Bengie Molina slams ESPN

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Bengie Molina angry.jpgLast week ESPN ran a slow-motion clip of Bengie Molina getting thrown out at the plate in a Giants-Marlins game as, bascially, the game’s only highlight on that night’s SportsCenter. What’s more, they slowed the clip down and set it to music meant to evoke “Chariots of Fire,” mocking Molina’s lack of speed.  As he was thrown out, the anchor yelled “get in there, slim!”  You can see the video here.

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Henry Schulman took great offense at this, writing a blog post slamming ESPN for the lack of respect shown to Molina. Yesterday Molina weighed in himself, slamming ESPN for its “cheap shot” and, while acknowledging that he’s perhaps the slowest player in baseball, saying that “ESPN’s intention was not to criticize but to humiliate.”

Molina closes by saying “All I can do is play the way I always have – with respect and
professionalism. It’s shame that ESPN, a once great network, won’t have
any idea what I’m talking about.”  It was a really well-done post, in my opinion, with Molina taking the high road while still making it clear that his feelings were hurt.

I take shots at players from time to time, and yes, I occasionally go a little too far, crossing the line that separates tough criticism and mockery.  I try hard to avoid it and I’m not proud of myself when I do it, but it happens, often as a result of a misguided attempt at humor.

I’m guessing that’s what happened with ESPN here too.  They do a zillion highlight reels a day, and you can’t blame them for wanting to go in a different direction with one for a change. I’m sure no one there had malice in their heart as they were putting it together, but the humor obviously fell flat, outweighed by mockery. It obviously hit Molina the wrong way.

They probably owe him an apology. In light of Molina’s blog post, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one came as early as this morning.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.