27 May 2008

Drumming Up Excitement

Entering last night's game, Giant catcher Bengie Molina was 14 for his last 20 with a homer and a few doubles, but the way Grace and Sutton went on and on about how dangerous he is illustrates a ) how far the Giants (and more generally, the NL West) have fallen, and b) how far Diamondback broadcasters are willing to go to fabricate drama to maintain ratings and advertising dollars.

Daron Sutton, in particular, is the unapologetic ringmaster for such profit driven sensationalism, as evidenced by his mawkish love affair with Doug Davis' long since eradicated cancer. The next time you hear Daron go on about how much he respects Doug Davis - and you wont have to wait long, I promise - ask yourself this. If you had recently been treated and asked friends and colleagues not to advertise your ordeal, and one of those colleagues did anyway, would that be a sign of respect? Or would it be a sign of something else, something more self interested?

Sutton prefaced his latest "tribute" by acknowledging, with that faux solemnity of his, that Davis doesnt want his cancer harped on let alone glorified, yet in his next breath, Sutton ignores the patient's concern by accomplishing both. By embellishing this already and relatively easily won cancer "fight", FOX whores like Jeannie Zelasco and Sutton profoundly disrespect Davis for their own purposes, and most sadly, trivialize countless victims of more serious cancers.
Zelasco, who clearly likes to talk about her own cancer experience, insisted before a national audience Saturday that Davis is a hero whether he likes it or not. Sutton echoed that sentiment Tuesday night. Since when does elective surgery most often described as "routine" and taking a post op pill make someone a "hero"? Evidently, when Jeannie Zelasco or Daron Sutton say it does. The most heroic thing about the matter of fact Doug Davis in all of this is that he's taken every opportunity to correct this willful misperception that he's some kind of suffering Job who tackled daunting odds here.

Doug missed less time than had he been on the 60 day DL with a broken finger. Sure, cancer is scary and a psychological blow, but he also enjoyed a host of factors in his favor. He never endured chemo or traditional radiation treatment. And now he's cancer free. That's it! Nice story.

The cancer was obviously news. Davis missed time from his very public profession. But at this juncture, isnt his expressed desire that the media spotlight be turned down considerably instead of ratcheted up every single time he takes the mound not only understandable, but journalistically sound as well?

One can only imagine if this was Curt Schilling. Instead, we have the next best thing. Daron Sutton and his heartfelt "respect".

A less irksome example of Daron fabricating drama is Wednesday's unveiling of the long awaited Redheads promo, where a couple club level sections have been set aside for potentially rowdier "participant" fans - enticed by ticket discounts and various giveaways. Redheads shares components of a proposal I sent Derrick Hall a month or so ago, but is different in enough respects that I cant really take credit for it. My idea designated cheering sections with discounts and giveaways, but had nothing to do with Mark or Daron or, as I'm sure comes as no surprise here, the color red.

Beyond the initial attendance and vibe in those sections tonight, the bigger question is whether Redheads can not only sustain itself but actually increase utility - and ultimately attendance - elsewhere in the ballpark. Implementation specifics are unknown, but I think this type of promotion has that potential in Phoenix. Fans here, much like Cyndi Lauper, just wanna have fun. On a hot summer night, without spending too much money. The impressive response to Daron's previous requests for silly signs speak to that untapped desire. If done right, this could be the promotion to finally pop the lid off the pent up attendance barrel.


Russell said...

The fact that Daron and Mark were almost like different broadcasters when covering the nationally syndicated game would seem to indicate that they can put together a different kind of broadcast. And there really is no need to fabricate drama,the D-Backs have got a great chance of getting to the post season because they are in such a weak division. As for Davis' cancer it makes me wonder just what kind of personal details/illness the broadcasters wouldn't utilize to promote interest.

Matt said...

