As if the perennially annoying infiltration of Miller Park with hideous Cubbie blue wasn’t enough, the folks at ESPN are making matters worse this week with the introduction of their first local website, ESPNChicago.com.
Despite all the attention given to New York and Boston sports, and the inevitable accusations of East Coast bias, ESPN chose Chicago as the city to get the inaugural and seemingly unnecessary ESPN local site treatment.
Just when I thought I had all I wanted of Chicago sports in the past week with the Jay Cutler trade and the Cubs taking two out of three at Miller Park, this terrible decision comes along and slaps me in the face.
The problem with ESPN Chicago is the only city that needs less hype surrounding its sports than New York or Boston is Chicago (though Los Angeles is close behind). Giving the city its own website will simply perpetuate the ignorant hubris of fans who haven’t won anything that matters since the White Sox in 2005, despite the billions of dollars spent to try to do otherwise.
And let’s be honest here — aside from the nation’s president, not many people will truly admit to being a White Sox fan anyway. Most people from Chicago look at the White Sox and see a team that’s about as significant as the first 495 laps of a NASCAR race.
Now, with ESPN Chicago, I can find out 43 percent of nearly 10,000 readers polled think the Cubs will be the next Chicago team to win a championship. Or I can read a column about how the Cubs should learn from the Yankees on what not to do with Wrigley Field.
Have you ever wondered what White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen thinks about Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez? I haven’t either, but that’s the kind of scintillating content you can find on the one and only ESPN Chicago.
Or perhaps you want to hear more about the not guilty plea of a Marni Yang, a Chicago woman accused of fatally shooting the pregnant girlfriend of former Chicago Bears safety Shaun Gayle. You guessed it — that’s actually one of the top headlines on ESPN Chicago.
It’s likely anyone who truly cares about this story could find it more easily in a Chicago newspaper, rather than scouring ESPN Chicago’s Bears content.
Of course my personal favorite is on the videos tab on the front of ESPN Chicago. In case watching it Sunday night wasn’t enough, you can catch a second viewing of Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster’s abilities as a card trick magician.
My real problem with ESPN Chicago — besides my hatred for all sports in the Windy City — is the premise of an ESPN local site itself. Once again, the sports information leaders fail to yield to local organizations in order to further increase their monopoly on the sports world.
Sure, ESPN can be a great source for national sports information, but does it really need to become anyone’s top source for Chicago sports news? The Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune do a phenomenal job of covering the teams in their market. In fact, those that have been to the Sun Times’ or the Tribune’s sports pages would realize that either paper alone provides better coverage of Chicago sports — with true local knowledge — than ESPN Chicago could ever do.
For instance, rather than a poll on which Chicago team will win a championship next, they have a poll I really can find interest in — who’s hotter: Cubs fans or Sox fans? (White Sox fans, hands down).
But seriously, rather than an article about Milton Bradley’s phantom injury in Sunday night’s game, the Sun Times goes one step further to analyze the implications of such an injury for the Cubs.
What about the Tribune?
The lead sports article is about the Cubs home opener Monday and the rain that will delay it. Huh, that’s funny — ESPN Chicago didn’t mention anything about the biggest ticket in Chicago sports so far in 2009.
Oh, and an article about ESPN’s own Steve Phillips apologizing to Lou Piniella? Well, I guess it’s understandable that ESPN Chicago wouldn’t want to admit one of it’s own was wrong to criticize the manager of the biggest team it covers. Or maybe they just didn’t know about it?
Whatever the reason, ESPN Chicago is another swing and a miss by the executives at Bristol, Conn., and as a fan of the writing done by Chicago sport writers over the years (despite my hatred of the teams they cover), I can only hope the site is eliminated faster than the Cubs in the 2008 playoffs.
Jordan is a junior majoring in journalism and political science. Think ESPN Chicago will become your No. 1 source for Chicago sports news? Want to share your disdain for Chicago sports? Let him know at [email protected]