round. We lost to Canada, to Korea, to Mexico, and by all rights we should have lost to Japan, save for one of the worst calls in the histoy of televized baseball. Honestly, I'm glad Japan advanced. It was just.

And as for the politicians who are playing to their bases, saying outragesous things to get on camera, posing and postulating and pontificating while destroying both civility and statecraft....well, as long as we keep voting for them they'll keep feeding us this garbage.


Post a Comment

<< Home