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Morning Digest: Classic Media Meltdown Edition



By Mike Silva ~ August 21st, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

The New York media has gone soft. As someone who started watching sports in the first days of WFAN, the era of the Worst Team Money Could Buy, and when George Steinbrenner had his fastball I can attest to it. I am not asking for what happened here in the 70s. You aren’t going to see Fred Wilpon or Hal Steinbrenner invite a reporter to their hotel room to bash their player ala George with Reggie Jackson in 1978. All I want is reporters asking tough questions during times when said question might be uncomfortable for the interviewee. This is not about getting along, it’s about reporting. We are in the “how do you feel” era of media where it seems corporate interests have neutered most reporters over fear of repercussion from their bosses, loss of media access, or possible public criticism for saying something unpopular. Howard Cosell once said “what’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.” Today I sometimes feel the quote should be “can we all just get along.” You sometimes get the feeling watching SNY, YES, or reading the daily newspapers the teams control the message to a point of boredom. Jack Curry and the YES Network thumbed their nose at that mindset by bringing us back twenty years with his line of questioning to Joe Girardi and A.J. Burnett.

Curry went straight at Girardi asking him about Burnett’s apparent four letter exit when he took the ball from him. General Joe did one of the worst editions of “playing dumb” I may have ever seen. You can hear the audio courtesy of Chad Jennings of the Journal News, but you needed to see the tense body language of Girardi throughout the confrontation. He seemed uncomfortable and annoyed about having to explain what Burnett said, and why he followed him into the clubhouse shortly thereafter. In a world where there are camera’s on phones and blogs reading to pounce did he think he could just sweep the incident under the rug?

I don’t care about what really happened between Girardi and Burnett. It’s just another incident in a two year odyssey of Burnett disappointments. It will be old news within a couple of days. It does prove Girardi still has a very thin skin, not a good trait for a New York manager. The real story is how not only did we see a reporter relentlessly go after Girardi about the incident, but the reporter was employed by YES. Typically the YES Network plays the part of the pitching machine when it comes to Yankee manager Q &A. The few times Kim Jones tried to push the envelope with Joe Torre she would get the death stare. The postgame? You either have Kay pontificating about injustices against the Yankees, or Bob Lorenz doing the best “Anchorman” impression you may see. This is a network owned by the team. They don’t want “fair and balanced” journalism because the goal is to sell the fans on Yankees pom-poms. Girardi usually is given carte blanche to throw empty bromides on his weekly YES show.

Curry has changed that since joining the YES Network. He does real reporting on the sidelines versus the hot dog eating contests you see from many sideline reporters throughout the league. His 22 years in the newspaper business are on display as he tries to bring you the who, what, when, and why. He even throws in an opinion (dirty word in media these days), which even got him into trouble back in June when you described the Mets vs. Yankees series as a “15 seed vs. a number 2″ in the NCAA tournament. It was much ado about nothing, but the fact that it became a story shows how numb the public has come to coverage of their local teams. Want spice? Go to an independent media source, or a handful of columnists in this town like Joel Sherman, Wallace Matthews, Mike Vaccaro, or Kevin Kernan.

What will be the reaction from the gulag? Will they ignore it and move on? Will Curry feel the wrath of Jason Zillo? The same Zillo who wouldn’t allow access to a writer because he was critical of Derek Jeter‘s defense. Will YES make Curry go on “vacation” for a few days? Remember, it’s not called Al-Yankzeera for nothing.

Maybe this is a new era for YES. Maybe they are tired of the criticism lobbied at them regarding the coverage. It’s a network with top rate programming; there is no reason why they can’t add the element of interesting journalism to the mix. Will it hurt feelings? Will it upset Zillo and the PR department? Yes (no pun intended) on both counts. They gain credibility and some viewers that way. It’s ok to make members of the team uncomfortable once in a while. Heck, I might actually tune in to watch Girardi’s postgame more often now!

