Le Batard the journalist wouldn’t take out a billboard ad in Akron mocking LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat. Even if he were so inclined, there’s no way his sports editor would allow it.
Journalists report the news; they don’t make it.
However, Le Batard the sports talks radio personality did take out the billboard ad. His station approved it.
I suppose the rules are different. Radio personalities have to do things to call attention to themselves. That’s how you get listeners.
Now here’s the catch. His station is an ESPN affiliate.The Bristol folks weren’t as amused by Le Batard’s stunt, especially since he didn’t get an OK to do it in advance. ESPN decided to send him to the bench for two days.
Did ESPN go too far here? When I posted news of the suspension yesterday in a Tweet questioning Le Batard’s motives, I got several responses telling me to lighten up.
Paul Pabst, the executive producer of Dan Patrick’s show, replied to me, saying Le Batard’s did it, “because he’s not boring.”
When I asked if Patrick would take out a similar billboard, Pabst said, “Maybe. Our show is strewn with comic relief, I hope.”
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald had more on the situation, including a text from Le Batard to Herald Greg Cote: “I guess ESPN didn’t find it all quite as funny as I did.”
Jackson also had this:
I asked Maureen Lesourd, general manager of 790 The Ticket, if she thought the ESPN suspension was unfair and unwarranted. She said because 790 is an ESPN affiliate, “I don’t feel I should comment one way or the other. Am I happy I don’t have Dan’s show on today? Of course I’m not happy. I love Dan. He’s a great contributor to the station.”
But later in the day, she said: “The fans were offended, so for The Ticket it was a brilliant local promotion and meant for fun, but I have to respect stunts like this don’t work for a national outlet like ESPN.”
Again, did ESPN go too far here? Remember, Le Batard attracted considerable national attention for another stunt last January when he gave his Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin.
Perhaps his benching is ESPN telling him, enough with the stunts.
Regardless, I am going to have to change my view on Le Batard. I’ll have to look at him as a radio/TV guy, not a journalist.