Saturday, September 5, 2009

On the menu at the Sunset Grill

One of the many benefits to starting my day hours before dawn - in addition to the empty roadways upon which I drive to work and the blissful quiet of the office upon arrival - is the chance to pick up little kernels of information that might otherwise elude me.

About three weeks ago, much to the chagrin of the New York Yankees fans who have bought seats this season in the "new" Yankee Stadium (which has been said to death this year), ESPN and MLB announced that because ESPN wanted it as its Sunday Night Baseball game (a broadcast that asks the same question every week, "Just what was the Wilpon family thinking when they backed Steve Phillips over Bobby Valentine?"), the 19th and final regular season edition of baseball Armageddon, the September 27 game between the Red Sox and the Yankees was being moved from 1:05 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Apparently, no one in Bristol Connecticut has access to a calendar that lists religious days and observances upon it, which seems curious to me only because my desk calendar (courtesy of First American Title Insurance Company - whoever the hell they are) does. But if anyone in Bristol had such a resource material to consult, then he or she would have seen the words YOM KIPPUR written in the box assigned to Monday, September 28 and surely realized that the observance of Yom Kippur, which is as I understand it one of the (if not THE) most sacred days on the Jewish calendar, will begin at sundown on Sunday the 27th. Right?

Sadly, desk calendars and common sense are in equally short supply both in ESPN's office and MLB's offices. Caring not about the conflict - and ignoring the fact that the NFL allowed the Jets to move their 4:15 p.m. home game against the Titans on the 27th up to 1:00 p.m. to ensure that their Jewish fans can make it home from the game before sundown (kudos to Woody Johnson for making the request of the League and to Commissioner Goodell for granting it) - ESPN and MLB took an afternoon game and moved it into the 8:00 p.m. slot. After all, ESPN needs programming that Sunday night and apparently the World Poker Tour strictly observes all Jewish high holidays.

This week, after enduring some richly deserved bad press, ESPN and MLB moved the game back to where it belonged - 1:00 p.m. But consistent with the way in which today we dole out the truth in half-measures, in the wee small hours of Tuesday morning, ESPN could not resist running a scroll across the bottom of its ESPN NEWS channel declaring that, "ESPN and MLB have announced that the Red Sox/Yankees game on September 27 will be moved to 1:05 p.m. from 8:00 p.m. to avoid any conflict with Yom Kippur." Conspicuously absent from the "Hey try not to tear your rotator cuff patting yourself on the back" announcement was the word "BACK". For in the interests of full disclosure, what ESPN should have said initially was that the game was being moved back to its original start time - a time it had been moved from at ESPN's insistence and upon its demand.

Instead of simply acknowledging that they had made a mistake but had moved quickly to remedy it so "no harm, no foul" they elected to tell a half-truth. Once upon a time in America, cleaning up after one's own messes was expected. Now, when a mess is made, the focus is not on cleaning it up. Rather, it is on denying its existence.

And as if ESPN wants to punish all Red Sox and Yankees fans - regardless of our faith, religion or creed, rather than give up the game and find another one to air at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday night, ESPN has announced that it shall broadcast the game at 1:05.

Charlton Heston, where are you when we need you?


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