I've got a confession to make: I love the ESPN.com chats. Often, it is because I relish the opportunity to witness Joe Morgan, Steve Phillips and other idiots say idiotic things. However, I read the Neyer chats in earnest, because I think he's the only reasonably sound baseball mind on the ESPN staff (Buster still writes about baseball like he's a seven-year-old who listens to Yankees games on a transistor radio in his Mickey Mantle pjs; Stark is a stat guy in name only, Kurkjian is an absolute non-entity and Gary Gillette is, well, scary) and his chats are usually pretty funny.
But I find, these days, that even the Neyer chats are making me enraged. Not because Neyer's saying anything particularly stupid -- even if I think he's wrong, he at least offers a legitimate reason or two for whatever he's saying, unlike certain former-MVPs who simply say "they can't discuss baseball with people who never played baseball" -- but because a good half of the chat goes something like this:
Diesel (Phoenix): Who is the best hitter in baseball right now?
Rob Neyer: I think Travis Hafner is the best hitter in baseball.
(Two minutes later)
Mutter (Jail): How the fuck can you say Hafner is the best hitter in baseball?!?!? Is it because you're a fucking Cleveland Indians homer? Obvs, Ortiz is the best hitter in baseball! The media never gives the Red Sox any respect! I will piss in your fireplace now!
Rob Neyer: Hey, Ortiz is awesome. So are lots of hitters. But if I had to choose one, it's Hafner, because he's better at [fill in statistics here that give creedence to Neyer's opinion, which are plentiful in this case]. But it's not like the difference between Hafner and Ortiz is all that big.
(One minute later)
Junge (Shea Stadium bathroom): Yor an iduit Neyer! Show some love to the Mets, who you never talk about, because you only like the Yankees and will only say good things about them! David Wright is way the best hitter ever, and he's awesome third base! I'm tired of the media never respecting the Mets.
Rob Neyer: I am a Kansas City Royals fan. I own a shirt that says, "Jesus Hates the Yankees." I routinely mock the adoration of Derek Jeter in my chats. I wasn't even talking about the Yankees; Hafner plays for the Indians. You are retarded.
(30 seconds later)
Anonymous (San Diego, b/w/o Tucson): Why don't you respect the Padres? Brian Giles is the best hitter in baseball, natch! Stop with the East Coast bias, dude!
Rob Neyer: (speechless)
(10 seconds later)
St (Claims to be from Philly, really from Tombstone): Your obvious oversight of Ryan Howard as the best hitter in baseball is not only an example of your glaring lack of respect for all Philadelphia teams, but also a product of the particular paradigm through which you view race in America, as a product of the insular, isolationist and anglo-centric sportswriting culture, through which you are incapable of appreciating the talents of a large, black man who you most likely fear wishes to have sex with your white daughter. Also, all sports writers suck because they don't write like Susan Sontag.
Buzzmaster: Sorry folks! Rob just decided to off himself by sticking his head into an oven! Next up is Scoop Jackson at 3 p.m. EST!
OK, I realize I got a little off track here, but the point is that it seems all these chats are anymore is an opportunity for fans to claim their particular favorite team/player/cheerleading squad doesn't get any "respect" or "love" from the media. And it drives me fucking crazy. Fans from St. Louis, who should be enjoying one of the most improbable World Series runs in recent memory, have spent the last two weeks completely bent out of shape because no one gave the Cardinals -- who almost suffered a late-season collapse nonpareil -- enough "credit" against the Padres and the Mets. Who gives a shit? Doesn't it make it more satisfying if your team beats the odds? But these people act like they're mortally wounded if Jayson Stark doesn't give their team "equal time" in the Useless Statistics column.
I realize I'm not really going out on a limb with any of this, but I felt the need to get it off my chest.