Showing posts with label jeff pearlman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jeff pearlman. Show all posts

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sanctimonious idiot Jeff Pearlman misses the point, spends 1500 words telling you that you missed the point

Are you up to speed on the whole Thayer Evans/Oklahoma State story thing?  Hopefully, because I don't really want to take the time to explain it.  (Have you already forgotten about it, because this post is about 10 days late?  Probably.)  The basics, in case you need them, are that Thayer Evans is a guy who is good at picking up on stories that people find interesting, but really shitty at adhering to basic standards of journalistic integrity as he crafts his reporting.  He's irresponsible and sensationalist.  He doesn't really do things like "verify his sources" or in some cases "have credible sources in the first place."  And please believe, I don't give a steaming pile of fuck about Oklahoma State, Auburn, LSU, the Honey Badger or Cam Newton.  But this is an indisputable fact at this point: Thayer Evans is a shitty journalist.  That should be the main takeaway from his Oklahoma State expose, because the fact that a major college football program doesn't follow NCAA rules and gives its players lots of benefits they shouldn't get is not news and thus not eligible to be a takeaway.


I don’t know Thayer Evans. We’ve never met, never spoken. In fact, before a couple of days ago I’m not sure I’d ever heard of the man. Is he a good reporter? 

Not at all.  That's well known at this point.

A shady reporter? 


Does he love Oklahoma and hate Oklahoma State? 

According to Jason Whitlock, yes, although that doesn't make his shitty reporting any more or less shitty.

Could he care less? I just don’t know—and, I’m quite certain, most other don’t know, either.

Everyone knows.  Use the Google machine.  Type in "Thayer Evans journalism ethics."  There's lots of smoke and plenty of fire.  Thayer Evans is an unethical journalist.

Here’s what I do know: Much of the criticism of his reporting methodology has been—on the surface—bunk. There’s this idea out there that, in order to properly and rightly report a story, one needs to interview a select group of people—generally the stars and head coach. If you don’t speak with them, the logic goes, you’re interviewing the wrong folk.

This is crap.

The criticism of Evans has little to nothing to do with his interviewee selections.  It has a lot more to do with his doing things like secretly recording conversations with interviewees who did not know they were going to become interviewees, not doing basic fact checking with regard to facts that could have easily been checked, and embellishing facts to spice up a story.  Jeff Pearlman is a dope, and in his quest to be OUTRAGED at another ho-hum NCAA scandal, is going to try to defend Thayer Evans.

Without fail, stars and head coaches are almost always the worst interviews/sources. Why? Multiple reasons: A. They’re the ones who benefited most from the team/program. The head coach of Oklahoma State was paid big money to guide a high-exposure program. He had endorsement deals, contractual perks, etc … etc. Unless he was ultimately screwed, there is, literally, zero reason for him to speak. Stars can be grouped in the same category. You’re Brandon Weeden. You were the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State; that ultimately led you to the NFL. What, exactly, are you going to complain about? Who are you going to rat out?

The job of a reporter (and it ain’t easy) is figuring out whose information is correct, and whose is not. 

See the fact checking link up there.  Apparently Evans isn't so good at "the job of a reporter."

It’s about feeling comfortable with sources; about having other people vouch for a source’s words and/or character. Ultimately, it’s a judgement call. 

That Thayer Evans has repeatedly demonstrated he sucks at making.

The thing that puzzles me—that has always puzzled me—is the brainless craziness that is college football. 

Crank up the Pearlman-o-matic 5000!  Here comes the sanctimony.

Whether Thayer Evans’ reporting was flawed 

It was.

or perfect, 

Not close.

clearly Oklahoma State did some very bad things. 


This is obvious, and a fact no one seems to be denying. And yet … why don’t school loyalists care? We’re talking about 19-, 20-, 21-, 22-year-old (so-called) student-athletes 


once again being treated as pieces of meat. They’re models for uniforms, dollar signs for endorsement deals, images to place on the cover of university literature … and, rarely, actually people.

Yes.  All correct.  But we don't need shady fucktards like Thayer Evans to show us these things.  1) We already know them 2) presenting them in the context of a JUICY SCANDAL does nothing but titillate for the sake of titillating, rather than actually generating interesting analysis (something much of the reporting on the Ed O'Bannon case has done).  It is no longer news that players took money or had access to sex and drugs.  Sorry.  And if you want to report on those topics without following the basic standards of ethical journalism, then fuck you and fuck the people that defend you because they think you've uncovered the next Watergate.

I hear college football die-hards speak of their teams as “we”—we need to run the ball better; we need to come out strong against Oregon. This, of course, is ludicrous. These are often kids with flimsy academic credentials, being asked to carry a full course load while also practicing X hours per day, flying X miles across the country, missing X class and X class and X class. 

Oh my God, what are we talking about?  Jeff, you are the worst ranter ever.  At the very very least, even if you're going to be the dope that we know you are, try to stay on topic.

They would struggle to maintain a 2.0 average if they were solely enrolled in school (minus sports)—

That's completely untrue, fucking insulting to thousands of kids, and possibly racist.

and yet, we pretend all is OK and groovy and grand. We dress them up in our school colors, roll out the balls and cheer away. Then, seven or eight years later, when we see X player living in his mother’s house, barely able to read, 44 credits shy of a college diploma, we shrug. Shit happens.

If you love Oklahoma State, shouldn’t you be furious? Not at the reporter or the magazine, but the school and the athletic department and the football program? 

Yes.  But you already knew about all those problems before private eye Thayer Evans arrived on the scene to build his own personal brand with a poorly-vetted story full of uninteresting crap.  You can hate the NCAA and the way it treats athletes, and you can also hate Thayer Evans.  They're not mutually exclusive possibilities.

Shouldn’t you be demanding a clean system; a desire for all-around excellence; a chance for your guys to wind up as successes in business, not just a meaningless game against Baylor? Shouldn’t you demand to hear the truth from your university? Aren’t there better questions to ask than, “Why does Thayer Evans hate us so much?”

I have no sympathy for OSU alums who feel victimized by Evans because he's apparently an OU fan.  Fuck both of those schools and fuck that whole state.  But more importantly, fuck Jeff Pearlman for taking this angle on the story.  As a, you know, journalist, you'd think he'd understand why it's important that journalists adhere to ethical standards of their profession.  Instead he's busy making sure we understand that college football is broken.  Thanks Jeff.  We got it.

I’m a Jason Whitlock fan. I truly am. I thought his commentary on the Don Imus-Rutgers stuff was outstanding. His gun stuff was equally top shelf. He’s written some wonderful stuff through the years; some columns that I’ve read more than once.

That said, this has not been a good week for the man.

Whitlock is an asshole.  Still, this was pretty awesome.

Whitlock clearly sees himself as some sort of media sheriff; a guy charged with keeping the rest of us in line. 

The lack of self-awareness is staggering.

He likes calling out individual writers, pointing out their flaws, explaining (in not these exact words) why they suck and he’s awesome.

Pot kettle etc.  And yes, of course, I realize that the pot/kettle thing goes one step further, to me and this blog.  Except that I don't think I'm awesome.  I just think that everyone sucks.

In regard to Thayer Evans, Whitlock told an Oklahoma radio station, “Having worked with Thayer Evans at Fox Sports …”

OK, to start here. I’m pretty sure Whitlock did not work with Evans. Back in the day, when people shared offices, they worked together. I’m in this cubicle, you’re in that cubicle—we work together. Whitlock never shared an office with Evans, never spent great time (if any time) with Evans. Literally, they were located in two different cities. 

And we know that they never collaborated on a project, or shared notes, or discussed their trade?  I don't want to make a big deal out of this small point, but again, in his effort to make sure we understand that the REAL STORY HERE is that some NCAA athletes don't graduate, Jeff is bending over backwards to defend Thayer Evans.  It's pathetic.

