Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Saying goodbye to Shav

T.J. Simers writes his Christmas Day column about retiring L.A. Times auto racing writer Shav Glick. A very nice piece about an old-school newspaper guy -- but also a bit sad on one front. When asked what he'd tell an aspring young journalist, he replied: "Get out of the newspaper business." And this from a guy, Simers notes, who wouldn't be retiring if his health would allow him to continue.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oregonian vs. the Blazers

Portland Oregonian sports editor Mark Hester writes about a dispute between the paper and the Portland Trail Blazers concerning Jason Quick's story evaluating the team after 20 games. Hester says the headline might have been stronger than the story and that the team's objection on that front "has some merit."

The Blazers' press release on the matter (via HOOPSWORLD).

Quick talks about it on his blog (scroll down to Dec. 14).

Friday, December 16, 2005

Globe to charge for sports content?

The Boston Phoenix reports that the Globe is considering a new service called "Sportsplus," and if they go ahead with it, it will be of unfortunate interest to loyal followers of teams in New England. Among the things they'd charge a subscription fee to get to?

a) Daily columns by Bob Ryan, Dan Shaughnessy, Jackie MacMullan or other Boston Globe sports columnists

b) Sports feature stories, pre-game and post-game analysis

c) Sports articles from opposing teams' newspaper web sites

d) Daily Blogs such as Reiss's Pieces, Extra Bases and Net Minderse) Game-time Blog by Boston Globe reporter

There's a lot more if you click on the link. I can't say I don't expect more of this in the future.

Get out of the vote

Tim Sullivan, columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, says he will no longer vote for any awards. This discussion has been going on for some time in an ethics sense, but Tim also introduces that he's getting out of it at least partially because worrying about it is a pain in the ass.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Woody says goodbye

Denver Post columnist Woody Paige says goodbye to his readers -- this time for an indefinite time, he says -- in this column in Sunday's paper. Woody says he's going to stay in New York and do the ESPN thing. He had previously taken a leave (or leaves?) of absence but remained on staff. He does say toward the end:

"As MacArthur and The Terminator said, I shall return; I'll be back.

"I just don't know when."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Cutting deep

Jeff Jacobs writes about his angst over three colleagues at the Hartford Courant taking buyouts in this column in Saturday's paper. "All week I have been sick to my stomach, wondering why we lost three teammates to the harsh economic blade of 21st-century newspaper accounting," he writes. He also references a column by David Whitley in the Orlando Sentinel that notes that while Tribune Co. is cutting staff at many of its newspapers through buyouts and layoffs, it's also considering adding Rafael Furcal to the company-owned Cubs for $50 million.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Help for those at the Times-Picayune

A website has been set up to take donations to help the many displaced staffers at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Click here if you want to help.

State of the L.A. Times

This isn't sports, but it's a biting analysis of the state of a former tour stop, the L.A. Times. It's written by former Times Book Review editor (amogn other things) Steve Wasserman and appeared on Robert Scheer's new site,

People have been writing obituaries about various formerly robust sections and departments of the Times for a while now. Jim Washburn did this piece in OC Weekly more than three years ago.

The Times used to be a very cool place to be a part of. What's been happening there for a few years now is just plain sad.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Poynter Conference

Poynter is going to do the "Mother and Father of all sports writing workshops" April 12-14, 2006, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Here's all the info from the APSE site. Sounds like it could be a lot of fun and interesting for a lot of people.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Women and sports departments

A new Penn State study finds women are woefully underrepresented in sports departments. Since I don't want to post all the text here, and can't find a link on the Penn State site, I'm going to link to the thread discussing the findings.

Jurkowitz on Red Sox-Gate

I hate -Gate references, but Sox owner John Henry himself invokes it on page 3 of this piece on the Boston media's coverage of the Theo Epstein flap last week. The Phoenix's Mark Jurkowitz gives the Globe, whose parent company owns 17 percent of the team, a D in his report card. (See below for more on the ramifications of this conflict of interest between the business and editorial sides of the Globe.) Among the things Jurkowitz weighs in on was this column by Dan Shaughnessy, which some believe gave Epstein his final push out the door.

Here's a Boston Herald column that Jurkowitz references, by Tony Massarotti.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Helene Elliott into the Hall

Quite a day here. Three posts in one day after none in three weeks.

Post-Wilma syndrome.

Anyway, Helene Elliott tonight becomes the first woman inducted into the media wing of one of the Big Four sports halls of fame, hockey in this case.

Her husband writes about it here, and while some will have a problem with that, I certainly don't.

The Times and the Dodgers

A guy named Matt Welch takes Bill Plaschke and T.J. Simers to task in a guest column in yesterday's Times. Welch has never been very happy with them, particularly Plaschke. He doesn't really give a lot of detail concerning why they were really wrong about the management of the club by Paul DePodesta, though.

He calls the columnists "value subtracting." Considering the rip job, this passage is kind of odd:

"The worst part isn't that the columnists' complaints about DePodesta are wrong, it's that they're often right. (Or at least, that I agree with them.) The young GM was painfully lacking in people-management skills and made a bunch of questionable moves."

Welch is an editor for Reason magazine and has a website,

The Globe and the Sox

In the wake of the Theo Epstein story, the Boston Globe's ombudsman weighs in today on the "challenges" the paper faces in its coverage of the Red Sox, considering the fact the parent New York Times Co. holds a 17 percent stake in the team. ''We're uncomfortable with the relationship, but that's never been a factor in our coverage of the Red Sox," sports editor Joe Sullivan said. ''I challenge anyone to say we don't cover the team aggressively." But ombudsman Richard Chacon says the ownership issue does create some problems. "My review of the Sox coverage began weeks ago," he writes, "but the Epstein story offers fresh examples of the challenges the Globe faces in readers' perceptions."

Note to all: This was sent to me by a acquaintance. Please, keep 'em coming.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Writing and ESPN-Speak

The New York Times' Julie Bosman weighs in on the study by the University of Missouri's Scott Reinardy that shows that sports writing has been increasingly affected by the boo-yahs and diaper dandys of ESPN TV. This has been fodder, as usual, for discussion on as well.

It would have been a bit better, of course, had she not mispelled his name throughout, necessitating a correction (bottom of link).

Monday, October 17, 2005

One more thought ...

...on Bamberger and Wie.

I've decided after much thought that what happened to her was unfair, because anybody else making that drop wouldn't have been under nearly as much (any?) scrutiny, and nobody would give it a second thought. But because of all those media types following her, she was second-guessed in a manner that wouldn't have happened to anybody else.

And I don't think that's in the spirit of equity. So I think reporters ought to stay out of it, and let the players and the rules officials figure out violations. And now that I think about it, I think TV viewers ought to stay out of it, too.

Writers and golf and rules

There's an interesting debate going on about whether Michael Bamberger of Sports Illustrated crossed the line by playing a fairly prominent role in the disqualification of Michelle Wie in her first professional golf tournament. Bamberger queried her about a drop from an unplayable lie on Saturday, and then asked tournament officials about it. After taking her out to the spot, it was determined she dropped incorrectly, and she was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. As you might expect, they're weighing in heavily at in two places: here and here.

I'm squarely on the fence on this one. I think if the information got out because of a reporting inquiry, then Bamberger did little wrong. However, if he simply was the person blowing the whistle on a rules violation, I'm not sure he belonged in the story.

There's probably a little bit of truth in both. It's not an easy situation.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Crosby Chronicles

Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, in his Media Circus, writes about the Toronto Globe and Mail's Shawna Richer write full time about Penguins rookie phenom Sidney Crosby this season. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Editors' pet peeves

AJR does a little bright on editors' pet peeves.

Interestingly, I remain in the "last" should be "past" mode, but maybe it's time to give it up.

Naw. I'm gonna hang on to it a while longer.

Friday, September 23, 2005

How to Sportswrite good

Thanks to poster JaredK, who scanned it in and e-mailed it to me, we have this great piece from Roy Blount Jr., one of my faves. Here ya go...

This piece appeared in the November 1976
Esquire, the first of a year or so's worth of sports columns I did for that magazine. As we used to say in Georgia, Best, Schmest; but I loved writing this piece because in it I broke out of family-magazine sportswriting into the world of available language.
Roy Blount, Jr.

How to Sportswrite Good

Esquire • November 1976

I read with pleasure nearly every form of sportswriting, from Tug McGraw's Scroogie comic strip to Ebony Fisherman, a black angling column in the New Pittsburgh Courier. Scroogie once showed a manager sitting in his dugout reflecting: "I can't believe it! It's too good to be true!! All I do is sit on my hands for nine innings and we plaster Pittsburgh nine-one!!! [Pause] Just think what we could do if I sat on my fists."

I scour the Sporting News for great passages, like this one from a story about an Oriole bat boy who had hooks instead of fingers: "He is going to major in mathematics. I could have told him that it's hard to become good in mathematics when you don't have any fingers to count on, and I'm sure he would have gotten a sincere laugh out of it." Sportswriting is like country music: It is sometimes very good, and sometimes when it is really bad it is even better. And it can be largely silly and genuinely worth something at the same time.

