ESPN uses suspected drug cheats for Aaron Judge coverage

ESPN uses suspected drug cheats for Aaron Judge coverage

You’ve seen those roadside rest stop maps, an arrow pinpointing your location with “You are here.”

In ESPN’s case, “here” often seems to be in the midst of an untreated toxic waste site. And, because its viewers are considered indiscriminate imbeciles, ESPN would have it no other way.

Sunday night, as per ESPN’s purchased authority over MLB, was another Red Sox-Yankees telecast. Only this one starred Aaron Judge’s Roger Maris home run chase, stuck on 60 at the time.

The announcers on the regular telecast cast justifiable doubt on the record-smashing home run achievements compiled during the “Bottom Line” Bud Selig steroid era. Meanwhile, the “alternative” telecast — starring Michael Kay and ESPN’s cherished voice and face of baseball, the notorious drug scammer and chronic liar Alex Rodriguez — appeared on ESPN2.

And chosen to be their special guests, ostensibly as a salute to Judge, were two fellas who needed no introduction, as their highly suspect achievements and dubious legal testimonies are known to all: Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

Bonds looks considerably different these days, as his body, especially his head — once conspicuously swollen (his batting helmet on loan from The Great Gazoo) — has miraculously returned to natural proportions.

Reader Harry Connor thought he was watching a reunion of “Breaking Bad” characters.

Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez (right inset) and Roger Clemens
Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez (right inset) and Roger Clemens
AP; Getty Images (2)

And as the four yucked it up, one couldn’t grasp why ESPN allowed, let alone invited, such a pathetic gathering as worthy of their standards and our attention during a game starring a widely perceived clean sportsman, Aaron Judge.

Even given the Disney network’s unyielding devotion to everything and everyone antithetical to sport and sports, this one was extraordinary.

ESPN has chosen this crooked path before.

In 2006-07, as Bonds approached Hank Aaron’s legitimate career home run record, ESPN paid Bonds, already widely suspected of being conspicuously juiced, a reported $4.5 million for exclusive access. The contents of its reports and planned special on Bonds were subject to approval by Bonds’ “people.”

That inspired a brief palace revolt among those at ESPN, who felt that the network should at least try to operate under the pretense that it does not practice “checkbook journalism” — especially on behalf of a guy whose fame, fortune and late-career slugging explosions were so likely predicated on illegal steroid use that he was convicted of perjury, a conviction later overturned.

But rather than admit that this was the unholiest of alliances and a serious threat to ESPN’s credibility, those highly justified whistleblowers were indulged but ultimately ignored. Bonds remained on ESPN’s payroll, Rodriguez to follow.

And so the stink continues to flow from ESPN. And given that it regards its viewers a collection of imbeciles, they can breathe it in, blow it out. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez. So much in common with Aaron Judge.

’Boys ruin Daboll’s career halftime streak

Not yet done with ESPN: The Cowboys led 6-3 at halftime Monday night, when Giants head coach Brian Daboll appeared in an interview. A large graphic appeared under his name:

“2-0 record when tied or trailing at halftime.”

Brian Daboll
Brian Daboll
Bill Kostroun

Two games into his head coaching career, ESPN had detected a pattern! How could the producer of any NFL telecast have even allowed this stupid stat in the computer bank, let alone select it for national consumption? Daboll’s preferred salad dressing would have been more enlightening.

Saturday on ABC/ESPN, 28 seconds were left in the first half of Notre Dame-North Carolina when ND called its last time out on fourth-and-2 from the UNC 22. ABC left the field to show announcers Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky in extended debate as to whether ND might go for it or attempt a field goal.

But when they returned to the field — just in time for the snap — ND was in field goal formation. Had ABC stayed on the field — it’s television, after all — the answer would have been provided, as opposed to the debate.

In the same telecast, ABC chose to show a meaningless closeup of a punter, followed by a meaningless closeup of the planned returner. Thus, it missed the snap of a punt that was nearly blocked, as it would’ve missed all else that might’ve occurred, from a bad snap to a faked punt.

YES and no: Michael Kay was barking up the right tree Wednesday, when he began his call of Judge’s 61st with, “This could be it!” — the same preface to Roger Maris’ 61st that Phil Rizzuto shouted on Ch. 11 in 1961. Nice touch.

(Naturally, John Sterling gave it his self-absorbed, dreadfully tired and inaccurate, one-size-fits-all, “It is high … !” treatment.)

Flip side: For two consecutive nights, the YES crew excoriated the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for dogging it to first before being thrown out at second after a smash against the left-field wall. That’s how The Game is now played, they lamented. Agreed.

Yet, days earlier the YES crew rationalized and excused Josh Donaldson dogging it to first and getting thrown out despite the shortstop dropping his grounder.

The Yankees have been an inexcusable base short throughout Aaron Boone’s five-year stewardship — it’s a specialty of the house — yet never heard anything on YES as damning.

Judge was called out in the ninth inning Saturday by the first base ump on a checked swing. It was a close call, but either way, not the wrong one. Yet, Paul O’Neill, always eager to blame the umps for anything that befalls the Yankees, carried on as a replay appeared:

“This better be … I don’t know … can you call Judge out at this point in the game, and with what’s going on, by an umpire?”

Perhaps, given “what was going on,” the rules should have been suspended.

Jets look OK with losing

Not that I’m taking receipts for Robert Saleh, but Sunday the Jets broke the NFL record for most on-field, in-game celebrations by any team that has begun 5-15 under a head coach.

And I’m still wondering what Jets rookie WR Garrett Wilson, seen on CBS laughing it up on the sideline with a teammate, found so amusing late in a a 27-12 home loss.

Giants play-by-play announcer Bob Papa
Giants play-by-play announcer Bob Papa
Courtesy of MSG

Jets radio voice Bob Wischusen has caught Silly Football Talk Fever, thus the essential mind’s-eye nuts and bolts, starting with down and distance, has been replaced with, “The defense has to get off the field,” “Move the chains,” and runs “into the red zone!”

And both he and Giants radio voice Bob Papa have adopted that misleading habit of calling all timeouts “burned,” as if they’ve been wasted.

Monday, as the Cowboys logically called time out with 4 seconds left in the first half to try a field goal, Papa told us Dallas “will burn their last time out.” They’d have otherwise saved it?

For the sake of being heard, Fox’s new lead NFL analyst Greg Olson needs to take a few plays off from talking. And he has to speak slower, as he sounds like Morse code transmitted in an emergency. Of course, TV bosses are always the last to know, if they even get that far.

CBS’s NFL “action” from other games inserts and halftime “highlights” continue, as in the past 25 years, to present 1-yard and 2-yard TD carries rather than the plays that set them up.

Stephen F. Austin’s 98-0 win against NAIA Warner on Saturday stood to reason. It was a look-ahead game for Warner.

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