By Whitlock’s definition, I worked at Sports Illustrated with Gary Smith. Sure, he was in North Carolina and I was in New York. And sure, we literally were never in the same room at the same moment. But we worked together because our paychecks were signed by the same person. No.

I like that this is his first criticism of Whitlock's piece.  "Let's start with the important stuff--sure, Whitlock and Evans worked for the same company, but did they truly work 'together?'  OPEN YOUR EYES SHEEPLE, THEY TOTALLY DIDN'T"

Furthermore, Whitlock talks about Evans’ loyalties, calling him a “huge, enormous, gigantic Oklahoma homer.

Here's the best part.

However, Whitlock’s past desperation to work for Sports Illustrated was no great secret. His dream of being handed the back-page column. He, of course, was never offered a job by the magazine—and was, we can assume, angry about it. Does this not (by Whitlock-think) make him the wrong guy to go off on the magazine? Is he not as biased as Evans is presumed to be?


That's the greatest thing Pearlman has ever written, and we've definitely gone after him on this blog plenty of times over the years.  It's fucking priceless.  That might be the worst attempt at flipping the script on someone I've ever seen.

After slaying Evans, Whitlock noted, “I think the story is a cliché and bogus and suspect and just the wrong angle.”

You know what's fucking fantastic?  You want the full context of that comment?  To explain what Whitlock thinks is the right angle?  Here you go:

I have the obvious take (on the series) that I’m tired of these stories. We’ve been reading these stories for 30 years and I’m tired of people pointing out how corrupt participants are in a system that has been proven to be corrupt. The NCAA amateur system is corrupt, so we should not be surprised that there is corruption among the participants. I would like to see more of the focus on the NCAA and the system and fixing that, and then I’ll get upset about the corruption. I think the story is a cliché and bogus and suspect and just the wrong angle.

JEFF.  EARTH TO JEFF.  JEFF, GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS IMMEDIATELY.  Whitlock has the EXACT SAME PERSPECTIVE on this issue as you do.  It's just that he, while acknowledging how fucking up NCAA football is, ALSO wants someone like Evans to not be a huge shithead.  See how he can have it both ways?  You could too, if you weren't such a sanctimonious dope.  That's the world Jeff Pearlman lives in: if an unethical "journalist" writes an unethical piece, but the tone of the piece is something Pearlman agrees with, it's asking too much of him to get him to acknowledge the shittiness of the journalism.

He also admitted, and I’ll place this in capital letters, that HE NEVER READ THE ARTICLE. Never. Not once. Not a word. DID. NOT. READ. IT. Even if you think the writer is a fraud, how in God’s name can you rip a piece you never read … then have other credible news sources give those words weight.

Whitlock should have read the article(s), but it doesn't change the fact that it is well established that Thayer Evans is a piece of shit.

Again, I think Whitlock is a good writer, and I have no personal beef. But he pulled this same crap when I appeared on his podcast several years ago to promote Sweetness. Whitlock welcomed me on, wanted to talk Walter Payton … but admitted never having read the book, because he doesn’t read sports books.

Uh …

OK, again, that's Whitlock being an asshole, but leave it to Jeff to complain about the nice (if awkwardly lacking in execution) thing that someone else did to him to help him sell his book.

My favorite piece of the Whitlock diatribe comes here: “There are a brand of sports writers who love doing these investigative pieces. They are not hard to do these days in terms of so-and-so got this money under the table. We’re into this area where unnamed sources can say anything, any of these he-said, she-said stories. I don’t respect the entire brand of investigative journalism that is being done here.”

All of that seems very fair to me, if heavy-handed.  It's not that this brand of journalism deserves no respect; it's that it's been done before, many times, and people like Evans use it to make a name for themselves because it's scandalous.  And that's pretty dumb.

Jason Whitlock has the absolute easiest job in sports media—and he knows it. He opines. That’s it. He doesn’t report. He doesn’t dig. He doesn’t make calls or seek out information. He takes the reporting done by others, sits in front of his laptop and comes up with a take. That’s it. He’s a good writer. Is he one of the, oh, 200 most-talented sportswriters in America? Probably not. 

I don't like Whitlock, but actually, I'm pretty certain he cracks the top 200 in the country.

(For the record, I’m by no means placing myself on that list either) 

Geez, I certainly hope not.  (Just kidding, Jeff!  You might be in the top 200 too.  No sarcasm.  But fuck you both anyways.)

But—and this is the big part—he’s loud. And obnoxious. He presents himself as a tough guy unafraid to take a tough stand, and people buy it. They absorb his self-righteous diatribes, because—on the surface—it seems to be driven by a desire to seek out truth and justice.

If any of you have every spent any time on, you know the one thing you will definitely find there is a collection of self-righteous diatribes.

But, with men and women like Whitlock, truth and justice are often smokescreens for the parallel drugs plaguing the American media: Attention and fame. 

If you cannot see that those things are exactly what Thayer Evans is trying to obtain, you're fucking blind.

Whitlock seems all about attention and fame. Or, put differently,what sort of person states his own case for the Pulitzer Prize? What size ego must a man have to A. Think to himself, “I deserve the Pulitzer” and B. Write about it? I mean, between all the craziness of life and the highs and the lows and the ups and the downs, who even has time to ponder such a thing?

Whitlock is an asshole.  Pearlman is a dope.

For all I know, the Oklahoma State report is filled with holes,

It is.

and Sports Illustrated will have to apologize 

Oddly, they did not, although they should have.

and Thayer Evans will soon be selling insurance door to door in Ada. 

We can only hope!

I just don’t know.

As a journalist, however, I am deeply troubled by the blame-the-messenger mentality that has zoomed to the forefront.

As a journalist, what you should be troubled by is the state of journalism thanks to writers like Evans.  1% of the country is "blaming the messenger" in the sense that Jeff means it.  They are mouth-breathing OSU fans, and they want to discredit everything Evans wrote simply because they love their school.  The other 99% is blaming the messenger in the exact way everyone should be: by pointing out that Thayer Evans is a tabloid journalist who should be legally barred from ever going near a computer.

There is more here than just a reporter with a vendetta, and or a reporter who can’t report, or a magazine story.

It’s time we all try and see it.

Which is pretty much what Whitlock said, except with a lot more idiocy mixed in.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 2

When we last left Bill, he was lecturing us about how Jim Rice was the best power hitter of the 20th century, and possibly the best point guard and free safety as well.  Don Sutton was just some nobody who just happened to pitch at a very high level for 20+ seasons, and really, why the hell should that qualify him for the Hall of Fame?  Are you ready for the worst argument anyone ever makes when discussing a player's HOF worthiness?  Here it comes.

There's a reason I take this so personally: I was there.


Carter, Rice, Morris and Gossage were the best players at their respective positions


(or at least among the best) when I was growing up.

Maybe, but not everyone who fits into your flimsy "among the best" definition deserves to be the Hall. This should be brutally obvious, but I do like the implication in that parenthetical that he's willing to walk back his absurd claim that Rice was the best power hitter in the game for a 12 year stretch.

Shouldn't that be what the Hall of Fame represents?

You think that's rhetorical, but it's not. The Hall of Fame should represent the very best baseball players of all time, and by very best, I mean players who were really good and they stayed really good for a long time. I almost hesitate to include that clarification--it should be obvious that being the best of all time doesn't mean being really awesome for a short period of time. It means being really awesome for a long period of time.  Lots of players have been really awesome for a short or medium period of time.  They don't belong in the hall, because there are a pretty good number of other players who have been really awesome for a long period of time.  Holy shit, why do I even think I have to explain that to any of you people?  Embarrassing.  Suffice it to say, if you're not a fucking idiot, you know generally what the HOF "should represent."

