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.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Jeff Pearlman wrote an article for CNN in which he explores the nastiness of anonymity among internet commenters.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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;
Monday, March 22, 2010
1. Here's an interesting article about the frequency of upsets in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament. In a nutshell, it suggests that the downward trend in upsets (till this year's aberration) was caused because the NCAA tweaked its formulas for seeding. Adjusting the RPI, plus allowing for some other factors, resulted in better seeding and, consequently, fewer upsets.
Proving, once again, that stats are ruining sports.
2. Jeff Pearlman, ever the nice guy, wrote an article called: Lessons of Washington, Gonzalez sagas: nice guys finish first. The article suggests that Ron Washington was forgiven an egregious transgression because he's a nice guy, and Bobby Gonzalez was fired because he isn't a nice guy.
Therefore, the lesson to be learned is that nice guys finish first.
I'm pretty sure that there are a few counterexamples out there. Readers?
God bless Jeff Pearlman. I enjoy some of his stuff, but man that guy likes flowers, Cinderellas, hopeful stories, hardworking people, honesty, and general morality. He's like Rick Reilly except he is a better writer.
3. Front-page news at ESPN.com on March 21: Vikings coach Brad Childress has officially stated that he's willing to tolerantly and patiently wait out Brett Favre until Brett Favre has taken "all the time he needs". This article is particularly wonderful because it contains the following quotation from Mr. Childress:
As a coach, you're a mother hen, you'd like him to be there for all of it. But I'm enough of a realist to know that's probably not going to be the case.
Rarely do you hear a 100% red-blooded American football coach refer to himself as a mother hen.
Friday, January 15, 2010
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?
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
But...you know...it'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 no...my 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.
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 know...like how they represent something about a devastating earthquake in Haiti
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
This is almost too complicated a series of linking for me to do this, hungover as I am, but here goes. Jeff Pearlman has written a column taking Jason Whitlock to task for a column (a wonderful column, IMO) which takes to task Selena Roberts for writing a vindictive invective (is that redundant?) about Alex Rodriguez's myriad personal problems. (No link necessary).
Jeff's a sometime reader of this blog, evidently a very nice person, and and a talented author whose only book I read I enjoyed immensely (the one about the 1986 "Nigh" Mets). However he just doesn't seem to get it here. Let's look
Ten years ago this December, Sports Illustrated ran my profile of John Rocker. The story sort of put me on the map as a journalist (which is funny, because it really wasn’t all that well written), but it also earned me a ton of scorn. In the days … months … years after the piece initially ran, I received myriad calls and letters, wondering when I would step up and apologize. In some quarters, the belief was that I had taken advantage of a young man. That, while his beliefs were certainly off, he was just a bumpkin, naive to the ways of the media.
Alas, I never apologized. Never felt I should, even though the outcry was pretty damn loud.
Three years ago, Selena Roberts wrote a piece for the New York Times that called out those Duke lacrosse players accused of sexual assault. Her column was unambiguously strong, and, many believed, took the young men to task for a crime it turns out they didn’t commit. In the days … months … years after the piece initially ran, the belief was that Roberts had taken advantage of young men. That, while she certainly had a right to an opinion, she hung these guys without proof.
Alas, Selena Roberts never apologized, either. Never felt she should, even though the outcry was pretty damn loud.
This is a longer block quote than I usually post, but I think it's essential. Look--let's look at this bullshit analogy:
1a.) Jeff Pearlman writes a mildly exploitative column in which John Rocker says a bunch of blatantly racist things of his own volition.
2a.) Some people claim that Rocker was too naive to realize the consequences of his blatantly racist comments and therefore Pearlman had done him an injustice in writing this column.
3a.) Pearlman felt pressure to apologize but did not.
Now the flipside
1b.) Selena Roberts write a column in which she uses the allegations of A FUCKING CRIME. THE WORST FUCKING CRIME THERE IS ACCORDING TO MANY PEOPLE. She uses these allegations of a crime (which turn out to be false) in order to attack what she perceives to be unacceptable NON-CRIMES going on within a sports program and university. She makes various connections between the allegations of the crime and the NON-CRIMES in order to attempt to get readers to infer that the allegations of the crime are likely true.
2b.) People think that this is inethical and that she should apologize for it.
