"I don't believe ... what I just saw!" Have you ever heard a home run call repeated more than that one? What's it about? Kirk Gibson (Los Angeles) hitting a heroic homer off Dennis Eckersley (Oakland). It's one classic
moment. And it's just one of many examples that clearly exhibit that so-called "East Coast bias" is nothing more than a very outdated notion from the very old days.
Information is free, the audience is everywhere, fans are displaced all over the country, and everybody travels everywhere.
We've got Tivo. Satellite radio. DirecTV. We've got ESPN. Nationally-syndicated sports talk from all over. Three 24-hour news networks. And, of course, the Internet. You want to find sportswriters, analysts,
and play-by-play men, and others who are ignorant of what's going on outside the Eastern Time Zone? You can do it. But they're not biased. They're just lazy.
Here are 10 exhibits that prove East Coast bias doesn't exist.
1. MLB All-Star voting
Over the past 10 years (1994-2003), nine of the leading vote-getters for the NL All-Star team were from the Midwest or West. During the same time period, nine of the top vote-getters for the AL team were from the Midwest or West. Only two -- Mike Piazza (with New York) and Cal Ripken were from East Coast teams.
2. Baseball MVP voting
|Miguel Tejada's MVP Award last year was just another in a long list that has gone to West Coasters.|
During the past three years, every NL and AL MVP has been from the West Coast (Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada, Ichiro Suzuki, Jeff Kent, Jason Giambi). During the past 10 years, 40 MVP and Cy Young Awards have been handed out; 16 have gone to players in the West, 14 to players in the East, and 10 to players in the Central.
3. Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Trophy is probably the most cited example of East Coast bias. Yet, over the past 10 years, seven winners of the Heisman have not played for East Coast teams: Carson Palmer (USC); Eric Crouch (Nebraska);
Ron Dayne (Wisconsin); Ricky Williams (Texas); Charles Woodson (Michigan); Eddie George (Ohio State); Rashaan Salaam (Colorado).
In all, 78 Heisman Trophy's have been awarded; 44 of those have gone to players from teams not on the East Coast.
4. Jason Giambi
You heard a lot more about Jason Giambi when he played on the West Coast with the A's than you hear about him as an East Coast Yankee. Isn't it supposed to happen the other way around? Giambi won the 2000 AL MVP with the A's and could have won last year, but didn't. He could be the MVP again this season, but the media keeps touting West Coaster Ichiro instead.
5. Sports Illustrated covers
Of the 33 SI issues so far this year, only six have covers that demonstrate East Coast favoritism, and two of those involve Yankees pitchers (the starters on one cover, Roger Clemens on another). The rest exhibit no
demonstrable regional bias.
6. ESPN's SportsCentury top athletes
Of ESPN's Top 10 Athletes of the 20th Century, only four (Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, and Willie Mays) have close East Coast ties. This is remarkable, considering how much of big-time 20th century sports
took place east of the Mississippi.
7. It's all about which teams win
|Despite being "buried" on the West Coast, Mr. Bonds doesn't lack for recognition.|
If you take a look, the media seems to focus more on winners than on anything else. Who gets the most NBA love? The West, which is a better conference with better players. Who was the most celebrated team in baseball last year? The Angels, because they won the World Series as underdogs. What two players are constantly celebrated as two of the best in baseball history? A-Rod and Barry Bonds.
If there were truly an East Coast bias, you wouldn't know as much as you do about the Lakers, the San Francisco Giants, the Raiders, the Mavs, the Mighty Ducks. You wouldn't know how heated the Kings-Lakers rivalry is. You'd be ignorant about most of the Mariners. The Blazers would be a footnote (not a huge cautionary tale). Kobe, Shaq, LeBron, Ichiro and Yao wouldn't be racking up huge endorsement deals. We could go on, but the fact is more media attention is paid to the West and Midwest than folks who scream "East Coast Bias" want to admit.
8. NBA MVP voting
Since 1986-87, there has been exactly one NBA MVP from an East Coast team: Allen Iverson in 2001. Two years ago, Tim Duncan of San Antonio edged out Jason Kidd of the Nets.
9. College football voting
Of the All-Time AP College Football Top 20 (gleaned from the 2003 ESPN Sports Almanac), only three of the top 10 can be considered "East Coast," and those only marginally -- Alabama (really more South than East),
Tennessee (ditto), and Penn State:
1. Notre Dame
6. Ohio State
10. Penn State
10. Sports movies
Take a look at popular sports movies: "Seabiscuit" (West Coast horse); "The Rookie" (pitcher from Texas); "Blue Crush" (surf girls from Hawaii); "Dogtown and Z-Boys" (West Coast skateboarders); "Ali" (boxer from Louisville, Ky.); "Jerry Maguire" (West Coast agent for an Arizona Cardinals player); "White Men Can't Jump" (L.A. streetball); "A League of their Own" (Midwest baseball); "Bull Durham" (Southern
baseball); "Field of Dreams" (Midwest baseball).