But I don't want to read any tomes about sports. That is what two recent books -- Sports in America, by James Michener, and The Joy of Sport, by Michael Novak—look like to me: tomes. Well, I would read a tome about some particular aspect of sports -- The Dribble in America or The Joy of Batting Orders. I would cherish a nice snappy treatment that knocked sports, in essence, right into the creek, as old SCLC campaigner Hosea Williams did incidentally on a recent BBC-TV special, when he criticized the city of Atlanta for allotting tax money to a golf course: "Damn some grass to knock a ball on when there are people in the streets robbing for food."

But I don't want to read anything in which somebody steps back and takes a long view of Sport as Something It is High Time We Faced Up to the Big Picture and Tiny Epiphanies of, or, Why We Like to Watch People Spring Through the Air and Land in a Heap. Hasn't everybody always down through the ages liked to watch people spring through the air and land in a heap? I'd rather read The Wit and Wisdom of Herman Hickman or Among the Brownies: The Ordeal of Ned Carver.

A while back, there was even a flurry of writing -- in Esquire, More, the Los Angeles Times and probably Playgirl and Presbyterian Life -- about sportswriting. Writing about sportswriting seemed an odd exercise, like going worm fishing to catch worms, but I enjoyed it when it didn't get too abstract. Sportswriters have interesting day-to-day problems. Consider Ted Colton, then of the Mckeesport, Pennsylvania, Daily News, being chased through the Three Rivers Stadium parking lot by a whole irate Steeler fan club, led by a man in a gorilla suit, for picking Cleveland to take the AFC Central. Or Pete Axthelm of Newsweek, stepping glumly into the Pittsburgh locker room after last year's Super Bowl, surveying the jubilance and saying, "I can't stand to look at a team that hasn't beaten the spread and thinks it's won."

I don't guess anyone is going to make a movie about an intrepid pair of sportswriters. In sports novels sportswriters are always wimps or drunks or sneaks or hacks, or all four. In life they are often abject straight men. A writer asked Alex Johnson, then with the Cincinnati Reds, "Alex, you hit only two homers all last year, and this season you already have seven. What's the difference?" And Alex answered, "Five." Once Bill Bradley's sole response to a reporter who asked him why the Knicks had fined him one hundred dollars was, "You have a stupid job."

But when Henry Aaron dumped strawberries on Frank Hyland of the Atlanta Journal for something Hyland wrote, Hyland got letters of support "from every redneck in the country. One even wanted me to run for President," Hyland told me one spring training, when I found myself talking with, at the same time, him and Pat Livingston of the Pittsburgh Press, whom Mean Joe Greene once spat on. For his part, Livingston said that a guy in a Pittsburgh bar who was dying of cancer anyway offered to shoot Greene for him, but Livingston said no.

I am trying to conceive of a big movie action scene in which sportswriters would be central. I mean one where the sportswriters wouldn't have spit, or strawberries all over them. Sportswriters can be good vigorous drinking arguers. "Stop calling me an asshole!" I remember one scribe yelling to another at the height of a group debate during dinner (paid for by the team we were covering) in a fancy San Francisco restaurant. "I'm on your side and you're calling me an asshole!"

In his new book, Michael Novak proposes that "newspaper and magazine writers, regaining their faith in words, should describe the contests on the field as if no one watched television. ... The human spirit needs words, needs the irony, the subtlety, and the bite of words, and above all the capacity of words to go beneath surfaces, their power to pull aside veils and uncover unsuspected dimensions of human striving. Many regions of athletic experience have scarcely been explored."

Right. But I wonder whether Novak has any real sense of the linguistic problems sportswriters are up against. When athletes speak most naturally about what they do, they tend to use graphic, anatomical language. "I'm gonna be right up in his noseholes," said Joe Frazier. "That pitch I threw, the muscle stay back, the bone keep going," Luis Tiant said, explaining how something snapped in his arm. Athletes can even slap a quick metaphor on you. The Redskins' Larry Brown, asked which runners he has modeled himself on, said: "I've watched Kelly. He was an out-of-sight runner. I can't have the moves that Kelly has. I can't create the moves that Sayers made. I have my own style. I want to be my own man. When I was a kid I used to watch Jimmy Brown and all I can say is if you got a loaded gun, you fire it."

Now you might say that such quotes are a boon to the sportswriter. (And don't you think Norman Mailer would have loved saying what Brown said, substituting Hemingway for Jimmy Brown?) The only trouble is this: How are you going to write vividly enough in between the good quotes to keep your column from looking like a couple of pearls set in a hunk of pot metal?

More often, the problem with players' language is that, in Gertrude Stein's phrase, it is inaccrochable. I once worked for a newspaper whose World War II correspondent sent in a dispatch about a sailor who ran out onto the deck of his aircraft carrier, shook his fist at the strafing planes overhead and yelled, "You fucking Japs!" Only the correspondent knew the paper wouldn't print that, so he changed it to "You damn Japs!" Which the copydesk changed to "You darn Japs!" Sportswriters have similar translation problems. For instance, Sports Illustrated prints a great deal of lively athletic language. Its They Said It column is the best running collection of quotes in any publication of any kind that I know of. But it is also a family magazine, which once changed "crap" in a story of mine to "baloney." In a family magazine you can't print what SI's Ron Fimrite says he once heard a ballplayer in batting practice exclaim: "I couldn't hit my mother-fucking grandmother!"

Sometimes players' language is not only unquotable but sort of otherworldly. Players can make a football game, for instance, sound like a struggle between two grand corporate rumps and their crewmen: "When it comes down to it, we flat got our ass in gear and moved the ball on their ass. Chops was yelling at 'em in the line, 'Just keep on throwing all that quick-popping shit at our ass -- we're gonna bury your ass.' Once we got our ass jacked up and started corning, it was their ass. We hit our ass off out there, didn't we?"

But players' language is standard English compared to coaches'. One afternoon in the University of Tennessee football press box I realized that I could hear every word that a UT coach, in the next booth over, was saying to his colleagues on the field via headphones. Here is roughly how the fourth quarter went:

"He can't bite down too hard on the tight end till he finds out what Z is doing. You see what I mean?

"Okay now break on three watch the screen. You got tango? Watch the screen, watch the screen.

"SCREEN! All right. Holler down there and tell Carmichael. ... Aw, we missed three.

"Seven-five holes! Seven-five holes!

"Tango, tango, c'mon, Ed, watch the slip screen. Slip screen . . . power.

"Tell the comers to runnel and flow away, and watch the Y. And you watch Z now.

"Off. All right, they in man again.

"Watch the option, watch the option. Sprint draw! Sprint draw! Watch out now, watch out, God dang it. Oh no! Great play.

"Tell that backside end to crank up. Tell them backers to crank it now! Crank it!

"Watta ya got? Bluff the side coverage, Mo. Bluff the side coverage, Mo.

"Tell that Watts to get in there on that guy! God dog. Ahrrghlk.

"Pow'r one! Pow'r one! Gonna be the Pitt sweep. Gonna be the Pitt sweep, Guarantee you!


"You got to really come out there and collision that tight end coming down there. . . . Number two, tell Jerry four coverage, get them people cranked up.

"Let's go defense. Forty-four tango! All right, what they got? Forty-four tango?

"All right, let's go. Power.

"Watch the pass, now, watch the pass. Holler at 'em, 'Pass!' Pass! Holler, 'Pass!!'

"Either pass or Pitt sweep ... pow'r. ...
"Let's go, offense. Stick it in 'em! Give 'em hell! Aw.

"Let's go, defense. Loosen off. Loosen off. Tell the tango end to loosen off some. Loosen off the tango end! Loosen off, Art! Tell Poole to get the curl!


"Tell Wheeler to walk off a little bit, as the tango end.

"Allright! [Great rumble arises, partition shakes.] Give 'em hell!

"Aw. Well, hell, I don't care—we got the damn ball I don't care if they put it back to the damn four, now. Give 'em hell, Carruthers. Woooooeee."

So there it was. I had the whole inside story. But what was my lead going to say? "Outlined against a gray November sky, the Vols edged the Commodores yesterday as Mo bluffed the side coverage, the tango loosened off and the corners funneled and flowed away?"

Oh, I could go on and on about the word problems of a sportswriter. For instance, when players adopt coaches' language, you get remarks like, "That revenge factor is sweet" (Glenn Doughty, Baltimore Colts) and, "Then that injury factor happened" (Norm Snead, passim). It is little wonder that sportswriters tend to lose perspective themselves and blurt out expressions like "doffed his erstwhile nonentity" to mean "became famous."

But maybe coaches are right, and it is best to look at problems positively, to regard them as opportunities. Sometimes I look at a piece of sportswriting and think. ...

Well, one afternoon I looked at these two paragraphs:

"'I know I've got two games tomorrow and milestones aren't going to be much help,' Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates said.

"'When you're playing you just have to grind it out,'" he added.

And I thought, "You can't grind it out with milestones," and for a moment a whole world opened up, of worn-out sports imagery recast: a graduating receiver hauling in the sheepskin, down linemen made of duck feathers, a New York Knick condemned by a witch doctor's curse to a lifetime of moving within the ball ...

Well, I don't know. But the sports pages and the comic sections are the only places in a newspaper where you can still fool around verbally. Maybe someone will take advantage of this freedom and transform sportswriting into a wild macaronic poetry, in which different frames of mind entangle across metaphysical lines of scrimmage. On the other hand, maybe sports headline writers will straighten up just a bit and stop writing headlines like LEUKEMIA THROWS DUSTER AT TWINS' THOMPSON.

