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Marquee steps in it...again
The poor excuse for a network was sure full of them yesterday.
Just last week I made fun of Marquee Sports Network’s new Sportswriters on TV ripoff, “The Reporters” for allowing Danny Parkins to dress like an Amish milkman. Well, leave it to the geniuses over there to find something to deflect the attention from Parkins dressing like he forgot to pack his bolo tie.
On the show that apparently aired last Sunday (nobody’s ever actually watched the show on purpose—their main audience are the cats of elderly fans who die while watching the Cubs play and the TV just stays on until the wellness check), Marquee did something petty, shortsighted and unethical, even by their low standards.
According to our good friend Paul Sullivan at the Chicago Tribune, the suits over at Marquee pretended to pull the plug during a segment in which The Score’s David Huh and fellow panelist Peggy Kusinski criticized Jed Hoyer for not being as transparent as his old boss Theo Epstein when it came to the Cubs current don’t-call-it-a-rebuild.
Marquee apparently faked technical difficulties, said the segment would need to be redone and then suggested to Huh and Peggy that they not revisit the “transparency” part of their remarks.
What is the point of a sports roundtable show if the guests can’t say mean things about the third worst baseball team in the National League?
And honestly, it doesn’t sound like the criticisms were all that harsh.
It would be bad enough if they edited out the stuff they didn’t want to admit were true. They went way beyond that. They blatantly lied and pretended that it somehow didn’t record. If you’re going to be thin skinned, at least show a spine when you do it.
The Sun-Times told Marquee that they would no longer allow any of their reporters or columnists on the show because of the phony baloney editing.
And the response from Marquee was as predictable as Ryan Sweeney’s postgame analysis.
Marquee general manager Mike McCarthy (no, not that Mike McCarthy) said:
“A judgment was made on the fly that in retrospect was overly sensitive,” McCarthy said.
Translation: You guys know me, I love listening to David Haugh drone on and on about anything. I can’t believe we pretended that a rat had gotten electrocuted by the sound board and we’d have to start over.
“Going forward, the show will be live, and the reporters on it are completely unedited, as the intention really has been all along.”
We intended to be live, but we recorded it because we didn’t think Danny Parkins would have enough time to button the top button of the world’s wrinkliest dress shirt that early in the morning every week. Maybe we’ll have enough time before the next show to explain to him what the two neck size measurements on the package mean.
“Because the luxury of taping the show was in place, some people decided to get a little careful and avoid, among other things, repetition from other shows.”
That’s really what we were trying to avoid, you know, the repetition. We had no problem with David Haugh and Peggy Kusinski calling Jed a big fraud who poops his pants. In fact, before the unpaid intern that I’ve decided to blame—I mean, the person who made the ill-advised decision to cut their wonderful, insightful commentary—did that, I was telling all of the many other guys named Mike who work for us that we should send that segment to the Sub-Basic Tier Cable Emmys for consideration.
“It’ll be pretty hard to censor somebody that’s on live television.”
We know, we’ve tried. We occasionally replace Sean Marshall with a puppet. Nobody’s noticed yet.
“We’re going to remove that element to it because people make decisions that other people wouldn't make.”
You know there are people who make decisions that others wouldn’t and then there are people who make decisions that other people would and then of course there are people who wear socks with sandals and quite frankly, you just can’t trust any of them. So instead we’re just going to go live and then next week when David Shuster says that Frank Schwindel is terrible, I’ll accidentally spill my mocha latte all over everything in the control room.
“But this is not like a Cubs management-Marquee upper management swath across the bow that no one’s ever critical of the Cubs because that’s not the case in this show’s brief history. And it won’t be going forward.”
Look, I know that “swath across the bow” isn’t a thing that anyone has ever said. I take that back, saying those nonsensical words in that order could be a warning sign of a stroke. Anyway, in the brief history of the show we’ve let plenty of people be critical of the Cubs. Why just a couple of weeks ago, we decided not to cut it when Jon Greenberg said that he didn’t think the Cubs were likely to win the World Series this year. Seemed like a low blow and faulty analysis to us, but we just let it ride, because we’re all about high standards and unimpeachable ethics. Also, now that we’re live we won’t have to worry about all the angry phone calls from Crane when somebody says something he doesn’t like. The WiFi reception on his yacht is pretty spotty.
What we do know is that the reason Marquee had to address this situation is only because it involved people who don’t work for them. Huh and Peggy and the Sun-Times’ Maddie Lee all knew what happened and the suits over there at the dumbest sports network in the world couldn’t threaten to fire them if they talked about it.
So how much of this happens with actual Marquee personnel? Maybe the reason the Cubs’ postgame shows are so dull and useless is that they make Cole Wright and his rotating cast of mediocrities (oh, and the woefully underused Doug Glanville) start recording it in the fourth inning so that they can edit out anything that isn’t flattering about a team that’s on pace to lose 95 games.
This all tracks though. There is at least one generation of Cubs fans (and I happen to be in it) who grew up listening to Harry Caray refuse to sugar coat whatever fresh hell brand of baseball the Cubs were playing that day. If a player sucked, Harry told us. If a manager did something stupid, Harry told us. If there was a pretty “broad” at the game, Harry and Arne Harris showed us.
Pretending the Cubs aren’t bad or incompetently run when they clearly are won’t fly with most Cubs fans. We know better and we’re used to being told the truth.
This seems like such a little thing, right? It’s just one segment on a TV show watched only by orphaned pets. It’s just another piece of middling broadcast inventory that they use to cash in on serving up commercials for brain vitamins, boner pills and dubious extended car warranties. So what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that they didn’t just edit out some content that they disagreed with. That would be sad and petty. No. They edited out some content they disagreed with and in order to fill that gap they lied right to the faces of the guests they had invited to be on that show because they needed them to provide them content they found less objectionable.
Less objectionable than the truth.
They lied to them, and when caught, their only solution was to promise to do the show live so they can’t be accused of doing it again. Because in a rare show of self-awareness for Marquee they know nobody will believe them any other way.
Aldo Leopold (who I think played third for the Phillies in the ‘60s) said, “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one is watching.” Marquee has the no one is watching part down, at least.
The truth: it’s different here.
UPDATE: Jon Greenberg of The Athletic came on the pod and we talked about this Marquee thing and Pat Hughes’ fifth inning exploits (and why he can’t pound White Claws during games) and much, much, more.