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Bobby Valentine's reaction at not getting the Florida Marlins' job

Jul 12, 2010, 11:20 AM EDT

It wasn't a good one, but through it we get a glimpse at what really animates ESPN's "Baseball Tonight"

There’s a long, interesting story over at SportsBusiness Journal today, breaking down the different philosophies between ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” and MLB Newtwork’s “MLB Tonight” shows.  It starts out with a behind the scenes look at how Bobby Valentine reacted after he found out that he wouldn’t be the Marlins’ next manager.

The scene: Valentine, Kruk and the others are watching games on video screens in the BBTN conference room.  Jeff Loria comes on the broadcast of the Mets-Marlins game from Puerto Rico and says that Edwin Rodriguez has the job.  Valentine already knew he wasn’t getting the job, but apparently had not heard from Jeff Loria about it yet and didn’t know that Rodriguez was keeping the job. Valentine flipped just a little bit:

“I can’t believe this,” he exclaimed to a room of around a dozen
employees and on-air talent preparing for the nightly “Baseball
Tonight” broadcast. “That’s not where he [Loria] told me he was.”

“Are you saying that he lied?” asked John Kruk, a .300 hitter over a
decade as major leaguer and now one of the ESPN show’s most popular
baseball analysts.

“I’m just saying that he told me he was in a different place than
where I just saw him,” Valentine said.

He grabbed his cell phone and left the room. He returned a few
minutes later, still fixated on the Mets-Marlins game on the screen.

Based on the account I’m surprised that Valentine — though he got his digs in — was as civil as he was about it all by the time he actually went on the air and talked about it.

And about that: the SBJ story spends a lot of time talking about the differences between “Baseball Tonight” and “MLB Tonight.” And there’s a reason the Valentine anecdote serves as the lead in.  Check this out:

[The Bobby Valentine] interview is exactly what [ESPN’s Norby] Williamson wants from “Baseball
Tonight.” He’s looking for talent that will be in the news and will
have to talk about it on ESPN.

Look, I’m not going to dispute the fact that ESPN has been wildly successful over the years, but do we as fans really benefit by ESPN personnel to “be in the news?” That’s the same kind of thinking that led to the LeBron James fiasco and which chips away at the network’s credibility as a news source daily.  Most notably when the news is bad for ESPN people and athletes who are closely associated with the network like Ben Roethlisberger. In those cases we can never be sure if what we’re getting from ESPN is the whole story.

MLB Network has its own issues in this regard, I suppose. For example, I think there’s an open question as to how critical of Major League Baseball’s decisions is the network really free to be.  But it’s not like the network has a desire to insert itself into the story like that either.

At the end of the day I think I’d just prefer someone knowledgeable to tell me what happened on the field that night and leave the intrigue to reality shows and stuff.

  1. TomTom - Jul 12, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    Ugh, I don’t want to register to read the article but I am intrigued.

  2. JimmyY - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Thank you, agreed. Makes me ill when they say, “….and ESPN’s own (insert whomever’s name here)…” Well ESPN has like 50 billion people on its payroll but they always put that plug in. Media reporting on themselves and interviewing themselves seems like they can’t get a hold of anyone else and they have too much on-air time to kill so they ‘interview’ someone already on their payroll.

  3. Evan - Jul 12, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    Craig, I think ESPN has struck a good balance in picking its “Baseball Tonight” folks. Their guys are qualified, entertaining, opinionated and (sometimes) in the news. I don’t get why you care that ESPN selects people based on those qualifications.
    Its not like their ratings are plummetting and their fans are fleeing in masses. If I had any complaints, it would be that they do a little too much self-promoting. Then again, their commercials are sometimes more entertaining then their content.

  4. APBA Guy - Jul 12, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    BBTN is a good, fast paced show, and naturally everyone will have taste preferences. For instance, I prefer Berthiaume to Ravech, etc. My buddy prefers the MLB Network highlight show. The self promotion doesn’t bother me so much, since I DVR everything and skip the commercials. A lot of people do that now, and it cuts viewing time from 30 minutes to about 22 for BBTN, and even less if they’re gassing about something I don’t care about.

  5. The Rabbit - Jul 12, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Agree with you completely, Craig.
    The media should not be “the message.” When it happens, I doubt credibility and wonder how much of the performance is scripted/staged for the entertainment of the more gullible.
    Of course, I would like to see an end to the so-called “reality shows” for the same reason.

  6. Cantankerous - Jul 12, 2010 at 7:28 PM

    Steve Phillips was in the news a lot. Is that what ESPN wants?

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