People shouldn't sell sportswriters short, anyway. "Regaining their faith in words," indeed! We do have a certain pride, a sense of calling. There is the story about a scribe who showed up in the press box after a game too drunk to write even if he had seen anything that had happened. Firmly within the tradition of old-time sportswriting, he appealed to another scribe to let him copy the story he had just filed.

"Well, I don't know," the sober scribe said.

"Come on," pleaded the drunk scribe.

"But I hate to ..."

"Come on, please."

The sober scribe said oh, okay, and handed over a carbon of his story. The drunk scribe cranked paper into his typewriter and started copying. He got through three paragraphs before he stopped and looked off into the distance.

"To think," he sighed, "that I would be reduced ... to copying shit like this."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Death of Sportswriting

I asked a friend, Deb, at work if she'd help me figure out how to scan this in.

Deb said sure -- then decided she didn't like any of the scanning options, so she TYPED the damn thing in. Said she used to be a typesetter, and it was a challenge.

I'm kind of disbelieving, but appreciative. And many thanks, Deb.

Here's the whole thing, in order:

The Death of Sportswriting

Our sports pages once bristled with writing that was as elegant as it was contentious. Now it’s just a numbers game. Where have you gone, George Kiseda? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

By Alan Richman

Baseball, the timeless game, stumbles into the Nineties: Kirk Gibson, oft-injured hero of the dodgers, is returning to the home-team lineup. Mark Heisler, seasoned sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, walks up to him before the game, spiral notebook in hand, muttering the interviewer’s classic opening line: “Kirk, can I talk to you for a minute?”

This is not investigative reporting. This is not a trick question, although to the professional athlete of today almost any question is a snare. This is beautiful night at dodger Stadium, happy fans swirling the turnstiles, a writer seeking a few comforting words for the morning paper: The leg’s fine, everything’s okay, I’ll play ‘em one game at a time.

Well, it isn’t going to work out that way.

Heisler is asking for a few minutes from a player whose workday consists of about ten of them, unless you count the time he spends standing motionless in the outfield when the opposition bats, or sitting motionless on the bench when his team does. Major-league payrolls, which average nearly $900,000 per player this season, are the only heavy lifting in baseball.

“He wheels on me,” Heisler recalls, “and says, ‘Are you fucking kidding? It’s game time.’ This is two hours before the game. Nobody’s in the stands. He starts to stamp off. I say to him, ‘Oh, game time, I guess I better get upstairs to the press box then.’ He wheels on me again, says, ‘I don’t appreciate your fucking attitude.’ I say, ‘I was kidding, as I assume you were.’ He proceeds to tell me several times about my ‘fucking attitude.’ Then he advances on me, this guy who’s six-three, 215 pounds. Anyway, he finally decides he doesn’t need to kill anybody before the game.”

Gibson is a professional athlete, deemed special at a young age and coddled throughout life. Having found no reason to mature except from the neck down, most professional athletes do only that. Heisler is a veteran bat reporter, perhaps more acerbic than most, but Gibson didn’t recognize him and certainly hadn’t analyzed his body of work. That confrontation was simply one of the perils of present-day sportswriting, another skirmish in the ballpark wars. It’s one of the reasons, but far from the only one, sportswriting is a dying art, a victim of antagonistic players, constricting deadlines, debilitating travel, lowered standards and salaries so modest that $55,000-per-year sportswriters now work on their as-told-to books before games, instead of on their sidebars. The job has gotten so impossible that sportswriters can’t even blame editors for their troubles anymore.

What was bothering Gibson that day? Most likely nothing, at least nothing more than the presence of a sportswriter. “We’ve become a nuisance to them, a green fly,” says Stan Hochman, a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News for more than thirty years. And what says the sportswriter, invariably so much smaller, older, shorter, and poorer, of those he immortalized in print? “Baseball players are the biggest assholes on the planet,” concludes Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press, a man sometimes criticized by his peers for being too nice.

There has always been some of this around, the enmity of unwilling subject toward unsympathetic scribe or unappreciated question. Legend has it that Ty Cobb chased a sportswriter with a bat and that Rogers Hornsby tried to throw one off a moving train. When David Hirshey, a sportswriter for the New York Daily News in the Seventies, learned that Reggie Jackson of the Yankees fantasized about harmonizing with the O’Jays, he decided it was worth a column. “I walked up to him at his locked, asked, ‘Reggie, I know you can carry a team. Can you carry a tune?’ He was facing me. He turned around lifted a leg, farted, and said, ‘How’s this tune?’ It was shortly thereafter that I left sportswriting.”

Give Reggie credit. A least he was responsive. Today the hostility is automatic, the expression a blank. A request for a minute of time, seemingly so banal, is reason enough to erupt. Once, athletes and sportswriters had a few things in common, even if those weren’t much more than flannel pants and adjoining Pullman cars. Hochman used to play cards in the clubhouse with Pete Rose. Frank Hyland of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution fondly remembers watching a game on television with Brooks Robinson at the bar of the Helen Wilkes Hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida. When an athlete got mad a at a sportswriter in the old days, it was because something had been written or said, not because he was in his line of sight. Today, sportswriters and athletes are not merely adversaries, which is normal in journalism, but natural enemies.

Says Bob Ryan, a columnist for the Boston Globe and a man so in love with sports that he’s been known to rage over an unsatisfactory banquet speech, “Knowing what I know now, there is no way I would ever reenter this profession. It was fun before. It’s tedious now. They got agents. They got contracts. They got attitudes.”

I lasted ten years in the business. I was a sportswriter in Philadelphia, Montreal and Boston back when almost every city had its own style of sportswriting, like Italian city-states had their own form of government. I came out of the Philadelphia school, which means I was cranky, combative and wrote a lot of bad one-liners. Overall, I was pretty good, but the guy I replaced on the basketball beat was George Kiseda, the best there ever was, so nobody ever heard of me. I covered the 76ers under Jack Ramsay, Roy Rubin and Gene Shue and didn’t get along with any of them. Five years after Ramsay left the 76ers, he won the NBA championship as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, beating those same 76ers, and I sent him a one-sentence telegram: “I always said as long as you were coaching the 76ers could never win.” That what I thought sportswriting was all about. I still do, and I don’t find much of it anymore that I admire.

It bothers me that the first byline I turn to when I open the paper these days is Dow Jones. Men like to read sports pages; it’s what we do while women are clipping coupons or passing around People magazine. It’s a link to childhood that won’t get us laughed at, an escape from reality that can’t get us arrested. Unfortunately, at the same time sportswriting is getting worse, it’s getting more attention than ever before.

Emilio Azcarraga, the “Mexican media mogul,” as he was so often called, invested – and lost – more than $100 million in The National before it folded. (For that, he could have bought his own major-league team, not read about somebody else’s.) After years of dogged lethargy, The Sporting News hired a new editor and set its sights on the twentieth century. Robert Maxwell launched The Racing Times to challenge the Daily Racing Form. The New York Times breathlessly expanded its sports coverage (“IT’S A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME!”). USA Today, as well-known for getting the latest box scores to its reads as for its pepperoni pizza-colored full-page weather maps, started Baseball Weekly, seemingly a parody of what The Sporting News used to be.

A study by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau shows that daily-newspaper readership among Americans ages 30 to 44 fell from 75 percent in 1972 to 45 percent in 1989, and desperate publishers believe increased sports coverage can lure readers back. While publishers might know a lot about who reads newspapers and who does not, they don’t know a thing about who writes well for newspapers and who does not. They’re building opera houses and filling them with mezzo-sopranos who sing off-key.

There is a risk, of course, of remembering the past too fondly, like Burt Lancaster in Atlantic City, standing on the boardwalk, saying “You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean in those days.” W.C. Heinz, one of the great sportswriters from the era of icons Jimmy Cannon and Red Smith, says, “On the New York Sun, we had a boxing writer who put in his story that this fighter was ‘the lightweight champion of Panamanian.’ He said, ‘Sure there is. It’s right here in the press release that he was the Panamanian champion.’ They all weren’t like him, but there’s nobody like that today. It would be impossible today on a major newspaper to have anyone that illiterate work for a number of years.” George Kiseda, the ex-Philadelphia sportswriter now retired and living in Los Angeles, worked briefly on the sports desk of The New York Times in the Seventies and was told how one of the old-timers on the staff got his job: “His family owned a market. During World War II, he supplied the sports editor with meat.”

I’ll concede this: There are fewer butchers writing sports today, and the vast mid-level of sportswriting is better than ever. Almost everybody knows his nouns from his adjectives. Almost everybody took an ethics course in college and knows enough not to accept home-entertainment centers as Christmas gifts from the teams he covers. Still, I think it takes a kind man to find much to celebrate in that.

John Updike, whose 1960 piece in the New Yorker on Ted Williams’s final game (“Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu”) remains one of the finest sports stores ever written, does raise a voice in praise of the modern sportswriter, or perhaps in sympathy for him. “I still read – skim, really – the [Boston] Globe and marvel that the sportswriters can still find words for the same old phenomena the millionth time around,” he says.

