Murder and weather is the only news

Tiger We live in a weird world.

Yeah, just let that one stand there for a moment. It’s not exactly the deepest bit of breaking news out there, but really, what else is there to say about the events of the past weekend?

Besides, I don’t know what type font to use for a slow, eye roll or headshake.

Indeed, it’s a weird world we live in. Think about it for a second—here in the U.S., we are in the midst of two different wars, we have an economy that is a mess with no real easy fix. Worse, though some say the country is showing some signs of economic recovery, the unemployment rate is in double-digits with any job that can be outsourced somewhere cheaper, gone in the blink of an eye.

In other words, to steal from Bob Dylan, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”

Speaking of swearing, there is a healthcare bill ready for debate in the Senate very shortly. Whether the bill becomes a law or not does not supercede the historical significance that an actual bill that would grant millions of uninsured Americans proper health care made it this far.

It would be like if the Eagles won the Super Bowl or something… you know, something that has never happened.

Americans have so little regard for anything it seems. Sure, we’re told to be moral and just and all of that stuff, but out of the other side of the mouth comes the advice that if you can stick it to the other guy, get him before he gets you.

Since the world is a rat race it’s OK to be a rat.

We revel in failure. Just look at what the trendy television shows are—any type of live action, reality thing where we can sit in the safety of out over financed home with goods purchased on credit that are a couple of missed payments away from a visit from the repo man, and judge along with the “celebrity” judges. American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Jon & Kate—you name it. As long as the someone making asses out of themselves is someone else, dial it up.

The worst part about this isn't that it's the crap we get fed… it's that the powers believe we like it. Because of that they get to treat hard-working, regular folks like they are idiots all because something as stupid as "Survivor" got good ratings.

Frankly, that's just mean.

So should it comes as a big surprise that at a time where real, sobering news should be delivered with all the proper nuance, we were treated to stories about White House gatecrashers and Tiger Woods’ mishap with an SUV and a fire hydrant as if they were just another Thanksgiving leftover.

Just pile it on deeper and deeper. We’ll get back on the nourishing, healthy program later.

Then again none of this should come as a surprise. We’ve already trashed real news and turned it into a press release or marketing ploy to a degree that somewhere Nietzsche and Darwin are trading high-fives. After all, two attention-starved jackasses are getting exactly what they wanted from a national press too vapid to see the irony in the reportage.

I’d go into deeper detail about the Secret Service/White House foul-up, but I think I’m going to go punch myself in the face first.

There… better.

The oddest story of the weekend belonged to Tiger Woods, which is kind of news, but not really. See, when the No. 1 golfer on the planet wrecks his car into a tree and fire hydrant at 2:25 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving, is found with scratches and bruises on his face while lying on his back unconscious next to the vehicle, which just so happened to have the back windows bashed out by his wife with a long iron, well yeah, that’s a news story. In fact, it’s a pretty big story.

But because there was no drugs involved—legal or otherwise—the story ends as soon as Tiger finishes his next 18 holes. If he can play golf and did not commit a crime, the rest of the story is no one’s bleeping business.

Seriously, get a life. It’s not that difficult. Tiger has one, but you can’t have it. Really, go get your own.

But that would be too difficult. So too would be digging into the issues of healthcare, economics or tribal wars in unfamiliar continents. Why count on people to think when they can get some eye candy? Why nourish when it’s the junk food that delivers the big bucks.

Ratpack Hey, if the world is a rat race maybe we have no other choice than to be rats.

So as we hop on that spinning wheel so we can run in place and hope someone drops us another unfulfilling pellet, we might as well have some fun with it, right?

Try this theory out for size—the reason why “celebrity” stories and tell-all journalism is forced down our throats and controversy is created where it shouldn’t exist is because newsmen and women did the right thing back in the old days.

In sports, how many dust-ups did Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin get into during the average year? How many times did Mickey show up at the ballpark still hung over from a night at Toots Shor’s? Or what about Frank, Sammy and Dean-O? You know those guys were out having a good time running around the strip in Vegas—come on, we all heard Dean Martin at the Sands or Frank doing his thing at the Desert Inn.

And we know there was no way in hell that liquid in those rocks glasses wasn’t iced tea.

Oh yes, ballplayers, crooners, stars, starlets, politicians and presidents went out, got into trouble and didn’t have to worry about reading about it the next day on TMZ because there was something different going on back then…

People had their own lives and didn’t need to borrow Frank Sinatra’s. They didn’t go crashing some party they weren’t invited to because that would be classless. Worse, it’s tacky.

