04.29.11

ESPN’s New Ombudsman : Rick Sutcliffe

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 3:36 pm by

(since most of us are rather tired of looking at Rick Sutcliffe, here’s a photo of Peter Sutcliffe, no relation, instead)

Despite protestations from ESPN NY columnist Ian O’Connor that his forthcoming tome, ‘The Captain : The Journey Of Derek Jeter’, is the byproduct of hundreds of interviews — and repeated attempts to get Jeter to respond to criticism — ESPN baseball analyst Rick Sutcliffe would have you believe that penning a biography of a famous athlete is a rather simple task. From the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :

Sutcliffe spoke Monday night as if he were delivering a message from Jeter. And it wasn’t two thumbs up. Before the game Sutcliffe said he had spent 15 minutes with Jeter. “He was as angry as I’ve seen him in a long, long time,” Sutcliffe said on the air.

What followed was an indictment of the book. “Derek says he (O’Connor) hasn’t talked to ‘anybody close to me.’ Supposedly there was like a coach that he played for when he was in the ninth grade. And there was some cousin that he was talking about that Derek didn’t even know,” Sutcliffe said Monday night. “He (Jeter) was upset about it. A lot of it, like Tim said Brian Cashman told him, is stuff that happened a long time ago.”

There’s more to the ties that bind Sutcliffe and Jeter. Oh yeah, that ESPN world is small. On ESPNNewYork.com there are “testimonials” to Jeter as he approaches his 3,000th hit. Sutcliffe offers one, praising Jeter for attending a fund-raiser for the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City and making the event a success. Sutcliffe was born and raised in Kansas City. A TV source was surprised Sutcliffe pursued such a hard line Monday night. The source said ESPN has a policy where its talent cannot criticize “colleagues” or “competitors.”

Said policy, you might recall, led to brief absences on the part of Tony Kornheiser and Bill Simmons.  Though both are frequent objects of scorn around these parts, you could argue it would be somewhat difficult for ESPN to replace either.  In the case of Sutcliffe, however, how tough could be to find a boozed-up man or woman of average baseball intellect that loved sucking up to Derek Jeter?

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