Indeed they do, but too many of these wordsmiths are like rookie-league batters, lunging at pitches inches off the plate. They don’t understand that selection is everything. Here’s Updike on Williams, stepping up for his last swings, one of which will send the ball over the center-field fence: “The air was soggy; the season was exhausted.” Here’s a sentence from The National: “In the last 10 years, no other team from the East has been in postseason play more than the Red Sox, who began spring training with more holes in their pitching staff than a Victor Kiam apology, but still managed to fend off the Toronto Blue Jays, who, like Canadian birds of another feather, went south come autumn.”

Sure, that’s a cheap shot, expecting The National to measure up to Updike. You should have anticipated it. I told you I was from Philadelphia.

To the list of reasons for the decline of sportswriting must be added the obvious: Why would anybody want to be a sportswriter these days? Larry Merchant, an excellent sports columnist and an even better sports editor in Philadelphia and New York during the Sixties and Seventies, says, “I wonder who becomes one now. Do kids still grow up dreaming of being sportswriters?” He questions whether the profession still attracts the kind of literate essayist it once did, and, indeed, why would it? Why would anybody capable of writing a screenplay or a novel go into sportswriting? Lesley Visser, who left The Boston Globe’s sports staff to become a broadcast with CBS Sports, recalls talking with Ron Rapaport of the Los Angeles Daily News about the future of a friend who was deciding between a career as a sportswriter and as a lawyer. “Ron is saying that newspapers are a dying industry and she has to go to law school. I’m saying, ‘You want her hanging around with people who say things like “By and large …”?’ Ron says, ‘No, you’d rather she hung around with people who say things like “Outta my face, muthafucker …” ’ I had to admit he had a point.”

At its best – and to almost everyone, that means Smith and Cannon – sportswriting was as evocative as a baseball card between bicycle spokes, as uniquely American as New Orleans jazz. It required a blending of artistry and craftsmanship beyond any of the other journalistic disciplines, and it always lured the best writers interested in newspaper careers. The beginner had two choices: He could work in the cop shop, listening to police radios, the MTV of the newspaper business, or he could write sports. The only requirement – a simple one, really – was a belief that sports were of significance. Before he became a successful novelist, Kurt Vonnegut was hired by Sports Illustrated to write a story about a racehorse that had jumped a fence, cross the infield, jumped back on the track ad finished first in the race. Vonnegut sat at his typewriter for a few minutes, got up, left the room ad never returned. Found on his typewriter was one sentence: “The horse jumped over the fucking fence.” Some people aren’t quite right for the job.

In a way, sportswriting mirrors professional hockey, which requires such an amalgam of speed, balance, dexterity, toughness and sharpshooting that hardly anybody can do it well. Inept hockey players fight; frustrated sportswriters complain. (“What’s the difference between a three-week-old puppy and a sportswriter?” snapped Mike Ditka of the Chicago Bears not long ago. “In six weeks, the puppy stops whining.”) Maybe sportswriters don’t sound tough, but they are. Seasons are endless, Iliads of such antiheroic proportions that Homer wouldn’t have lasted through the play-offs. Imagine a life of horrible hours, terrible press-box food and excruciating organ music, of having to ask questions of the same hormone-crazed offensive lineman you just wrote was slower than your Uncle Solly. Probably the best young meanspirited wit to appear on the sports pages in recent years is Norman Chad, late of The National, who once characterized Duke University as a school that “combines a fine academic setting with a loathsome, preppy environment,” Chad, however, made his living critiquing TV sports and never had to face anything more menacing than his VCR. Says John Schulian, twice the Associated Press Sports Editors columnist of the year and now a television writer and producer, “It’s a lot tougher to do when you’ve got to walk back into the locker room and face a six-eight, 280-pound guy who wants to rip off your head and shit down your neck.”

While pro football players seem determined to close the gap, baseball players, as a group feature the most offensive personalities. Kirk Gibson. Jose Canseco. Ricky Henderson. Lenny Dykstra. Names that evoke chills in the hearts of children, send shudders down the spines of sportswriters. (And how about Thurman Munson, Willie Mays, and Dave Kingman, charter members of the Bad Guys Hall of Fame?) Pro Basketball, the best-run sports, simply won’t tolerate boorish behavior, although Michael Jordan, once the most accommodating of players, no longer talks before games unless he’s in the mood. Pro hockey players are fine, since nobody wants to talk to them, who cares? And if you ever thought the sports pages paid too much attention to boxing, this might one of the reasons: “Fighters were always the best,” says Schulian. “Know why? Nobody ever told them they were special, and they got no breaks, except occasionally from their parole officers.”

I approached Dwight Gooden as he walked through the Mets’ clubhouse on a day he wasn’t going to pitch, and asked for a minute of his time. Reflexively, he told me to come back later, then turned back and said, “We can talk now.” Speaking softly, he said the problem with sportswriters is that they are always “trying to outdo each other, especially in New York,” with so many reports looking for back-page headlines for their tabloid. “For readers, it might be great, but for players, it’s kind of tough.” Howard Johnson, the Mets’ third baseman, added, “Sportswriters are okay, but they’re always looking for different angles and stories. It wears on players after a while.” And while he would prefer less sensationalism, he wouldn’t mind a bit of imagination. He begs this of today’s sportswriters, as no doubt their editors must: “It’s the same questions over and over again. I’d sure rather hear something different.”

All that scrutiny can’t be fun, especially when the New York Daily News and the New York Post engage in one of their circulation wars that leave reputations, as well as the First Amendment, mortally wounded. While the examination of sports by newspapers is more relentless than ever, the exercise is more pointless. Teams are portrayed as carnival houses of horror, and any dissension within is exposed for the sheer job of exploitation. A few years ago, a slow day in sports invariably resulted in a call to George Steinbrenner, who was less an owner than a freak, something to poke with a stick until it roared. Get George to say something stupid for today’s headline, get some miserable player to respond for tomorrow’s headline, reconcile all parties on the third day. A cheap half-week of work.

In the old days, athletes had a perception that a healthy relationship with the city they played in and the sportswriters they dealt with would bring rewards. That’s no longer true. Athletes are better off becoming free agents and moving to new teams, and there is nothing a sportwriter can do for the financial health of a player that an agent, a union or an arbitrator can’t do better. Athletes believe that sportswriters will misquote, misinterpret or misunderstand them and that public utterances are safer (and more profitable) when made in a one of those dreadful as-told-to books.

Day-to-day publicity is still perceived as useful, but why deal with an unpredictable writer who may venture into undesirable areas – money, drugs, girlfriends? Television is harmless. Get on good terms with Chris Berman of ESPN, who will bestow a neat nickname. Better yet, try for your own TV ad. Nothing does more for an athlete than a thirty-second Nike spot, where an image is applied and polished by professionals. Not high-profile enough for an ad? Work on TV exposure during your at bats: Step from box, tap cleats, check depth of outfielders, check position of cameras, return to batter’s box, repeat after next pitch. Athletes might know nothing about sportswriting, but they sure grasp broadcasting. Visser remembers being invited to an athlete’s home twice in sixteen years as a sportswriter. “In TV,” she says, “it happens all the time.”

For sportswriters, who are invited nowhere by athletes except to step outside, the locker room remains the primary place of business, even though it is no longer a reasonable place to conduct interviews. In part, that’s because of the prevailing sociopathic atmosphere. Every baseball locker room seems to employ a nasty, fat kid as an attendant, the mutant twin of that sweet, porky batboy in The Natural. The sportswriter enters with the same expectations a community-relations officer must have when he visits the headquarters of the Hell’s Angels. In part, it’s not the fault of the athlete. Just about anybody who shops at Radio Shack can come out with enough hardware to make him an accredited electronic-media correspondent. Locker rooms are overrun with guys from 12-watt radio stations trying to get up close and personal with the star of the game.

While locker rooms have become places of unhappiness, where morose athletes sit on stools as mini-cams, microphones and wise-mouth scribes crowd around, sportswriters continue to defend their need for access to them. In the past year, the locker room has become a focus of attention, all year, the locker room has become a focus of attention, all because Zeke Mowatt of the New England Patriots showed his weewee to reporter Lisa Olson of the Boston Herald. While the idiocy of Mowatt, several teammates sand team owner Victor Kiam was certainly worthy of coverage, it was not worth so much philosophizing, particularly not the deluge of stories reflecting upon the meaning of the locker room in American life. The ordinarily same Tom Callahan, writing in the Washington Post, referred to it as “a silly and savage sanctum … a microcosmic village.” Even non-sportswriter Russell Baker of The New York Times was moved to reflect, stating “It’s about the male dislike of growing up … The locker room is the temple where they worship arrested development.” (Note to Baker and the other novice sportswriters: It’s a place where men change pants.)

Why, all of a sudden, so much interest in the locker room? Sportswriters, who have always been accused of writing in clichés, now think in clichés, and everybody had the same idea all at once: the locker room. Vince Doria, former executive editor of The National, might unintentionally be offering one explanation for the expiration of his newspaper when he says “The same story is written a thousand times. When writers say they have a good idea for a story, it’s a story they’ve read elsewhere. Sportswriting has ranged so far afield we’re running out of good stories to write.”

