Jeff Pearlman

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ESPN and “sources say”

Puhl

Earlier today SI.com’s John Heyman was the first to report that the Phillies, Blue Jays and Mariners were engaged in a three-way trade that would send Cliff Lee to the Mariners, Roy Halladay to the Phillies and a slew of prospects to the Blue Jays. Heyman was also the one who broke the news that John Lackey was set to sign as a free agent with the Red Sox.

So what did ESPN do?

That’s a trick question—ESPN did what it always does. It attributed the news to the original source for a couple of seconds, then claimed the information as its own. I was watching SportsCenter tonight after the Cards-49ers game, and SI.com and Heyman weren’t even mentioned. Not once. Instead, it was either “sources” reporting or “our own [FILL IN THE NAME OF AN ESPN EMPLOYEE].

This, of course, is nothing new for a company that insists on gobbling all that rests in its path. ESPN owns sports, which means its employees must own sports, which means if its employees don’t own sports, well, ESPN will own sports, anyhow. If Heyman keeps beating them on reporting Hot Stove news, ESPN will either have him killed or hire him to a lengthy contract.

I always say this: I greatly enjoyed writing for ESPN.com. I truly did. But the company doesn’t do journalism in the fair, traditional sense, where if you get beat on a story you step up, admit it and attribute accordingly. Sites like Deadspin have been killing ESPN for years on this type of garbage, and with good reason.

It’s 1,000 times wrong.

  • Bill

    Jeff, you nailed it. What also bugs me is any column from Stark and Friends that have 15 of these references: “said an NL scout,” or “said one GM with knowledge of the deal.” Pure crap.

  • tom gallagher

    it seems John Heyman never sleeps though. espn needs to do something to get an advantage….

  • Andy

    In the not-so-distant-future, maybe ESPN clones John Heyman and takes the original John Heyman hostage and makes him fight for his life in a deadly reality show television game.
    Sounds like a hit to me.

  • http://GodHatesClevelandSports.com Mike

    Actually, Ken Rosenthal was first:

    http://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/6601362714

    Heyman’s first Twitter mention of Halladay cites the Philly Inquirer reporting Halladay was spotted in town:

    http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman/status/6671834780

    Don’t have a timeline of when each wrote an article, but Rosenthal was ahead of Heyman on this.

  • Rafael

    Living under ESPN is like living in an Eastern Bloc country in the late ’80s. The Soviets enveloped you, they were corrupt, they were the system, and they were always right.

    And people tuned them out. as best they could.

    I’ve given up most U.S. sports in recent year. My love for pro football continues stronger than ever and I now have an equally intense love for international soccer. But I no longer bother with baseball and give only the slightest glances to the NBA and NHL.

    ESPN is a big reason for the contraction. I can’t watch their coverage. I can get the NFL through its own network and I can get soccer coverage online or through FSC.

    I find I’m a much happier sports fan without them.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life