3b.) Roberts not only does not apologize for it but gives myriad statements claiming that she was indeed justified in implying that a culture of what she perceives to be sexism somehow meant that these boys were more likely than not to be guilty of ONE OF THE WORST CRIMES IMAGINABLE
Surely it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see how shitty this analogy, but let's break it down for all the orthopedic surgeons out there. (Take that Dr. McGillicuddy. MRI my ass!) Jeff Pearlman's crime (if it was a crime) involved his use of discretion regarding FACTS--if Rocker said something racist, it was nonetheless said, irrespective of how naive Rocker was or whether Pearlman should have posed those quotations as excoriatingly as he did. Roberts's crime (if it was a crime. And it was. A crime that is) was rather that she took conjecture involving her interpretation of facts (pictures taken, broomsticks waves, American Psycho emails sent) and presented it in a way that suggested evidence of fact towards a judgment on the guilt of people who, as it turns out, were not fucking guilty.
In short: Pearlman is accused of putting too many facts in. Roberts is accused of using facts to turn a non-fact into a fact.
This is not a valid analogy, and one of the major failings of the thought process that leads to what follows:
Being completely forthright, I don’t think Selena handled it 100-percent righteously. The column was, in hindsight, too accusatory, and when the innocence was proven, she probably owed an “I was wrong” follow-up piece.
Not particularly relevant to Whitlock's point.
That being said, for my money Selena is one of America’s best writer/reporters.
Not particularly relevant to anything.
She was years ago, when she covered Tate George and the New Jersey Nyets for the Times, and she is now. Show me a big-time columnist who doesn’t wish he/she could take back some things that made ink, and I’ll show you a big-time columnist who doesn’t belong in the biz. Columnist go out on limbs. They take sides. The oftentimes leap before they look. Do you think, looking back, I’m happy I called for Joe Torre’s dismissal
in May, 2007? Hell, no. It was boneheaded, rash, moronic. I was wrong, but my pen (well, keyboard) never stopped me.
And certainly Pearlman shouldn't have written that Torre article. But surely Pearlman can also see a difference between writing a column that impugns a player or coach's ability, and writing column after column after column, as Roberts has, that impugns a player's (A-Rod, for those of you scoring at home) moral fiber.
If Pearlman were to write a book exposing various he said she said bullshit allegations about Torre, his previous column would not establish a personal vendetta against Torre. It would establish that, at that time, he thought Torre wasn't getting the job done as manager.
OTOH, Roberts has established a personal vendetta (or at least something resembling that) about A-Rod's moral character. That makes her allegations more suspect than if she was not someone who, time and again, had written articles calling A-Rod phony, a bad teammate, and of weak character.
Furthermore, her Duke situation shows to an even greater extent her reliability when presented with facts--the way she is willing to play fast and loose with specious facts in order to arrive at what she presents as hard and fast conclusions.
Gee fucking whiz. Why oh why would hearsay that supported her foregone conclusion re: The Duke Case be relevant when evaluating her book, in which all her allegations are based on hearsay that supports what already was her foregone conclusion?
What truly bothers me right now are the growing legions of media sorts taking Selena to task; gleefully evoking Duke lacrosse—as if they’d never made a blunder themselves. Here in New York, Boomer and Carton of WFAN’s morning show seemed to take special pleasure in slamming away
How is it possible that Pearlman can't see the difference between a "blunder" that involved essentially convicting someone of something they didn't do whilst relying on specious (at BEST) evidence, and the "blunder" that he is about to use to impugn Whitlock's credibility (found below)? Especially since the majority of revelations that have leaked from Roberts's book involve using specious evidence (hearsay and conjecture about how "pitch tipping" MIGHT work or players who heard that "A-Rod was in on it") to reach a judgmental conclusion about A-Rod as a human being?
How is it possible he does not understand that? Is it possible he sees his own journalistic mistakes through the eyes of Roberts's poorly received invectives?
Pearl: It ISN'T. Your. Fault. (Will Pearlman respond: "Don't do this to me man. Not you man."? Tune in next week!)
(Several years ago, Whitlock was embarrassed nationally after it was learned that, during a Chiefs game against the Patriots in Foxboro, he taunted fans by writing a sign reading BLEDSOE. GAY? I thought it was just a stupid, silly mistake—but one that bothered many people. We all do things we regret). Others have followed suit.