There have been so many golden ages of sportswriting, so many evolutions of the craft, that the profession is hard-pressed to compete with itself. The so-called Golden Age, the one that gets the capital letters, is the era of Grantland Rice, symbolized by the famous “Four Horsemen” story of 1924, when Rice sat high up in a press box and somehow saw four football players outlined against a blue-gray October sky. Today, that wouldn’t get by the copy desk. It was an era of worship and wordiness, of masters of the overwrought.

After them came the men who crafted sportswriting. Some did it beautifully, with a twinkle, like Red Smith. Some did it artfully, out of the sides of their mouths, like Jimmy Cannon. Some did it maniacally, wielding a typewriter like a mace, like Dick Young. Those three, and others like them, created modern sportswriting; although they were a little light on social consciousness, almost everything else that has been accomplished in sportswriting was started by them. “Tom Wolfe said he invented something he called New Journalism,” says David Halberstam. “I never liked the phrase much, but I think sportswriters like Cannon, Smith, Heinz, and even Murray Kempton [of Newsday] were the forerunners of what became known as New Journalism. It had its roots in the sportswriting of the Forties and Fifties.”

In the late Fifties and early Sixties came another development, the sportswriter as cynic, iconoclast, critic and sociologist, men like Kiseda, Merchant and Milton Gross. They reflected the Sixties before the Sixties were defined. Pat Williams, now the president of the Orlando Magic but a fledgling team executive back then, says, “They were a new breed, and they scared everyone in sports to death.” That was followed by the era of the long, detailed feature story, labeled the “takeout,” practiced with the most consistent excellence by a young Sports Illustrated staff that included Mark Kram, Dan Jenkins and particularly Frank Deford, maybe the best of them all. Tony Kornheiser, now a sports columnist for the Washington Post but then a skillful takeout writer for The New York Times, says, “He was the god of us all. Everybody wanted to be Frank Deford. Every time he wrote a takeout, there was a trail of broken hearts. Maybe it was that way with the painters, a real good French Impressionist is going along and then Claude Monet comes out with one a crushes you.”

Although the sportswriting field is now crowded with all manner of specialists – the national-beat writer, the Olympic expert, the takeout writer, the TV analyst – there was a time when there were but two kinds of sportswriter. The beat reported covered one of the local teams for his entire career, unless he was good enough or lucky enough to be promoted to columnist, the purveyor of wisdom, cantankerousness and humor. Beat reporting and column writing are still the core of any sports staff, or at least they should be, and yet the great beat reported, the one who goes to the ballpark and writes the game story, is no more.

So empty is the reservoir of talent that last year the Philadelphia Inquirer assigned two cityside reporters to cover premier sports beats, assigning the Eagles to Mark Bowden and the Phillies to Michael Bamberger. I’m sure morale in the sports department soared after that. Neither experiment went for extra bases. Bowden wrote well, if naively. Bamberger wrote earnestly but ineptly and continually discovered what fans already know: that defense wins games and that “baseball is a wholly unpredictable game.”

The definers forevermore of beat reporting and game story writing were three members of the Boston Globe in the mid-Seventies. Although this was already the era of the takeout, the Globe’s was clearly the best sports section in the nation not because of its long features but because of Bob Ryan on the Celtics, Peter Gammons on the Red Sox and Will McDonough on the Patriots. McDonough, the best reporter of the three, became a folk hero of sorts in 1979 by punching out defensive back Raymond Clayborn in the Patriots’ locker room. Ryan and Gammons had a certain lunatic passion for their work that made their stories particularly informative and entertaining. Ryan always seemed the more intense of the two, but he demurs, explaining, “I don’t know anybody who likes anything as much as Peter Gammons likes baseball.”

The classic game story survives mostly in memory. It was killed by onerous deadlines that require sportswriters to write quicker and file earlier so their papers can be delivered through city streets increasingly harder to navigate. It was killed by the demise of afternoon papers, which always had the best stories because its writers had hours to contemplate and compose. Afternoon papers, the PMs, are dropping like flies hit deep to Canseco. While both AMs and PMs have been affected b difficult delivery schedules, PMs are a direct victim of television. If you can get today’s information on the six o’clock news, why read a paper filled with results from the day before?

The game story is also a victim of changing priorities, because the additional duties required of the beat reporter can make the activities on the playing field seem like mere fun and games. Leigh Steinberg, a lawyer and a sports representative, says he sometimes gets thirty to forty calls a day from writers, most of them asking questions about subjects they must cover but are in no position to comprehend. “In the old days, it was questions about the personality of the player. Now, the economics of sports is on center stage: contract negotiations, the size of salaries, the economics of television, the income sources of a team. The modern sportswriter has to understand the relationship between guaranteed and non-guaranteed salaries, the present value of deferred compensation, annuities, how injury-protection insurance works, salary caps, pay scales, arbitration and free agency.”

Asked how many who write about it understand it all, Steinberg replies,“Very few.”

The current state of column writing is considerably better, but for an ultimately discouraging reason: Almost every good sportswriter of the past quarter century is not a columnist, and the pool of young sportswriters talented enough to make up a next generation is pitifully shallow. The columnists most often mentioned as the best of today are Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press and Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News. The worst, editor Frank Deford of The National, is no longer writing them. Deford, to some a living legend, is living proof that people who write well do not necessarily write columns well. Last October, he offered readers a parable about a king, a cooked ox and some badly dressed guests, then concluded: “…this sort of thing is what happens most autumns in college football.”

Albom, a wonderfully versatile writer, is the Audie Murphy of sports columnists: He’s young (33), baby-faced and laden with decorations, including eight APSE first prizes, five for columns, two for feature stories and one for event coverage. He says Detroit takes “enormous, enormous civic pride in its teams.” And it seems he does too. (Contrast this with Bruce Keidan, a former baseball writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, who once said of the Phillies, “They don’t root for me to write a good story, so why should I root for them to play good ball?”)

Albom, says a rival, “…can be very, very clever, but some of his columns can turn your stomach with sickening, gooey shit.” Another sportswriter, a veteran of the tougher Seventies, calls him “the print Harry Caray, the homer of all time.” Albom replies, “I suppose compared to some columnists I am, but there are guys who will rip the shit out of somebody every day. I talk to them. I ask, ‘You really hate these guys?’ They say, ‘Nah, they pay me to do it, take the hard line.’ ” When the barbaric Detroit Pistons were swept by the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs Albom wrote that they left the court like “deposed kings” and that it was fitting the end came on Memorial Day, “when you honor fallen heroes.”

Despicable hometown jingoism? Perhaps, but at least he gets people to read him, which is the primary duty of a columnist, and he goes about it the hard way. It takes courage to write positively in an era when put-down – joke writing is more fashionable. I am speaking now of Scott Ostler, formerly of the Los Angeles Times and The National, and Kornheiser of the Post, who are derivative of but less exalting than Jim Murray of the L.A. Times. I am hard-pressed to criticize either Ostler or Komheiser because they are both so good at what they do. (Kornheiser on Post colleague George F. Will: “… a man who looks like an usher at a Whiffenpoofs concert.”) What makes Ostler and Komheiser dangerous is that they could open sportswriting academies and provide this kind of career counseling: Become a columnist without leaving the comfort of your home! A columnist with the potential to join the Big Four is Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, who’s improving almost daily, but that will happen only if he pays attention to his columns and stops writing all those damn books about Boston teams.

Books are killing sportswriting. Imagine that. Not the reading of books. God forbid the sportswriter of today should read something other than box scores, discover there’s a Clemens other than Roger. What’s frightening is that all these sportwriters who never read books are writing them. They write them quick and they write them bad. Ron Fimrite, who has to review them for Sports Illustrated, says, “I don’t know how much longer I can take it.”

Red Smith didn’t write books. Jimmy Cannon didn’t write books. You might wonder how the sportswriters of today can find the time to write books, since they have to cover so many games and compose so many stories.

Silly you.

The career goal of most sportswriters is to stay on the job long enough until all they have to do is tell jokes if they’re columnists or make conference calls if they’re not. The conference calls I refer to are not with ballplayers; they’re with other sportswriters. Story by conference call is a relatively new and totally loathsome trend in sportswriting, one that results in something called the around-the-league notes column. These are compilations of gossip and factoids, what you might expect if Kitty Kelley were covering sports.

During the golden Age, sportswriters like Rice, Ring Lardner and Damon Runyon would ponder from above and reflect on the wonders they had seen. They never interviewed the players, probably because it never occurred to them to do so. (As Larry Merchant once observed, if sportswriters back then had asked questions, we would know whether Babe Ruth really pointed toward the stands before his home run in the 1932 World Series.) The modern sportswriter has taken the distancing one step further: He merely picks up the telephone and asks his colleagues for stuff.

This networking is one of the reasons sports pages throughout America have so little individuality. It’s also another reason for athletes to distrust sportswriters. An athlete has a right to expect his comments to appear first in the newspaper of the sportswriter interviewing him, not to see them passed around. Readers are cheated too, because the currency of these around-the-league columns, in addition to secondhand quotes, is innuendo and rumor. Traditionally, a reporter would track down a rumor until it was proved; these days, the publication of the rumor is considered good enough.

Sports editors have found two other means of filling pages, both considerably less titillating than notes columns. One is off-year Olympic coverage of the Lady Bing Trophy. The other is statistics.

