In case you haven't heard, reportedly David Aldridge is leaving ESPN (hat tip to These Days , after spending the last 8 years as their top NBA analyst. I had noticed a few weeks ago that Aldridge seemed to be deemphasized this season as he was not even on the station's pregame show, NBA Fastbreak. Perhaps as a result, he also seemed to be losing time on Sportscenter to lesser basketball talking heads like Greg Anthony, Bill Lambier, and, of course, the "Angry Black Man" Steven A. Smith. While his absence will be difficult at first to adjust to, I have no doubts that he will resurface, hopefully to TNT so that their coverage can continue to embarrass ESPN's effort. For it is ESPN that will be losing out due to letting DA go.
Sadly, news like this contributes to a recent trend in the quality of ESPN. In both their television and internet enterprises the quality has been slipping and rapidly losing its focus. The website is still my first stop for anything sports, but its design has become unwieldy(for live scoreboards I recommend the more practical Cbssportsline.com), and the content has been shifting to entertainment pieces like rumors about Paris Hilton or 10 questions detailing how much Nick Lachey likes the Cincinnati Reds. You now get features on page 2, page 3, the Espys, the Grammy's, the Cable Ace Awards, while a fantastic baseball writer like Rob Neyer gets pushed in their paid subscription "Insider" content. Oh, but don't fret, at least there's "Chewin the Fat" penned by John "Steinbeck" Kruk.
On the tube, the smarts and wit of Sportscenter anchors of yore like Patrick, Olbermann and Eisen have been replaced by loudmouth copycats who are more interested in getting their catchphrases recognized than reporting the sports of the day. Baseball Tonight has gone from my favorite show on TV to pretty much unwatchable, at least when John Kruk's neck-less body is looking back at me. And then you have the incessant self promotion, through series like Playmakers, movies like The Junction Boys ("He aint Quittin!" "We're gonna work now!") and lets not forget Dream Job. And now, their top NBA analyst: someone who would tell you the rumors and not scream it to you; someone who respected those who ran the league and its teams instead of treating every misstep like the Hindenburg; someone who made me feel smarter just by watching....has been shown the door.
Don't worry DA, you're surely moving on to something better, as ESPN is a ship that is sinking before our very eyes.