Lol. He just. Doesn't. Fucking. Get it.
Here is why this is not relevant to this conversation: If Whitlock comes out and writes a tell-all book detailing how Bledsoe is a bad person, and potentially gay, this would be a relevant incident to mention.
Jeff Pearlman: confusing ad hominem arguments with reasonable questions of credibility since 199X. Like in this passage:
I’m not sure what the point here is, except that I hate the old Republican strategy of shifting the focus from the subject to the messenger.
What it boils down to is this. A-Rod has cheated. He's used steroids. He may have used steroids in high school. He may not have. He may have tipped pitches (and if he did, then that is an atrocious crime against the game of baseball, IMO) or he may not have. He may have "bitch tits" or he may not. He may have asked a trainer to bring him a cup of coffee. He may be insecure. He may be a bad human being. Hell, worst of all, he might even tip 15%!!!!!
Hell, I think I'm inclined to believe that all of the above are more likely to be true than not.
But you know what? When I'm looking at someone being accused of all these things, when the evidence is less than concrete (as it is for most of the above accusations) then SOME OF the burden falls on the credibility of the person leveling these accusations. Since journalists' sources are protected, that puts much of the burden of credibility on the journalist who is expressing these third party accusations.
Why is it unnatural that we inspect closely she who is leveling these accusations, and, finding her past wanting, adjust the extent to which we are willing to believe these accusations accordingly?
Don't answer that. It was rhetorical.
Monday, July 21, 2008
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.
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.
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 ESPN.com 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.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
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
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.
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.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the ultimate puff piece. It's by FJayM favorite, Jeff Pearlman. It's pretty much an exact recap of my first post on this blog, where I satirized Rick Reilly columns for being overly sentimental. The problem with any satire is that someone just might take you seriously. You have to wonder if one poor Irish baby actually ended up dinner thanks to that Swift asshole.
Anyways. To the article!
The other day I submitted a column to my editor that was lathered in snark. That's pretty much all I've been shooting off lately -- one snarky piece after another. It's a trap writers fall into from time to time.
"Snark" is a word invented by Lewis Carroll to describe an imaginary animal. Just because "snarky" is an adjective doesn't mean you can say that you lathered your column in snark, unless you've just slain a Jabberwocky.
We start to believe opining on the negatives of sports is more fruitful than opining on the positives. So we unload on steroids and dumb jocks and David Carr and Pittsburgh's middle relief, quite certain that's what you, the customer, covets.Not only do we at Fire Jay Mariotti covet just that, we actually produce just that when you writers fail to supply it. Actually, even when you opine on the positives, Jeff, some asshole on the internet will probably make a blog post criticizing your word choices.
"There's a fine line between being cynical and coming across as bitter," my editor said. "The readers are turned off by bitter, and I believe it makes them a lot less likely to read future pieces of yours."I know for a fact that larry b is turned on by bitter, and I suspect chris w is as well. In fact, I suspect that 95% of this blog's readers are turned on by bitter - that's what brings them here.
Although it doesn't always show, I love sports. Love them.
Actually, Jeff, so do we.
I love walking into the Toronto Blue Jays' clubhouse and finding Sal Fasano -- the ultimate baseball survivor -- standing there with a goofy smile and tobacco juice dripping down his chin.
Disagree. Jon Lester is the ultimate baseball survivor.
I love watching the David Tyree catch on YouTube over and over again. I love little guys who have no business being here: Spud Webb, Harry Chappas, Theo Fleury.
What the hell? No Eckstein?
Also: you're wrong, Jeff. Just because they're little doesn't mean they have no business being here! If they really had no business being there, you can bet that the GMs wouldn't have hired them to play sports, because GMs don't really give a shit about advancing the cause of undersized people everywhere, they just care about winning games!
-- at this point, Jeff goes on a weird memory trip about his high school track team. Weird.
I love what this job has allowed me to witness. Tony Gwynn leading his Padres teammates back onto the field to thank the fans after winning the 1998 NLCS. Robin Ventura's walk-off grand slam single. Luis Gonzalez smoking one up the middle.