Excellence over a reasonably long period of time?

Yes, but "while Billy was growing up" is clearly not a long enough window if you think that Rice belongs in. Having four 5+ WAR seasons (and another one at 4.9), and then having seven or eight other seasons in which you had around 25 HR and 2 WAR (because he didn't get on base enough and couldn't play decent defense or run the bases) is not excellence over a reasonably long period of time. Reverse the number of seasons Rice fell into each of those two categories--seven or eight awesome 5+ WAR seasons, and then four or five "eh he hit home runs but generally wasn't that good" and he's probably in the Hall, or at least a much better candidate.

The problems don't end there. Remember how your grandparents refused to use the TV remote control and insisted on getting up and changing the channels manually?

No. My grandparents loved the piss out of using the remote.

If there were a sports equivalent of that phenomenon, it would be the Baseball Hall of Fame, where the prevailing theme is, "That's the way they did it back then, so that's the way we'll do it now."

Oh brother. The HOF sure as shit needs to make some changes, but letting in more Jim Rices, or doing what he's about to propose, aren't any of them.

Not to turn into Chandler Bing here,

And in case you weren't already aware, there's your evidence that this column is from 2002.

but could the entire process be more dumb?

That Matthew Perry--he is just too much!  Anyways, the process definitely could be dumber. As bad as the BWAA is, they could hand the vote over to current members of the HOF, or to current players. That would be really, really dumb.

Could it be less fan-friendly?

How are you going to make it more fan friendly? By letting fans themselves vote for the players? Jesus H. Christ, what a disaster that would be. These last two rhetorical questions have really deepened my appreciation for the BWAA.

Could it be any less thought-provoking?

It's very thought provoking. See: the insane number of articles written and amount of debate that takes place every single year regarding who should get in and who should not. But I like that you wanted to add a third thing to your list of Chandler Bing rhetorical question complaints, even if you came up with something that is completely out of place.

Ask yourself this question: Did you argue about the Hall of Fame selections with anyone this week?

Yes, I either directly argue about them or read articles/comments in which people argue about them every single January.

Of course not ... you probably don't care.

You can see where he's going. This is not an article written for baseball fans, but an article written for people who say DURR HURR BASEBALL IS BORRRRING BUT I WOULD WATCH IF THE HALL OF FAME ADMISSION PROCESS WAS BASED ON 40 TIMES AND BENCH REPS.  Or something.  What baseball fan doesn't care about the HOF?

And why should you?

Because I like baseball?

It's like arguing about the Grammy Awards: You know they don't accurately reflect excellence in music.

Wow, that is mean. Comparing the HOF to the Grammys--I didn't realize he had anything that dark in him. But really, that's a wholly inaccurate comparison made by a person who has no fucking idea what he's talking about. (I mean with regard to the HOF. He obviously knows that the Grammys are a joke, because everyone knows that the Grammys are a joke.)

If they did, Toto wouldn't have won four Grammys in 1982.


And that's why none of us really care about the Baseball Hall of Fame,

Every baseball fan cares about the HOF. Some non-baseball fans do too. I'm not sure if things were way different eleven years ago, or if Bill just has his head in his ass again. I am leaning towards the latter.

and the only people who do care -- ancient baseball writers -- will be dead soon, anyway.

If we're lucky. I'd still rather they be voting than fans, HOF inductees or current players though.

It's almost a lost cause. Almost. Of course, I still think the whole thing can be salvaged.

Wait! Tell us, Mr. Genius! Tell us how to save this thing that does not need to be saved! I'm sure your idea, like the rest of your ideas, is not horrid at all. THE HALL OF FAME NEEDS A VP OF CAWMON SENSE!

While driving to Shea Stadium five summers ago with my buddy Gus and his father, Wally, we came up with a brainstorm to save the Hall of Fame.

If only Billy Joel could have been driving on that same Queens highway at that same time.

We were inadvertently borrowing Bill James' plan to redefine Hall of Famers and "weigh them" for importance depending on their qualifications, a process James explained in his "Historical Abstract" (none of us were aware of this at the time).

I know I said last post that the next article any of us reads about reorganizing the HOF that didn't suck would be the first. My dismissal of such ideas does not apply to Bill James. I have not read "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?" and I don't know the specifics of his weighing plan, but he's Bill James, so I'm sure it's very unterrible. In contrast, Bill Simmons is about to offer us a reorganization plan that deserves all the careful consideration given to someone who asks you to pull their finger.

Regardless, I'm positive that Wally invented the "Pyramid Concept."

As you'll see in my next post about this article, this is not something anyone should willingly take credit for. This is like saying "Wally invented parking tickets."

Here's the premise: In an ideal world, the Hall of Fame should be a place where someone could stroll in, spend weeks walking around, absorb everything about the game ...

I've never been, but I'm pretty sure that's more or less what the HOF is already.

by the time they departed, they would know everything there is to know about professional baseball.

And now you've taken it too far. That should not be the purpose of the HOF. That is what books and the internet are for. The HOF is for preserving all of the very very best and most interesting things about baseball. Much as Jonah Keri and Jeff Pearlman would like it to have an entire wing dedicated to utility infielders from the 80s, that kind of thing does not belong in Cooperstown.

Well, the way the place is presently constructed, all the Hall of Famers are sort of lumped together.

Right, the plaques are, but there's lots of other shit too. I've seen pictures. It's a big building.

It's like having a Hall of Fame for models and putting Cindy Crawford's plaque next to the girl who modeled as the "Before" picture in the original "Weight Watchers" ad.

I've never claimed to be some masterful writer with a deft touch when it comes to analogies, but I'm sure as hell better than Bill.  What an asshole.

So why couldn't we transform it into a five-level pyramid


-- seriously, an actual pyramid, like a replica of the Luxor casino in Las Vegas --

This is a terrible idea and whoever thought of it should be kicked squarely in the balls.

where elected players are assigned to different levels?


More over the weekend. Just wait until you see which players he wants to put on various levels of his awesome pyramid-shaped HOF. Hooooo doggy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jeff Pearlman: As usual, what the fuck are you talking about?

See if you can follow this flawless logic without having your brain explode:

Just listened to a little bit of Aaron Rodgers’ interview with the NFL Network crew.

Not sure if y’all have heard about this,

You're from upstate New York. Please drop the fake folksyism of "y'all."

but the Packers overcame so much adversity this year.

Like injuries.

And … uh … well … yeah.


And … other, meh, stuff.

Seriously, of all the cliched babble out there, the we’ve-overcome-so-much-adversity line might be my all-time least favorite.

Yeah, the line gets overused. And I'm not sure if the Packers overcame any substantial adversity outside of injuries this year. But...

OK, the Packers had a lot of injuries this season.

Dear Jesus, did they ever. In addition to tons of smaller injuries, like losing Charles Woodson for the second half of the Super Bowl and losing Aaron Rodgers for two games, they ended the season with 13 guys on injured reserve. These weren't little rinky-dink third stringers, either- Ryan Grant, Nick Barnett, Mark Tauscher, and Jermichael Finley were all big time contributors in 2009 and all missed at least 15 games. The Packers got totally demolished by injuries this year. They got banged in the butt by injuries. They got annihilated by injuries. In short, they got incredibly unlucky w/r/t injuries (unless their training staff blows or something, which I doubt is the case). Then they won the Super Bowl. Those two facts are definitely worth mentioning together.

So did the Jaguars,

Missed the playoffs.

the Giants,

Missed the playoffs.

the Saints,

Made the playoffs, then lost in the first round to a 7-9 team.

the Raiders

Missed the playoffs.

and 70 percent of NFL teams.


Hell, the Steelers lost their quarterback to a four-game suspension.

Not an injury, unless being a complete fucktard counts as an injury.

The Bengals had to overcome the death of a receiver. The death.

