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Posted: May 24, 2011 6:29 p.m.

The national media can be clueless too

It’s all quiet on the local front and the world didn’t end Saturday so I’ve decided to go after a national juggernaut and give the Newton County School System a break.

I want ESPN. Sorry. I had planned for Armageddon and not a paper today so I had to think of something to write about. So after checking out ESPN’s most recent Major League Baseball power rankings piece, it’s time to hold bad journalism accountable and call out the national media’s bias for everything East Coast.

In the piece, the rankings had Cleveland No. 1, which is fine, because the Indians have the best record in baseball and have been amazingly consistent so far in 2011. The biggest head scratchers were moving the Boston Red Sox from 16th to third and dropping the San Francisco Giants from fourth to seventh. The Red Sox have won 9 of 10 and certainly deserved to move up. But the Giants have won five straight, just completed their third consecutive home sweep and fourth in six series and have the second-best record in the National League (third overall) while playing 10 more road games than home (most of any club so far). There’s no way they should have dropped to seventh and certainly no way to move the Red Sox above them, unless it’s blind East Coast coverage.

The East Coast bias has been a topic for debate for longer than I’ve been a sports writer and while many in the East want to deny it, there’s evidence to support it. How else can you explain why Boston was getting as much coverage when they started the season poorly and why the Red Sox are it getting now that they’re playing well? How else can you explain why everyone picked Philadelphia to beat the Giants in last year’s National League Championship Series — many of whom stuck with their picks when given the chance to switch even when the Giants led the series 3-1? Of course the Yan

The media world has turned lazy. I’ll give you an example. The Giants completed a sweep of the A’s with a walk-off 5-4 win Sunday to secure their third straight home sweep. But the lead story on ESPN’s MLB page was the Cubs-Red Sox game. I get the Cubs hadn’t been to Fenway Park in a long time and those are two old teams that play in historic ball parks and all that. But Sunday’s game was a stinker compared to the Giant’s walk-off win and shouldn’t have been the lead. Here’s another example. At the time I wrote this piece, the five main stories on ESPN’s baseball page were Yanks top Mets, Utley to return to the Phillies, Mets ownership story, Cleveland Indians top power rankings and Red Sox top Cubs. Need I say more?

The direction at ESPN isn’t clear. Does it want to be a sports news or entertainment network? The network news coverage is decent and shows like "Baseball Tonight" do their due diligence. But the news editing on its website is terrible for a national network. A snub in a meaningless power rankings article is one thing. It’s embarrassing but harmless. But continuing to feature lesser news on the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies shows a lack of news judgment. Of those stories I listed above, the only one with some weight might be the Chase Utley story. He’s a pretty big name and his return is a big deal. But it’s only a big deal because it’s Philadelphia. The biggest West Coast story in baseball over the weekend was that L.A. police arrested a suspect in the Brian Stow (Giants fan who was beaten opening day by some Dodgers fans). The only reason that story made headlines is because it was crime.

This isn’t about one team over another. In this instance, the Red Sox are hot, too, and deserving of some pub. But they were getting pub when they were struggling, too. They get the pub no matter what. Just like the Phillies, Yankees and Mets. But teams like the Giants, A’s, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners don’t get it and never will. It doesn’t bother me from a fan’s perspective. It bothers me from a journalist’s perspective. It’s bad coverage. You cover the story with the most news value. In sports, you cover the best team. That’s why I cover Eastside football and Newton basketball as much as I do. That’s the story.

Look, I can understand the casual Braves fan not know/appreciating a team like the Giants. I had more than one person around the community ask me "who’s that skater-looking kid with the shaggy hair?" after Tim Lincecum mowed down the Braves with 14 strikeouts in Game 1 of last year’s NLDS (to which I replied, he’s just a two-time Cy Young award winner with the best stuff in the game). That’s fine. But national media members (and I use media loosely because many of them are former athletes) should know better. For the national media to act dumb is inexcusable.

kees and Mets get tons of coverage, too. And because the power of our nation’s media resides in New York — in the Eastern time zone, that’s what the nation’s time zone is going to be. A 7:30 p.m. baseball game between the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers starts at 10:30 p.m. for us in the East. Not many people outside of myself are staying up to listen to those games on the radio or watch them on TV. The national media goes to bed once everything on the East Coast is done.

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