Dahlian over at AZ Snakepit made a spot on observation recently that, of course, I cant find to link. The gist was that the japefest we've all come to hate is more a function of Dback's brass than Daron, per se, since he serves entirely at their pleasure.
After watching the Fox game, I think he's exactly right. This is what Hall & Kendrick want and Daron was hired to bark their carnival.

it makes me wonder just what kind of personal details/illness the broadcasters wouldn't utilize to promote interest.

Prescient comment. Are you actually listening to tonight's broadcast? They have purposely reduced Doug Davis into "The Cancer Guy" and the ballgame into "That Cancer Show". It's the third inning and they've barely talked about anything else!

I didnt initially include this notion in the post since I initially thought it was too harsh, but it's hard to listen to this maudlin production tonight without coming away with the feeling that a second cancer diagnosis somewhere on the roster might secretly please Daron (or perhaps his bosses).

I realize that's a terrible thing to say about someone,but it's evident Doug's cancer (the one that is objectively gone), will never be allowed to truly die as long as he pitches for these assholes.

Russell said...

I'm pretty sure that it is the D-Backs Front Office that sets the tone for the broadcasts, but the problem is that the commentators are seen as representative of the club, and having listened to a few other teams broadcasters, the D-Backs are the only ones who have the CONSTANT need to promote the club in a slightly desperate manner.
"Maudlin" is spot on-there has to be a middle ground between that and japery- they're almost manic depressive in their "fake" highs and "fake" lows.

Tracy said...

I think, after tonight's miserable game, we can deep-six any idea of a cheering section.

Matt said...

the D-Backs are the only ones who have the CONSTANT need to promote the club

Totally. The telecasts' uniquely desperate mania you so aptly describe really accelerated with Derrick Hall. It sells some tickets, but more importantly, positions the underlying falsehood that this is a poor draw town and that Dback brass is doing everything they possibly can in a tough (ie desperate) environment. The purpose of the japing is twofold IMO: to attract viewers, but also to deflect attn from high single game prices & disillusionment over bad policy, like destroying the World Series brand. Rather than substantively addressing those concerns, they've chosen to largely ignore them and instead jump up and down, shouting "I cant believe you're not here! Look at all the fun we're having!" It's an old circus trick.

I think, after tonight's miserable game, we can deep-six any idea of a cheering section.

Well, it was a bad game, Tracy, but I'm more optimistic about the long term prospects. Granted, the Redheads are annoying to watch on TV right now, because the team's losing and, like everything else Derrick touches, it's overpromoted by about 400%.

But the people IN THE SECTIONS appeared to be having a really good time. It'll be interesting to see how many of them (and others) show up 2 Wednesdays from now. My hunch is a bunch and that this has a good chance to stick. This game was a big time groaner and people still had a hoot - I can envision nip n tuck games where these sections get loud and maybe even get the whole stadium going.

A "Get Loud" message on the big board can accomplish that too, but I think this is an early phase of a deeper process - to take a young, relatively passive fan base and jump start a segment of them to take more initiative and responsibility for their fun at the ballpark. I admit it's awkward to watch, especially for a first place team that s/b drawing better, and I wouldn't implement it exactly like they have, but if some "desperate mania" can be cultivated in the stands (which is where I think it belongs), maybe someday we wont have to endure it in the broadcast booth quite so much :-)

Tracy said...

OK, Matt, I'll concede I'm not lovin' the Dbacks much right now.(bad fan!), but how many times a year can Todd Walsh have a birthday?

On an even grimmer note, I have tickets to Saturday's game against the Nats. :-0 Are you interested in two seats on the front row?

Michael Norton said...

Reminds me of the old joke:

"Will you still respect me in the morning?"

"Hell, I don't even respect you now."

Tracy -- Are you dissing my Nats? 80

Michael Norton
Some Clubhouse

Tracy said...

No, Michael, my friend, I'm dissing my D-Backs, :-)

Matt said...

Are you interested in two seats on the front row?

Definitely. If these are your personal season tix(ie not corporate), I'm happy to pay cost ($42??)

Tracy said...


I'll email you.