Nevertheless, murder and weather now have a partner on the nightly news and it’s called the celebrity minute. Only this time it lasts longer than a minute—it’s all they give us.

Stick to the script

utleyNEW YORK – One gets to learn a lot about the media, drama and hype on a trip to New York City. Here in the big city they really have a knack for mythmaking whereas the writing press from Philadelphia are pretty good at seeing something for what it is and leaving it at that.

This time we’re not talking about Raul Ibanez and the inanity of the lathered up media reaction from the made up controversy. Though I will admit I kind of liked Joe Posnanski’s take on it.

No, this time we’re talking about Chase Utley and Mike Pelfrey and the apparent exchange of words the pair had during an at-bat in the sixth inning of Wednesday night’s game. As Pelfrey explained it, he was upset about Utley stepping out of the box just as he was about to deliver a pitch. As such, Pelfrey barked at Utley, who returned with ignorant surprise.

“I was about to step into the box and it seemed like he was ready to pitch,” Utley said after taking a second to figure out what the hell was being talked about. “I wasn’t trying to make him frustrated. I was trying to put a good at-bat together.”

After the game, both Pelfrey and Utley were asked about it. Utley said Pelfrey said something to him but wasn’t sure what it was about. Pelfrey explained that he was peeved at Utley stepped out, told him and that was it. Everything ended right there.

“I got upset and told him to get in the box,” Pelfrey explained. “I don’t even know the guy. It was too much adrenaline, I guess.”

When asked, manager Charlie Manuel thought Pelfrey was upset with Shane Victorino. Why not? Isn’t someone always upset with Victorino? He certainly drives Charlie nuts sometimes.

So there it is. All over, right?

Wrong.

During the Mets’ post-game show on SNY, they showed the footage of Pelfrey shouting toward Utley over and over again with in-depth analysis of some sort of fabricated rift between the two archrival teams. While this was going on, New York-based reporters combed the Phillies’ clubhouse to pose questions to the team members about their little fantasy fight. Was something going to happen next time? Why do these teams hate each other so?

Who wins in a fight between Utley and Pelfrey?

Apparently, the fact that it was all a heaping pile of bullbleep really didn’t matter. There was going to be a story, dammit, just like there was going to be a story with Ibanez and some unknown dude in the Midwest somewhere.

To paraphrase a quote from Joe Piscopo in the movie Johnny Dangerously, “I’m embarrassed to be a media member these days. The other day someone asked me what I do for a living, and I told them I was a male nurse.”

(Thanks Deitch).

Anyway, there is a pretty good rivalry between the Phillies and the Mets but it’s likely that the New Yorkers are pushing it harder than needs to be. After all the Yankees have the Red Sox and the Mets are second fiddle in town. Frankly, they might be afraid to admit that the Phillies and the Dodgers is a much better and more interesting rivalry.

But that one doesn’t fit into the manufactured scripts up here.

Stick to the script

image from fingerfood.typepad.com NEW YORK – One gets to learn a lot about the media, drama and hype on a trip to New York City. Here in the big city they really have a knack for mythmaking whereas the writing press from Philadelphia are pretty good at seeing something for what it is and leaving it at that.

This time we’re not talking about Raul Ibanez and the inanity of the lathered up media reaction from the made up controversy. Though I will admit I kind of liked Joe Posnanski’s take on it.

No, this time we’re talking about Chase Utley and Mike Pelfrey and the apparent exchange of words the pair had during an at-bat in the sixth inning of Wednesday night’s game. As Pelfrey explained it, he was upset about Utley stepping out of the box just as he was about to deliver a pitch. As such, Pelfrey barked at Utley, who returned with ignorant surprise.

“I was about to step into the box and it seemed like he was ready to pitch,” Utley said after taking a second to figure out what the hell was being talked about. “I wasn't trying to make him frustrated. I was trying to put a good at-bat together.”

After the game, both Pelfrey and Utley were asked about it. Utley said Pelfrey said something to him but wasn’t sure what it was about. Pelfrey explained that he was peeved at Utley stepped out, told him and that was it. Everything ended right there.

“I got upset and told him to get in the box,” Pelfrey explained. “I don't even know the guy. It was too much adrenaline, I guess.”

