ESPN’s dishonest credit taking includes MLB Hall of Famer’s death

Tale of Two Networks.

On Monday, Hall of Famer Al Kaline, among the most graceful and gracious to have played baseball, died at 85.

The folks at MLB Network, as per their growing reputation, knew exactly what to do on Wednesday night. They scheduled Games 6 and 7 of Tigers vs. Cardinals in the 1968 World Series, Kaline’s only World Series.

A collection of Al Kaline quotes and quotes about him find them somewhat redundant. He was grateful for the opportunity, grateful to The Game. And those who knew him and watched him play were grateful for Al Kaline.

Also Monday, upon learning of Kaline’s death, ESPN did what it does best. It busied itself taking unwarranted, dishonest credit for breaking the news as per another of its force-fed, transparently self-promotional “confirmations” — as if anyone other than ESPN cared who “broke” such a story so much so that it would conflate and confuse credit for it.

For the record, the story was first reported, logically, by the Detroit Free Press. Despite taking secondary, unentitled credit for the story — “a team official confirmed to ESPN” — ESPN had absolutely nothing to do with it.

ESPN has similarly been dishonestly intruding on breaking stories for years. Recently, it took “confirmation” credit for reporting the tragic death of Kobe Bryant when it merely tied with scores of other news outlets for second place.

Attentive viewers now see the words “confirmed by ESPN’s So-and-So” as a tacit, poorly disguised admission of informational theft, as pilfered glory.

In the military, what ESPN does is a very serious offense called “Stolen Honor” — taking credit for the hard work and often heroism of others. At ESPN it’s just dirty, self-serving business as usual.

There was another stinker wafting out of ESPN last week, when NFL studio analyst Rex Ryan called Cowboy receiver Amari Cooper an overpaid “turd,” a term not heard by most of us since seventh grade. Yeah, pop goes that weasel.

Ryan later apologized. But what for? For meeting the terms of his ESPN engagement?

Why else was Ryan hired? It wasn’t for his teams’ accomplishments or his alacrity as a communicator of football. His teams were 61-66 as a head coach. He wasn’t known as a gentleman or, for that matter, a well-adjusted adult.

He was hired because he behaved like a slug, a classless, undignified slob, childish, poop-slinging creep — the requisite qualification for so many TV hires, these twisted days.

Gee, imagine the surprise within the University of Kansas basketball program, this season, to learn that the fellow the KU athletic department hired to entertain, Snoop Dogg, was a vulgar pig and pornographer? Who knew? KU, like Ryan, also apologized.

For my two bits, the most telltale story about Ryan was the November 2015 episode when the former Jets coach, then coaching the Bills, assigned linebacker IK Enemkpali to be his honorary pregame coin-toss captain for a game vs. the Jets.

Why Enemkpali? Nine weeks earlier, Enemkpali was with the Jets when he broke the jaw of starting quarterback Geno Smith in a locker room hassle. Yet that cheap, classless move to try to ratchet up the vitriol likely only elevated Ryan on ESPN’s wish list.

You know by now how it works. Those who should be at the very bottom of the list — an Alex Rodriguez — is the first pick.

Francesa defends Dolan against nonexistent attacks

Seems to me that Mike Francesa this week fabricated a tale in order to play the nobleman by shooting it down.

Francesa scolded those “fans” who were cheering for the death of virus-stricken Jim Dolan as going far too far. Of course, even without Francesa’s take, that would be taking it beyond the furthest borders of humanity.

But where was Francesa’s evidence that this is or was going on? How many such fools are there — one, two, none? — and why and how, during his personal lockdown, would he have heard from them? Mental telepathy?

Or was this like those know-nothing NFL scouts who he quoted, those who came on “this show” to pan diminished Sam Darnold before the 2018 draft — during a long, pre-draft period when Francesa didn’t even have a show?

I’ve been at Dolan’s heels for years, as have hundreds of emailers. Yet, not one, since Dolan was diagnosed, has expressed anything close to what Francesa claims to have repeatedly heard. But Francesa sure sounded noble defending Dolan against an attack I don’t believe occurred.

Meanwhile, like a bully who can’t take a shove, he had a fit over that Funhouse site that so faithfully tracks his bogus boasts and claims. Francesa has long been tormented by Funhouse’s indisputable truths. And he abhors intelligent, well-informed dissent.

But now, in typical Francesa self-revisionism, he now claims Funhouse doesn’t bother him a bit; it bothers station ownership.

Glove bronzed? What a con

I’m a bit confused about this Derek Jeter Commemorative glove, available — read the teenie, tiny type small — for $147.25 with shipping and tax, not $119.99. The “cold-cast bronze glove sculpture,” of course, comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Authenticating what? Jeter used a bronze-dipped glove? Or that this is an authentic replica, a genuine thingamabob? Authentic junk? What’s the certificate of authenticity for? To help you ensure that you don’t mistake it for a real glove and use it in the slo-pitch game?

In this case, why would a certificate of authenticity be any more valuable than a certificate of inauthenticity?

Of course, the deal is “Officially licensed by Major League Baseball,” which would sell babies pennies for a quarter in exchange for its cut.

I also wonder if Jeter thinks it’s worth it to leave so many of his most devoted fans with the lasting memory that right up through the end he treated them like cash-waving suckers.

Desperate for action? The William Hill gambling operation last week took wagers on soccer played in Belarus, Burundi and Nicaragua, and basketball played in Taiwan. Seriously. (Consult local listings.)

Reminds me of the “The Simpsons” episode when Krusty the Clown bets the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters. Krusty stands in front of the TV angrily hollering, “They’re using a ladder!”

Now go wash your hands.

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