Ink Stained (W)retch

The quote has been around so long its origins may never be known.  Last time I saw it, Mike Schmidt was the culprit, speaking about the city where he played his entire Hall of Fame career: “Philadelphia is only place where the ecstasy of victory is followed by the agony of reading about it in the papers.”

ink_stain3Well, Mike, as a baseball fan during that era, I thoroughly enjoyed coverage of the Phillies in its two dailies, the Inquirer and Daily News, but I can see where the uniformed personnel and ownership might have been annoyed.  The press were analytical, critical, informed, and tough.  They knew what bullshit was and loudly labeled it as such.  They knew the game ( as well as the Game BEHIND the game) and exposed mistakes, poor play, and bad judgment when they spotted it.  Usually they executed with well-crafted prose and entertaining style.  Most athletes aren’t fans of the written word.  Reading gives them pains where their brains should be.

We don’t have that problem here in the land of the Doll-fan, where the watchword of the Miami Hurled’s sports page is, “Bland.”  Their MO is heavy on gossip, hero worship, and feel-good fuzzies, downplaying edgy analysis, originality, and wit.

I offer as Exhibit A the return of Greg Cote’s lame weekly column, Random Evidence of a Cluttered Mind, which he begins as follows:

Note: The Random Evidence of a Cluttered Mind column has been on a four-week hiatus because of the writer’s vacation and conflicting assignments but returns today, despite popular demand.

It goes rapidly downhill from there, including these duds:

  • Hey, Dolfans, how about we punch the rewind button, end the season with the thrilling win at the Jets and pretend the Ravens game never happened, OK?
  • Michelle Wie earned her LPGA tour card, meaning women pros can hate her up close now instead of just from afar when she plays in men’s tournaments on publicity-driven sponsor exemptions.
  • The Dallas Cowboys have released troubled Pacman Jones. That reminds me. John Daly is serving a six-month PGA Tour suspension for off-course behavior. Suggested new nickname for Daly: Six-Pacman.
  • Charles Barkley has taken a leave of absence from TNT after being arrested on a DUI charge. Cops heard him slurring. But isn’t that sort of how he sounds on TV, too?

Har har he he oh my sides.  This is what passes for humor and sports commentary in the Hurled.  Unfunny, irrelevant, uninspiring.  Cote has the entire week to cook up his column, and these dead ducks are the choicest he serves, week after week.

The reasons for the decline of print journalism are many, dominated by the rise in popularity of electronic media, particularly teh internets.  Blaming newspapers’  lame columnists grossly exaggerates their contribution to the industry’s downturn, especially because these same hacks appear both in print and on-line.  That noted, it seems to me that the increased competition created by alternative media would inspire a better, more compelling product, not a weaker one.  Evidently I’m dead wrong.

Note to Lu Senz, retired sportswriter: Yes, I came in out of the glorious winter sunshine on Sunday and watched the Eagles put the final nail in Tom’s Coughlin and the NY Giants.  Guido and I were the only Eagles fans at the party, which added to the thrill.  Against all odds, they’re on their way to the NFC Championship game.  And I’ll enjoy reading all about it tomorrow — on philly.com and in the NY Times.

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11 Responses to Ink Stained (W)retch

  1. ya'gotta'guessit says:

    You’re asking too much, Squats – especially from a sports backwater that spends much of the year fretting over college football.

    Even in those towns with traditionally (read: formerly) strong newspapers, everything’s on the decline.

    The Boston, New York, Philly, and Chicago papers have legacy columnists who can still bring it, but a preponderance of J-school hires, and the mid-’90s’ siphoning-off of middle-level sportwriters to sports-magazine & cable TV entities have left a big, fat, unfillable gap at even the best of the dailies.

    Having spent some time on the internets this past year, accessing the local scribes’ takes on the Phillies’ (and now, the Eagles’) annihilation of their home teams has done nothing but confirm this belief – once you get out of the Northeast (and Chicago), *nobody* can fucking write.

    And if you’d like to see the future model for those few remaining halfway-respectable legacy papers, look no further than the LA Times – a craptacular and smugly self-serving collection of prize-winning, circle-jerking, “journalists” who don’t even know they’re dead.

    That’s what’s coming, Squatty…

  2. Ms Calabaza says:

    Squatty,

    this will age me but the Miami Herald started going down the tubes when Gene Weingarten left the Tropic . . . it’s been a long, slow decline…What a shame.

    Congratulations on your Eagles!

  3. Lu Senz says:

    The Philly press you praise gave up on their Eagles mid-season, and had McNabb benched and/or traded, and Reid run out on a rail. Naturally, they’ve changed their tune by now.

    I met Bill Conlin a number of times when he came to Wrigley, and he’s a helluva writer and great guy to talk to. But as your first commenter correctly notes, these are “legacy” guys whose numbers are shrinking, never to be replaced. Say buh-bye with a teary eye. Actually, I got out about 10 years ago for the same reasons.

    Blame it on the Almighty Buck. It ruined pro sports, now it’s doing the same for sports writing. Sad. But move on.

  4. Old Timer says:

    Ms. Calabaza: I remember Weingarten as Tropic Magazine’s leading light, but I also remember that Tropic was the only section of the Herald that was entertaining and first-class writing. The rest of the rag was a tired, sloppy imitation of a metropolitan paper, nervously moderate and pleasing nobody.

  5. NME says:

    Yeah right on about Cote who just blows. I stopped reading his drievl years ago, but that’s kind of my point. He’s not some newbie, a rookie making his move. He’s been around a long time, so as lame as he is, don’t look for any improvement.

  6. Lois Terms says:

    Could be worse. You could be forced to listen to (and look at) Joe Buck.

  7. Travis T says:

    The Herald’s sports page is actually worse during baseball season. I stopped reading it years ago, when a columnist actually wrote that a batter “got beaned on the wrist.”

  8. Ruh Roh says:

    Anybody remember Ed Pope? The lamest of the lame. But they still think of him as a great writer and editor at the herald.

  9. Ray Ed Gneck says:

    Typical Yankee. You can’t wait to come down South to Florida, and when you get here nothing is as good as it is up north or what you’re used to. You know how many times we hear this, and for how long?

    Remember, I-95 goes both ways.

  10. Piles says:

    Interesting thread. First commenter (with the strange name) calls Miami a “sports backwater” consumed with college football.

    Having lived here my whole life except for 6 years of college, split between Boston and LA, I think that’s (a) dead-on, and (b) true of a lot of crappy sports towns in the south and midwest, where college sports are biggest. Without the professional sports team, the media edge is off.

    I don’t know why — maybe because college sports aren’t *real* sports and athletes aren’t held to the same performance standard.

    The problem with Miami is, we have a college-level media with professional level sports.

  11. GIANT GIANT FAN says:

    ….the Eagles put the final nail in Tom’s Coughlin …..

    Yeah well I hate the Eagles (and the Redskins but especially the Cowboys) but that’s a pretty funny line. Hope you win next week too and the SuperBowl too because then I can say the GIANTS lost to Superbowl champions not losers and assholes. Yeah well maybe assholes anyway.

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