That happened last season. Last season. And then they lost their first playoff game without putting up much of a fight, probably in part because they were emotionally drained.

In conclusion: most teams that get killed by injuries don't make the playoffs. Those that do fold like a cheap tent when they get there. The Packers might have been the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE team to get hit hardest by injuries this season, and they won the Super Bowl, but that's nothing to brag about because Pearlman doesn't like the "adversity" line. Nothing to brag about at all.

Jeff Pearlman eats paste.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jeff Pearlman calls the kettle black

Jeff Pearlman wrote an article for CNN in which he explores the nastiness of anonymity among internet commenters.

It's a telling article that explores a very real problem on the internet--the nastiness of people when they feel they have anonymity to hide behind. His conclusion--that people who are assholes anonymously on the internet aren't necessarily assholes in real life--has some valid implications and raises the question of what the medium of internet comments does to the level and tone of discourse in America. I'm glad he wrote it.

However, let's ask this question: to what extent does Jeff Pearlman help create this problem? I recognize that every sportswriter (and politics writer and video game writer and Fire Jay Mariotti blog writer) gets a bevy of vitriolic and over-the-line nasty reader responses, no matter how unabashedly nice they are (Joe Posnanski) or how big of a mean-spirited piece of shit they are (Murray Chass).

However, Jeff Pearlman's articles and blog posts are characterized by, if not a mean-spirited vitriol of their own, at the very least a disillusionment at the negative character of athletes which manifests itself with name-calling and accusations against the character of these athletes. I wonder to what extent Jeff's history of writing articles and books and blog posts assassinating the moral character of players like Barry Bonds, Allen Iverson, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson--figures who Jeff knows have no real ability to answer his specific accusations even should they want to--help contribute to the generally negative discourse level of internet sportswriting and sportsreading. In a recent blog post (and SI companion artcicle), for instance, Jeff made a "come on, we all know he did it" post about how Jeff Bagwell--a man who may be denied the HOF over nothing but idle speculation--almost assuredly, by Jeff's mind, took steroids absent any real evidence or even real hearsay. Not a very nice article by any means, and one Bagwell has no real power to respond to.

Here are the topics of the four sports books Jeff Pearlman has written

1.) Barry Bonds is a living breathing piece of shit and also a cheater

2.) Roger Clemens is a living breathing piece of shit and also a cheater

3.) The 1986 Mets were living breathing pieces of shit, some of whom do vile things with their enormous penises, but he kind of likes them anyway.

4.) The 1990's Cowboys were living breathing pieces of shit, some of whom do vile things with their enormous penises, but he kind of likes them anyway.

Maybe (probably) Pearlman is dead on about these teams and players being living breathing pieces of shit. It's certainly likely. But to what extent does this kind of focus cultivate a combative attitude among readers and writers? Certainly the readers who send Pearlman vile hatemail aren't RIGHT to do it. Quite the opposite--calling Pearlman a Kotex might be amusing in its randomness, but it's undoubtedly an uncalled for insult that reflects a lot more about the writer of the insult than about Pearlman hiself. But is it apropos of nothing? The more you read Pearlman's sports-hate, the less you think it is. Or at least the less I think it is.

Food for thought.

In other words, Jeff, you might be pointing your finger at the right target, but in this blogger's mind, there are four fingers pointing right back at you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Don't Judge this Post Yet- It's Just a Seed I'm Planting

It's time for some more well-earned attention for FireJay's favorite sure-he's-bad-but-not-THAT-bad punching bag Jeff Pearlman. Now, a brief review of Jeff's tag shows that we haven't made fun of the fact that he's a card-carrying dingbat on the blog for almost six months. But Chris W and I have been doing just that over the internets pretty consistently for the last year, via gchat and email. We just haven't bothered to post that stuff because... well, fuck if I know. But that changes tonight. The thing is, as obnoxious as Jeff can be with his general viewpoints ("Don't professional athletes just make you MAD when they don't act like you want them to????"), he consistently does two very annoying things, over and over.

First, he needlessly references players, often obscure players, from the 1980s Mets. And I don't mean that he does it in articles about baseball (although he does do that)- I mean he does it at the drop of a hat, whenever the hell he can, because who doesn't love the 1980s Mets as much as he does? From an article about how much he wants LeBron to come to the Knicks or Nets:

Back in the late 1970s and '80s, the St. Louis Cardinals had a first baseman named Keith Hernandez. When the team came to New York, he would hide out in his hotel, petrified of the craziness below. Upon being traded to the Mets in 1983, Hernandez was urged by a teammate to give the city a chance. So he did. He hit the bars and restaurant and began attending shows and concerts. Twenty-seven years later, Hernandez is still here. The Big Apple is his Big Apple.

Don't worry- taken in context, the anecdote is not any more relevant to an article about why LBJ belongs in NYC than it appears here. Also, Keith Hernandez did tons of coke. That's why he enjoyed the Big Apple. Second, Jeff consistently makes lame analogies that were obviously formulated in about two seconds. Like, Jeff just looks around his house and decides to use the first object he sees as a reference point for something the object could never be compared to in any meaningful way. To wit:

No longer does [former Cavaliers coach Mike] Brown -- an intelligent and worldly man -- have to swallow his pride in order to woo a 25-year-old kid with the apparent curiosity of a coffee table;

A coffee table has nothing to do with a disinterested or ambivalent basketball player. Nothing. So anyways, I'm happy to say that in this article about Tiki Barber (who, naturally, Jeff rakes over the coals for being a bad person) he crams both of these annoying tics into one paragraph.

Much like a bottle of cherry Mad Dog 20/20, professional athletics will always be there for its own.

Awful. Just awful.

No transgression is too horrid, no handcuffs too thick, no infidelity too graphic. Think about it. How many dogs did Michael Vick torture and kill? How many times did Steve Howe fail a drug test? How often did we hear of the trials, tribulations and, inevitably, comebacks of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry?

Now, I'll say this- Doc and Straw were stars. So much so that they got sweet nicknames. Usually, Jeff is talking about shit-ass utility infielders and long relievers from the '87 Mets as if every one of his readers knows exactly who he's referring to. I looked for some examples of this for about 30 seconds and couldn't find any. But trust me- he does it. All. The fucking. Time. In any case, it's still not a very good reference here. That was more than two decades ago. Can't we be more topical? In fact we can, because the next sentence is about baseball's recent admitted/discovered steroid users. But at that point it's too late. We've already been asked to recall players who anyone under the age of 30 probably has little to no memory of. Barf.

So, where does this post leave us? I'm sure you're shrugging at it. I saw you shrug, in fact. But that's OK. This is just the beginning. Two days from now when Jeff blogs about how the MLB All Star game is like a roll of paper towels that only has a few squares left, I'll be right back here telling you about it. And you'll nod. You won't laugh- but you'll nod. And we'll just take it from there.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jeff Pearlman: Still Sanctimonious After All These Years

I actually came across this--no joke--via Tim McCarver's twitter page. Someone retweeted Tim fucking McCarver's tweet w/r/t Pearlman's article. McCarver's take?

After horrible tragedies, patronizing sportwriters are guaranteed to remind us that sports don't really matter

It's hard to say it much better or more concisely. Can't say I was expecting that from old Timmy. In any case, though I can't improve on McCarver's take, I think it's worthwhile to really look at the crap Pearlman's feeding us here.

EDIT: Looking now at the actual "Tim McCarver" Twitter feed it's pretty obviously a fake McCarver. Damn. I kind of wished it were real. I like T Mac.
I want to scream.

I want to fly to Knoxville, stand in the center of the of the University of Tennessee campus and scream, "Look at this!"

