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TV sports insulting viewers’ intelligence at rapid pace

On Tuesday, from ESPN’s local Stanley Cup Final, studio host Steve Levy broke the news that Willie Mays had passed away.

“The Say Hey Kid is gone. Too soon. Willie Mays passed away tonight at the age of 93.”

Too early? Perhaps Levy had odds of 94 or better on the BetESPN parlay.

I have never been accused of being too brief, but today’s broadcasters seem forced to tell you too much, rather than enough.

Ivan Rodriguez is said to have been a PED user during his playing days, but Mets announcer Gary
Cohen made no mention of the controversy when talking about the Hall of Famer. Reuters

It’s completely disingenuous, as if the audience is too stupid to know any better or doesn’t deserve to know the widely known truth.

The next night, SNY’s Mets-Rangers broadcast kicked off with a biographical segment on former Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Gary Cohen was ecstatic. Oh, that “Pudge” was special!

Yes! Especially after he built Michelin Man muscles and quadrupled his power during the height of Bud Selig’s “Bottom Line” steroid era. Jose Canseco, a name-caller, claimed he injected Rodriguez with steroids when they were teammates.

Rodriguez denies using PEDs, so why not sue Canseco for outrageous defamation?

Did Cohen know nothing about this? So we have to pretend we didn’t either? Why would SNY even air, let alone produce, such an obvious program? To humiliate us?

Cohen, who now identifies pitches the second they come up to bat (an expertise in off-base guesswork that I hear and see often), noted that in the top of the first inning, Mets starting pitcher Sean Manea was oddly “throwing a sinker high in the zone.”

Gary Cohen Robert Szabo (New York Post)

Huh? So his sinker goes where the batter can hit it, rather than where he’ll swing and miss? Interesting!

But locals should be thankful there was a game to watch on Wednesday: The Orioles-Yankees game, featuring Gerrit Cole’s return, was scheduled for pay-per-view, and the Yankees, under manager Rob Manfred, continue to minimize their television audience in order to maximize payouts from viewers unaccustomed to life without Yankees TV coverage.

Doesn’t MLB and its teams realize that deliberately reducing interest means diminishing revenue? Isn’t the low viewership of the All-Star Game, the Where’s Wally playoffs, and the World Series, once must-see events now homogenized and therefore meaningless, a wake-up call? Or is it more that they’re saying, “MLB is doing great, so keep doing what you’re doing?”

But sports and television are more active than ever in counting on us to be stupid. This week, with the news media’s ratings falling ever lower among people who know they’re being fooled, NBC News anchor Lester Holt resumed his role as the Olympics’ publicist for NBC (and now for paid streaming on Peacock), presenting Olympic hype as real news.

NBC News anchor Lester Holt NBC

Meanwhile, the other network news outlets act as if the Olympics don’t exist, except when there’s something ugly to report, and now it’s NBC’s turn to play dumb.

Now we know the scam, why would NBC cast their top news anchor as a hustler selling some nightly magic elixir, when they should ask him to back off and invite disbelief so they don’t again be seen and heard as a toxic home buying shill.

Last week’s NBC/Peacock broadcast of the U.S. Open golf tournament was so bad that co-hosts Dan Hicks and Mike Tirico made us wince with sudden, sharp pains in our ears and pangs of indigestion.

Hicks repeated every golf cliché from last week, from “Brooks Koepka got betrayed by the short stick” to “the ball in the rough.” Hicks and Tirico gave updates on Canadian Olympic golf team hopefuls as if the Open was an Olympic qualifier.

NBC golf announcer Mike Tirico interviews U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau. Jim Dedmon – USA TODAY Sports

And when some fools (probably drunk or gamblers) chanted “USA!” to root for Bryson DeChambeau rather than the foreign-born leaders, the NBC crew went along with it as if DeChambeau was a walking James Cagney singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

And as if we didn’t know DeChambeau was sidelined from the PGA Tour because of the Saudi Arabian government’s oil and blood money, he was paid over $125 million just to show up with his clubs.

And then there was his infamous comment that infuriated the families and friends of the 3,000 people killed by Saudi Arabian terrorists on 9/11: “Nobody is perfect.”

But none of that, nor runner-up Rory McIlroy’s stand in support of the PGA in defiance of DeChambeau and the other players who received the money, was even hinted at in a timid, theatrical NBC voiceover.

Bryson DeChambeau Katie Goodall – USA TODAY Sports

Few were fooled in a tedious attempt to fool everyone with an obviously recorded shot rigged live (or, to borrow NBC’s Olympic slang, a “fake live broadcast”). Or are we to believe that NBC had the foresight to switch to live coverage just as Francisco Molinari, who no one could see during the broadcast, got a hole-in-one on the 17th hole?

And it was clear that the USGA had instructed NBC to refer to the brush, dirt and weeds that make up the rough as “native grasses” — the kind of grass that would cause natives to flee.

But this is the same NBC that in January ordered its entire companies — NBC, MSNBC, USA, CNBC, the SciFi Channel, Breathless Tirico and even the “Today” show — to gleefully celebrate and tout the great news that the Dolphins-Chiefs playoff game would be broadcast exclusively on pay-per-view Peacock, drawing millions fewer viewers than if it had aired on NBC.

Another example of PSL peddler Roger Goodell’s “it’s all about the fans” money-making scheme, with more to come.

Either way, Friday night’s Yankees game, Braves vs. Yankees, has now been sold off as unavailable on Apple TV+. As any boxing referee will teach you, “always protect yourself.” But as a resident of Palookaville, you already know that.

It’s long past bedtime for the NBA

The late-night (for what else? TV revenue) NBA Finals, here at least, resembled an old philosophical question: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?

ESPN continues to encourage you to watch “Sunday Night Baseball,” but hides the game behind distractions that mistake it for an attraction. Reader Keith Marston: “It’s like watching an interview on ‘Fernwood 2 Night,’ the satirical talk show that was an offshoot of the old ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’ series.”

“Connecticut sports right here!” Not available in most of New England, SNY is preparing to rebrand to “Mets UConn Sports Network” given their contract and content.

Baseball also keeps me up late

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred AP

Rob Manfred’s “kids are our number one priority” declaration was on full display Sunday when the Yankees-Red Sox game was played at night on Father’s Day to allow ESPN to broadcast the game for them. Couldn’t MLB have insisted on playing one of the two West Coast games in Arizona?

It’s a small world. Young Thug, currently on trial for racketeering as a Georgia street gang leader, was once a stand-up star on ESPN for his vulgar, violent, N-word-inflicted art. The Atlanta district attorney who ordered Thug’s arrest was Fani Willis, famous/infamous for her role in the Donald Trump trial.

The best local NFL offseason move was the Giants signing DE Jihad Ward with the Vikings. To be honest, I was hoping he wouldn’t do anything good here, because I’m not going to praise anyone whose name has been put in this thing that’s become an acronym for Islamic Jihad.

It’s commendable that ESPN did not publish the comment from “ESPN’s Buster Olney” who “confirmed” the passing of Willie Mays.

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