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ESPN’s top color commentator does not know that Honus Wagner was a shortstop, apparently

Aug 4, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

John Kruk -- Baseball Tonight - 2005

I didn’t see it, but many have told me that during last night’s Red Sox-Yankees game ESPN put up a graphic that showed the all-time hits leaders. On that list, right behind Derek Jeter, was Honus Wagner. Many people also told me that, when the graphic was displayed, ESPN color man John Kruk said something along the lines of “Not bad for a shortstop . . . He may have the most hits for a shortstop, are any of those guys on that list shortstops?”

Jeter does have the most hits for a shortstop, but how one can look at a list with Honus Wagner’s name on it and not know he too was a shortstop is pretty mind blowing. I mean, he’s only one of the inner-circle all-time greats. Perhaps the best shortstop in baseball history.

I realize that Kruk’s appeal is not based on his encyclopedic knowledge of the game. But given that we’ve pretty much ruled out charisma, strategic insight and general listenability, we’re running out of options here.

In other news, Jim Bowden is still alive and tweeting and posting columns over at The Worldwide Leader as if nothing pretty crazy and normally termination-worthy happened last week.

  1. moogro - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    ESPN covers baseball? meh.

  2. norvturnersneck - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    I didn’t know that, and that was a LONG time ago. Isn’t it good to have his baseball card?

  3. sdelmonte - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Hey, if ESPN didn’t fire Stephen A. Smith for his latest outrage, why should Bowden be fired for mere incompetence?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      At least SAS’s thing came when he was talking outside of his normal beat. Kruk’s whole purpose is baseball.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        Wait what? He said the “provocation” thing on his show First Take*. He tried to defend himself on twitter and only made it worse.

        *He’s actually said it more than once on First Take, but that’s another story.

      • girardisbraces - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:01 AM

        How’d you get from Bowden to Kruk?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        No, I know that. And I was all over SAS for it on Twitter. I just meant that it’s more understandable for an idiot to say dumb things in an area outside of what he supposedly knows about as opposed to saying dumb things in an area of his alleged expertise.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        Speaking of Deadspin …

        I know this is a baseball site, but, ladies and gents, I present …

        Jerry Jones!

    • stoutfiles - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      Bowden is now claiming he was hacked. Apparently that’s the popular response to get out of any Twitter-related problems.

  4. Rich Stowe - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    just wondering – can the studio guys see the list? maybe, Kruk didn’t see the list and thus didn’t know that Wagner was even on it?

    probably not, but something to think about

  5. chadjones27 - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    Come on now, you can’t expect highly paid people to know things that pertain to their job, do you?
    Minor details.

    By the way, who’s Derek Jeter?

    • bravojawja - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      Some really rich playboy in NYC. Wears a uniform at night. Carries a bat.


  6. jimmyt - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    Why bother watching ESPN at all. Just get all your baseball information from the great, flawless Craig Calcaterra.

  7. timberwolvesbrisin - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    This coming from a website without an editor.

    • dluxxx - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:41 AM

      Trust me, the editing over here is much better than at PBT.

      • whatacrocker - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        Outdoing PBT is not setting a very high standard. It is shocking, in particular, that Kurt Helin–who has something like a third-grade grasp of English grammar–makes his living as a writer.

      • Bob Loblaw - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        This made me LOL…then it made me sad because I realized that it is 100% true.

      • whatacrocker - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        For the record: I don’t find the editing at HBT to be particularly problematic–most of the contributors are pretty solid in this regard (Pouliot and Posnanski are the weakest), and all of them except Posnanski tend to respond pretty quickly to corrections suggested in the comments section.

        Mostly, I was just lamenting the low quality of PBT. Not only are they orders of magnitude worse than HBT in terms of style/grammar, but they are also resistant to being corrected, to the point of deleting such comments. The aforementioned Helin, for example, has not even grasped the your/you’re or the there/their/they’re dynamic. One would think that the bar for entry to the profession would be set such that you should AT LEAST be familiar with that. The, add on top of that his incorrect splitting of compound words (“masterpiece” is NOT two words, Kurt!), his misuse of concepts (Paul George breaking his leg was NOT ironic, Kurt!), and his inevitable mis-rendering of common phrases and cliches (it’s “I couldn’t care less,” Kurt, not “I could care less”!). And though I am picking on Helin, Dan Feldman is not much better.

      • Paper Lions - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        Is that Pro Bowling Talk?

    • itsjustmovies - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      Agreed. A website affiliated this closely with PBT should never criticize other media entities. NEVER.

    • drewsylvania - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:52 AM


    • kcroyal - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      At least Craig doesn’t delete every post that isn’t to his liking, like that douche Florio does at PFT.

      • chargrz - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        Agreed, most every post is deleted at Pro Football Talk. Site is a joke.

      • mybrunoblog - Aug 4, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Agreed. No matter if I criticize Calcaterra or praise him, the post is always there the next day. PFT is a joke. I rarely post there anymore.

  8. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    ESPN covers sports? Who’d have known…

  9. jm91rs - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    People actually still listen to Leatherpants Jim Bowden for baseball dealings?