When asked, manager Charlie Manuel thought Pelfrey was upset with Shane Victorino. Why not? Isn’t someone always upset with Victorino? He certainly drives Charlie nuts sometimes.

So there it is. All over, right?

Wrong.

During the Mets’ post-game show on SNY, they showed the footage of Pelfrey shouting toward Utley over and over again with in-depth analysis of some sort of fabricated rift between the two archrival teams. While this was going on, New York-based reporters combed the Phillies’ clubhouse to pose questions to the team members about their little fantasy fight. Was something going to happen next time? Why do these teams hate each other so?

Who wins in a fight between Utley and Pelfrey?

Apparently, the fact that it was all a heaping pile of bullbleep really didn’t matter. There was going to be a story, dammit, just like there was going to be a story with Ibanez and some unknown dude in the Midwest somewhere.

To paraphrase a quote from Joe Piscopo in the movie Johnny Dangerously, “I'm embarrassed to be a media member these days. The other day someone asked me what I do for a living, and I told them I was a male nurse.”

(Thanks Deitch).

Anyway, there is a pretty good rivalry between the Phillies and the Mets but it’s likely that the New Yorkers are pushing it harder than needs to be. After all the Yankees have the Red Sox and the Mets are second fiddle in town. Frankly, they might be afraid to admit that the Phillies and the Dodgers is a much better and more interesting rivalry.

But that one doesn’t fit into the manufactured scripts up here.

If you don’t want to see, close your eyes

metsA few years ago another scribe and I were shooting the breeze with Pat Burrell before a game. If I’m not mistaken, the conversation covered all of the ground regarding the ex-Phillies outfielder’s workouts at the prestigious Athletes’ Performance Center in Arizona and golfer Phil Mickelson’s empty locker in the joint as well as his alleged penchant for gambling.

You know, basic pre-game fodder.

But then the question was posed to Burrell if he had read something written about him in one of the local papers. This was the final year of Larry Bowa’s tenure as the manager of the Phillies so some of the stories written by some of the folks in the press weren’t the gentlest of critiques of the teams’ play. The story in question was definitely one of those.

Burrell, however, never saw the story and didn’t seem too interested, either. His general thoughts on the local press (supposedly) was that they (we) are “rats.” It’s an unfortunate description especially since I prefer to use the cunning and quick-witted fox to describe some members of the press corps. Yeah, there are a few rats, but they are more like that Templeton from Charlotte’s Web.

Anyway, Burrell then revealed that (one) of the reasons why he didn’t see the story was because the team was not allowed to have newspapers in the clubhouse. Yeah, there was freedom of the press to assemble in the clubhouse, but by edict of manager Larry Bowa, the work of those meddling reporters was verboten in the inner sanctum lest some of the words over-boil the blood of the ballplayers.

In fact, it wasn’t until Charlie Manuel was hired as manager of the Phillies that newspapers were strewn about the common areas of the room. Better yet, ballplayers were able to fold over the pages and sit comfortably to do the daily crossword puzzle, Sudoku or jumble without engaging in subterfuge or the threat of scorn and fines.

Yes, it was a great day for literacy when Charlie Manuel became manager of the Phillies.

But in New York another manager named Manuel is not so as enlightened as our Charlie. In fact, Jerry Manuel of the New York Mets has enacted a Bowa-esque media blackout only with a certain caveat:

The USA Today is allowed in the Mets’ new clubhouse at CitiField, but The New York Post and New York Daily News, well, those papers aren’t quite up to the Mets’ Major League standards.

The edict, apparently, was to avoid “bad vibes,” which is fair. Look, if I don’t like a radio station, I turn the station. If I don’t like a TV show, I turn the channel. And you sure as shoot better believe that if I don’t like a periodical, I’m not going to lug it around town or have it delivered to my home and/or office.

So why should the Mets?

When word of Bowa’s paper banned leaked out the consensus seemed to be shrugged shoulders or bemused laughter. I looked at it as Nixon-esque paranoia by a guy wrapped a little too tight because I knew the papers weren’t banned because of the political bent of the Op-Ed pages. The sports section of some of the local papers rankle some delicate sensibilities – it’s OK.

Different strokes.

But in New York, the exorcism of the papers made all of the papers – and blogs. Better yet, the game story in the Post the other day led with the “controversy.” Sure, Beltran is hitting the ball like crazy, but he can’t read the Post or Daily News after the game…

Stop the press!

