The Yankee-centric myopia of the YES Network reached a fascinating level of absurdity yesterday in a pregame show that virtually ignored the sight of the Boston Red Sox receiving their World Series rings.
Oh, it was discussed, but not seen live. During Kimberly Jones’s 5-minute-24-second report from Fenway Park, the camera never showed the ceremony, live or on tape.
“This place is wild,” Jones told the studio host Bob Lorenz. (Do tell.)
“The Yankees are standing on the dugout steps,” she said. (No, didn’t see that.)
“Derek Lowe got a rousing ovation,” she said. (Sorry, missed that, too.)
The YES cameras, having lost all mobility, remained in a tight close-up on Jones (you managed to see fans in the bleachers, but they were far away) except during a taped interview with Yankees Manager Joe Torre, himself in a tight close-up, who said the team was not under orders to ignore the ceremony.
So while the Yankees graciously watched from their dugout, YES would not show them watching.
Jones then asked Torre one of the silliest questions ever posed to a manager: “Clearly, your players know the objective today no matter what happens before the game, is to win. Do you address that specifically with them at all?”
Torre surely resisted an impulse to be rude and said, “If I have to tell them we need to win, we have the wrong bunch of players.”
The handling of the ceremony in the pregame show was defended by John Filippelli, the president of sports programming and production for YES. “Our audience is 80 percent or more Yankee fans, and they don’t want to see 45 minutes of the Red Sox getting their rings,” he said. “I wouldn’t do that to our audience.”
YES is in business to promote the Yankees. That is what a team-owned regional sports network does. And it is certainly reasonable to wonder if NESN, the Red Sox-owned channel, would show much, or any, of a Yankees ring ceremony. But this was a different one, 86 years in the works, and certainly the most significant ring presentation since Richard Burton’s gift of a 69.42-carat diamond to Elizabeth Taylor in 1969.
NESN’s pregame show in Boston, viewed via DirecTV at the ESPN Zone in Manhattan, was way over the top, with lots of highlights, fawning profiles, interviews with the Red Sox’ owners and crazy fans, and 360-degree tours of each ring. But it also had a few live shots of the Yankees’ dugout, including one of Torre and Don Mattingly applauding and another that YES should have had live or immediately after: the introduction of Mariano Rivera. His blown saves in the American League Championship Series (along with another one that led to a loss last week) endeared him to Red Sox fans. He laughed at all the cheers he received.
But none of that was visible from 2:30 to 3 p.m. on YES, which must have believed that showing more than 30 seconds of clips in the pregame show would have undermined its raison d’Ãªtre: pinstripe propaganda. “Our fans went through enough pain last October,” Filippelli said. “They don’t want to relive it.”
If you believe in such parochialism, then the historic event not seen live on YES was less important than highlights of Sunday’s loss to Baltimore, the lineups for yesterday’s game, key Yankees-Red Sox matchups and a taped Derek Jeter interview that revealed that playing for the Yankees is what he had always wanted to do with his life.