Monthly Archives: June 2006

Being there

Chi Reader’s Michael Miner on absence of Sun-Times sports writer Jay Mariotti from the Sox locker room while writing about ballplayers:
[W]itness is journalism’s irreducible core. And sportswriters are the most old-fashioned of journalists and athletes the most old-fashioned of other people. Clubhouses are where jocks and scribes circle and sniff each other. Mariotti boasts of his sources in other places, but he’s remarkably estranged from this environment, where the circlers and sniffers ultimately piss on the same hydrants.
He quotes Mariotti complaining about “the jock mentality,” which is like a religion writer objecting to a religious mentality.  M. should find other work.

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Being there

Chi Reader’s Michael Miner on absence of Sun-Times sports writer Jay Mariotti from the Sox locker room while writing about ballplayers:
[W]itness is journalism’s irreducible core. And sportswriters are the most old-fashioned of journalists and athletes the most old-fashioned of other people. Clubhouses are where jocks and scribes circle and sniff each other. Mariotti boasts of his sources in other places, but he’s remarkably estranged from this environment, where the circlers and sniffers ultimately piss on the same hydrants.
He quotes Mariotti complaining about “the jock mentality,” which is like a religion writer objecting to a religious mentality.  M. should find other work.

The fourth purveyor of classified stuff

Is it not curious that three newspapers are mentioned as running the SWIFT (not swift boat) story about how we track Al Quaeda finances — NYTimes, LATimes, Wall St. Journal — but not Chi Trib, which had it page-one same day as its sister paper, LATimes?  Trib ran the LAT story, yes, filling its role as LAT-Midwest, but is it not a major daily, worthy of being mentioned, even excoriated with the others by admin-supporters? 

It’s that old third-city syndrome, yes, and non-coastal sucking of hind titty when it comes to respect, yes.  But has the Trib sunk to virtual nonentity status, with all its resources? 

The fourth purveyor of classified stuff

Is it not curious that three newspapers are mentioned as running the SWIFT (not swift boat) story about how we track Al Quaeda finances — NYTimes, LATimes, Wall St. Journal — but not Chi Trib, which had it page-one same day as its sister paper, LATimes?  Trib ran the LAT story, yes, filling its role as LAT-Midwest, but is it not a major daily, worthy of being mentioned, even excoriated with the others by admin-supporters? 

It’s that old third-city syndrome, yes, and non-coastal sucking of hind titty when it comes to respect, yes.  But has the Trib sunk to virtual nonentity status, with all its resources? 

Tale of two headlines

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook’s column about Ozzie Guillen using “unconscionable term” — “fag,” which Cook does not use — had this headline in Pittsburgh yesterday:

Cook: It’s appalling Guillen will be at PNC Park

But this in Chicago today (Sun-Times):

Baseball needs to learn to deal with criticism

The latter is about as weak as you get.  Why not take that “appalling” and stuff it in Chicago readers’ faces?  I have a million answers to that question.

Ozzie by Slezak

Asked last year if she was offended by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s cuss words, Sun-Times columnist Carol Slezak said no.  Nor had she ever seen him acting badly toward women writers, she said on another occasion, again in response to a male writer’s question.

I could have added that Guillen is one of the most entertaining personalities I’ve ever covered [she wrote]. I could have said he is smart and honest and frequently offers insightful comments about both his team and the sport. I could have said he is the best thing to happen to the White Sox and major-league baseball in a long time.

That, with Mike Ditka’s endorsement of Ozzie as “real people,” also in today’s Sun-Times, goes a long way toward rebutting some of the foolishness being expressed — as by the Pittsburgh writer in same paper saying it’s not political correctness but business acumen that dictates a throttling of Ozzie, as if the first isn’t informing the second. 

How is it bad for business?  Have fans stopped coming?  Have players stopped playing and winning?  Foolish, foolish man.  On the contrary, “I am unaware of any anti-Sox or anti-baseball backlash as a result of his remark,” says Slezak.

GM Kenny Williams is worried, however, and speaks of imperilled “longevity” as manager of his team for him who offends.  He relishes Ozzie’s “color” and “flavor” but seems unwilling to let it go.  Same for

the rest of us, particularly many of us in the media, [who] are prone to getting carried away. . . .   [S]ome . . . have tried to link Guillen’s handling of the team’s recent beanball wars — neither of which was started by the Sox — to his gay slur. There is no connection, but that hasn’t stopped us from piling on. We’re good at that.

If Ozzie has to watch what he says, on the other hand, who decides? 

I vote for including the c-word, as in chick. I don’t recall having heard Guillen use it, but plenty of others seem to think it’s an acceptable term. (And I suppose it is, to barnyard fowl.)

Who’s to be protected?  Some are shoo-ins, as “gays and racial minorities.”  Caucasians?  Chubby guys like Bobby Jenks? 

