How much of a stir did ESPN’s Steve Phillips make with his Sunday evening critique of the Mets’ Carlos Beltran? One blogger penned an open letter to Bristol execs pleading for Phillips’ termination (“allowing Phillips to speak has proven to be like a jailbreak, where the prisoners are all the stupidest thoughts about baseball”). A local radio host became so enraged, you’d have thought Phillips was lobbying for the prohibition of Diet Coke.
To Tim Marchman, however, none of this is worthy of serious protest. “Shaking your fist with indignant rage because (Phillips) claims to think Carlos Beltran is a loser makes about as much sense as earnestly trying to convince that one guy you know that Barack Obama isn’t actually a Muslim fascist.”
It’s laudable, when you’ve said something silly, to take it back and admit you were wrong. I try to do this; I think it’s good for your credibility. Still, when you’ve said something silly it’s natural to want to defend it and insist that it wasn’t actually silly at all. Add in that Phillips works for ESPN, which seems to encourage its various multi-platform sports media personalities to be ‘edgy,’ and that it’s hilarious to watch people get flustered and bent out of shape over something you’ve said, and it’s not really all that surprising that he’s digging in.
I’d bet that if you got a few drinks in Phillips he’d happily cop to not really thinking Beltran is a losing player, but in the end, and certainly with exceptions, big-time sports media is more about provocative ‘takes’ than about saying things that are demonstrably true. (Those things are, after all, often boring or at least self-evident.)
I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve considered the possibility that Steve Phillips isn’t some sort of mental midget but is actually a satirist on the scale of Francois Rabelais.