Goat Riders v. ESPN, Final Round
As of today, I feel like I am a part of The Little Blog that Could. Through blogging about it here, and through contacting members of the Cubs organization, we have gotten Dusty Baker to avoid ridicule by canceling his appearance with Stephen A. Smith.
On Tuesday, Goat Riders was EMailed a press release from the ESPN talk-show "Quite Frankly" with Stephen A. Smith, inviting our readers to visit the set for a Dusty Baker interview scheduled for Monday, the 24th of July.
Goat Riders was not alone. Other sites that were EMailed the message included View From the Bleachers, Desipio, Bleed Cubbie Blue (who edited out the correction, but you can still read about the controversy in the comments), and 1060west. Many of the sites commented on a particular line from the EMail, which was "You guys can definitely feel free to BOO Dusty if you so please."
What I have never commented on before is that I replied to that first EMail, asking if fans could ask questions during the interview. In the producer's response, I was told, "This (interview) could be pretty good since he may be on the verge of being fired. This might the his last stand before it inevitably happens." Again, I really got the sense that Stephen A. Smith's show was really courting the drama of a Dusty firing. They almost seemed delighted by the prospect of high ratings, since it could be his Last Interview Before Being Canned. Real classy, guys.
As much as we believe at GROTA that Dusty Baker is the wrong manager for the Chicago Cubs, and although we have called Dusty a variety of names in the past, we were really irritated by that "BOO Dusty" line. I voiced our disgust in this post a few days ago.
We apparently struck a nerve.
The fantastic blog Deadspin mentioned the column, calling us "outstanding" in the process. (Thanks, guys.) In fact, within a matter of hours, we received our second EMail from "Quite Frankly," this time asking us to correct an error - that being the comment that we should feel free to boo Dusty. I absolutely did not want to get the Assistant Associate Audience Producer in trouble, and I commented on the "correct" EMail in this, the second post on the topic.
Because I really felt tremendously sorry for Dusty Baker, I also EMailed Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper. I just don't believe that Dusty should be put to the firing line after graciously accepting an interview. I mentioned the EMail to Len and asked him to relay the information to Dusty.
On Thursday, we received a comment from somebody named Abel Kennedy, who said the following: "This blog is incorrect....nobody from quite frankly sent an email encouraging the booing of dusty baker." Riiiight.
Soon after that, I received an EMail from the Tribune's Teddy Greenstein, who had caught wind of the controversy and wanted to speak to me about it. After a couple of phone calls, I discovered two things: Goat Riders would be featured in an article about the topic, and Stephen A. Smith has told the Tribune that the "Boo Dusty" EMail is a fraud.
Ironically, they're directing their angst at Deadspin, who they accused of doctoring the EMail. As far as I know, someone - maybe me - has been called an all-out liar. Of course, I forwarded the original EMail to Mr. Greenstein, and I screen captioned it as well so he could see it in its' undoctored glory. Besides, why the hell would we alter the EMail? Newsflash: we don't like Dusty Baker's managerial style. This website sincerely hopes that the Cubs will have a new manager sometime soon. We just feel that Dusty has enough problems as it is. He doesn't need the added grief of a talk show orchestrating an attack for the sake of ratings.
Anyway, as I mentioned at the very beginning, I also found out from Mr. Greenstein that Len spoke to Dusty about the controversy, and he has cancelled his appearance on the show.
And this is where we stand now, as you read this. On one hand, we are happy that Goat Riders is getting some attention, and I am immensely proud that we stopped the interview from occurring. However, we certainly didn't want this kind of controversy. I honestly believed at the time that the article would dip into obscurity pretty quickly. I didn't know that I'd written something that would nullify any chances of me ever getting a job writing for ESPN (ok, maybe I'm being overdramatic, I never had a chance at that in the first place).
For those of you who might actually be envying us for getting the attention, don't. It's a little intimidating. ESPN is a huge company, and we have disrupted their business for at least one day. I feel that it is important to be capable of criticizing them - and other corporations like the Tribune - if they do something that is immoral or distasteful, but it's a lot more comforting to hold the belief that nobody there actually cares because you are just one voice out of millions.
Ultimately, I hope that nobody loses their job over this. I can't believe any one person is responsible for the "Boo Dusty" angle. I am disappointed to learn that some people who work for that show would lie, deny, and misdirect in order to cover their own asses. Guys, it's hard to do the right thing. I would respect you all a lot more if someone could just own up to the thing. Trying to smear Goat Riders and the other blogs is a low blow, and kind of pathetic - just like trying to get people to boo Dusty during an interview. ...ok, fine, so you're par for the course.
Regardless, I hope that the controversy ends here.
On the other hand, we'd be fools to not take some sort of advantage of the situation. If you want to buy one of our famous Down With Dusty t-shirts, feel free to check out our Cafe Press store. And uh, if you represent a publisher and are looking to publish a book about three obsessed Cub fans who take their belief in curses a little too far, I'm your man. The book is already written. Seriously.
And although I'm sure he wouldn't return the favor for our blog, I wish Stephen A. Smith success with his show. My brother loves it, by the way. I just hope he never has to deal with its' producers.
UPDATE the Squared: We received an EMail from a guy named Nate Smeltz who had an ESPN address. In his EMail was an apparent press release by Stephen A. Smith, which said the following:
"The production company did a thorough review and it was brought to my attention that I was mislead. The word 'boo' was used. I trusted the individual and apologize for giving bad information. At the end of the day, the situation has been dealt with."
Of course, since we've never heard of Smeltz, and since there was no signature on the EMail (or phone contact, or anything), then there is no way to verify that it's actually from Mr. Smith. We can only assume, and we'll try to verify this information tomorrow, or at some point during the weekend.
Hopefully the Final Update: I've received further confirmation from Mr. Smeltz which verifies his story. The message was from Mr. Smith. According to Teddy Greenstein, an assistant producer decived Smith (and everybody else) about the original "boo Baker" comment in a failed attempt to cover his mistake.