I want to hold up a page from Thursday's New York Times -- the one featuring this image of Lionel Michaud. It is, without question, the most disturbing photograph I have ever seen. Michaud is sitting on a stoop in the central morgue in Port-au-Prince, surrounded by dozens of lifeless bodies. On his knee rests his 10-month-old daughter, Christian. She is dead. Michaud's wife, Lormeny Nathalie, is dead, too.

His head is in his right hand.

His family is gone.

His world is destroyed.

And all you can think about is Lane Kiffin?

Lane Kiffin!?

Last things first: I sincerely doubt that even the most dedicated Tennessee fan is thinking about nothing but Lane Kiffin right now. Food, beer, chicks, foam fingers, and maybe in some far reach of his mind, academics are also probably weighing on hypothetical single-minded UT fan's mind right now as well.

But more seriously, what the fuck is Jeff Pearlman trying to pull here? You're going to take an example of human suffering and try to make us view sports through that lens by using an example of extreme specificity? GMAB. Pearlman over the last few weeks has written a series of handwringing blog posts and articles about the myriad atrocities of the sports world.

Is it fair to go up to him with a picture of the family of any number of the people in America who die every day and say to him, "HOW DARE YOU WRITE THIS ARTICLE BEMOANING THE LACK OF ETHICS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES? LOOK AT THIS FAMILY WHO HAS LOST THEIR SON TO GANG VIOLENCE?"

And how far do we extend this line of thinking? Can no sports fan be upset about anything because of The Holocaust? Or The Spanish Inquisition? Or Beowulf's death at the hands of a dragon lo these many years?

I don't mean to trivialize the Haitian tragedy, but let's face it--No one in the entire world would ever say Lane Kiffin leaving Tennessee is a bigger tragedy than the Haitian earthquake. No one. Not even your accursed Tennessee fans, Jeff.

Please, do the world a simple favor: Find the nearest mirror and look at yourself. Wipe off the white-and-orange face paint, remove the goofy hat, slip out of the Peyton Manning jersey, turn down Rocky Top, find a quiet place -- and take a good glance.

What do you see?

They probably see someone who uses sports as a way to escape from the troubles of the real world who feel rightly let down when someone they admire does something they consider dishonest. Sound familiar, Jeff?

Immediately following Kiffin's press conference to announce his departure for USC on Tuesday evening, a mob of approximately 500 people gathered on campus. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, fire was set to a tattered mattress and a handful of Tennessee T-shirts. The participants were hoping to catch Kiffin on his way out of town, to presumably do more than merely talk.

The coach was driven home by university police officers, and a Knox County deputy was assigned to protect him. "We assured (Kiffin)," said sherriff Jimmy Jones, "that there would be somebody close."

Yes. This is absurd by any standards and is par for the course in college football--a sad truth we should all be concerned about to some extent. It has absolutely nothing to do with the earthquake in Haiti.

In the ensuing days, Vols message boards have been overtaken by people tearing into Kiffin. Tearing into Kiffin's wife. Wishing him personal harm and never-ending misery. He is, they believe, the anti-Christ -- an evil, self-absorbed man who eats young children and secretly plots world domination from the balcony of his sadistic lair.

When, exactly, did we start reaching such a low? When did sports go from serving as a mere diversion (entertainment, enjoyment, fun), to being a way of life ... an actual barometer of a community's happiness or grief? When did the career decision (albeit, awkwardly expressed) of a moderately successful 34-year-old football coach begin to matter so much?

A long, long fucking time ago, Jeff. A long fucking time ago. Long before your beloved baseball of the 1970's and 1980's. A long fucking time ago. Ask Hank Aaron about the letters he used to get about an arbitrary home run total. Read accounts of Roger Maris's treatment at the hands of reporters and fans outraged he would dare to break a single season home run total. To say nothing of college football fans--look: is it too much to ask of a guy writing a MSM article about the culture of college football to have some perspective w/r/t the history of the culture of college football?

As a boy growing up in small town of Mahopac, N.Y., my parents would try and comfort me following Little League losses by saying, "It's just a game -- keep things in perspective" Then we'd get ice cream. The lesson took some time to sink in, but once it did, I never forgot it.


Sports have always been important in my life, but primarily as a way to have fun. Heck, that's when they're at their absolute best: Your day at work stunk, your spouse is in a bad mood, the kid's got the flu -- thank god LeBron vs. D-Wade is on at 8 tonight. Pass the popcorn, ease the mind.

Yup. And you know better than ever that when the thing you use as diversion becomes tainted by something, the customary reaction is to whine like a baby and throw a temper tantrum's different when...uh...Tennessee fans do it. Because of Haiti? I guess?

Having spent two-and-a-half years of my career in Tennessee, I was an unfortunate firsthand witness to the lunacy that is SEC football. During the time I was a writer at The Tennessean in Nashville, Peyton Manning had the audacity to choose to attend Tennessee over his father's alma mater, Ole Miss. In the months following the announcement, the Manning family was besieged with vicious hate mail from Rebel backers -- all because an 18-year-old kid with the quirky ability to effectively hurl a pig's skin through the air opted for the university of his choice.

Oh mistake. It's because Jeff lived in Tennesse. So he had an up close and personal view of how superior he is emotionally to college football fans. Call it the Jay Mariotti factor.

Pathetic -- but not surprising.

Pathetic. But not surprising.

There is a place in this country for sports. An important place. The lessons of athletics can be invaluable, the bonds everlasting. But when a city reacts to the fleeing of a football coach with greater dismay than the loss of thousands of lives, something has gone wrong.

Terribly wrong.

I would generally agree with this. People put too much importance on sports. Sports are a form of entertainment. They sometimes hold sentimental value to the people who really love them, and they should. But they shouldn't cause anyone to froth at the mouth like a raving lunatic about how they represent something bigger than themselves.

You how they represent something about a devastating earthquake in Haiti

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jeff Pearlman: King of Lazy Analysis

This is just lazy writing. Really, really lazy writing. I probably put more effort into these three intro sentences than Jeff put into his whole column.

Yes, Jason Bay is going to be big in New York-

Oh yeah? He is?

a big bust, that is

Oh wow. WHAT A HEADLINE. Absolute facial. You've been figuratively dunked on by Jeff Pearlman, Jason.

The statement came 28 years ago.

In the winter of 1981-82, the New York Mets were Big Apple nobodies -- a star-less, charisma-less franchise coming off of a miserable 41-62 strike-shortened season. The team had drawn 704,244 fans, seventh in the National League (and not even half the total of the cross-town Yankees), and its marketing exclamation, "The magic is back!" rang hollow. Unless Joel Youngblood and Pete Falcone possessed some sort of secret, Houdini-esque abilities, the magic was not back. It was, in fact, dead.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hey want to see an example of terrible logic? Reader participation Friday edition!

This will be brief. In Jeff Pearlman's article about Hofstra canceling their football program because they can't afford it anymore (an event Pearlman associates not with Hofstra's football program's failure to be profitable but rather with what he perceives to be their shifting of priority from sports to academics) he closes with this fucking gem:

At Notre Dame last week, Jack Swarbrick, the overwhelmed athletic director, said in a statement that, "We have great expectations for our football program, and we have not been able to meet those expectations." Hence, he was firing his coach.

At Hofstra yesterday, Rabinowitz said in a statement that, "If we are to continue our momentum and strive to become one of the nation's best institutions of higher education, standing for excellence in every way, we must invest in academics and programs in which we can compete at the highest level." Hence, he was ending his program.

Now ask yourself this: Which school would you pick?

Reader participation alert! Best snarky answer wins a hallmark e-card from me!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rick Reilly is a vindictive asshole

Michael Jordan, best basketball player/gambling addict of all time, just got inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and gave what is generally considered to be a really self-righteous speech. I watched it and didn't find it nearly as insulting as our good friend Jeff Pearlman or 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year Rick Reilly did. 