  10. rollinghighwayblues - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Who would’ve thought that Kruk ever had a neck?

  11. unclemosesgreen - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Getting mad at Bowden for trying (and failing) to steal from Joel Sherman without attribution is like being infuriated with Al Capone about income tax evasion.

    Let’s be sure to remember that falls far below stealing from foreign non-draft signees and that “hairdo.”

  12. lukedunphysscienceproject - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Kruk plays a caricature of himself on television. He is constantly going for laughs by acting ignorant. I wouldn’t discount the possibility that he was ohly acting like he didn’t know Honus Wagner was a SS.

    Just a theory.

    • yahmule - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      If that’s the case, couldn’t they hire someone like body double Artie Lange instead?

    • gloccamorra - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      When Kruk played baseball for the Padres, on one flight from Pittsburgh to Chicago, when they were crossing Lake Michigan, Kruk asked his teammates, “what ocean is that?” Was he playing a caricature of himself as a ball player too?

  13. rpiddy - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    Phillies hater

    • yahmule - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      What else you gonna do with ’em?

  14. pbastille - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    I can’t blame him. He’s probably remembering the end of Wagner’s career, where he was primarily a DH. /s

  15. sabatimus - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    John Kruk and “top color commentator” shouldn’t even be in the same article together.

  16. wjarvis - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    In defense of Kruk (though I probably shouldn’t since it will always be a losing battle and since Wagner was a shortstop), Wagner did play nearly a third of his games played (890) at positions other than shortstop. Jeter on the other hand has been a DH 62 games, but has played short for every single one of the other 2637 games.

    • ejheim62 - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      and even though i’m a lifetime Pirates fan, I have to give Kruk a pass as well. I mean, Honus Wagner retired as a player 97 years ago. We’re talking ancient history here, lol. And no, i’m not old enough to have seen Wagner play, although I bought a tee-shirt at Wagner’s sporting goods store in Pittsburgh in 1980….does that count for anything?

  17. pjmitch - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    I know I am in the minority here (this is in reference to the Bowden story) but I continue to not see any benefit for having a Twitter account (which I don’t). Is there anything on Bowden’s account for the past 3 weeks that would amaze and thrill any of his 92,000 followers? It would seem more annoying for me to pick up my phone and see this worthless information that I am going to get from another 5 sources (MLB radio, MLB TV, ESPN, etc) on that same day.

    I just fail to “get” the purpose behind the whole Twitter thing.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      Like all mediums, it depends on how you use it. The majority of the people I follow, I do so to get updates on when they write an article (links included in their tweet) and/or to hear their opinions. You can occasionally follow athletes like Brandon McCarthy who will discuss his pitching that day with pitch f/x guru’s like Harry Pavlidis. That type of interaction you don’t normally get on a day to day basis.

      You can block/mute those you don’t care to hear about (vapid celebrities, political morons, etc). It’s all in how you use it.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      He could have written an article without attribution as well. He just chose to use Twitter.

  18. chill1184 - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    When you listen or watch ESPN one shouldn’t expect competence or intelligence.

  19. beearl - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    “You’re the play-by-play guy, I’m the analyst. You tell them what happened, and I tell them why it happened” – Kruk last night. Or pretty close to what he said. Riiiiiiiight…..

  20. 2011dsdad - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    I can’t stand Kruk, am glad to see I am not alone. Maybe a couple of more gaffes like this and ESPN will second-think his presence, at least I can hope

    • NatsLady - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      I not only can’t stand Kruk, but even worse, I can’t stand the whole idea that watching him eat (or discussing what he eats) is AT ALL INTERESTING. I hate hate hate hate HATE the in-game interviews. I WANNA watch the game. Now I just fall asleep with it on…

  21. Innocent Bystander - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    This is ignorant – yes – but still not as bad as Jim Kaat on MLB Network Friday night. He referenced Abner Doubleday as the inventor of baseball. Please stop spreading this lie. No idea how Bob Costas doesn’t correct this.

  22. baberuthslegs - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth… the other 4 original members of Baseball’s HOF.
    Would Kruk also have trouble identifying the positions of those 4?

    • whatacrocker - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      Wait, let me try. RP, DH, “Contributor,” and long-time Cubs GM.

      Did I get them right?

  23. drewsylvania - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    How does it feel to know that your main function at HBT is “troll”?

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM

      How is this a troll article? The misuse of “troll” in these comments is getting as bad as “strawman”.

      • yahmule - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        Because Philadelphia fans come in two types: the kind who revel in their reputation and the kind who are hilariously thin-skinned about it.

      • drewsylvania - Aug 4, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        It’s a troll article because it’s harping on a small issue or mistake, and knowing that people will bite on it because it’s a) ESPN, b) Kruk, and c) Calcaterra.

  24. ejheim62 - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    wait…ESPN covered a Yankees-Red Sox game? do they EVER cover ANY teams OTHER than those? I mean….yeesh!

  25. Tick - Aug 4, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    A sportswriter complaining about what stupid thing John Kruk said on the air is like a guy in a serious, unknown indie band complaining about how stupid the lyrics to a Katy Perry song are.

    • DJ MC - Aug 4, 2014 at 12:41 PM


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