Finally, I wonder if the context of the offending word or phrase will be taken into account. Because Guillen can be pretty funny. His pregame Q&A sessions with reporters can resemble a comedy routine, and comedians get away with insulting all kinds of people. I wonder if Guillen will be afforded that luxury now. (Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg recently ran a week’s worth of blond jokes in his column. If Guillen were to tell a blond joke, would he lose his job?)

Ozzie’s under a microscope nonetheless, and “will face even more intense scrutiny, and I’m not confident he can escape unscathed. I’m not sure any of us could.”

End of column, here excerpted at length and I hope capturing its logic, clarity, and expertise.  Who says girls can’t be sports writers?

As for the GM, Williams, he’s immensely successful and highly regarded but has his own demons to beware.  Just consider how he talks as quoted by Slezak and behold a man running scared for his own job and in fear of what others think:

“What I get concerned with more than anything is that my friend, my brother, is going down a road that does not necessarily lend itself to longevity,” Williams said. “We’ve all seen how the movie ends when things are flamed to the degree they are beginning to flame [to] when he says things that are controversial.”

. . . .

“We are trying to get him to understand that if he puts himself in that position, it will be, to me, one of the most unfortunate sports happenings in a long time,” Williams said. “We need people like Ozzie Guillen out there to give a little bit of color and a little bit of flavor to the game.”

Unless too many object.  Then we don’t need them at all.

Tale of two headlines

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook’s column about Ozzie Guillen using “unconscionable term” — “fag,” which Cook does not use — had this headline in Pittsburgh yesterday:

Cook: It’s appalling Guillen will be at PNC Park

But this in Chicago today (Sun-Times):

Baseball needs to learn to deal with criticism

The latter is about as weak as you get.  Why not take that “appalling” and stuff it in Chicago readers’ faces?  I have a million answers to that question.

Ozzie by Slezak

Asked last year if she was offended by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s cuss words, Sun-Times columnist Carol Slezak said no.  Nor had she ever seen him acting badly toward women writers, she said on another occasion, again in response to a male writer’s question.

I could have added that Guillen is one of the most entertaining personalities I’ve ever covered [she wrote]. I could have said he is smart and honest and frequently offers insightful comments about both his team and the sport. I could have said he is the best thing to happen to the White Sox and major-league baseball in a long time.

That, with Mike Ditka’s endorsement of Ozzie as “real people,” also in today’s Sun-Times, goes a long way toward rebutting some of the foolishness being expressed — as by the Pittsburgh writer in same paper saying it’s not political correctness but business acumen that dictates a throttling of Ozzie, as if the first isn’t informing the second. 

How is it bad for business?  Have fans stopped coming?  Have players stopped playing and winning?  Foolish, foolish man.  On the contrary, “I am unaware of any anti-Sox or anti-baseball backlash as a result of his remark,” says Slezak.

GM Kenny Williams is worried, however, and speaks of imperilled “longevity” as manager of his team for him who offends.  He relishes Ozzie’s “color” and “flavor” but seems unwilling to let it go.  Same for

the rest of us, particularly many of us in the media, [who] are prone to getting carried away. . . .   [S]ome . . . have tried to link Guillen’s handling of the team’s recent beanball wars — neither of which was started by the Sox — to his gay slur. There is no connection, but that hasn’t stopped us from piling on. We’re good at that.

If Ozzie has to watch what he says, on the other hand, who decides? 

I vote for including the c-word, as in chick. I don’t recall having heard Guillen use it, but plenty of others seem to think it’s an acceptable term. (And I suppose it is, to barnyard fowl.)

Who’s to be protected?  Some are shoo-ins, as “gays and racial minorities.”  Caucasians?  Chubby guys like Bobby Jenks? 

Finally, I wonder if the context of the offending word or phrase will be taken into account. Because Guillen can be pretty funny. His pregame Q&A sessions with reporters can resemble a comedy routine, and comedians get away with insulting all kinds of people. I wonder if Guillen will be afforded that luxury now. (Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg recently ran a week’s worth of blond jokes in his column. If Guillen were to tell a blond joke, would he lose his job?)

Ozzie’s under a microscope nonetheless, and “will face even more intense scrutiny, and I’m not confident he can escape unscathed. I’m not sure any of us could.”

End of column, here excerpted at length and I hope capturing its logic, clarity, and expertise.  Who says girls can’t be sports writers?

As for the GM, Williams, he’s immensely successful and highly regarded but has his own demons to beware.  Just consider how he talks as quoted by Slezak and behold a man running scared for his own job and in fear of what others think:

“What I get concerned with more than anything is that my friend, my brother, is going down a road that does not necessarily lend itself to longevity,” Williams said. “We’ve all seen how the movie ends when things are flamed to the degree they are beginning to flame [to] when he says things that are controversial.”