Whatever, they think MJ is a big, selfish jerk. I'm cool with that. But check this section:

The thing Jordan doesn't understand is, it doesn't have to be this way. Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls and gave one of the greatest speeches in the history of the Hall of Fame. "Folks!" he hollered. "You don't get elected into the Hall of Fame by yourself! Thank you number 88, Lynn Swann! Thank you, Franco Harris! Thank you Rocky Bleier! What I wouldn't give right now to put my hands under [center] Mike Webster's butt just one more time! Thank you Mike!"

Here, watch this version of the MJ speech (full versions are easily found on the tubes). One of the first things Mike says? 

"...I got so many people I can thank. In all the videos, you never just saw me. You saw Scottie Pippen, every championship I won."

Seems almost identical to good ol' boy Terry Bradshaw. Maybe MJ should have hollered it instead of merely saying it with tears in his eyes. Rick, a couple paragraphs later, gives us insight into his motivation for ripping Mike. 

Before his second comeback -- with the Washington Wizards -- I was the first out with the story by a month. Jordan and his agent, David Falk, denied it, said I was crazy, practically said I was smoking something. Then, after a month of lies, Jordan admitted it was all true. I saw him in the locker room before his first game back and said, "You wanna say something to me, maybe?"

And he said, "You know you don't get no apologies in this business."

Basically, he's still pissed at Jordan after all these years. He has a history of this, see Sammy Sosa. Moral of the story: Rick Reilly is a vindictive asshole 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Great Article on the Roberts Book

Murray Chass

nb: Jeff Pearlman is mentioned in this review of Roberts's A-Rod someone who actually uses quoted sources rather than anonymous innuendo.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm a Basement Dwelling Blogger Who Keeps His Word

A few months ago, I promised friend of the blog Jeff Pearlman I would plug his new book. It's called "Boys Will Be Boys." It's about the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s. And it's available today. Although Jeff is a pretty cool guy, the real reason I made this promise was because I hoped it would induce him to offer me a free copy of the book before it hit shelves. Alas, that didn't happen and as a result I obviously haven't read it yet. So how can I still plug it? Easy. Kissing Suzy Kolber has done my work for me. And if reading their preview doesn't make you want to drop some money on the book and read the whole thing, well, I don't know what to tell you. Obviously you're either a tightwad or you don't like things that are funny.

Also, I forgot to link them when I initially made the post, but my implication from yesterday night that Rex Grossman is the kind of QB who thinks any pass not thrown into the end zone is for pussies isn't my own idea. It also came from KSK.

Monday, July 21, 2008

FireJay's Relationship With Jeff Pearlman Becomes Increasingly Complex With Every Post

Honestly, the guy is really cool. He let me interview him. His Barry Bonds book is fantastic. He seems friendly, approachable, down to Earth, and generally the antithesis of the sports journalism world's multitude of Jay Mariottis. So why must he always be so wrong about everything? Unfortunately, yet again, he leaves me with no choice.

Example #1, from his blog.

There’s been mounting buzz of late that somebody—Boston? the White Sox? Tampa Bay—should bite the bullet and sign Barry Bonds to a free agent deal.

I hate Barry Bonds. A lot. I hate him more than I hate white people. (Just kidding! I am white. And not a self-loathing white person, either. I just wanted to make a racist remark, because those usually generate controversy, and subsequently, blog traffic.) And yet, I have to agree that those teams would almost certainly benefit from signing him.

The arguments are myriad: He can still slug. Incredible on-base percentage. An instant threat in the midst of a lineup. Etc.

All valid.

My take: No friggin’ way.

I mean, that's fine. You could make a case as to why a Bonds signing would be a bad idea. It would probably be pretty weak, and based on nothing more than his personality issues, and maybe the tenuous idea that he's no longer on steroids, but it would still be a case.

Signing Barry Bonds would be a complete and total disaster, for about 8,302 reasons

Reason No. 1: He’s a has-been.

Well, technically, yes. He's not nearly as good as he was 15, ten, five, or even three years ago. But please elaborate.

Everyone talks about Bonds’ phenomenal on-base percentage, but consider how he reached it.

I am under the impression that he reached it by not making an out somewhere between 40% and 60% of the time he came to the plate.

In San Francisco, Bonds was surrounded in the lineup by liquid crud. Who wouldn’t pitch around Bonds (or, for that matter, me) if you’re “protected” by Ray Durham and Benji Molina. Of course he had a high on-base percentage.

In how many ways can we identify this as WRONG?

1) We could anecdotally point out that while in SF, Bonds played with Matt Williams in his late prime, Jeff Kent in his late prime, Ellis Burks in his late prime, and a cast of many other excellent hitters. The punchless Giants Pearlman refers to didn't really exist until about 2004.

2) We could take this route: note that if you're accusing a player of having an inflated OBP, then it would seem to follow that you're accusing them of not being as good a hitter as most people think. (Assuming we generally equate a high OBP with hitting ability, which seems more than fair.) Then we could ask Jeff: do you really want to say that the all time home run champion... is overrated? There's a couple logical leaps in there, but none of them are 1/10th as outrageous as what Jeff is trying to say.

3) We could note that while OBP can be artificially inflated by intentional or semi-intentional walks, there is no corresponding way to "inflate" slugging percentage. Either you get a lot of extra base hits, or you don't. We could then note that Bonds has the 6th highest SLG in baseball history, and that his SLG as a Giant is much higher than his SLG as a Pirate. By putting these two pieces together, we could conclude that no matter how many times he was pitched around while playing for SF, the numbers show that he was still an unbelievably dangerous hitter if and when pitchers dared to challenge him.

4) We could laugh, and just shout "WRONG!" Everyone needs a little more laughter in their lives anyways.

Reason No. 2: He’s the worst clubhouse cancer in the modern history of sports.

Probably true, and a fair reason to hesitate, but not enough to conclusively say that picking him up would be a bad idea.

Worse than T.O. or Randy Moss; worse than John Rocker or J.R. Rider. The worst. He wants special perks, and special perks don’t fly during a pennant race.

Special perks must have been cleared for takeoff by the FAA during the 2002 season, when the Giants won the pennant.

Any team he joins will be an awfully good one. In Boston, would guys like Josh Beckett and David Ortiz really want to put up with his bullshit? After all they’ve accomplished? No way.

This is not a "0 or 1" binary problem. It's not like there's putting up with bullshit, and not putting up with bullshit, and nothing in between. Say the Red Sox were five games behind the Rays and only a game up on the Yankees on August 15th, Ortiz was still out of the lineup, and then they signed Bonds. Would everyone embrace him with open arms and tell the media that he was the coolest cat they'd ever met? Probably not. Would they bite their collective tongue, and allow Bonds to set up his recliner, TV, fridge, microwave, massage chair, air purifier, Deep Rock water tank, entertainment center, hot tub, BBQ grill, NBA Jam arcade machine, skeeball machine, hyperbaric chamber, gazebo, and Nerf mini-hoop wherever he wanted? Probably.

Reason No. 3: He’s 44.

Last year, at age 43, he was arguably one of the 20 best hitters in baseball when in the lineup. Of course, a player's ability drops off extremely quickly after 36 or so. But Bonds would have to drop a looooooong way to be not worth a pro-rated deal somewhere in the low millions.

I’m 36, and I can no longer catch up with the inside heat

Jeff, please. You're a blogger now. It's unlikely you've ever even seen a real-life baseball game, let alone tried to play in one.

(Actually, I could never catch up with the inside heat. But now I have trouble tying my shoes without farting)

I'll give him points here for a poop/fart/butt joke.

Reason No. 4: My dog Norma just ate a leaf. I blame this on Bonds.

