Baseballoakland.com is a site I read a lot. Mainly to see if any sort of news will come out from the Oakland camp on the ballpark front. Most of what I read there would qualify as politically pointed polemic meant to produce passion more than fact based news accounts. But something about one of their recent posts, about SportsRadio 95.7, has stuck with me.
When you ignore that the baseballoakland piece gets some of the facts wrong, this piece is pretty much spot on with the crappy grade it gives the station. I, in particular, disagree that Chris Townsend is bad. They, because he talks about San Jose as a possibility, give him a demerit. Other than Townsend, the conclusion on the quality of the current programming is pretty spot on.
Sports Talk is a funny thing. A lot like most talk radio formats (NPR excluded), Sports Talk is generally high on vitriol and hubris while being low on actual facts or substance. This pretty much sums up the morning show on 95.7.
There have been many examples of this... Simple things like, is Madison Bumgarner better than Gio Gonzales (referenced in the baseballoakland blog)? This was at a time when Gio had a sub 2 ERA and was coming off a 33 start season in which he earned 3.6 WAR while Bumgarner was coming off his first half big league season, 17 Starts and 2 WAR. Facts aside, the morning show crew decided that Bumgarner was better based on pitching in the World Series and, you know, proving to be more reliable in his less than half as many major league appearances.
Add in stuff like, "Mark Ellis should play 3rd" when Scott Sizemore has been living up to his former top prospect status (thanks Danbot). Guillermo Moscoso (the Triple A spot filler) should stay in the rotation when (if?) Rich Harden is available. The ridiculous arguments about how individuals on teams can only be "great" if their team wins championships. You know how Brad Johnson, or Trent Dilfer, is better than Dan Marino, or Jim Kelly. Intangibles, blah, blah, blah...
These are silly debates with no right answers, for sure. They are the kind of thing that makes for great conversation on traditional Sports Talk stations. But something that the lead blowhard said yesterday just struck me as so absurd, "the Giants have only $73M committed next year, they have tons of flexibility," I had to send him a tweet (the first time I have ever sent him a tweet). My favorite tweet exchange of all time follows (click the link to see the exchange):
The Giants $73M includes $19M to Barry Zito, $13.6M to Aaron Rowand, $15.3M to Matt Cain, $10M to Aubrey Huff, $8.5M to Brian Wilson, $6M to Freddy Sanchez and $500k to Jeremy Affeldt as a parting gift, unless they want to extend him because they have slim options for LHP in the bullpen (Javier Lopez will be a Free Agent, too). Add in 3rd year arb eligible players like Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez, consider their current salaries ($14M and $4.8M), consider they are getting raises (let's say $16M for Lincecum, $7M for Sanchez) and you get to $96M, or the equivalent of last seasons entire payroll with only one spot in the rotation to fill, the bullpen, SS, either all three starting OF's plus a back up (or three OF's and a 1B if you want to put Huff out there), 3B with about $20M.
But, not really, they have three other 3rd year arbitration eligible players (all making $1M or more this season) to cover two bullpen slots and a back up infielder role, one 2nd year arb (making $2.2M this season) to take an outfield spot and four 1st year arb players to cover back up catching duties, 3B, a bullpen slot and one of the open outfield slots. Those players will add up to about $12M, assuming they keep them all. So if by flexibility he meant, "We have a bunch of dudes to non tender, a couple horrible contracts to get someone to eat, or some Major Leaguers to trade to clear up salary so we can sign some guys" he was dead on. Because this would bring the team to $108M, leaving $10M to fill SS, two OF's, a SP and some relievers, if they were to duplicate this year's payroll. This is before they even consider keeping any of their own Free Agents. This year being a high water revenue year, coming off a World Series and all, does anyone expect another big bump in payroll?.
It miffs me that I could write 2 paragraphs about each of the "debates" they have on that show and completely discount the drivel they spout. That is mostly a minor annoyance.
But what pisses me off the most? I spent a day and half reading up on and writing about the GIANTS?!?!?!?! Based on a stupid comment by the morning show host on the A'S flagship?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
Does anyone else think this is a problem?
Moving right along to, Scott Jackson... Wait, just saying his name makes me sleepy. If he doesn't remind you of Ben Stein's character in Ferris Beuller's Day Off I can't help you.
Rob, Arnie and Chauvinism, er Sports, is complete drivel. I feel bad even mentioning it's existence.
It seems to me that Entercom (the real owner of the station, not Wolff, not Fisher) has some learning to do about the Bay Area market. Specifically, they should be looking down the street at KNBR and realize that a traditional Sports Talk format that works in New York, Boston, or the Mid West won't work here. Just like we love Ken Korach for his objectivity and revile Hawk Harrelson for his lack thereof, we won't embrace douchebag jocks with big hats and no cattle.
Oh, and while looking down the street at KNBR... Perhaps they will notice that there are some under served teams. They could very easily differentiate themselves from KNBR by putting emphasis on the A's, Sharks, Raiders and Warriors. They can still talk Giants if someone calls in to talk Giants, but no need to make that the focus of your shows. In short, instead of trying to differentiate themselves by bringing typical Sports Talk, differentiate themselves by appealing to a different audience.
Let's hope the hiring of Dan Dibley is the first step in this direction (It very well could be. I like DIbley's style and substance). If not, I fear the A's time on a station dedicated to sports will be a short lived, ratings disaster. For now, I will listen to Townsend, the games and something other than what is on 95.7 SportsRadio. How about you?