Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty...

Sweet zombie Jesus! Just when I thought the baseball media couldn't get any more inane or insulting than the pin-heads currently running the show at Tribune Tower, I had the misfortune to chance upon this today.

This week's Baseball Weekly's cover story is a profile of Alex Rodriguez by Jorge L. Ortiz (couldn't find a link, sorry). Here are the first two paragraphs in his piece:
In Alex Rodriguez's latest national TV ad, he looks behind him to find a youngster shadowing his every move at third base. The scene soon turns into a crowd of kids who appear to come from different countries.

The ad's theme is open to interpretation, but it would be easy to draw a parallel with A-Rod's first few years in New York: looking over his shoulder, feeling crowded, concerned about what might be lurking behind him.

So it's come to this...our media's obsession with A-Rod's mental state has grown to the point that they're parsing his TV ads looking for clues.

I'm no mind-reader, or psychologist, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest just what that theme might be: the company Rodriguez is shilling for (and Ortiz never indicates which company that is, or exactly why those kids are "lurking" behind the third baseman) wants to sell an ass-load of product, and think that using Rodriguez will help them sell it.

I'm old enough to remember when sports reporters would tell you what happened on the field and why it happened that way. The pursuit of grander themes or deeper motivations were the parlance of Roger Angell or Roger Kahn. Nowadays, not even the highlight shows will tell you what actually happened in a particular game, unless someone hit a home run.

Nowadays, it's all about feeding the 24-hour news cycle. And that means focussing on stupid crap like A-Rod's latest commercial in a weak attempt to uncover deeper motivations or grander themes.

The difference between the guys peddling this stuff and Angell & Kahn -- Angell & Kahn could write. The vast majority of today's baseball media -- typists, rehashing the same scripts over and over.

Angell, Kahn, and others made baseball journalism something worthwhile, something fun and interesting to read. Now, thirty years on, it's a shambles. As the poet Shelley once said:

Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Despair, indeed...

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