In deference to fan fatigue with saturation coverage of a certain former Green Bay Packer quarterback, I will not dwell on that topic. What I have to say on the matter can be found at the end of this column. While it is still summer, I want to focus instead on a perennial summer complaint -- the charge of East Coast bias in ESPN's coverage of Major League Baseball.
Five summers ago, in ESPN's pre-ombudsman era, the existence of East Coast bias was debated on ESPN.com by several Page 2 columnists, including West Coaster Eric Neel (in the affirmative) and East Coaster Jeff Merron (in the negative). There was a Sports Nation poll, apparently still open (it registered my vote as the 43,094th), indicating widespread belief (70.5 percent) that "media coverage of sports is slanted toward the east."
For a good-humored approach to the rancorous subject, I recommend a trip to those archived 2003 stories. From me, you are going to get a no-fun-at-all look at the subject, with wonky charts and statements from some of those responsible for ESPN's baseball coverage. Even so, you will only get a partial, provisional take on the topic, because when I began to research the East Coast bias question, I quickly realized it would take the entire remainder of my term as ombudsman to sort it out adequately.
The first thing I want to note is that complaints about East Coast bias, though still voluminous, are down this summer from last. The slack has been taken up by complaints of East of the Mississippi bias. For every traditional complaint like this one -- "I realize that the Yankees and Red Sox are the only teams the baseball gods truly love, but for the love of Kevin Costner, give the Angels some respect!" -- I get two like this -- "I am sick and tired of seeing only the Cubs on ESPN's baseball coverage. It's either the Red Sox vs. Yankees or the Cubs vs. someone." Or this: "If you're west of the Mississippi, you don't exist."
Confusing the bias picture, though, are complaints like this one from a St. Louis Cardinals' fan: "It's still East Coast, West Coast, Everyone Else."
On the evidence of my mailbag, the regional center of bias this season keeps shifting, day to day, week to week. When slugger Manny Ramirez moved from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers last month, the spotlight of East Coast bias seemed to cross the country with him, although Dodger manager Joe Torre, whose departure from the Yankees last year was accompanied by several "End of an Era" "SportsCenter" specials, seemed to escape the big beam in LA.
Edited by ickerfan567, August 31, 2008 - 02:01 PM.