Friday, June 16, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight isn't a good night for us here in Cincinnati Kid land. It's Friday night, and I'm updating my blog. I am a giant loser, apparently. Of course, I could have done something interesting. I elected to take it easy, since I overindulged myself last night.

Since it's Friday and I don't have anything better to do, it's time to revisit the Max Mercy Hall of Fame. Tonight, we have a double induction. The Globe's own Dan Shaughnessy and all the way from Chicago, the pride of the Sun Times... Jay Mariotti.

What can I say about Dan Shaughnessy that hasn't already been said by the legion of people who hate him. This site also hosts a blog that tracks the CHB's career and highlights some of his "finer points" as a journalist. I don't know anybody who likes him as a writer. And yet he's paid to write. There is no justice in this world.

A lot of people have noticed that the CHB hasn't writing about the Sox much, until the recent departure of Chris Snow. Most people seem to have enjoyed that respite. The optimists I talked to about this situation had a variety of opinions. Some people thought that the years of antagonism and backstabbing had finally caught up with him and shut him out of the clubhouse. A few even thought that the NY Times might have put pressure on the CHB as an employee of their subsidiary to stop attacking the team in which the Paper of Record owns a 17% stake.

I think the CHB confined his "talents" to puff pieces because he was otherwise occupied. I think Dan Shaughnessy has been leading a double life. Not only is he employed by the Boston Globe to strip mine the simple joy a fan should feel watching a grown man play a child's game, but he is also a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey defending the space-time continuum from the Daleks. That's right. Dan Shaughnessy, the hero whom you so callously call the CHB is the real identity of Dr. Who.

(Sorry about the formatting, still learning this stuff)

Yeah, it's a bit of a stretch, and I probably vaulted myself into the extreme upper echelon of losers throughout the world with the Dr. Who reference. It is, however, something that doesn't seem to have been done before when someone criticized the CHB. In all likelihood I'm wrong, but I tried. I googled it, and everything. I also tried Yahoo! and came up with nothing. Of course, somewhere there is a record of hits on Dr. Who websites that increased by one on a Friday night. Soon the nerds will emerge from their nerderies to drag me off to join them. All I ask is that you who read this tell the world my story. And try to make me look just a bit cooler than I have managed thus far.

But now he's back, with a vengeance.

I could spend hours combing through his columns to find each and every flaw, but I am colossally lazy and I like to pretend I have a life (even though I already fessed up to staying in and searching for Dr. Who tonight). But this article from this morning's Globe has more than enough of the quirks that have made Dan Shaughnessy a favorite among masochists everywhere.

I hope you got a chance to read it, or to click on the link above. Among the many words/phrases which should be grounds for capital punishment, boffo has to be near the top of the list. If you use a word like boffo, you are a douche. The CHB referred to the pitchers' duel between Schilling and Santana as a boffo pitching match-up. Boffo. In the 21st century. I imagine he wrote that piece, he made his way down to the soda fountain to have a malt with Potsie.

The CHB called the Sox the "Henrymen." With any luck, that odious little nickname won't stick. He also referred to the team's principal owner as "Papa Jack." He also took yet another swipe at Manny Ramirez, reminding us that Manny went hitless as the team was swept by the Twins. "0 for Minnesota" was the CHB's blithe epigram to describe the cleanup hitter's failure to, of all things, clean up. Maybe it's ego on my part, but I think mine was the cleverer split infinitive and all.

There was also the recent gem of a column specifically about the pitcher's duel mentioned above. Aside from the constant references to the 16 inning game between Spahn and Marichal as though he'd been there and the Coffee Talk allusion, the biggest problem with this particular "effort" is the mention of the election in 2004. According to the CHB we must: "never forget that [Curt Schilling] delivered Ohio for Geroge (sic) W. Bush in 2004." The typo was there on Check it out if you don't believe me.