All those numbers, charts, graphs and computations now appearing in sports sections provide a skewed view of sports. They measure everything and evaluate nothing. They prove that Wilt Chamberlain dominated Bill Russell. Supposedly, such statistics are of interest to the hundreds of thousands of obsessive-compulsives who participate in those fantasy Rotisserie leagues. I can’t understand why newspapers would want these living dead for readers, nor can I imagine advertisers desiring them in their stores. Nevertheless, I am not altogether opposed to the increase in statistics, since it means a decrease in sportswriting.

So intense has the craving for statistics become that sportswriters are inventing new ones. Remember Bobby Bonds, who stole thirty bases and hit thirty home runs in a season five times, making him the most celebrated 30-30 man? He was eclipsed by Canseco, the first 40-40 man. (Actually, I’ve always felt Canseco was the first 40-40-40 man, referring to home runs, stolen bases and IQ.) Last year, Dave Anderson of The New York Times invented the .300-100-100-30-50 man, proudly declaring Barry Bonds “the only major leaguer ever to hit .300, drive in 100 runs, score 100 runs, hit 30 homers and steal 50 bases in a season.” Can’t you see Dave, a Pulitzer Prize winner, rushing out of his office, triumphantly waving sheaves of computer printouts when his theorem was proved?

Much missed on sports pages, but perhaps only by a few of us, are the in-depth features that fewer and fewer newspapers both with anymore. The National did them better than any other publication, including Sports Illustrated, but it’s unlikely anyone noticed. The readers of today like their stories short and their pictures big.

The National, which lasted only sixteen months, did not go out of business because it emphasized long features. It failed because of an ineffectual delivery system and insufficient advertising. It failed even though it had transformed Dave Kindred, a well-respected columnist, into a house shill who exhorted people to “Whip out that small change at the nearest National box …” (I’m surprised the Columbia Journalism Review didn’t put out a contract on his life.) It failed because Americans love their local teams, and local teams are best covered by local newspapers. (Aside to Emilio Azcarraga: America needs a national daily sports newspaper the way Tijuana needs a Taco Bell.)

Still, it’s dispiriting to realize that the good writing in The National was ultimately of little value, that the long, thoughtful pieces by Peter Richmond and Charlie Pierce had a negligible effect on circulation. Earlier this year, Editor Deford wrote an internal memo comparing The National to Sports Illustrated, which concluded: “The editorial war is over. We’ve won.” (Along with columns, Deford should have given up memos.) He missed the point. Sports Illustrated, which in its golden era published stories comparable to those in the New Yorker, no longer aspires to brilliance. The SI of today features informative, predictable copy and slick packaging. It is very successful.

It’s tempting to chastise the editors of SI for giving up too easily, catering to a less literate audience. I forgive them, because I blame everything on Rick Reilly, a staff writer. Reilly is a one-man cautionary tale. He was absolutely the best young talent in sportswriting in the Eighties. He wrote for the Los Angeles Times before being hired away by SI in 1985, and he had the kind of rookie year for SI that Fred Lynn had for the Red Sox in 1975. Since then he’s knocked out as-told-to books with Brian Bosworth and Wayne Gretzky. His magazine pieces, once lively and insightful, have become long, indulgent and embarrassing. This past April, he profiled golfer Nick Faldo prior to the Masters. The story opened with nine consecutive unsuccessful one-liners (“Every time Faldo says ‘nice shot’ to somebody, they put up another pyramid in Egypt”) and moved along to a vivid, ground-breaking 154-word anecdote about Faldo throwing up on an airplane. Oh, well, there’s good news here: At last nobody can complain anymore that Time Inc.’s magazines are over-edited.

At the same time that SI is becoming less daring, The New York Times is experimenting, “gearing up,” as one Times writer puts it, “for the coming Armageddon against Newsday.” Earlier this year, The Times announced a new, expanded sports section in a promotional pullout that devoted more space to what the paper planned to do for sports coverage than it ever actually gives to sports coverage. The paper hired a few new writers, but that seems unlikely to have any effect, since talent tends to join The Times and flop there, gasping for air like fresh-caught fish. There is no indication that The Times’s sports section is doing what the rest of the paper does so well – using its enormous credibility to obtain access to people who avoid other media, then writing stories with insight and perspective. On the other hand, The Times continues to cover the Westminster Dog Show masterfully.

Most notably, The Times brought back Robert Lipsyte, sportswriting legend of twenty years ago, to write a Friday column. In his first piece, about athletes who returned after long layoffs, Lipsyte reminded readers that in 1974, George Foreman “played Grendel’s mother to Muhammad Ali’s Beowulf.” Librarians everywhere moaned with pleasure. What isn’t so great about Lipsyte’s return is that he joins three other white, middle-aged male columnists – Anderson, George Vecsey and Ira Berkow – as the voices of sports commentary on America’s newspaper of record. All are intelligent and thoughtful, but they aren’t exactly a rainbow coalition.

Sportswriting, at its best, is an art form accomplished with a work ethic. There are still writers who function that way, some already mentioned and others worth noting, Like Joe Gergen of Newsday, Edwin Pope of the Miami Herald and Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register. Add to the list a select few from Sports Illustrated, with special mention to Leigh Montville, often misused as the “Point After” columnist, and Curry Kirkpatrick, who can be the best writer on the staff when he’s not shivering with simile fever, like a jungle fighter out of quinine and crawling for home.

Sportswriting, at its worst, panders to the lowest tastes of readers, offering rumor instead of information, jokes instead of passion, opinion instead of insight. Newspapers have to teach sportswriters how to cover a beat and write a game story. Bring in the belligerent Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News for lessons on how to walk into a locker room, leading with chin and gut. Let Sally Jenkins of Sports Illustrated show your writers how to describe action by getting closer to the field than even television can. (“Afterward, Miami tackle Mike Sullivan would say that all he could hear during a near flawless Hurricane drive that consumed more than six minutes was the sound of his own labored breathing.”)

Make your columnists get out to the ballpark, and tell them to write as little as possible about what they saw and as much as possible about how they felt. Instruct your golf writer, the one wearing the Pebble Beach sweater, to ask Jack Nicklaus what it’s like to design segregated golf courses. Go to the library and pick up back issues of Inside Sports, circa 1981, and see what imagination and humor can do for sports coverage. (Don’t miss Mordecai Richler on “What Hockey Needs Is More Violence.”) Put a lawyer on retainer so your writers don’t look like idiots the next time they write about the salary cap. Stop cribbing notes from reporters in other cities and pretending they’re your own. Unless it’s an Olympic year, fire the Olympic-beat guy. Better than that, hurl a javelin through his heart. Make the national baseball writer – the one writing the around-the-league notes column – cover the home team. If he doesn’t like it, fire him too.

At the very least, do this: If you can’t get it right, get even.

Steve Kelley, a columnist for the Seattle Times, repeatedly tried to interview Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the basketball great who reinvented himself twice, once by changing his name from Lew Alcindor and later by metamorphosing into a nice guy.

“Over the years, I’d see him,” Kelley says, “he’d say, ‘After the game,’ I’d see him after the game, he’d say, ‘Back at the hotel.’ I’d call his room, he wouldn’t be there. He probably did something like this to me ten times. Then, when his autobiography came out, his publishing house called, telling me ‘Kareem wants to talk to you.’ He had something to sell, so he was going to be accommodating. We set up a time and place.”

Kelley pauses. He is happy. There are so few joyful moments left in sportswriting.

“I didn’t show up. I can’t tell you how good I felt about that.”

Monday, September 19, 2005

Media: Working Overtime

Newsweek does a short Periscope item on the issue of sportswriter burnout. Nothing much new beyond the study, just some national recognition in a mainstream publication. This link has the full text of the original item at the top of the thread.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rams exec goes off stupidly

Rams executive Samir Suleiman left a threatening voice message on the voice mail of St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz in quite a brain fart. The Rams say he'll be reprimanded, but no specifics.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Last of the hard-living journalists

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer publishes this obit on sports writer Jack Smith. I suppose the healthier lifestyle is better, but I miss this era, and these guys.

Weather guy gets mad

This has absolutely zero to do with sports, except the Superdome is helping out sheltering people trying to get out of Katrina's way, but I just had to post it for posterity. Love on-air meltdowns.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Poynter on Native American nicknames

Keith M. Woods addresses the NCAA and Native American team nicknames in this article at Poynter. He's dead against them and says responsible media organizations need to stop using them.

Ponyter Sports Writing seminar

Poynter is doing a sports writing seminar next April. The link to the info is here.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Iceberg Theory of Writing

Chip Scanlan rights about it in this Poynter online piece. The idea is that the more you report -- and then the more judiciously you write what you've learned -- the better your story will be. And here's a cool related story that's linked to out of that one.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Daly files suit

Golfer John Daly has sued the Florida Times-Union and columnist Mike Freeman over a column he wrote during The Players Championship. I don't think he wins the suit, but I personally thought the column itself was a little unfair. You be the judge.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Sports Cliche List

This has been around since 1999, apparently, but I'm just now running across The Sports Cliche List. Pretty comprehensive list of things to avoid. It's a link off a more world-wide cliche site here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Clark tool No. 51

Roy Peter Park says too many 'ings' can slow down good writing, and that more direct language can be a lot more effective.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sports Front Exchange

Some guys in Orlando have gotten together to start the Sports Front Exchange, a site where you can compare the daily sports fronts of various newspapers. It's a growing concern, and interesting.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Back from a trip

Yeah, yeah, I know I've promised to be a little more regular about updating this site. And I'm going to keep trying. Just got back from six days away, though, and didn't look at it at all, I admit.

