ESPN Stands by Its Creepy Picture of White Michael Vick
Also in sports: Don't throw that home run ball back on the field, Nationals fans
Today in sports: ESPN changed Michael Vick's skin color, the Los Angeles Dodgers are reviewing Vin Scully's 62 flawless years in the booth, and a baseball story from Washington to warm the heart of all bleacher bums.
- Let's say you're ESPN the Magazine editor-in-chief Chad Millman. You've been on the job for less than three months, half your staff reportedly has plans to quit, and you're about to move your editorial base from New York City to ESPN's corporate campus in Bristol, Connecticut. Positive publicity would be nice, but avoiding huge, self-inflicted controversies about digitally altering the race of one of the NFL's most divisive players would be even better. So why run this image depicting Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and convicted dogfight ring organizer Michael Vick in what can only be described as whiteface in the magazine's September 5 issue, under the headline "What if Michael Vick were white?"
Deadspin put it simply: "We are dumbfounded." The image was quickly yanked from the Web and replaced by an unaltered photo of Vick. Then, confusingly, the retouched photo went back up about an hour later. Millman tells Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead that the photo double-reverse was due to "a licensing issue," which sounds like spin, but is likely the truth, especially if it was an Associated Press photo. The piece's author Toure, meanwhile, had to assure his Twitter followers that his essay on race and the quarterback's unlikely second act was "nowhere near as inflammatory as the pic of him in whiteface." This isn't the kind of story the 24-hour news cycle tends to let die a quick death, so there's probably more to come. [ESPN and Deadspin]
- Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully is 83-years-old, a Hall of Famer and as pleasant in the summer months as cold beer in a paper cup. He is also, apparently, having his performance evaluated in eight key areas by club management. A Dodgers season-ticket holder named John Richards tells Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J, Simers that the team recently sent him a questionnaire asking him to rate, on a scale of 1 to 5, Scully's performance in the following categories: "1. Knowledge of baseball; 2. Knowledge of Dodgers organization; 3. Objectivity; 4. Accuracy of calls; 5. Storytelling ability; 6. Focus on the game; 7. Style; 8. Overall performance." Said Richards of the project, "This is like polling Catholics about Mother Teresa's work." [Los Angeles Times]
- We defy you to read Dan Steinberg's story for the Washington Post's D.C. Sports Bog about Mike Bennett--the 35-year-old Virginia little league coach who went to Monday's game between the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks with his family and was nearly ejected by stadium security when he upheld a century of baseball etiquette and a threw a home run ball hit by Arizona's Henry Blanco back out on the field--without misting up. We've never even caught a foul ball, and frequently wonder how we'd respond in the face of a full-throttle "Throw it back!" chant. ("It's just awesome," Bennett confesses to Steinberg. "In a thousand years you won’t catch me throwing anything on the field that I’m not supposed to, but it’s tradition.") This story at least has a happy ending, thanks to "someone in a buttoned-down shirt" (possibly a club official or one of D.C.'s countless button-down-wearing good samaritans) arrived, told the ushers to scram, and gave Mike's son a bobblehead doll. Stellar, decency-restoring work by all involved, including Steinberg. [D.C. Sports Bog]