Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rick Reilly: Now wasting his time in addition to yours

Rick Reilly is an award winning journalist who is paid over $1 million a year. His column appears ONCE A WEEK.

I used to think the worst jobs in sports were: (1) Thong wrangler for John Daly.

But being a thong wrangler for Phil Mickelson wouldn't be a SHIT job!? Get it? Thong...SHIT job.

(2) Mark McGwire's injector.

Second thing having to do with touching someone's butt. Is (3) going to be "NFL Quarterback ewwwwwww!"

(3) Detroit Lion.

Low paying job that every football fan is glad they don't have.....uncheck

These are the folks who come running out just before the halftime concert yelling like they just won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, even though the band isn't even on stage yet.

Let me give you some advice: Don't. Be. One.

You know how sometimes you have an idea you think will be hilarious and clever, but it ends up worse than being trapped under Kevin James in a Finnish sauna?

Kevin James is fat! And he's in a successful movie that's out now! Double-Win!

"You'll be 10 feet from Bruce Springsteen!" I said to myself. "You'll find out who all those people are we see every year! The game's going to be a blowout anyway. What'll you miss?"

1. What sports journalist watches the Superbowl and walks away with the lingering question "But who were those people on the field during the concert!?"

2. Nothing says ESPNation like the assumption that the Steelers would steam roll the Cardinals.

3. If you spend time wondering about who the people at Superbowl concerts are, you don't have the right to complain about missing anything related to football.

Turns out these "fans" are real people—almost 2,000 of them.

Real people you say? Thank god someone cleared this up.

They're local teachers, nurses and students willing to rehearse for two 10-hour days and then show up at noon for a 6 p.m. football game, of which they'll get to see none of.

Once again, if you're willing to go through all this shit just to be near Bruce Springstein, then you really have no room to complain about missing any of the Superbowl.

Reilly goes on to complain about other shit, like how people further back could hear way better than the people up close. That's never happened before! Stop the presses!

Let me ask though, if you're ESPN's star reporter, and this is your first Superbowl with the company, what in the fucking hell are you doing writing your Superbowl story about the people involved in the one non-football event of the Superbowl? I know, Rick Reilly writes about human emotions blah blah, but for fuck's sake at least involve an athlete in the story in some way. Oh and did I mention he gets paid 7 figures to write one column a week? Unbelievable.


Ben said...

You're. Not. Funny.

I'm not saying all of Reilly's articles are gems, but people used to subscribe to SI just to read his column. Also, your grammar is terrible for a "writer".

Jack M said...

Ouch, sick burn on my grammar from a guy who put a period outside of a quotation mark.


"I'm not saying all of Reilly's articles are gems, but people used to subscribe to SI just to read his column."

That really proves nothing about this article; nothing at all. So bully for you on that, Benny.

Bengoodfella said...

Come on Ben, you know this piece of journalism by Reilly was no good. He didn't even attend the two day 10 hours each day practice rehearsals they had to do. It's pretty bad he didn't even attend every event the others had to attend to be a "fan" in the crowd, and by bad I mean, "purely lazy." He didn't even do the hard work the others had to do. We Ben's can agree right?

I take those people who subscribe to SI to read his column with a grain of salt. There are people who watch 60 Minutes for Andy Rooney and those "people" much like the "people" who subscribe to SI for Reilly's column are my grandparents.

Tonus said...

I think that there doesn't need to be any conflict here. All of Ben's statements can stand on their own:

1- Rick Reilly writes entertaining columns, and has many fans.

2- His latest column was not a gem and worthy of a rip-job.*

3- Jack M's grammar could use some polish.

*Okay, I'm taking some liberties here.

Personally, I think Jack gets paid way too much to set such low standards for writing, but I'm a tough critic.

Chris W said...

you know who else gets lots of readers to read his publication?

Mitch Albom.

Reilly's not that shitty, but when he wrote for SI, that was essentially his angle every week.

Lots of people love Tuesdays for Morrie. If you want to read a blog by those kind of people, I'd suggest refraining from typing firejaymariotti into your browser window (although Dan-Bob's a pretty big fan of the 11 people you meet in heaven)

Larry B said...

"People used to subscribe to SI just to read his column" is a horrendous way to try to justify this particular article as not shitty. This article IS shitty, as is almost everything he's done since moving to ESPN. End of story. How entertaining Reilly was ten years ago has nothing to do with it.

Bengoodfella said...

Larry, very concise and to the point, but I am not sure I like your that negates the entire point you just made.

Anonymous said...

If I was out having a drink with a friend, and we were talking about the worst jobs in sports, and he said "How about thong wrangler for John Daly!!??" and he honestly thought that was funny, I would empty my entire beer on his head. If he followed that statement up with "Wait...what about Mark McGuire's injector!!??", I'd punch him in the face and never speak to him again.

To say that an article written by one of the most highly paid writers in sports and which incorporates such inane crap is "not a gem" is a gross understatement. I do not mean it as an exaggeration in any way when I say that a 10 year old kid with a rough familiarity with sports could come up with those exact same jokes and maybe get a laugh out of the dorkier members of his 4th grade class. The cool kids would still roll their eyes and probably beat him up at recess, but his material would remain superior relative to Reilly's when you factor in his salary, preparation time, and mental maturity.

