It's no secret that there's a Mariana Trench-sized gap left in the SportsCenter and ESPN programming schedule in general now that their beloved Red Sox were knocked out of the playoffs. Luckily for the Worldwide Leader, that fateful event happened on a Sunday, allowing them the benefit of conveniently burying the coverage of the Sox's beatdown and the Yankees' triumph underneath 30-40 minutes of regular season NFL coverage. This actually benefited them two-fold: one, it allowed even more time for ESPN's gaggle of football "analysts" to verbally jerk off Brett Favre, and two, it gave Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian time to stop crying in each other's arms and regain their composure for Baseball Tonight.
But the fact still remains that the ESPN baseball cupboard is bare without the Sox, so here's their plan to keep the Sox at the forefront of their postseason coverage in tonight's SportsCenter Top 10, sponsored by Miller Lite. Great Taste, Less Filling.
10) Focus on Pedro Martinez's performance throughout the remainder of the postseason, since he is the most prominent former Red Sox player still in the postseason.
9) Pay the Red Sox to have Bill James come up with new formulas that can sabermetrically prove that Boston actually won their ALDS series against the Angels.
8) Break down Jonathan Papelbon's career stats against Mariano Rivera's to show that, by the time he retires, Papelbon will be remembered as the greatest closer that ever lived.
7) Have a 2-hour Baseball Tonight Special where Karl Ravech, John Kruk, Tim Kurkjian, and Peter Gammons all break down Red Sox players chances of winning every single award from MVP to Cy Young to Rookie of the Year to Comeback Player of the Year (even though it's already been awarded) to awards that don't even exist but were created by ESPN for the sole purpose of being able to give them to Red Sox players.
5) Blatantly replace every hat on every baseball player's headshot for the remainder of the playoffs with a Red Sox hat.
4) Show old footage of Papelbon closing out a game against the Angels from last year's playoffs and pass it off as what happened on Sunday so they can pretend Game 4 is actually tomorrow night. Secure an interview with Terry Francona where he is asked who his starter will be for Game 4 to really sell the ruse.
3) Work mentions of and comparisons to the Red Sox into coverage of other players and teams and topics that ESPN has a hard-on for, i.e.- Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Tim Tebow, etc.
2) Cancel next week's Monday Night Football Game and have Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Ron Jaworski call the play-by-play and provide commentary for a replay of the 2004 ALCS Game 4.
1) Replace the remainder of the "ESPN: 30 For 30" specials with a new, 1-hour, 29-week series devoted to the story of Jon Lester miraculously recovering from cancer.
Or they could just get over it and focus on the fact that the Yankees are the best team in baseball, have been for the majority of the season, and are the clear cut favorites to win the World Series and would have still been the favorites even if the Red Sox were still in the playoffs.
Don't fight it, ESPN, let your hate out. Give in to the powers of the Dark Side...