Tongue-in-cheek alert, everyone! Tongue-in-cheek alert! Sorry, Jeff. Based on most of the other garbage you've written that has been picked apart by us, I'm simply not going to be able to accept this as a copout. I'm 100% certain that you legitimately think Bonds isn't going to help any team that happens to sign him. And for that opinion, sir, you are a clod.

Example #2, from his sob story about journeyman infielder Mike Lamb:

What Lamb didn't say, at least not bluntly, is that -- despite what fans might think -- there is no such thing as a "dream job"; that every schlub who believes in the right to mercilessly heckle a ballplayer because he's "living the life" needs a few lessons at decency school.

First of all, I'm pretty sure heckling players falls under the same category as sacrifice bunts, stolen bases, running over the catcher, pitchers "finishing what they started, dadgumit," and umpires using those giant arm-worn shields as chest protectors. That is to say: heckling is part of playing/participating in the game the way it was meant to be played/participated in. It's old school. It's part of baseball lore. It's what little kids used to do with their spare time when they weren't working in factories or playing kick the can. Computers can't quantify its effect; therefore, it's "good for ball."

Second of all, if millions and millions of people around the world spend good parts of their free time doing what you do for a living (or a variation thereof), and usually paying some kind of league a good bit of money for that privilege, guess what? You have what is legitimately referred to as a "dream job." I don't hear about too many people rushing home from their regular job so they can go take customer service calls or sell vacuums on out in a field somewhere.

I'm (probably, pending the whole law school thing) going to be a lawyer one day. Although it carries a number of negative connotations (LAWYER JOKES GO HERE!), I think it's fair to say that that's regarded by most people as a "good" job. Many would say a "desirable" job, even. Certainly in the top, say, 15% of common jobs, right? You might personally think it sounds awful, but I believe the general consensus in a large-scale poll would be that most people wouldn't mind switching their current job for one as a lawyer. And yet, do you know how many people out of a hundred would pick being a lawyer over being a MLB player if given the hypothetical choice of either career path? Negative 1,000 billion, that's how many. Baseball... not a dream job... what are you, fucking nuts?

So baseball players have to spend a lot of time away from their families? Tough shit! That happens in a lot of lines of work, and most of them don't have a median yearly salary in the low seven figures. Mike Lamb, miserable and sympathetic as Pearlman makes him sound, has, at the frail old age of 32, made $6.5 million so far. Ninety-nine percent of Americans can't even comprehend that kind of money. So yes, I will heckle you, MLB ballplayers. Deal with it. Fuck Jeff Pearlman's opinion about the matter.

Minor league players? Now that job is a little bit tougher, what with all the bus travel and shitty accommodations. But most of those guys don't have kids. And given the chance (haven't been to a minor league game in years), hell, I'd probably heckle them too. What are they gonna do about it? "Accidentally" throw a ball into the stands and try to make me hilariously spill my beer and popcorn while avoiding it? That's a risk I'm willing to take.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why We Don't Think Jeff Pearlman Is Such a Bad Guy

Sure, he's fully capable of writing garbage. But given the name of this blog, I have no choice but to link and gleefully acknowledge this, from Jeff's blog. (Be sure to click the links to get the joke, obivously.)

Reality is a bitch. It really is. But it’s also an oft-needed cold glass of water to the face. These days, nothing turns me off more than the journalist who over-inflates his own importance; who thinks he’s a celebrity and who believes what he does for a living has some sort of higher purpose.

If Jay can count "inspiring a worthless and irrelevant blog to make fun of pretty much anything you do" as a higher purpose, then he's in business. Otherwise... Jeff's right, he's a pudwhacker.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jeff Pearlman Is Nothing If Not Nonsensical

Welcome back to Jeff! It's been far too long. Despite the infrequency of his appearances on our blogonet, he's one of our favorite targets. Articles like this make it easy to see why. (Also, he's a decent human being who wrote a decent book and did a decent quasi-interview with us. But all those things take a back seat to his ability to produce indecipherable garbage from time to time.)

Roughly 15 years ago, when Spike Lee directed the phenomenal film "Malcolm X," legions of African-American men began to utter the mantra, "I am Malcolm X."

I didn't know a lot of African-Americans back then, seeing as how I was nine and living in Honkysville, Colorado. But I'll take his word for it.

Roughly seven years ago, when Nike produced a series of cleaver Tiger Woods commercials, legions of golf fans began to utter the mantra, "I am Tiger Woods."

This is recent enough for me to remember, but I definitely don't. Then again, while I do enjoy playing golf, I would rather hang out with Bill Simmons than watch it. So maybe I'm not familiar with the mantras of its fans. Where is this going?

For the record, I am not Malcolm X.

For the record, I am not Tiger Woods.

Given that Jeff is a white guy who (based on the subject matter he usually covers) doesn't care about golf, that's probably correct.

Now, everyone bask in the glory of this bizarre intro's payoff.

I am Ed Wade.

Why? Let's look at the format of the setup: because of [incredibly influential cultural phenom], people at one point in time decided to say "I am [incredibly influential cultural phenom]." Ed Wade is not influential, not even in baseball circles, unless you count the negative influence he's had by giving out awful contracts on a regular basis. He has done nothing to make himself a cultural phenomenon. Most importantly, no one has started recently saying "I am Ed Wade." He got his ass kicked by one of his employees. If that elevates someone to "I am" status, you can consider me P.J. Carlesimo.

Too soon? No, definitely not too soon.

You wanna make something of it?

In what context? Getting your ass beat? Being critiqued on a nerdy blog created and and read exclusively by nerds? Depends on what kind of "something" we're talking about.

That's right -- I am Ed Wade, the first-year Houston Astros general manager and the fiercest punk toughie this side of Kimbo Slice. Until Wednesday evening, the very sight of the 52-year-old Wade suggested all the fire, brimstone and passion of a piece of grandma's meatloaf.

This is why we have a "food" label.

He is roughly 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, with an uncanny (and, admittedly, unflattering) resemblance to Dan Frischman, the actor who played Arvid Engen in "Head of the Class."

And this is why we need a "references to irrelevant 80s TV shows I had to look up on IMDB just to understand" label. (Don't bother looking, I didn't create one. Thought it would cheapen the already dumb joke.)

Wade wears glasses, dresses in the polo-and-khaki stylings of an accountant and shuffles softly about a baseball diamond.

Sounds like he belongs in a basement, or possibly working for the Oakland A's.

He speaks in gentle tones, and rarely utters a foul word.

Wait- is he Jay Mariotti?

In other words, thug life 'til we die, playa!

Where does this come from? Is he trying to tie back into those black men he was referring to with the Malcolm X thing? Is he doing a Michael Scott-like parody of ignorance? Is he just trying to give his readers douchechills? The world is so full of mystery.

It was 55 minutes before Wednesday night's Rangers-Astros game at Minute Maid Park when I was standing inside the Houston clubhouse, chatting with Drayton McLane, the team's owner.

Were you inexplicably talking to him in Ebonics?

Suddenly, from behind me came screaming. And louder screaming. And louder screaming. The first voice belonged to Shawn Chacon, the disgruntled (and occasionally hot-headed) right-handed pitcher who had been demoted to the bullpen and consequently demanded a trade.

The second voice belonged to (gasp) Wade.

Thanks to the magic of modern technology, my Olympus digital voice recorder

Product placement.

captured most of the exchange. It went thusly:

Chacon: "%&#@ you."

Wade: "%&#@ you."

Chacon: "No, %&#@ you, %@^#*$%&#@*$."

Wade: "You know what, you're suspended."

Chacon: "I don't give a %&#@. Suspend me, %@^#*$%&#@*$."

Wade: "You're suspended %@^#*$%&#@*$."

Chacon: "I better not see you again Ed, you punk%@@ %*&#$."

Wade: "Yeah, OK."

Chacon: "%&#@ you."

Wade: "You're just as stupid as you can get."

