This isn't a demand that SportsCenter start leading with Royals highlights every night. Or that Sports Illustrated should put Edgar Martinez on its cover. Or that the Knicks should be barred from appearing on any national broadcasts this season.
But all that would be nice.
East Coast bias means every Red Sox-Yankees showdown, even a meaningless series in the middle of May, is treated like the entire season rides on who wins the series. It means that when Alfonso Soriano has a huge April, he's repeatedly hyped as the next Vladimir Guerrero (or even more ridiculous, Joe DiMaggio), while four months later he's hitting a mediocre .277 and still swinging at sliders in the dirt. It means a certain tight end who has a penchant for running his mouth but not scoring touchdowns has appeared in every magazine from SI to FHM to Young Miss.
Yes, East Coast bias exists. And here are 10 case studies which prove so:
1. Derek Jeter
2. Joe Namath named 88th greatest athlete of the century
When ESPN's 48-member SportsCentury panel selected the greatest athletes of the century, Broadway Joe ranked 88th (the sixth-highest QB on the list, ahead of guys like John Elway, Fran Tarkenton and Terry Bradshaw). Seems a little high for a guy who ranks 34th all time in passing yards, 39th in TD passes, had far more interceptions (220) than TDs (173) and led the Jets to only three playoff appearances in 11 seasons. That sound like an all-time great to you? Yes, the Jets pulled off a huge upset in Super Bowl III. It's called a fluke, not greatness.
|Notice that we didn't even mention Gino Torretta winning the Heisman Trophy.|
3. College football polls
Doesn't it always seem that Miami, Florida State or Florida start out as the preseason No. 1? Ten times since 1988 one of those three schools has been stood atop the AP preseason poll -- yet only twice did that school go on to win the national title (and one of those was FSU's tainted '93 title over Notre Dame, even though the Irish beat the Seminoles and finished with the same record).
Even more incriminating: the last seven times (since 1993) one of those three schools was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 and played a team outside of Florida which was ranked No. 1 or No. 2, they've gone a lousy 2-5. Seems like the only time those schools can win a big game is when they play each other. Overrated due to East Coast bias? You bet.
4. Washington and Miami share 1991 national championship
Here's a more specific example of biased voting in action. Both teams were undefeated, but which team deserved the title? The answer is clear: Washington. The Huskies outscored their opponents 495-115 compared to Miami's 386-100. Washington won its toughest games on the road (at No. 9 Nebraska and at No. 7 Cal) and Miami avoided defeat to Florida State thanks only to a shanked FSU field goal. And Washington had the more impressive bowl win: 34-14 over No. 4 Michigan, compared to Miami's 22-0 win over Nebraska.
5. "Baseball was great in the 1950s"
No, it wasn't. Baby Boomer New Yorkers have written and yapped so incessantly about baseball's so-called golden era that they've fallen in love with own self-love. But they're missing the fact that baseball was a mess in the '50s: attendance crumbled form 20.2 million in 1949 to 17.0 million in 1957 (when the Giants and Dodgers left New York), the style of play was mind-numbingly similar (nobody stole bases and everybody waited for somebody to pop a 3-run homer), the Yankees won all the time, ballparks were deteriorating, the minor leagues collapsed and some teams still refused to play black players.
Hey, there was a reason the Giants and Dodgers went West.
|If Shockey played for the Chiefs, he'd be ... well, a backup to Tony Gonzalez.|
6. Jeremy Shockey
Sure, he had a nice rookie season, but Shockey also caught just two TD passes in the regular season (and don't forget his crucial TD drop against the 49ers in the playoffs). If this loudmouth didn't play in New York, the media wouldn't be lapping up all his tripe. Ever hear of Todd Heap, the real best young tight end in the NFL? Didn't think so.
7. Willis Reed and the Knicks
Yes, Madison Square Garden erupted when an injured Willis Reed hobbled onto the court in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers. Yes, it was a great moment. Yes, the Knicks went on to rout the Lakers to win the title, and Reed's gutsy effort is remembered to this day as the "key" to victory. But to call this game the ninth-greatest game of the century, as ESPN did for "SportsCentury," is a joke. The game itself was terrible (the Knicks led by 14 after one quarter) and Reed's efforts vastly overstated (he scored just four points and it's forgotten that the Knicks rallied to win Game 5 after Reed left the game when he hurt his leg).
8. The Buckner play
How many times have you seen the ball go through Bill Buckner's legs? OK, how many times have you seen the ball go through Tony Fernandez's legs or Leon Durham's legs? As if Red Sox fans are the only ones to suffer pain.
9. Stan Musial vs. Ted Williams
As Bill James once wrote when comparing Musial to Williams, "(I)f I had to choose between the two of them, I'd take Musial in left field, Musial on the basepaths, Musial in the clubhouse, and Williams only with the wood in his hand. And Stan Musial could hit a little, too."
James noted that, while active, Musial was probably the most respected player by the media, fans and other players in the postwar period -- more than Williams, Mantle, Mays or anyone else. While Williams' stature grew through the years, the image of Musial has faded … because he didn't play in Boston or New York. (Thus his ranking as Page 2's No. 1 all-time underrated athlete.)
Lenny Dykstra "wrote" this book two years into his mediocre big-league career. You think somebody in Seattle or Denver or Minneapolis wanted to read that book? After winning the 1986 World Series, the Mets had 11 books published about them. As the L.A. Times wrote, "In the 'claustrophobized' world of New York publishing, 'some … people are important because they're covered so much. … You're famous for being famous,' said Stuart Applebaum, director of publicity for Bantam Books. 'There is the supposition that the New York sports teams get the play (in
the media), and because they get the play, they create this interest (nationwide).'"
That's just a fancy way of saying East Coast bias is all too real.