Or don’t… the Mets couldn’t care one way or the other.

**

In the Times, a newspaper not listed on the Mets’ clubhouse ban (though it could be), our old pal Doug Glanville dives into the latest A-Rod controversy regarding the tipping of pitches to the opposition.

Good stuff from Doug, again.


graphic from The Sports Hernia

If you don’t want to see, close your eyes

image from fingerfood.typepad.com A few years ago another scribe and I were shooting the breeze with Pat Burrell before a game. If I’m not mistaken, the conversation covered all of the ground regarding the ex-Phillies outfielder’s workouts at the prestigious Athletes’ Performance Center in Arizona and golfer Phil Mickelson’s empty locker in the joint as well as his alleged penchant for gambling.

You know, basic pre-game fodder.

But then the question was posed to Burrell if he had read something written about him in one of the local papers. This was the final year of Larry Bowa’s tenure as the manager of the Phillies so some of the stories written by some of the folks in the press weren’t the gentlest of critiques of the teams’ play. The story in question was definitely one of those.

Burrell, however, never saw the story and didn’t seem too interested, either. His general thoughts on the local press (supposedly) was that they (we) are “rats.” It’s an unfortunate description especially since I prefer to use the cunning and quick-witted fox to describe some members of the press corps. Yeah, there are a few rats, but they are more like that Templeton from Charlotte’s Web.

Anyway, Burrell then revealed that (one) of the reasons why he didn’t see the story was because the team was not allowed to have newspapers in the clubhouse. Yeah, there was freedom of the press to assemble in the clubhouse, but by edict of manager Larry Bowa, the work of those meddling reporters was verboten in the inner sanctum lest some of the words over-boil the blood of the ballplayers.

In fact, it wasn’t until Charlie Manuel was hired as manager of the Phillies that newspapers were strewn about the common areas of the room. Better yet, ballplayers were able to fold over the pages and sit comfortably to do the daily crossword puzzle, Sudoku or jumble without engaging in subterfuge or the threat of scorn and fines.

Yes, it was a great day for literacy when Charlie Manuel became manager of the Phillies.

But in New York another manager named Manuel is not so as enlightened as our Charlie. In fact, Jerry Manuel of the New York Mets has enacted a Bowa-esque media blackout only with a certain caveat:

The USA Today is allowed in the Mets’ new clubhouse at CitiField, but The New York Post and New York Daily News, well, those papers aren’t quite up to the Mets’ Major League standards.

The edict, apparently, was to avoid “bad vibes,” which is fair. Look, if I don’t like a radio station, I turn the station. If I don’t like a TV show, I turn the channel. And you sure as shoot better believe that if I don’t like a periodical, I’m not going to lug it around town or have it delivered to my home and/or office.

So why should the Mets?

When word of Bowa’s paper banned leaked out the consensus seemed to be shrugged shoulders or bemused laughter. I looked at it as Nixon-esque paranoia by a guy wrapped a little too tight because I knew the papers weren’t banned because of the political bent of the Op-Ed pages. The sports section of some of the local papers rankle some delicate sensibilities – it’s OK.

Different strokes.

But in New York, the exorcism of the papers made all of the papers – and blogs. Better yet, the game story in the Post the other day led with the “controversy.” Sure, Beltran is hitting the ball like crazy, but he can’t read the Post or Daily News after the game…

Stop the press!

Or don’t… the Mets couldn’t care one way or the other.

*
In the Times, a newspaper not listed on the Mets’ clubhouse ban (though it could be), our old pal Doug Glanville dives into the latest A-Rod controversy regarding the tipping of pitches to the opposition.

Good stuff from Doug, again.


graphic from The Sports Hernia

He’s getting away on foot!

The funny thing about Billy Gillispie is that despite the fact that he was the basketball coach at Kentucky, most folks would not be able to tell you who he is. That just might have been the problem considering most college basketball people say the head coaching job at Kentucky is bigger than the game.

That the way it looked when these folks staked out Gillispie with the hope of getting him to hang up his phone.

No such luck.

Lexington, Kentucky is media market No. 66, which makes it smaller than Des Moines, Iowa; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Mobile, Ala. Still, there are better ways in which to get a guy to talk… even on TV. Though, admittedly, the footage makes for some entertaining viewing.