There's no way that Gonzo "smoked one" up the middle. Here's where being overly sentimental about things actually influences your memory. Here's VIDEO EVIDENCE of my point:
(fast forward to the 3:45 mark if you don't have time for all of it)
See? The announcers describe it as "floated" - it was a little bloop at best. I realize I'm being nitpicky - overanalyzing one of Jeff's verbs - but it's stuff like that that annoys the hell out of me. You know you're being overly sentimental when you describe a texas leaguer as being "smoked".
[Also, if you listen to the whole YouTube thing, Tim McCarver makes the most salient point I've ever heard him make - immediately before Gonzo's at-bat. I hadn't seen this clip since I watched it live six years ago - but I'm actually kind of impressed. Way to go, Tim!]
I love that I once interviewed Lou Piniella while he was simultaneously urinating, smoking a cigarette and eating a hoagie.
I love sports names. I love Taylor Coppenrath, Orlando Woolridge, Dewon Brazelton and Alge Crumpler. I love Coco Crisp, Flozell Adams, I.M. Hipp and Mike Augustyniak. I love Nuu Faaola even more than I love Mosi Tatupu, but not quite as much as I love Niko Noga.
Everyone likes good sports names, except larry b who just yesterday complained that he doesn't care what anyone is named. Larry b is a cynical asshole.
Just for the heck of it: Snuffy Stirnweiss.
[This guy has a good list of the good ones in baseball. ]
Jeff, everyone loves sports as much as you do. Even the bitter, cynical people who write blogs like this one. But everyone (should) hate overly sentimental sports pieces, just like this one. Don't turn into Rick Reilly.
Friday, September 21, 2007
hey remember when I did this?
What MUST Jeff Pearlman think about our gratitude. This time it's cw "soapboxes" edition...and doesn't have so much to do with Jeff.
In a recent interview with our noble patron Jeff "Fire Joe Torre" Pearlman, Larry B. asked the erstwhile columnist about regional bias. Larry inquired whether this bias was a natural side-effect of the print media or something that should be looked at as a serious problem. Pearlman gave his honest opinion, and should be commended for that. However, his opinion is problematic and full of leaps in logic (and judgment). It's not that Pearlman's the problem--far from it. The problem is that sports journalism, more and more, has become a black hole of flawed mentalities of coverage.
Far be it for me to tell ESPN how to market their "sports entertainment programming," but...well...I'm going to tell them how to market their "sports entertainment programming."
Here's Pearlman's response to Larry's question:
JP: I don't have a problem with it. Eight million people live in New York City. That's eight million people (well, not all of them) who live and die with the Mets and Yankees. Milwaukee, on the other hand, is home to approximately 550,000. To suggest fans care about both teams equally is illogical. When I was in college at the University of Delaware, our student newspaper would give the same coverage to swimming and diving as we did men's basketball. Then we realized six people were reading swimming and diving stories. So we stopped writing about it.
Basically, Pearlman makes some valid points here on a very general level: sports are not politics, science, or any other sphere covered by the American press. Sports are entertainment, plain and simple, and should be treated as such. Sports isn't news except to the extent that they effect the economy or impose on the society as a whole (i.e. The Juice and his endless string of murders and memorabilia robberies). Therefore, it stands to reason that the biggest news should be reserved for the biggest fan bases--supply and demand and so forth.
Fine. Good. I'm the last one to say the WNBA should get any sort of coverage because of "Good Fundamental Basketball". I'm the last person to care how the L.A. Clippers are doing, even if they're doing reasonably well and that's a "Good Story". I'm the last person to demand MLS air on prime time tv just because "The Rest Of The World Cares About Soccer So We Have An Obligation To Care About Soccer." I'm not that guy. Seriously. The only obligation sports journalists have is to report the biggest stories in an informed, professional manner.
That's the issue--what determines the "biggest stories"?
In the answer to Larry's question, Pearlman tellingly mentions the New York area and how its disproportionately large fanbase makes sports in that region a bigger story than in the much smaller area of Milwaukee, WI. This is a telling argument in that it exposes the flaw in the perceived righteousness of nationwide sports journalists (particularly ESPN journalists).
Fact of the matter is, the New York Yankees do merit coverage on popularity alone. NY is a much bigger city than any other city in the US. Excellent. However, this appeal to numbers begs the question of why teams in relatively small markets (Boston, Philadelphia) get preferential treatment to teams in large markets like Houston or Los Angeles. Is this the East Coast bias we've heard so much about?