Rick Reilly worked when he approached sports writing from a reflective, serious angle and highlighted the personal stories surrounding sports--stories the average, non-superstar sports fan could appreciate. His downfall came when he attempted to develop the funny, hip cool guy persona that plagues sports journalism and which makes us all despise Bill Simmons. Rick is a dorky, middle-aged white man. He is neither hip nor funny, and is therefore completely unable to write hip, funny articles. Yet he gets paid ungodly sums of money to do so. That's why he should be ridiculed, Ben, every time he produces a poorly-planned, irritating, and arrogant piece such as this.

Bengoodfella said...

Someone with an opinion I agree with so completely should never have to remain Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

In Rick Reilly's defense, I think his is probably one of the tougher sports writing jobs you can have.

Basically, he has to churn out these weekly human interest columns that inject humor without going over some insanely short word limit. I'd agree that he misses on a ton of these columns. But I think most of us could maybe nail 1-2 of these a year. It's really tough.

I don't feel sorry for the guy, as he's paid millions to do it. But I just don't think it's possible to churn out great columns with these limitations on a weekly basis for 10-20 years. It's the same reason sitcoms have such a short shelf-life, there's just not enough material before it gets old.

ESPN is the one deserving of the ridicule, as they basically shelled out big bucks for a guy that couldn't possibly meet those expectations. You'd think after years of covering GMs in every sport make that mistake with over-the-hill athletes, ESPN wouldn't make a similar mistake.

Chris W said...

Anonymous above me--

That's a very reasonable take. I mean, it's a tough job. Certainly less worthy of scorn than, say, Jay Mariotti, who has the entire world of sports to survey, but chooses instead to spend column inches churning out invective drivel.

Reilly, you can tell, sometimes he's just out of ideas. That said, this was a dumb fucking column...

Jeff said...

I don't know what you guys are talking about....I sure as hell don't want to be a wrangler for John Daly's THONG! If he were to ever wear one and need someone to "wrangle" it or whatever!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but Rick Reilly has one of the toughest jobs in sports writing? That has to be a joke. As far as I can tell, his job description reads: "Write something somewhat related to sports once per week." That is the entirety of his occupation, and he has every luxury and resource at his disposal with which to pursue it.

You know which sports writing jobs are more difficult than that? All of them. Assuming Rick aims for 1,000 words per column, and assuming he works a standard five day, 8 hour work week, he needs to maintain a pace of 25 words/hour in order to meet his goal. In doing so, he doesn't even have to cover sports. In fact, he clearly doesn't even need to know shit about sports. Real sports writers have to get off their ass and cover sports, dig around for stories, analyze trends, etc. Rick Reilly does none of that.

I don't care what lofty expectations come with his prominent position and hefty salary. His job is still incredibly easy. As for espn being retarded to sign him? No argument here. But Reilly is still producing terrible work. Just look around the internet. There are people everywhere writing far more interesting pieces with more regularity than Rick. Are we to suppose that their creativity and insight is due entirely to the fact that they don't work for espn and aren't saddled with crushing expectations?

Anonymous said...

Measuring difficulty by "words / hour" misses the entire point -- it's much more difficult to write on a topic when you adhere to a word limit.

Any amatuer can pound out a bunch of words (you just used 250 to say he sucks). Simmons is the epitome of this, as his columns could typically be cut in half.

It takes a unique skillset and style to speak on some larger sports theme (not just how the local team is doing), inject humor, and keep it brief. I think at first he was wildly successful at this because it was so unique. But as you keep pounding these out every week for 10-20 years, inevitably the freshness of the style will wear wear off, people will get sick of it, and it won't be that good. That's what's happened to him. Again, I don't feel sorry for him. But I don't think it's entirely fair to call the guy a hack -- you try doing what he does -- it's not easy (despite it amounting to 25 words / hour).

Anonymous said...

I work in a business that values concise writing, and I often have to deal with tight word limits, so I can appreciate the difficulties that can arise in such circumstances. However, this is only a problem if you have something meaningful to say. More often than not, Reilly has nothing significant to say (this column is a great example). Also, note how often Reilly's columns are packed full of quotes. If you want to be concise, you paraphrase; you don't quote. If you personally have something to say, you don't endlessly quote others. Therefore, I don't think the word limit argument applies, and I think it is noteworthy that he is asked to produce such a meager amount (25 words/hour).

Moreover, how does a tight word limit excuse poor substance, e.g., the John Daly thong joke? That's just dumb, and it has nothing to do with the length of his column.

Finally, it is not a requirement that Reilly write funny things, so it is no argument to say that noone can consistently be hilarious. As I pointed out earlier, his stuff was good right up until he started trying to be funny and cool. Reilly fails in his attempts at humor not because he is asked to meet unrealistic demands. He fails in his attempts at humor, because he is an unfunny person. So, be it as it may that there are legitimate excuses for the occassional unfunny column if written by any average person (word limits, weekly columns, etc.), none of those excuses apply here.

Ben said...

I have to say I really didn't expect such an uproar over my original comment. I figured I would just be dismissed as a hater and forgotten about.

This Reilly article, and many of his articles of late, have certainly left something to be desired. However, as someone said, coming up with new ideas each week for his human-interest column has got to be a bitch. There is much worse sports journalism out there (like anything ever written in the NY Post) that you could tear apart.

Nice catch on my grammar faux paus by the way. Seems like someone who could catch that could do a better job in his own "column" though...

Jack M said...

There are far worse columns being written every day in America, but 99% of them aren't published on the ESPN frontpage.

Anonymous said...

It's "faux pas."

Chris W said...

Rick Reilly is an excellent journalist...

...if you're a 50 year old dude who etc. etc.

Martin said...

You guys write columns here? I thought it was just a diatribe blog.