The most interesting thing going on now is the discussion sparked by Garry Howard's comments that it's OK, as sports editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to "root" for success for a home team -- because it makes a better story.

I actually agree with him in some sense -- covering a good team can make the work a bit more fun and interesting -- although I wish he would have said it a little less, well, rootily.

Milton Kent of the Baltimore Sun says it's basically not something to agree with at all, and I understand the point he's making, too.

So there I go again, taking a forceful stand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Soucheray on Sid

Joe Soucheray of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reacts to the Strib's angst over Sid Hartman's conflict of interest involving a University of Minnesota fundraiser and notes that he's only been doing this kind of thing for, oh, 60 years. "The people he works for have no clue," Joe notes.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

See ya, Dale

Dale Hoffman writes his farewell column to readers of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after 35 years. A solid, elegant effort -- as subscribers came to expect over that time.

Hartman and the "rules"

Sid Hartman has always played by his own rules -- however convoluted and homerish they have been at times -- so it's no gigantic surprise that at age 85, he has run afoul of an ethical problem at the Strib. Not surprisingly, he's basically unbowed and unapologetic. Whatever. I never particularly liked the guy in my limited dealings with him. It's not like he's going to "repent" over this.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Another sportswriting blog

Dave Doyel has begun what he hopes "evolves into a running, periodic commentary on issues in the sports journalism business" at Dave's World: The Biz, another Blogspot production.

Wishing Dave well, and hoping we both update our efforts more regularly than I have been lately. Well, at least this is an update, right?

Dave is a freelance guy with a sports background described here.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Shirley Povich Chair created

The great sportswriters' children have contributed $500,000 toward the The Shirley Povich Chair in Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland. They're going to do a nation-wide search for somebody who will teach, lecture and do research. Maryland says this is a continuation of moves that have made it the top university in the country for sports journalism.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Whitlock and the 49ers 'scandal'

I put the word 'scandal' in quotes because Jason Whitlock says it's really nothing of the kind and posts his column saying so on the board. (The new improved board is great, by the way.)

Jason makes a lot of really good points. I was kind of conflicted on this story from the get-go. As an inside thing intended for a pro football "family," was it really that inappropriate? All of us tell jokes or whatever to colleagues that wouldn't play well in a public forum.

The problem, of course, is that this wasn't just "told." It was produced, an electronic record of it, and it got out. And then it became a problem.

The 49ers PR guy's mistake wasn't as much his insensitivity in an "inside joke" as it was his lack of recognition of the world he lives in and the fact that things like this are bound these days to get out -- and become completely public.

That was Jason's mistake, I think. He says it wasn't worth prominent play in the Chronicle. I say that whatever our judgment of the relative significance of this, once it got out and was indeed offending people, it became news in San Francisco and was therefore fair, and necessary, game for the paper.

Like it or not, that's the world we live in.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Detroit News weighs in

The Detroit News writes about some unhappiness engendered by the treatment of the investigation into the work of Mitch Albom. In summary, there's some dissatisfaction with the fact the story deemphasized the negatives turned up, mostly involving the use of quotes without attribution and the fact that some of those quotes had been livened up by the time they made it into a column.

Monday, May 16, 2005

No 'deception' by Albom

The Free Press concludes its lengthy investigation into his columns and finds, basically, that the main problem lack of consistent attribution of quotes from other sources. I can't help wondering how many words are published every day in U.S. newspapers and on the Web that have the same issue.

After publication, though, some at the Free Press aren't sure the headline painted what was documented below as accurately as it should have, E&P reports. Publisher Carol Leigh Hutton says it's fair.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sportswriter ethics study

This story was posted on the board. It's an AP story about a Penn State University researcher who looked into sports journalists' ethics and found them lacking. Some sj-ists had a problem with drawing national conclusions based on the region surveyed. I admit to being bit dismayed that 39 percent of editors reached thought coverage should "boost the home team."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Albom speaks

Mitch Albom writes about what the past few weeks have been like in his return column in today's Detroit Free Press.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

End of the Albom Saga?

The Detroit Free Press reports that he and four others will be disciplined for his infamous Final Four clarvoyant column making it into the paper. He'll return to the pages of the Freep.

Meanwhile, David Shaw wrote a media column about the Albom situation that appeared in Sunday's L.A. Times Calendar section. Note that it was written ahead for a preprinted section -- which Shaw acknowledges -- and was therefore completed before the Free Press' action was announced.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Left Coast on Albom

The Los Angeles Times weighs in todaywith an overview-type piece written by David Lyman out of Detroit.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Clark's final Writing Tool

He started a year ago, and Roy Peter Clark has now reached the 50th and final writing tool of his series. He also says he's exploring turning the whole thing into a book.

Check out No. 50 -- on the writing process overall -- and you can also find links to the other 49.

Writers talk writing

There was a National Writers Workshop in Hartford last weekend. Here's what the distinguished panel had to say.

Friedman on Albom

Jon Friedman talks about the Mitch Albom saga in Investor's Business Daily. I'm running out of steam with regard to comment on this continuing discussion, so I'll just let you be the judge.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Friedman out of bounds

"Many sportswriters are so thrilled to rub shoulders with their heroes that they present the same old, prosaic 'Gee Whiz!' story and don't go much further than giving the final score."

So says Jon Friedman in his Media Web (MarketWatch) column today. It's a throwaway sentence in a column praising Rick Reilly (not that there's anything wrong with that), and it's completely off the mark.

Every now and then, Friedman will take what I consider a big misstep when writing about sports writing; it's obvious he has some preconceived notions about the people who do it, some of which are kind of archaic.


I actually e-mailed Jon with my concerns, and he wrote me a nice (short) note back saying that while he understood that everybody in this business wasn't a hero-worshipper, he had known enough who were that he felt the statement was valid.

While I'd still argue that it's less true every year, I'm sure he doesn't want a penpal, so we'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

APSE and Albom

Saving me some compilation work, the APSE site is keeping track of ongoing events in the Mitch Albom Fallout. Check back to see what shoe drops next.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Albom Saga

All sorts of people and places weighed in on the Mitch Albom Case this weekend. I've pretty much said my piece; one commenter below took issue with my referring to Mitch as an "extreme talent." So be it; opinions on Mitch vary wildly across the board. Let's all acknowledge that he's a highly decorated, widely read, watched and listened-to media personality, and he must have cultivated a lot of fans somewhere to achieve that status. That's why this is such a big deal; if he were a devoid-of-talent hack, nobody would care.

Anyway, rather than offer a lot of commentary, here are some of the words written about Albom's words over the weekend.

Chicago Tribune

Free Press

Free Press letters

Editor and Publisher

New York Times

Springfield News-Leader

Sunday, April 10, 2005

RPC on Albom

Roy Peter Clark at Poynter writes a piece on columnists as newspapers' franchise players in a pretty spot-on commentary on the whole thing.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Mitch Albom Mess

Ah, the perils of taking a second sick day in eight years. Not that this is directly related to my job, but work is where I tend to see stuff, so I missed a Big Story yesterday. is certainly adequately discussing Mitch's preprint column on the Final Four -- containing a lot of references to things that should have happened and then didn't -- and they're in a frenzy at Romenesko in the letters section, too. My quick take on a horse that's already out of the barn? Mitch is an extreme talent; he also did something very wrong here. And while I don't think he should have referenced editors in his apology -- more classy had he not -- editors who read this and went to the point of letting this go out on the wire in this state, and a policy where a newspaper does preprints such as this so it can have its columnist "live" in the Sunday paper, have to bear a lot of responsibility, too. A lot of lessons to be learned about the state of modern -- well, modern a lot of things -- writing, reporting, production.

Lessons, some would say, that anybody in this business should have learned all these lessons long ago.

No, I don't think Mitch should be fired. But I'll say this -- suspending somebody whose column is only one of many outlets is kind of an empty punishment.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Post's new Nats writer

In this version of Washington Buzz on the Washingtonian website, Harrry Jaffe writes about new Washington Post nationals beat writer Barry Svrluga, who at 34 is a tad past "young phenom" but nonetheless seems to be a rising industry star. For a look at what he's all about, check out his Nationals blog at

Friday, March 25, 2005

MarketWatch on Bonds

MarketWatch's Jon Friedman gives his take on Barry Bonds' anti-media diatribe earlier this week in The media owe Barry Bonds no apologies. Somewhat interesting in that it's a non-sportswriters' take.

Friday, March 18, 2005

APSE writing winners

Bill Plaschke and Joe Posnanski head the Big Paper columnists. The complete list of winners is here. Congrats to all.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Favre on the 'Death' of Print

A few weeks back, Sports Illustrated president John Squires said, "Print is dead." In a piece published Thursday, Poynter's Gregory E. Favre implores him to say it isn't so. (Apparently, a Poynter guy can't bring himself to write "ain't.") It's an ode more to the old SI, however, than what we get today.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Jenkins on writing ...

... under pressure, among numerous other things. She talks about the writing process with Poynter's Chip Scanlan in this piece posted Tuesday. Pretty interesting stuff.

