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.”
Well, 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.