Skip Bayless has made his name by throwing out brash declaratory statements that tend to be pretty inflammatory. His lived up to that reputation earlier this week on ESPN’s “First Take” (formerly “Cold Pizza”, before that conceptual nameplate was killed off ritualistically), when he said that Dallas Mavericks fans were engaging in “Philly-style behavior“.
Evidently it has something to do with Mark Cuban insulting Kenyon Martin to K-Mart’s mother — and Cuban’s apologizing a day later — and the ejection of Carmelo Anthony’s fiancee, LaLa Vasquez, with Vasquez refusing to back down from her claim that Dallas fans are racists.
Not surprisingly, that left proud Philadelphians pretty upset, considering that the insinuation was that they were completely rash and uncivilized. So the city struck back today on Philly ESPN radio host Mike Missanelli’s show Tuesday afternoon.
Missanelli proceeded to take Bayless to the mat, and fast. He started off by claiming Bayless had no facts, leaving Bayless to attack Missanelli — who wrote for the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER for a number of years — by claiming he was a journalistic lightweight. All this simply because the radio host took Bayless to task for being unable to produce evcen anecdotal evidence of any incidents of violence at Philadelphia events in the past 10 years.
You have to listen to the interview, because Missanelli positively crushes Bayless. It’s embarrassing. One moment, he’s attacking Bayless with pretty cogent points the next he’s showing how Bayless tries to bulldoze his way out of a jam with pure bullying tactics. Instead of rolling over for Bayless’s allegations, Missanelli steadfastly refuses to back down. Now, none of this means that Missanelli has more substantial facts than Bayless, it’s just that his defense of the city bears a little weight since he lives there, works there and covered sports for the city’s most significant paper and its branch of Comcast Sports.
Naturally, Bayless’s eventual capitulation raises some interesting questions: If we all know he is essentially a puppet, can we take any of what he says seriously? If he’s become such a talking head that he accuses other non-print media members of being shock jocks because they ask for specific anecdotal evidence, doesn’t that make him the ultimate sports shock jock, prettied up for television every morning?
It also brings up another fascinating point: Where will ESPN side when one of it’s radio hosts attacks a primo on-air star? Like him or not, Bayless has become a fairly big name because of “First Take”, and he’s certainly much more recognizable than a guy like Missanelli. That hardly means that Missanelli is wrong, it just means that he’ll probably end up getting the short end of the stick if the company chooses sides.
If he does, at least he’ll always have Tuesday, when he exposed Bayless as a prancing prima donna of all shock jock sportscasters and sportswriters. It’s about time someone did.