Friday, April 20 marked 100 years to the day that Fenway Park in Boston opened for business. So, naturally, the team that Major League Baseball would schedule to play the Boston Red Sox on this day would be their bitter division rival, the New York Yankees.
The Yankees would go on to defeat the Red Sox in that game, 6-2. But count on the New York Post to hit another “foul” with the latest in a line of headlines in the vicinity of vulgarity.
Once again, the Post coming through with a front page headline designed to spike sales – especially on Saturday, which is traditionally the slowest of newspaper circulation days – which, at the same time, is a bit far-fetched.
Even Darren Rovell, NBC Universal’s ace sports business reporter, agrees, telling me it’s “pretty insane… not too accurate, either.” He clarified in a subsequent tweet that “while the NY Post cover is funny, the Yanks have hardly kicked the Red Sox butt over the last century.” Rovell, ever the numbers guy, cites the Yankees have won just 54% of their games against the Red Sox throughout their storied history.
In fact, over the last five years, including Friday’s game, the Red Sox have actually won 47 of 91 games against the Yankees, including a 12-6 record last season. From 2008 through 2010, both teams were deadlocked at 9-9 through their games. Add all these to a record “through 2006” cited by one source, and you have an all-time record of 1120-929 in favor of the Yankees – which is actually closer to 55% – but still, as many people like Rovell would agree, is not necessarily an “ass kicking” by any means.
But this is exactly how the Post gets their jollies: headlines that get folks talking. It’s been about half a year since the Post dubbed the short-lived marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphires a “Big A$$ Sham” on November 1, 2011. The Post has even used such language against one of the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez, in February 2009, when amid confessing he used steroids, the tabloid labeled “A-Rod” as “A-Hole” – that is, unless you read the subheadline, which read, “Alex digs himself in deeper as ‘roid crisis rages.” Oh, okay.
The Post is also no stranger to mixing in a little defecation on the front page. Remember back in the summer of 2008 when then-Mets manager Jerry Manuel referred to fans as manure? “$#!t Hits The Fans” read the headline, with the Mets logo attached to it. In fact, it’s one of several times that the rag has “went there” with the front page headline.
You can also depend on the Post for suggestive front pages. Last year, when the Jets eliminated the Patriots from the NFL playoffs, the Post zeroed in defensive end Shaun Ellis (ironically, now with the Patriots) sacking quarterback Tom Brady in a moment that appears to suggest otherwise. Underneath the TSA-tweaking headline “Pat Down” read the subheadline, “Jets slam Brady’s junk.” And who can forget just a couple of months ago, when on the back page, following a Knicks victory led by a clinching shot by Jeremy Lin as time expired, the Post used the headline, “Amasian.”
Ah, yes. Linsanity. The era of Knicks basketball where anybody and everybody was mesmerized, including the sports media. Especially ESPN. Who can forget when up to four uses of the term “chink in the armor” were used among the Worldwide Leader’s various platforms when discussing Jeremy Lin, resulting in the termination of a five-year employee responsible for the use of the phrase as a headline attached to a story about the first Knicks loss following many wins after Lin became a starter.
Compare that to the many Post headlines I’ve brought to your attention, and consider this: Imagine if you went on ESPN.com on Friday and, attached to a story of the Yankees beating the Red Sox on the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park opening its doors, was the exact headline the Post used – “100 Years Of Ass Kicking”? (Obviously, the graphic attached to this item is a composite.) Think about it: the Yankees and the Red Sox are among the sports franchises most often covered by ESPN, leading many to affix an East Coast bias to the Worldwide Leader. Certainly, national sports networks shouldn’t play favorites. Conceivably, such a headline might not be well-received by Red Sox Nation – but at the same time, everyone else, even Yankee fans, who get their sports news from ESPN might think that headline would be a bit too much.
That’s why the New York Post can get away with headlines like “A-Hole” and “$#!t Hits The Fans” and ESPN can’t, nor should they. Such language is not what you should expect from the entity that calls itself “the worldwide leader in sports”. The Post, on the other hand, is doing anything it possibly can to sell papers – especially at a time when newspapers are plotting for survival in a 21st century digital world by erecting “paywalls”, while others such as the Cincinnati Post become extinct. (Though with the New York Post currently looking up at the New York Daily News, the New York Times, and even the Washington Post, they’ve got some work to do.)
Especially in the wake of Federico-gate, it would be hard to fathom such controversial headlines on ESPN’s website (though they’ve certainly come close when Bountygate reared its ugly head). Add in the fact that ESPN is controlled by the family-friendly Walt Disney Company, and you would imagine that there’s a “zero tolerance policy” for vulgarity in effect at the Worldwide Leader.
Also, consider ESPN rival FOX Sports is operated by News Corporation, which owns the New York Post. You rarely hear of any controversial headlines on their website. Columnists, maybe. But never racy headlines attached to sports stories. FOX Sports and ESPN would rather not use profane, or profanity-bordering, headlines like the Post does, and risk losing sponsorships in the lucrative sports business, while in 2012, money in the newspaper industry is hard to come by.
So unless an ESPN intern exhibits a fit of rage, this is why you won’t find headlines like “100 Years Of Ass Kicking” on ESPN.com, and why such headlines are the status quo for the New York Post.
Well, that, and attaching Yankee tie-ins to murders of dictators.