By Justin Bercovich
Did you hear? The Yankees played the Red Sox at Fenway Park last weekend.
Of course you heard. It was the only thing talked about on ESPN for a whole week. All the coverage would make you think the other 28 baseball teams were vacationing in Havana for the weekend. And do you know why? It is because of an incredible East Coast bias in the national sports media.
Every week it’s the same story: LeBron James this and the Red Sox that. There are some outstanding plays that occur on the West Coast every night, but everybody east of the Mississippi has already gone to sleep and so they go largely unnoticed by the national media.
I understand why this bias exists. Everybody in the country watches the games that begin at 7 p.m. eastern time, but when the clock strikes seven in the West, half of America has already turned off its television sets.
If the respected journalists on the East Coast want to be educated about the national sports stories that they discuss every day, they better do their homework and either stay up late or tape games and watch them in the morning.
The Giants and the Dodgers started playing against each other in the 1880s, about fifteen years before either the Yankees or the Red Sox even existed. But there is no question as to which rivalry is bigger: it’s the Yanks and the Sox hands down. Why? Because they play on the East Coast, so everybody watches them and the media fusses over them twelve months a year. The Giants and Dodgers have had some heated encounters over the years, but you can bet that nobody in New England knows (or cares) about them.
The bias goes beyond historic rivalries. Last year, 70 players participated in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Of those 70, only eight of them play their home games in states that border the Pacific Ocean. There was an average of 1.33 All-Stars per West Coast team. Every other team sent an average of 2.58 players to the Midsummer Classic. That is a staggering difference, and it is not because the West Coast teams aren’t competitive; three out of six made the playoffs a year ago.
Once again, I blame television. Many people around the United States get their sports knowledge from stations like ESPN. The commentators on ESPN, many of whom are based in the East, talk about the games they watched before they went to sleep the previous night. It’s just the way it is.
It would be nice if everybody in the country took notice of Giants prodigy Tim Lincecum or A’s rookie slugger Jack Cust, but it will never happen, at least not until Lincecum throws a perfect game or Cust wins a batting title. In the meantime, West Coast sports fans will continue to be frustrated by the lack of coverage that their teams receive.
On the other hand, this might be a blessing in disguise. If you think you are tired of all the Barry Bonds coverage now, imagine what the world would be like if Barry wore pinstripes.