The first article he wrote for his new employer? About his dad's alcoholism. Ok, fine. There are some things that even I won't jump on. His second article? A boring but reasonable plea for golf fans to cheer for Phil Mickelson over Tiger Woods during the U.S. Open. (It bothered me a little because of its Yankees-or-Red-Sox-and-no-one-else dichotomized type of approach to fandom; what if I want to cheer for someone besides those two? Whatever.)
But his third? Let's just say it's the kind of garbage I expect him to be writing at the WWL for years to come. In fact, it's worse than garbage; it's in the same vein as what someone like Nancy Grace does. You know, a news story that's totally and utterly meaningless, but contains a shocking/offensive/tragic element, thereby making it effective for sucking in the self-righteous masses. Oh my goodness! Someone did something bad! Doesn't that make you feel good about yourself? Not only would you never do this, but better still, you have an accurate moral compass that tells you these people are bad! Thanks, Rick/Nancy. Without you I would've never been exposed to stories like the one I'm about to unveil, and would subsequently not feel nearly as good about myself as I do for simply being less of an asshole than most.
Sigh. Fucking people. Anyways-
Brushing back a batter? OK. But this? You have to be kidding.
Get ready to be shocked and appalled, people.
You've heard of Kill the Ump, Lynch the Ump, and Strangle the Ump, right?
I'm going to open myself up to criticism here- I played organized baseball for 14 years, and I have no fucking idea what that is. But go on.
Well, get ready for the latest thing—Bean the Ump.
It happened on May 31 in the Georgia high school Class AAA championship game. Stephens County was losing to Cartersville 9-1 early, partly because nine straight SCHS batters had struck out. The last ring-up so hacked off superstar shortstop Ethan Martin—who had just been drafted 15th overall by the Dodgers—that he threw his helmet in protest.
My goodness- Scandal!
But that figured. Martin and his brother, Cody, who was pitching, reportedly had been complaining about balls and strikes the entire game.
What a fucking setup. Thanks, Rick, for telling me in advance who the villains are. You know, this is exactly what Nancy Grace and other bottom feeders of her ilk do. They're constantly hoping to invoke a reaction out of you along the lines of: "I'll tell you one thing right now- it sounds like those boys weren't raised right! If I had been their parent, you'd better believe they would have learned some respect. This whole country is going to hell in a handbasket. You know what's to blame? Violent video games, that's what."
Honestly. Fucking people.
So now it's the bottom of the fourth, with Ethan playing short and Cody on the mound. The catcher is Matt Hill. There are no outs. The count is 0-1. Cody winds up and flings a very high, very hard fastball. Hill comes out of his squat, puts his glove up to catch it, then does a very funny thing.
Instead, the YouTube video will show, he drops to his knees before the ball gets to him. Doesn't even try to catch it. Just flops to his knees, with his head looking down at the plate. Never looks up or back. The ball, meanwhile, conks umpire Jeff Scott square in the face mask. Rocks him back. Then squirts up the third-base line.Yup, that's a good synopsis of what happened. That catcher is pretty much the worst actor of all time, and obviously the pitcher or whoever told him to do that is a little bit crazy.
But here's the thing about this incident- IT'S NOT RELEVANT. It's a story about a few shitdick kids who don't know how to control their anger. Off-the-field variations of this incident happen all over the country, 24 hours a day. Kids vandalize shit. They steal shit. They break shit. They assault people. They do unspeakable things because they don't see any other way to deal with their problems. But it's not newsworthy. The fact that ESPN considers it to be so is a sign of the times and a reflection of a tiny-brained audience. It's not a correct or appropriate decision.
Look, if I were writing a graduate thesis about unhealthy attitudes taken by some kids towards sports these days, or about odd examples of juvenile delinquency, this is the kind of incident I'd want to learn about. If enough investigation goes into the matter to draw some significant conclusions about the circumstances that caused it, I'd hope you could read about it in some kind of scholarly journal or something. But... I'm not writing that made up graduate thesis. I'm just a sports fan, who came to this sports site hoping to read an article about something relevant happening in the world of sports today.
I'm not picky. I don't care if it's a heartwarmingly sappy human interest piece. I don't care if it's about a sport most people ignore, like bowling or sailing or pole vaulting. Fuck it- I don't even care if it's about the Celtics or Red Sox. Just don't show me something that belongs in a fucking tabloid. Stop trying to titillate me with stories of people behaving badly and show me something that's primarily focused on, you know, SPORTS.
Jiminy fucking Christmas. It's never easy, is it?
Scott Singer, who videotaped the game from behind the plate, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I don't know what was going through their heads but … it's like, good god!"
Good God indeed! Scott, you've played directly into the media's hand on this one. That's pretty much what they needed you to say, in order to invoke an identical reaction from their readers. I'm very disappointed in you. If you actually had a brain and a pair of balls, you would've told the reporter something like "What really offends me is how poorly the catcher tried to play it off. Jesus, who did he think he was going to fool?" or "Hey, the ump had it coming." Better yet, "I think it's pretty obvious that those kids are assholes. But really, do you need to be writing a story about this? Isn't there some news going on somewhere that needs to be covered?"
After the game, Hill explained that he'd been expecting a curveball, instead got a fastball and just didn't catch it.