Murray Chass on baseball writing

Murray Chass of the New York Times has some thoughts on covering baseball this spring in this On the Media interview transcript.

Monday, February 28, 2005

"I" give you more on personal writing

I asked Roy Peter Clark at Poynter if he could direct me to anything about writing "first-person" pieces, and he sent me to Chip Scanlan, who's a senior faculty member for writing there. He sent me to this piece and this Poynter special report on personal writing (PDF file). Some great stuff. While not exactly about how to write a sports column ripping Ricky Williams, there are still a lot of great tips and things to think about. Poynter's great; I highly recommend those who want to get better to learning their way around the site beyond Romenesko.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I never thought of this, either....

Bill Walsh's The Slot Blog has an item this week from a review from Miss Alli at a place called Television Without Pity that correctly wonders why "stepping up to the plate" has become synonymous with an act of courage:

"In actual baseball," she writes "when you 'step up to the plate,' it's because it's your turn. It's not an act of courage! That guy isn't willingly putting himself in harm's way. He's not ballsy; he's next. So can we stop using 'step up to the plate' as some kind of synonym for 'volunteer'? Because it really, really isn't.

Yeah, Roy Peter Clark again

I'm sorry, his writer's tools are just great stuff. No. 45 involves the use of foreshadowing in a news story. He gives some great examples; he also talks about what I guess you'd call "anti-foreshadowing," or "negative foreshadowing" a bad thing: introducing a seemingly random element into a narrative and then never returning. I suspect this is often done under the guise of injecting "color" into a piece, but I can see where it would leave a reader frustrated. In explaining why foreshadowing is good, he offers this about why it can be bad if misused:

"In dramatic literature, this technique is sometimes referred to as Chekov's Gun. In a letter he penned in 1889, Russian playwright Anton Chekov wrote: 'One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.'"

Thursday, February 24, 2005

APSE picks

The APSE judging is done (at least the preliminaries), and summaries of results can be found here. Congratulation to all the Top 10ers.

Wilbon at Yale

Michael Wilbon spoke at Yale on Wednesday evening, and the Yale Daily News writes about his remarks here. He says despite his TV celebrity, he's still a writer at heart.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Using "I" in a feature

Sorry I've been so slow to update here. Kind of still trying to get into the groove. Today at, one of the discussions is whether it's generally appropriate to use the first person in a feature story. Predictably, there are some who say never, some who say occasionally, etc.

I've come around on "I" columns and features in the past few years. While I think they can be poorly done, I also can think of examples where they work, and I certainly think "I" is better than some of the alternatives some try to get away with ("this writer," "this reporter" are two examples I find to be particularly ponderous).

As usual, I continue to think "rules" that confine sports writing -- a completely unique kind of writing and reporting, despite what some would tell you -- are more dangerous than helpful. And that the people most celebrated in this corner of the business are the ones who dare to break these "rules" all the time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Editors on editing

A couple of top Washington Post editors discuss the copy editing process with readers on an edition of Ask The Post. A lot of basics, but some pretty interesting takes.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A few words about ...

The crew has one of it's regular threads on writing that makes people mad, called Sportswriting pet peeves in 15 words or less. What always surprises me about these threads is the number of things cited that appear everywhere regularly. I wonder if the perpetrators ever learn anything from them. I chime in on my continuing crusade against the unnecessary use of respective and respectively.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Speaking of blogs ...

Here's a Washington Post story about the perils of talking about your workplace on your personal blog. I read it with interest, but fortunately, this space is going to stick to discussing writing and editing, mostly about sports, and will focus on professional/literary (if our biz can be called that) issues. Plus, I happen to like where I work ... and I'm not interested in talking about my place of business here anyway.

By the byline

This isn't sports-centric, but longtime baseball/sports writer Peter Schmuck does get a deserved mention in an L.A. Times story about newspaper bylines. Meanwhile, longtime friend Scott Harris gives Romenesko some more information from what he calls The Schmuck File.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

This site, inactive for a long time, seems to be in the process of resurrection: They had a fairly robust site back during the boom and now have returned to active status. Will be interesting to see what they do with this, but their plans look fairly ambitious. Good luck to them, too.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

What length paragraphs?

I hate to keep leaning on Roy Peter Clark for material, but what the heck, he's in the midst of a series of 50 pieces designed to help writers get better, and I'm sure he doesn't mind the link. His latest offering is Writing Tool #42: Paragraphs, and I link it here because paragraph length -- or lack thereof -- is a favorite topic of discussion among the denizens at He discusses, specifically, those short, one-word or one-sentence paragraphs some of you hate, and gives a couple of examples of those that work.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Active vs. passive

A regular asks me about the use of active verbs vs. passive. My response is that active is usually better, less wordy, paints a better picture and lends itself to sports, which is active by nature. However, Roy Peter Clark talks above active vs. passive in this piece, writing tool No. 39 of 50. He notes that sometimes, passive is the way to go.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Sportswriting: Alive or Dead?

A potentially lively thread is under way on, called Sportswriting: Alive or Dead? I think it has potential. Then there's the ongoing pissing match between the anonymous BigDog and the decidedly not-anonymous Jason Whitlock on this thread. I'm with Whitlock for the most part, although I'm not sure it's the race card as much as JW simply did something once that really pissed BD off, for some reason.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Westword's look at Thomas George

Westword looks at thoughtful new Denver Post columnist Thomas George in this piece. Thomas lauds the "real journalism" practiced in the Times sports section, while noting that some fans want more "meat and potatos." (I've always kind of wished they'd look that way a bit more.) He also says after commiting to increase sports coverage, there's been a "turn back" toward national, international and local news at the NYT recently -- but says that had nothing to do with his moving on to Denver. "I have nothing but the greatest respect for the fine-quality journalists in that building," he says.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Writing Tool #40: The Broken Line

Roy Peter Clark talks about stepping away from a narrative story for a moment and offering some insight or analysis in Writing Tool No. 40 of 50. At it's simplest, this is the world-famous nut graph, but it's more subtle than that. The need to have it -- or not have it -- is part of the discussion when it comes to this story we talked about below.

Columnists as we knew them gone?

I'm a day late with this -- golf yesterday -- but Stephen Rodrick has an interesting take on the state of newspaper columnists in a column on Tuesday. There's a sentence that places the blame squarely on ESPN, but it does go beyond that. Part of me completely agrees with him on the endangered species status of "traditional" newspaper columnists; unfortunately, I can't shake the concern that this simply makes me -- and him -- a dinosaur in a rapidly evolving media world.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Farewell column

This has nothing to do with sports, but there's a little debate going on as to whether this column was appropriate or creepy or what. It's a column that appears after the columnist's death. A true farewell.

For whatever it's worth, I liked it, alot, and I liked that the paper didn't give it some big fancy special presentation or whatever. He said goodbye in his last column. The ultimate goodbye.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Question about a great story

I have some mixed thoughts on an excellent Eric Adelson story in ESPN the Magazine. The saga of Rick Lopez is a compelling, tragic one. I recommend the read. But I just ask: Did the reader deserve a little more foreshadowing of where this story was heading, or is the straight narrative compelling enough as is? Is making the reader go the distance to see how it ends OK, or should a hint have been provided, a graf or a even sentence.

Maybe it's enough knowing -- as is clear when you start reading a this kind of piece -- that something bad's going to happen without spelling it out.

But I'm not sure.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Questions, topics?

Anything in particular anybody wants to have hashed out in this forum? Post a comment below. Or e-mail me. I'll rotate this inquiry to the top from time to time.

With all due respect

When I don't have anything profound to deal with or important to link to, I'm going to nitpick sports writing to death. A great story starts with a single nit, or something like that.

Today, we're going to purge your copy of "respective" and "respectively." Simply because this is one of the most unnecessarily overused word forms in sports writing -- or any news writing, for that matter.

Consider this simplest of examples:

"Green Bay's Ahman Green and Pittsburgh Jerome's Bettis led their respective teams rushing."

I see that all the time. Tell me why?

Would any reader think Green led the Steelers and Bettis led the Packers? That they switched uniforms and played for the enemy?

Of course not; "respective" there is the appendix to the body of good writing.

But I'm more radical than this. I think it's never needed, or at least 99.9 percent of the time.

For example, I think "O'Neal and Wade led the Heat in scoring with 33 and 29 points, respectively" is completely unnecessary.

It's parallel construction, two names to two values. Nobody's expecting you to put the two names in one order and the values in another.

"O'Neal and Wade led the Heat in scoring with 33 and 29 points."

Again, respectively is unnecessary.

I maintain it and all its forms are helpful only once out of 1,000 times.

That's all I have for now. I'm going to finish up here and then eventually head for the bar -- respectively.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Baseball bloggers look to the Times

A couple of guys on chat about the Dodgers in an instant message session and have some thoughts on T.J. Simers and Bill Plaschke about 14 IMs down. Thanks to LA Observed for the reference. He doesn't post a LOT about sports, but when something is worth noting, he does.

Catching up

I've been away (well, local but away mentally) for a couple of days playing golf and hanging out. I'm also not so much in the habit of posting here yet.

But I've gotten a lot of e-mail and a lot of interest expressed, so I'll try to do a more conscientous daily job of providing sports writing and editing information here. So keep stopping back. When I get caught up, I'll have something more meaningful here.