But most likely the answer lies in what the producers of sports related websites, magazines and television programs WANT to be a big story. Take for instance my oh-so-beloved Irish's cataclysmic embarrassments on the field. Truly this is a story for the ages--traditionally excellent football program has unimaginably horrible season. All the stats prove that this is a historically awful season for a once proud franchise.
HOWEVER, the coverage of this collapse by ESPN is telling in regards to how a portion of the sports media manufactures a self-replenishing story. Observe:
1.) Notre Dame is no longer a football powerhouse. If they're lucky they'll be ranked in the top 15 come year end (it's been 14 years since they have had a legitimate claim to National Title Contender). If they're real lucky they'll win a bowl game (though they haven't in more than ten years).
2.) Notre Dame is having an awful year, but the statistics used to prove how awful they are are distorted at best. Current sports media manufactures artificial stats at an alarming rate. To digress, how many times do we have to hear "this is only the third person to take a no-hitter into the seventh inning against a team with a .274 batting average or better."? What do these stats prove? What does "this is the first time Notre Dame has lost 4 games in a row by a total of 35 or more" do to prove anything besides that they have been losing by a relatively large margin? It has no historical significance, even in the context that Notre Dame is nowhere near the program it was 15 years ago.
3.) Overexposure followed by complaining about overexposure. Do we really need segments on SportsCenter interviewing current ND students about their thoughts on the season? Do we need Regis Philbin on SportsCenter talking about how he feels about the Irish's offensive line? All this will do is give female-genitalia-faced Mark May more ammo when he talks about the overexposure and constant overhyping of the Irish. Sure, this start is awful and the Irish offense has been surprisingly bad, but this exposure is unprecedented for an 0-3 team...especially one that all the experts predicted to be lousy.
So thus the process is set in motion:
1.) take a non-story
2.)pump it up with artificial statistics and sound bytes that you get from round-the-clock mic-pushing until it seems like a much bigger deal than it is
3.) assure that even if the story disappears, THE ACTUAL ACT OF YOUR DISTORTION will be a story
You see this beyond ND, with stories like TO (I actually heard discussions on ESPN whether the media's constant mic-pushing is the reason for his bad rep, and debating the reasons why he's been relatively uncontroversial this year), Bill Belichek-gate, Ron Artest, and so on.
But the big reason why I bring this up, and now I come full circle, has to do with Mr. Pearlman's employer's pet-team:
The Boston Red Sox. A team from a non-huge metro area that gets nearly round-the-clock coverage. Can an argument be made that they have their merits (sort of big, widespread fanbase, general success and postseason aspirations, colorful personnel) but not much more so than any big city team (LA, San Diego, NY Mets, Phillies, Indians). The problem is that the media (particularly ESPN) members just so happen to be Red Sox fans. Period. Therefore, they're convinced, like any fan of any team, that their team is totally definitely interesting to the world. Is it unconscious or conscious? is a question that is hard to answer, but this process is in full-swing:
1.) Boston New York is a generally interesting rivalry with some historical significance, including some extremely memorable moments, but on the whole no more rich or interesting to non-fans than rivalries between other historical teams with an equally large fan base (Giants/Dodgers, Cubs/Cardinals)
2.) network plays it up in interest of good story, focusing more on sporadic moments and stats of interest instead of that largely the rivalry has been uninteresting and a non-rivarly between teams that were alternately non-contenders
3.) consequently the ensuing media circus ensures that there are high tensions, both among the players AND the viewing public, during the series so that broadcasters can focus on that in subsequent broadcasts, harping on things like "wow, this is the most exciting rivalry in baseball."
Think back 10 years. Did anyone really give a shit about the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, aside from Yankees or Red Sox fans? Think back 20 (before my time so someone will have to help me out). This is a relatively new thing that we are ALL supposed to care about this rivalry.
This is a self-feeding story--one that's made villains out of players (who subsequently become embarrassingly huge stories and the subject of the purplest of prose...i.e. A-Rod) and heroes out of players, and fucking most embarrassingly of all, has raised our awareness of a now dead dwarf. A fucking dwarf.
In conclusion, thanks for the interview, Jeff Pearlman, but I fucking hate ESPN