I know Schilling appeared at a rally for the president the night before the votes were cast. I'm sure that the president didn't lose to many votes because Schilling appeared on his behalf. In fact, I'd concede that the appearance may have garnered him a few votes. However, the final margin in Ohio was over 100,000 votes. As a pitcher for a team beat out the Indians for the AL Wild Card, it seems unlikely that Schill brought 50,000+ votes to Bush. It seems like nothing more than a mean-spirited attempt to create animosity toward Schilling among Red Sox fans. For all their failings (and they have many), Red Sox fans seem to recognize that the politics of the individual players have little or nothing to do with their effectiveness of the field. The CHB needs to start acting like a man, or stop writing. Better the latter, but I have learned to live with disappointment.

Jay Mariotti and the CHB go into the Max Mercy Hall of Fame together because they're a lot alike. Both seem to have proprietary rights to the moral high ground in their respective sports markets. Both have personalities which make Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy seem like a top of the line sentient being to roll with at cocktail parties. Both have bizarre histories of feuds with the local sports teams (Mariotti vs. the White Sox/Hawk Harrelson, The CHB vs. Theo, Carl Everett and Manny). And nobody I know seems to like either of them (I must admit that I only know a few Chicago fans, but they all hate Mariotti).

For a reasonably accurate sample of Mariotti's writing, you can read this column about the World Cup. This particular sentence (I use that word for lack of a better term) seems like a good place to start: "What the rest of the world calls football, we call soccer, simply because we already have our football and it reflects America's desired macho profile of bleeding, crippling physicality." That is a run-on (and yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy in criticizing another writer when my blog cries out for competent editing). Not only that, but it is preachy, whiny, cliched and devoid of insight.

One run-on is insufficient. The next sentence takes his inelegance a step further: "Our soccer is a fringe sport of moms, kids and diehards, contrary to their football, a life-and-death psychosis that can breed hooliganism, suicide and occasional murder if a player heads a ball into his own net." Another sentence: "To this day, our biggest and best kid athletes play football and kids too small generally play soccer, which could be a metaphor for American life" begs the question who edits his columns and why isn't he/she doing his/her job? Last time I checked, kid isn't an adjective. I'm reasonably sure that nouns aren't supposed to modify other nouns, but then again it's been a while since I last perused the MLA book.

Read the rest of the column at your own risk. Jay Mariotti has achieved the status that every bad college sports writer yearns for in the wee hours of the morning. He's on Around the Horn. His whiny, nasal voice can shout down his fellow disputants. The lions of Chicago sports tremble in their dens at his approach. He is free to pander, to drown readers in strident hyperbole, to wallow in his self-satisfaction like a pig in a sty and to bully his inferiors with impunity. In short, Jay Mariotti is Max Mercy, without the redeeming quality of being a character in a work of fiction.

It is a curious dysfunction in the psyche of a sports fan that makes them want to be set on edge by the people who cover their teams. The CHB and Mariotti command large salaries to browbeat and annoy readers. They're on TV and radio, they have a celebrity status that far exceeds their talents as writers. Then again, we've come a long way since Grantland Rice and Ring Lardner.

Grantland Rice gave us the image of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. He drew his imagery from the Bible. The CHB gave us the Curse of the Bambino. His inspiration...New York Times writer George Vescey. Ring Lardner covered the Black Sox. Dan Shaughnessy brought us Jurassic Carl and Theo-gate '05. Yet again, I find myself glad not to be a Sox fan.

P.S. I am not a Dr. Who fan. I got all that stuff from google. I do remember it, as I'm sure is the case with a lot of people who are old enough to remember the dark days before cable came to town. In the Stone Age, you were lucky to get 2, 4, 5, 7, 25, 38 and 56. Finding something good on TV was, at times, almost a miracle. I also remember when V66 showed music videos and it was such a novelty that normal people would sit and watch something like "Careless Whisper" by WHAM and like it. I had a huge crush on the lead singer from 'Til Tuesday because of the video for "Voices Carry." The difference between myself and you is that I admit this stuff. I have nothing to hide, but my true identity.

1 comment:

thecincinattikid said...

No one ever comments. I feel unloved.