Craig Carton sucks.
This isn’t a new concept. The New York sports radio jock has sucked for a long time. The details are well covered in Andrew Marchand’s story in the New York Post about Carton being in talks to host a morning show on MLB Network.
The quickie version: Carton did time in federal prison “following a conviction for fraud … still owes the victims of his crime nearly $5 million … (and) recently called ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan, ‘a weasel’ after Passan and Mina Kimes broke the story about Mets GM Jared Porter’s harassing texts that ended up costing Porter his job. … Carton’s claims are too incorrect and incoherent to fully go through.”
It’s sadlarious enough that MLB would be considering giving airtime to someone whose “claims are too incorrect and incoherent to fully go through,” but even more damning is what those claims were about: a well-reported news story about a scandalous act that highlights a major culture problem within baseball. To turn around just weeks later, and give Carton real estate on the league’s network, is a disgusting idea that shows just how deep the rot is at MLB.
The ethics are terrible. The optics are terrible. And the idea itself is terrible.
MLB Network has the ability to show how great baseball is by showing… get this… baseball. During the season, if you turn on MLB Network in the morning, you should see highlights of the previous night’s games — which is what has been the case for several years now with repeated airings of “Quick Pitch.”
Running the same highlights over and over again may not get ratings, but that’s not the point if you’re a sports league running a network. The point is to cultivate fans, and do you know who really gets into highlight shows of the previous night’s games? Kids who don’t get to stay up to see the previous night’s games, as well as parents and other folks with early bedtimes. The idea of the network being to grow the business by showing highlights of night games in the morning brings the product to more people.
Putting some blowhard on the air for an hour might get a few more eyeballs, but not nearly so many as to make it worthwhile to undercut the point of your network’s existence. It’s also not like Carton would be alone as a middle-aged white man yelling and insulting the audience’s intelligence on morning cable television. Have you seen morning cable television? There’s way more middle-aged white men yelling and insulting the audience’s intelligence than baseball highlights, that’s for sure.
But that won’t get any headlines for MLB Network, and it won’t get 15-second clips of MLB Network host Craig Carton onto social media, getting dunked on by everybody for whatever stupid thing he says, and eventually either getting fired or having to write an insincere apology on the Notes app because he went too far.
This might be standard practice for, say, Fox Sports, but a league’s network should be different. MLB shouldn’t want people to be hate-watching their network’s contribution to the hot take-industrial complex. And that’s the best-case scenario for what Carton has to offer.
It’s not too late for MLB to avoid this mess, but it says a lot about what they’re doing that the idea of having Carton on their network even got so far as to be bandied about in the New York Post.