Cory Z and I were trading emails during last Sunday’s ESPN game (until I turned it off, after all – baseball is boring). The subject was the in-game conversation with Mark Canha, and Cory was inspired to write this Guest Post….
Too much is Too Much
by Cory Zimmerman
When the Mets are on ESPN as the National Game of the Week on Sunday night it’s always a double-edged sword.
It’s exciting to have the national spotlight on our team,and I look forward to sitting down with dinner and the only MLB game in progress, closing out the weekend watching our national pastime.
But a Sunday night game wreaks havoc on schedules mainly for those who bought tickets in advance,initially thinking they’d be attending an afternoon game,only to later learn the game would be at night.
For those of us watching at home, our pain is that watching the ESPN game subjects us to the national broadcasters and the “sports leader’s” buffoonery.
Whenever the Mets are on any national network, it’s bad enough having to listen to announcers far less familiar with our team than our treasured trio of Gary, Keith and Ron.
But, in the networks’ ongoing battle to outdo each other and come up with “innovations” or “improvements”that they think will gain viewership and/or distinguish themselves from their competitors,it seems there’s something new and nonsensical with every broadcast.
Their annoying antics reached new heights during last Sunday’s game, when the Metropolitans hosted the Padres. The full-on, never-ending, inning-long conversation between Mark “Canye” Canha and the broadcast crew of Karl Ravitch, David Cone and Eduardo Perez seemed to be ESPN’s attempt to take a page out of BASF’s playbook, i.e., trying to “make things better” by making the conversation longer … and longer … and longer…
If the game had been an exhibition game (such as the All-Star Game just a few days earlier), it would have been far too long and silly a conversation, as the hosts asked Canha about his favorite dietary delights and recommended restaurants.
But this was a real, in-season game, with implications and significance for both teams, which made the chatter that much more egregious – especially since it continued as at-bats were in progress, and even while balls were in play.
Not only did the quixotic questioning affect viewers’ enjoyment of the game, but – more importantly – it inarguably distracted Canha from the matter at hand, namely focusing on the Major League Baseball game he and the Mets were trying to win.
Baseball is a hard game at any level. At the MLB level, it’s incredibly challenging, unimaginably so.Things happen quickly. What some consider a slow game can become lightning quick – instantaneously, without warning.
The game demands laser focus – focus of which few humans are capable.
Even while focused, major leaguers sometimes make errors.
Distraction increases the chance of a player making an error – and possibly costing his team a run, a win, a postseason berth or seeding spot, even a world championship!
It’s bad enough when the booth interviews the managers during a game, distracting them from strategizing during a game. But blabbing with a player during the game brought the insanity to a whole new level.
Steve Cohen (and ultimately we fans) are paying Canha (and all the Mets) many millions of dollars to play a game -a game that matters a lot to all of us emotionally,and to Steve Cohen, financially, too.
Would any of us – especially Steve Cohen – have been pleased – or even tolerant – if Canha had made a mistake that cost the Mets while yapping with the booth? I think not!
For his part, Canha seemed to take it all in stride and continued to give attention to the game – but not all his attention. Hence my concern about the game.
And on a more mundane level, Ravitch, Cone and Perez didn’t do Canha any favors, cajoling him to consider which foofy restaurants he likes best and to tell the world he drinks champagne with every dinner.
We all know MLB players are wealthyand can afford to eat and drink wherever and whatever they want;but I’m confident that plenty of people viewing at homewere far less interested in Canha’s culinary preferences than in watching and listening to the game – the actual game.
I don’t blame Canha; I like him as a player and he seems like a good guy. I don’t know whether he was somehow contractually obligated to do this or if his involvement was purely voluntary.
Either way, I’m sure he meant well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he expected the conversation to have some limits,at least regarding whether it would continue into at-bats.
But – regardless of Canha’s willingness to participate, ESPN should have exercised some sense of decorum and decency – or MLB should have imposed it on them.
Did Steve Cohen know this was going to take place?
Did Billy Eppler know? Did Buck know?
Did any of them know/agree that it would continue during play, and even while balls were in play?
Did anyone approve all that? MLB?
How is it even fair (from a competitive standpoint, as opposed to a moral one),
for one team to have a player distracted throughout a full inning, including while he is in the field?
Whatever the answers to those questions, I hope the answer to whether or not this will be allowed again is a resounding no.