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Heath Bell Thinks ESPN Is Unfair

Apr 14, 2009 – 11:15 AM
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Matt Snyder

Matt Snyder %BloggerTitle%

The San Diego Padres, picked to finish last by pretty much everyone who follows baseball, have stormed out of the gate to a 6-2 start. This has to be a shock to even the majority of the team's own fans. Then again, they've got 154 games left to play, and it's difficult to imagine them staying in the thick of things for long, even in that sub-par division. Personally, I still believe they'll finish last.

Hopefully Padres closer Heath Bell doesn't read the above paragraph. If so, he's sure to have a problem with FanHouse. You see, he's paying way too much attention to the media right now.
"I saw John Kruk on 'Baseball Tonight,' and he said, 'They're playing real well, but I don't believe in them,' " Bell said before Monday's game. "And I saw ESPN's promo for tonight's game. They mention the Mets are opening Citi Field, they mentioned the starting time, but nowhere did they mention the Padres. That gave me the (expletive)."

"I truly believe ESPN only cares about promoting the Red Sox and Yankees and Mets – and nobody else," said the closer, a former Met. "That's why I like the MLB Network, because they promote everybody. I'm really turned off by ESPN and 'Baseball Tonight.' When Jake Peavy threw 8 1/3 innings on Saturday, they showed one pitch in the third inning and that was it. It's all about the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets."
While I agree that MLB Network is far superior to ESPN concerning televised baseball coverage, this is pretty petty. The reason the Monday night's game was telecast was because of the Mets opening their new stadium -- just like last year when the Nationals did on Sunday Night Baseball. Bell would also be hard pressed to explain how ESPN doesn't care about the Cubs, Cardinals, Braves, Phillies, Rays, Indians, Angels, White Sox, Twins and Dodgers. They may try to cater to the more popular teams -- how dare they worry about ratings? -- but it's not limited to just three teams. Plus, do they actually have an obligation to cover each team equally? Without trying to speak for ESPN, coverage is generally slanted toward teams that matter to the mass audience -- not just a small group of die-hards. The Padres simply don't right now.

Yes, it's possible to quickly turn things around with the right recipe. The 2008 Rays, however, these Padres are not. Jake Peavy and Chris Young are good starting pitchers, but the rest of the rotation is a joke. Jody Gerut hits leadoff. David Eckstein and Brian Giles follow. Luis O. Rodriguez is their starting shortstop. This team will still be lucky to win 70, despite its encouraging start.

Simply put, things are going very well for the Padres right now. That's not likely to continue, so they should be enjoying themselves instead of worrying about ESPN's coverage. It would behoove Bell to take a page out of the Adam Dunn handbook and not watch or read anything, while remaining indifferent toward media coverage.
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