***

Wasn’t Terry Collins supposed to be the guy that blew up this year? Funny how the Yankees haven’t suffered a tenth of the bad fortune that has befallen the team across town. A.J. Burnett hasn’t negatively changed their season. He is just another mediocre backend of the rotation starter. Everyone has one, but normally not one that makes $16 million dollars. What would Girardi be like in the postgame if Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano were out for the season, A-Rod for three months, and Cashman traded Nick Swisher at the deadline? That’s pretty much what Terry Collins has dealt with since April

***

K-Rod returned to Citi Field and it got me to remember some former Mets who make their returns. Mike Piazza hit a couple of home runs when he returned to Shea in 2006 as a member of the Padres. Al Leiter pitched a decent ballgame in April of 2005 when he returned as a member of the Marlins. One of the classic homecomings was Darryl Strawberry returning to Shea on May 7th, 1991. The Mets won 6-5, but nearly blew a six run lead. Gary Carter was also in the Dodgers dugout and drove in a run during a ninth inning rally with long double. Strawberry came up against John Franco as the tying run on base and grounded out to end the game.

I found some video of Strawberry’s first at-bat that night. Check it out.

***

For as good as the Joe Girardi/Jack Curry incident was, it was nothing like Bobby Bonilla taking on Bob Klapisch. Bonilla went after television reporter Art McFarland a few months later. It was a wild time to be covering the Mets during the “Worst Team Money Could Buy” era.

Back in 2006, Klapisch talked about the incident in detail on Baseball Analyst.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Morning Digest: Classic Media Meltdown Edition

  1. Chuck Johnson

    Jack Curry’s a putz.

    I was able to watch the game yesterday on MLBNetwork, they pick up one of the team’s feeds for their broadcasts, so last night was YES.

    He made a big deal speculating on what transpired on the mound, and kept talking about it well into the next inning. John Flaherty finally had enough and tongue lashed Curry on dugout protocol with what Burnett did and why Girardi went after him.

    The conversation later turned to Curtis Granderson’s chances in the AL MVP race.

    A graphic went up on the screen referencing the two instances in the last 20 years (ARod in ’03 and Rollins in ’07) where the MVP had a BA of less than .300.

    Curry then started talking about sabermetrics and how some voters won’t or shouldn’t look at BA and then spent five minutes talking about OPS.

    Newsflash, Jack…OPS doesn’t have anything to do with OPS.

    And now, thanks to the MLBNetwork feed, there are five million people in the US who before yesterday never heard of you and now think of you as a drooling buffoon.

    Curry reminds me of people like David Hasselhoff who end up on shows like Dancing with the Stars as a way to get back something of what they used to have, or those brain dead kids from Jersey Shore, showing up at pet shop openings as a way to turn their fifteen minutes of fame into twenty.

    I didn’t know it was Curry who asked Girardi the question, but I’m not surprised.

    He gets put in his place on the broadcast by a superior, then goes and says, “I’ll show you” and ends up with all the attention.

    There may have been 20 media in Girardi’s office at the time, but for our sake there was only one.

    Which was clearly Curry’s intent.

    What a loser.

  2. TishTash

    @Chuck Johnson: Exactly what are you smoking? As mentioned in the article, Jack Curry has been a reporter for over two decades, including the Yankees beat reporter for no less than the New York Times, and is a professional journalist of the higher caliber. He is highly respected by players and coaching staff alike, which made the confrontation with Girardi surprising, but not exceptionally newsworthy considering the press and the manager aren’t always going to sing kumbaya together every day. Your unwarranted character assassination of a seasoned interviewer doing an excellent job of asking objective questions is best exemplified by your most cerebral quote: “Newsflash: OPS has nothing to do with OPS.” I’m so glad your parents wasted so much money on your (evidently lack of) schooling.

    Speaking of which: I agree with much if not all of Mike Silva’s take on this brouhaha. But he really should proofread his submissions: “As someone who STARTING watching sports in the first days of WFAN …”? “… Burnett’s APPEARED four letter exit …”? Dude, crack open a grammar textbook.

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