. . . .

“We are trying to get him to understand that if he puts himself in that position, it will be, to me, one of the most unfortunate sports happenings in a long time,” Williams said. “We need people like Ozzie Guillen out there to give a little bit of color and a little bit of flavor to the game.”

Unless too many object.  Then we don’t need them at all.

Dixie chickens

Chi Trib media writer Steve Johnson oddly accuses Dixie Chicks fans of hypocrisy for not buying their records because the Chicks have embraced leftist views.  “Hypocrisy” is one of those words that cut deep.  It’s as if he was pretty mad and searched for what we have come to call a “hurtful” adjective.  For instance, “fag” as applied to Sun-Times man Mariotti, which he says didn’t hurt him at all — what would he say, “Oh. That hurt!”? — and anyhow its use is widely considered in newspapers as “hurtful” of “millions” of unnamed homosexuals, who don’t like it.

Or “racist” rather than “prejudiced”: it’s got more zing.  It’s hurtful but not banned.  “Fag” is.  So is “nigger,” which never got used in a complaint against its use by historian John Hope Franklin at Rainbow-Push headquarters Saturday.  This made sense, insofar as Franklin was objecting to its very use — by blacks making light of the old taboo — as if it were a magically hurtful (there it is again) shibboleth.  Hell, they stick pins in dolls, don’t they?  And what happens then?

The non-buyers of Chicks records — and we must wonder how many of them Johnson knows — are hypocritical because they like feminist themes but not when the Chicks do them because they do not like Chicks’ politics.  But he leaves out the possibility that feminism does not cover all faults, in this case regretting one came from Texas because that’s where George W. Bush came from.  Why does Johnson, an admitted expert in these matters, not allow that these fighting words from Lead Chick Maines have been perceived by Chicks’ fans as so hurtful (there again!) as to blind them to Chicks’ feminism?

There can be only one reason, dismissing the possibility that Johnson is dumb and can’t see this sort of thing, it being too complicated for him, and that is his own hurt incurred when Lead Chick Maines’ anti-Bushism was rejected in the first place.  The suggestion to be made is that Johnson look into his heart and see whether that is so.  Then he might see that it’s hard to enjoy Chicks’ music, feminist or otherwise, when one feels like throwing up when their name is mentioned.

Documentation:  For Steve Johnson’s column, rummage in the garbage for yesterday’s Trib or go here.  For Mariotti stories go here.  For Hope Franklin and the N-word, go here.  For Dixie Chicks and Bush, go here.  For Dixie Chicks more or less naked, go here.  For a funny story, go here. 

Dixie chickens

Chi Trib media writer Steve Johnson oddly accuses Dixie Chicks fans of hypocrisy for not buying their records because the Chicks have embraced leftist views.  “Hypocrisy” is one of those words that cut deep.  It’s as if he was pretty mad and searched for what we have come to call a “hurtful” adjective.  For instance, “fag” as applied to Sun-Times man Mariotti, which he says didn’t hurt him at all — what would he say, “Oh. That hurt!”? — and anyhow its use is widely considered in newspapers as “hurtful” of “millions” of unnamed homosexuals, who don’t like it.

Or “racist” rather than “prejudiced”: it’s got more zing.  It’s hurtful but not banned.  “Fag” is.  So is “nigger,” which never got used in a complaint against its use by historian John Hope Franklin at Rainbow-Push headquarters Saturday.  This made sense, insofar as Franklin was objecting to its very use — by blacks making light of the old taboo — as if it were a magically hurtful (there it is again) shibboleth.  Hell, they stick pins in dolls, don’t they?  And what happens then?

The non-buyers of Chicks records — and we must wonder how many of them Johnson knows — are hypocritical because they like feminist themes but not when the Chicks do them because they do not like Chicks’ politics.  But he leaves out the possibility that feminism does not cover all faults, in this case regretting one came from Texas because that’s where George W. Bush came from.  Why does Johnson, an admitted expert in these matters, not allow that these fighting words from Lead Chick Maines have been perceived by Chicks’ fans as so hurtful (there again!) as to blind them to Chicks’ feminism?

There can be only one reason, dismissing the possibility that Johnson is dumb and can’t see this sort of thing, it being too complicated for him, and that is his own hurt incurred when Lead Chick Maines’ anti-Bushism was rejected in the first place.  The suggestion to be made is that Johnson look into his heart and see whether that is so.  Then he might see that it’s hard to enjoy Chicks’ music, feminist or otherwise, when one feels like throwing up when their name is mentioned.

Documentation:  For Steve Johnson’s column, rummage in the garbage for yesterday’s Trib or go here.  For Mariotti stories go here.  For Hope Franklin and the N-word, go here.  For Dixie Chicks and Bush, go here.  For Dixie Chicks more or less naked, go here.  For a funny story, go here. 

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