An Open Letter to ESPN

July 20, 2009

To Whom It May Concern,

This letter is to address the egregious transgressions made by you (ESPN) against the sporting community and to television journalism in general.

My motivation to write this letter came after watching an episode of Mike & Mike in the Morning a few weeks ago.  The two sportscasters spent nearly 20 minutes discussing the tabloid scandal involving Roger Clemens and country singer, Mindy McCready.  I had to squint my way through your A.D.D-inducing news bar to obtain the scores and stats of the previous night’s NHL games. It was this disparity between gossip and fact that made me lose my mind.  You have, over the course of a few short years, devolved from sports reporting to sports-based entertainment.

You are now the TMZ of sports journalism.

This is not to say Mike & Mike is evil at its core.  I understand that it would be difficult having to fill in a three-hour time slot every morning with pertinent content.  But if that is the case, then don’t put them on the air for three hours!  The line between your filler and your content has been blurred significantly.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a way to financial success.  Selling out is a great way to make money.  Ask MTV.  They’ve made boatloads of cash by slowly but surely inching their way to the lowest common denominator.  Instead of remaining true to their original vision, a medium where artists can visually express their music, they instead became the flagship station for cramming garbage-culture down the throats of American adolescents.  The result: a bunch of douche-bag guys who wear straw pork-pie hats because someone from that station decided they look stylish, and a legion of girls who are so dumb that they think pork-pie hats look cool on those guys.  It’s because MTV put those types of people on TV and made them famous.  They should be commended.  It takes a lot of effort to be that shallow

With this in mind, you should at least make an informed decision on whether or not you are going to sell your soul.  I implore you though; don’t create more demand for pork-pie hats.

Now I understand that no one likes a complainer.  So let me instead offer a few solutions:

1) Slash your set-designer’s budget.  It looks like SportsCenter is being broadcast from the Command Center of the Starship Enterprise.

This reduction in kilowatt-hours will save the station money.  With these savings, the revenue generated from the Budweiser Hot Seat would not be as necessary and you can eliminate it.  We don’t need to hear what Seth Rogen’s thoughts are on the NBA Playoffs.

2) Stop updating us on what Shaq is saying on Twitter.  We get it.  He’s incorrigible.  I only know 3 people who consider themselves fans of the NBA anyway.

3) Free up some time on the 60 minute SportsCenter broadcast by only doing 40 minutes of Baseball analysis as opposed to the normal 52.  Baseball is not that complicated.  Throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball, throw the ball, repeat.  Oh, the Dodgers used a sacrifice bunt to defend against the cut-off play?  Great.  Did someone hit a ball with a bat?  That’s what I thought.

4) While we’re on baseball, you need to make up your mind on the whole steroid thing.  You should either be so indignant at these cheaters that you won’t show highlights of players who have tested positive for the drug or you should completely turn a blind eye and finally let Kenny Lofton bulk up to about 273 pounds so he can win the homerun derby.

5) I realize that the NFL is your cash cow and you will make any sacrifice to please your dark master (remember how you slit the throat of your wildly popular Playmakers series at their behest?), but at some point you’re going to have to grow a pair and stand-up to them.  If you don’t, they’ll act like an abusive boyfriend for the rest of your days.  Here’s a starting point: cease production of “Madden Nation.”  This show is about as far away from a sport as humanly possible.  It’s a bunch of un-athletic, overly aggressive, chin-strap-having, Devin Hester-jersey-wearing bastards playing an XBOX video game for months at a time.  Those people have nothing to offer society with the exception of a timely and inexpensive funeral.

6) Apparently there are only 6 sports writers in the entire United States that are worthy to be on Around the Horn.  Woody Paige, Jay Mariotti, Tim Cowlishaw, J.J. Adante, Kevin Blackistone and Jackie MacMullan all look gassed right now.  Let’s get a line change, coach.  Bring in a newspaper writer from another city.  Maybe someone with a lower voice.

7) The amount of people that actually care about horse racing is probably close to the amount of people who don’t know what a table is for.  I think the only thing almost all Americans can agree upon is that we don’t need 13 hours of coverage for the Preakness.  It’s a minute and a half race.  With the operational savings here, we can focus in on covering the more obscure fringe sports that only a few people in the world watch; namely hockey, soccer, cricket and rugby.

8) Viewers would appreciate it if Mike Wilbon stopped name-dropping while on Pardon the Interruption.  It makes us feel insignificant. Here’s a dramatization of every episode:

Tony Kornheiser (loudly): Is Kobe now the best basketball player in the world?

Mike Wilbon (yelling): Look, I know Kobe.  I know him well.  I went to his birthday party.  We had cake and he smushed some in my face!  It’s like he’s my wife but he’s a guy!  And he is absolutely the best player in the league.

Tony Kornheiser (shouting):  Could you make a case for Lebron James?

Mike Wilbon (wailing) : Well, I love Lebron.  I know Lebron.  I know what he’s capable of because he picked me up from the airport once!  He didn’t even have to!  He just did it because we’re friends!  Like best friends!

Tony Kornheiser (screaming):  Turning to Chinese Women’s Gymnastics, is Yang Yilin a lock for the next Summer games?

Mike Wilbon (shrieking): Listen, Yang is like a daughter to me.  She’s like an adopted Asian daughter.  I was at an opium den with Yang last August.  I know she’s like 14 and it was inappropriate to bring her there, but whatever.  We had a really great time until the Chinese government locked us up.  I spent 6 days in a Mandarin prison with Yang drinking rainwater from a broken down-spout and eating rats for sustenance!  We both got dysentery!  So if she can make it through that, she can make it onto the Women’s Team.

9) Mel Kiper…get a freaking life, dude.  There is more to this world than the NFL Draft.  Your entire existence is based around one day of the year.  You’re like the Punxsutawney Phil of ESPN.  You wait for a year before you show your face and then when you do, people care for about 3 hours.  And then, back to the hole.

This list is only a starting point.  Please, for the sake of our children, repent.  I am not alone in my opinions either.  Check Twitter.  I’ll bet Shaq agrees with me.  He hates pork-pie hats.

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