It wasn't a good day for the Astros. I didn't see a physical confrontation, as the dispute started in another room before spilling into sight, but Chacon told the Houston Chronicle that he grabbed Wade by the neck and threw him to the ground. "I jumped on top of him because at that point I wanted to beat his (butt)," the pitcher said -- omitting the unspoken, I have willingly thrown away my career and will see all of you at my new job at the Shell station on Louisiana Street. Please remember to tip.

I think the generally accepted joke here for someone whose sports career is obviously over is that they will be bagging groceries. But pumping gas works fine as well, I guess. Either way- can we get back to the part where Jeff "is"/wants to be Ed Wade? This doesn't seem to have much to do with it, and tough as it has been to follow, that's what I understand the point of the article to be.

I know … I know -- we're now required by clichéd journalism law to talk about what a horrible thing this was,

You're not, but thanks for sneaking that in anyways.

and how a person in Wade's position shouldn't lower himself to the level of a journeyman pitcher with an IQ apparently lower than his ERA (5.04, for the record).

Buh-zing. Nearly all jokes that follow the "This guy's [quantified trait] is higher/lower than [other number loosely tied to guy]!" fail. This is not an exception.

I, however, disagree. For decades now, men who look like Wade (and, ahem, me) have had the sand kicked in our faces by morons of Shawn Chacon's ilk.

And that's not changing anytime soon. Just ask Wade's larynx. What is the point? Why does Jeff want to be Ed Wade? Because Wade talked back to Chacon? Whoop-de-shit. He still got jacked up. And the fact that he subsequently fired Chacon isn't really anything to write home about either. Nerdy people in power positions have never suffered from an inability to hire and fire toughy-toughs.

We take it because -- usually based on genetics and financial worth -- we have little choice; because the giants rule the world and the runts search for the leftover crumbs.

Right, but here's the deal- if Wade really were a good role model for nerds everywhere, he would have earned enough respect from Chacon that he wouldn't have been chokeslammed. Chacon might have been furious at him, and cussed at him, and wanted to attack him. But a truly powerful and admirable nerd can do what he wants with his jockish employees without fear of physical assault. So what I'm trying to say is that Wade is actually kind of a bitch. Good at running his mouth, bad at backing up his tough talk, and worst of all at commanding the respect of his employees.

No more. With Ed Wade as our mighty leader, I believe a new day has dawned.

I hope not. That means my only hope of not being a hopeless zero my entire life has just evaporated. Fuck trying to make it to upper management- only being strangled can come of that.

No more bullying!

This incident definitely involved bullying.

No more intimidation!

Wade might not have been intimidated during the verbal confrontation, but how do you think he felt after the physical part? What if he saw Chacon waiting for him one night in a dark parking lot? Do you think he might be a little intimidated?

No more unreasonable trade demands and lengthy holdouts!

But plenty more awful contracts with no-trade clauses.

No more!

Plenty more.

I am Ed Wade!

I am Ed Wade!

I am Ed Wade!

I am -- ouch! I just got a paper cut.

Does anybody have a Band-Aid?

Oh oh ohhhhhh! I see what you did there! Clever. The whole thing was tongue-in-cheek, huh? Nope. I'm not buying it. Too late, Jeff. Somewhere between a bad joke and a misguided serious statement is this article's lame and painful middle ground.

Looking back on this post, I realize it makes me look like a grumpy old fuddy duddy who takes things too literally. Yes, AND?

Oh, and if Jeff Pearlman himself stops by to comment, be sure to lay into him pretty harshly (I mean, about his writing. No personal stuff). Every time he's here he insists he likes that. Creepy, but whatever.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jeff Pearlman Puts Everyone To Sleep

Taking a break from writing human interest pieces about athletes you've never heard of, old FireJay favorite Jeff has given us an article that truly lives up to the tag "articles that didn't need to be written."

Major league ballplayers should care about this election

Throughout spring training clubhouses in Arizona and Florida, politics fail to generate interest. Finding someone who has participated in a state primary or caucus is slightly harder than finding a cinematic role for Meeno Peluce. The majority of players are almost certainly not even registered to vote. On the morning following last Tuesday's highly publicized Wisconsin Democratic primary, nary a Ranger nor Kansas City Royal could be heard talking about the results. Heck, no one even seemed to know the event took place.

Wow. Who would have possibly thought that to be the case. But why?

"Baseball players are inherently selfish," says Brian Johnson, the former major league catcher. "Everything is about 'me.' People want my autograph, people want to see me, people want to watch my games on TV. Everyone works around my schedule, even my wife and kids. So it's hard to have a global or national perspective when everything is about you."

Thank you, Brian. Upon receiving this quote, Jeff should have immediately put two and two together and realized that this is a dumb topic. But he presses on.

Indeed, a top 10 list of spring training topics discussed by ballplayers would look something like this:

1. Baseball
2. Free sunglasses
3. Breasts
4-5. Jesus/golf (tie)
6. Dinner options
7. The Kyle Kendrick YouTube video
8. Britney Spears
9. Strip clubs
10. More Jesus/golf (tie)

If you are surprised, offended, or shocked by this list (which is probably not 100% accurate... breasts and free sunglasses need to trade places), you should not be a sports fan. You are thinking too hard to enjoy watching grown men make their living simply by playing games. Perhaps you're a hyper-practical person who can only focus on things that directly affect your life. Maybe you have a problem with the outrageous levels salaries are reaching. Or maybe you're just too damn naive to realize that as long as you replace "baseball" with their given profession, this list corresponds to pretty much every well-off male between the ages of 18 and 50. Whatever the reason, go find another hobby. Sports fandom and you are not compatible.

Anyways, now that we've established the political ambivalence of MLB players, why does Jeff think these guys should stop being such squares and start caring about the outcome of November's elections?

What many ballplayers fail to understand is that, in terms of policy, they will be as impacted by this fall's election as anyone. While McCain plans on upholding the tax cuts enacted under George W. Bush, both Obama and Clinton want tax breaks to expire for Americans making more than $200,000 per year. (Read: baseball players.) Though McCain has said little about automobile emissions, Obama and Clinton have demanded drastic improvements in fuel efficiency standards. (The unofficial baseball player vehicle of choice? The mighty Hummer.)

The list goes on and on.

So let me get this straight- Hummers and other gas guzzlers might have to up their MPG outputs sometime in the next 20 years (based on an article I read in Time, which I can't link because this was like a month ago while I was waiting for my car at Jiffy Lube, this probably won't ever happen). And if a Democrat wins, there's a chance they will try to get rid of some of Bush's upper class tax cuts. And those two facts are supposed to overcome the breasts, free sunglasses, and other powerful cultural barriers currently restricting baseball players' interests in politics? Talk about tepid (at best) support for one's own point. I dare you- gather up a bunch of guys between 21 and 40, many of whom are already millionaires or will be millionaires within the next five years. Then tell them that they should start caring more about politics because they might have to buy slightly smaller cars or pay an extra fifteen grand in taxes in a couple of years. And try not to look too embarrassed when they laugh you out of the room.

Look, it's totally correct that political apathy and low voter turnout are huge problems with this country. Our election participation numbers are downright pathetic when you compare us to other western democracies. But I really don't think baseball players are at the top of the list of groups who need to start caring more. Maybe the millions and millions of uninsured Americans out there or those who make less than $20,000 a year and are constantly at risk of slipping into poverty should step up their levels of interest before we start busting balls in MLB clubhouses.

And sure, I'll grant that if more public figures like pro athletes made a bigger deal out of politics, that might cause more everyday people to have the same response. But really, if we need to be told by celebrities how to look out for our own interests, doesn't that really just make us a pathetic bunch of losers?

Christ, what was I originally talking about. Oh yeah- hey Jeff, try to pick out a less boring topic for your next piece. That would be fantastic.