Belle: Love's two-way street, so open your heart to traffic


July 27, 1999|By Milton Kent

Dear Albert Belle:

Because we media types don't get lockers, like you athletes, consider this bit of correspondence the equivalent of our (or at least one of us) hanging a note for you.

To use your vernacular, we're apparently going to be together for the next 4 1/2 years, or at least until your blanket no-trade clause runs out in 2 1/2 years, and there's nothing more we would rather do than show you some love.

Funny thing about love, Big Al -- if we can, in fact, call you that. It usually works best, love that is, when it's given as well as received. We are certainly willing to give you all the love you want, Big Al, in just about whatever form you want it.

All we ask in return is that you show us a little love, as well. Or more to the point, that you show us some respect.

That is, to say, be consistent. If you don't want to talk to us, that's fine. Believe it or not, our lives will go on regardless and none of us will lose our jobs if you don't talk.

Or if you want to have a three-hour news conference after every game, that's cool, too. We might not stay for all of it, but we'd be there, because that's our job.

But make up your mind, please. Shutting yourself off for more than four months, then waiting until you have a phenomenal game and then using the platform to deliver a diatribe against one particular guy, Joe Strauss of The Sun, is bad form, even for you.

Our job is to write and broadcast all the stuff -- the three-homer, six-RBI days and the three-strikeout, barely-hustling-into-the-corner, flipping-off-the-fans days, too.

If you'd sit down and chat with us every so often, you'd find that, like you, we're individuals and we have our good days and our bad days, and that all of that comes with our jobs, just as it does with yours. We're not here to be your friends, but we don't have to be your enemies, either.

It's the best way we know how to show you the love you so desperately crave.

Lots of love,

Media Watcher

Making it clear

It's time for the third annual "Media Watch" reminder that there is no trading deadline in baseball.

This reminder, admittedly a bit anal-retentive in nature, nonetheless becomes necessary each year at this time because some broadcasters and writers, either too lazy or ignorant to know the difference, insist on referring to July 31 as the "trading deadline."

In truth, trades may be conducted throughout the year. However, players dealt after midnight Saturday must clear waivers, which certainly can make trades more difficult, but still possible.

Players can be traded after Aug. 31, too, but they can't play in the postseason for their new teams. Once the regular season ends, waiver restrictions are wiped off.

So, when you hear or read July 31 called the "trade deadline," you'll gain a little insight about the person behind the story.

More than the score

Has anybody else noticed how a certain sports news show on a certain cable channel that bills itself as the "worldwide leader in sports" has disintegrated lately into little more than a collection of guys hitting home runs?

Have you also noticed how "SportsCenter," er, this show, is more often than not eschewing game highlights for long promos for other ESPN programs disguised as news or feature stories?

Just wondering.

Program notes

With the start of training camps, ESPN2 returns its nightly NFL show, "NFL2Night," tonight at 7: 30. The program will air each night in that slot, and New York Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn will join host Mark Malone in the studio tomorrow night.

In advance of next Monday's made-for-TV nonsense with Tiger Woods and David Duval, ESPN has cooked up some trifle called the "Par 3 Shootout." The second half of the event airs tonight at 7: 30, with Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Phil Mickelson and Lee Janzen shooting for as much as $1 million on each hole.

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