Yeah, surrrre. I used to catch a little. Happens all the time. You're expecting a curveball and instead you get a fastball so you say, "Boy, didn't see that coming. I'll just drop to my knees and wait for the next one."Yeah, actually, that does happen. But not in the way you see in the video. Even when Rick's right, he's wrong.
What's worse is that Hill's coach, Mark Gosnell, believed him! Right, Coach. And remember that time you found the school mascot tied up in a locker with a sock in his mouth? That was definitely terrorists.
Wow. Hey Rick- not to shit too messily on your embarrassingly bad joke, but this is not a PG-rated Disney comedy about how a ragtag band of unathletic misfits beat the well-coached and heavily favored varsity baseball team in a competition to see who would get to represent the school in the state tournament. (The reason I'm making this clarification is because that's the only situation I can imagine in which someone would bind and gag a school mascot, shove him/her into a locker, and then blame the incident on terrorism.)
Anyway, now the ump has to get back behind noncatcher Hill, who may very well have just schemed to remove his noggin from his neck. Wouldn't you have loved to have heard the conversation as they awaited the next pitch?
Ump: Uh, any chance you might catch this one, or should I duck now?
Hill: Depends. Is it going to be a strike?I guess Rick was being honest in his chat last week when he insisted that he and Bill Simmons were getting along just fine. Apparently Bill's writing jokes for him.
Isn't it enough for an umpire to endure all the blind jokes—Hey, ump, what's it like to get your checks in Braille?—without two players actually trying to blind him?
If you want to hear an awkward, douchechilly silence, just go to a baseball game and shout "Hey ump, what's it like to get your checks in Braille?"
Cartersville wound up winning the game 13-1, and when state athletic officials saw the tape, they snapped. "The catcher did not intend to catch the pitch," says Ralph Swearngin, executive director of the Georgia High School Association. "I didn't see the eyes of the catcher tracking the pitch." He put Stephens County on "severe warning" and fined it $1,000.
Now Rick/Nancy is turning the story. Up until this point, they've wanted us to be worried that whatever criminals they've been talking about were going to get away with whatever it was they did. You're supposed to be on the edge of your seat- are you? Oh my goodness! Please don't tell me this awful act went unpunished!
Then some payback came for Hill, who was planning to walk on at Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga., next season. He got the word from Gordon coach Travis McClanahan, who said, Forget it, we don't want you. "I've seen catchers get crossed up before," says McClanahan. "But he appeared to be blocking a curveball in the dirt. I was shocked. I've never seen that happen. I've never heard of a player even suggesting doing that."And NOW comes the part that really gives the reader the warm fuzzies. You like that, don't you? Good has triumphed over evil. Better than that- like I already mentioned, the reader gets to feel like they're a good person because they saw what the bad person did and that the bad person got punished.
I bet Hill didn't see that one coming. Don't know, though, since neither Hill nor Martin is talking.As for umpire Scott, he had a headache after the game and went for an MRI. Then he decided to get himself a lawyer. And I'm guessing there are two things that lawyer is checking out: the health of his client and the health of Hill's dad's wallet.
Awesome. A lawsuit. God bless America. I hope the judge throws a baseball at Scott's face when he arrives at court for his first hearing.
Good god, what's becoming of us?
Track star: Well, yeah, I've always hated that official, but I sure didn't mean for my javelin to go right through his spleen like that!
Announcer: But you're a sprinter.See, because a sprinter would normally not have access to javelins, nor would they be throwing them for any reason. I'm going to re-write a better punchline for this joke. Here goes: Sprinter? I hardly know her!
I hope Scott does ask for damages, and that the players have to pay in a way they'll never forget: by being forced to umpire Little League games. They'll be amazed how vile parental vocabulary can be, how far little brothers can spit and how many pitched balls wind up hitting them in the thorax.
But at least the 8-year-olds won't be doing it on purpose.That's deep, man. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Rick Reilly has won like a million awards for his writing. With conclusions like that one, you can see why.
Sometimes I wonder if, in the course of writing this blog, I get too tied up in obviously horrible writing like this. I mean, people like Simmons, Jemele Hill, Gene Wojceichowski, Reilly... everyone knows they suck. They're low-hanging fruit. There's no real challenge in picking them apart. Even the least discerning of our readers should be able to see without much help why most of what they write sucks. I mean, maybe I should spend more time finding articles with a little more depth to their awfulness. There are plenty of writers out there who actually have a decent grasp on their subject matter but still produce work that deserves to be criticized. I've done it before, and it's felt pretty rewarding. For every Bill Simmons, there are three baseball writers who think stolen bases are more important than walks and three football writers who don't understand that an offense depends on more than a quarterback. Yeah, maybe I should make fun of more stuff like that!
At least, that's what I say to myself about once a month. Shortly thereafter, I'll casually surf over to ESPN.com and check out what's linked on the front page. Something like this Reilly article will come up. And I'll realize that my intentions to branch out are, well, nothing more than intentions. As long as Reilly/Wojceichowski/Simmons/Hill keep doing what they've been doing, I'm not going to be able to change a damn thing about how I blog.
Maybe that's the way it should be.
(Did you like the format of my conclusion? Guess who I stole it from!)