Nevertheless, to paraphrase a quote from Joe Piscopo’s character in Johnny Dangerously (via The Deitch Pit): “I’m embarrassed to be a media member these days. The other day someone asked me what I do for a living, and I told them I was a male nurse.”

He’s getting away on foot!

The funny thing about Billy Gillispie is that despite the fact that he was the basketball coach at Kentucky, most folks would not be able to tell you who he is. That just might have been the problem considering most college basketball people say the head coaching job at Kentucky is bigger than the game.

That the way it looked when these folks staked out Gillispie with the hope of getting him to hang up his phone.

No such luck.

Lexington, Kentucky is media market No. 66, which makes it smaller than Des Moines, Iowa; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Mobile, Ala. Still, there are better ways in which to get a guy to talk… even on TV. Though, admittedly, the footage makes for some entertaining viewing.

Nevertheless, to paraphrase a quote from Joe Piscopo's character in Johnny Dangerously (via The Deitch Pit): "I'm embarrassed to be a media member these days. The other day someone asked me what I do for a living, and I told them I was a male nurse."

No comment

Ryan HowardI have a theory that if you need someone like Ryan Howard or Chase Utley to say something insightful to make or break your story, you are, indeed, a [bleepy] writer.

It’s not a well-thought out theory or one that I’ve ever really tested in a controlled environment. Truth be told and based on my observations from going into the Phillies clubhouse and hanging around the team for the better part of the last nine seasons, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are the least interesting ballplayers I have ever seen address a group of people about their profession.

The right side of the Phillies’ offense has nothing to say to the press about baseball.

Nada.

Nothing.

Zilch.

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley probably will go down as the most prolific hitters in Philadelphia baseball history, and are clearly two of the most exciting players in the game right now. But, you know, just don’t ask them about it.

When told that the President of the United States of America said that Utley would be the first player he would select if he were putting together a baseball team, Utley said: “That’s a nice compliment to have. It’s kind of cool.”

Gee… OK.

From Jerry Crasnick in the latest edition of ESPN the Magazine in a story on how Utley has established himself as a bona fide hitting threat at the plate:

The one skill Utley has yet to master is self-promotion. He relies on monotonal cliché-speak when reporters approach for insights into his game. His approach brings to mind the Zen of Greg Maddux, who goes out of his way to be dull to avoid providing glimpses into his baseball soul. In Utley’s world, success is almost solely a reflection of hard work. That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it. “The more you practice, the better,” he says. “The more at-bats you have and pitches you see, and the more ground balls you take and game situations you’re in, the more comfortable you get.”

OK. But, there are a few problems in that short paragraph. Sure, Utley may (indirectly) invoke the “Zen of Maddux,” but the stories of Greg Maddux’s wacky personality are legion and probably not for re-telling where innocent ears (and eyes) lurk.

What’s more, Utley’s quote about the more one practices equates to the amount of success one has is, frankly, condescending. For starters, Utley is ignoring the importance of talent all while suggesting that players who haven’t had the same success as him yet have been identified with better “tools” only need to work harder. Of course he cites the traditional notion of hard work because Utley has been identified as a “baseball rat,” “dirtball,” and “hard worker.” The truth is that I know for a fact that Jimmy Rollins is a hard worker and a student of the game. Why isn’t he ever described that way?

Better yet, there isn’t a single player in the Major Leagues who simply gets by on talent.

Everybody works hard just like everyone has talent. To that regard, there has to be something more to players like Utley and Howard and they just aren’t too keen on allowing anyone to see it.

As Bobby Brown once astutely pointed out, that’s their prerogative.

To be fair, public speaking is not for everyone. Frankly, it can be unnerving at times. The truth is that the few times in which I have actually appeared on television I was slightly nervous until I told myself that if they are putting me on TV the producers probably are not expecting a ratings bonanza. From that point on it was if I was simply speaking to another inanimate object, only this one beamed my head out to a regional cable TV audience… or whatever there was of one.

However, when it comes to being a professional athlete these days, self-analysis and deconstruction is part of the job. No, we’re not asking for a stand-up routine or even something so insightful that we have to ponder it on the long drive home – after all, it’s just baseball and sports. How complicated can it be?

This criticism isn’t just for Utley and Howard, but also folks like Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb and perhaps 50 percent of the athletes making money in Philadelphia. The main criticism isn’t what they say, but how they say it. Hey, no one is expecting Utley or Howard to be insightful, just engaged in the process.

Again, I’m not saying Howard and Utley aren’t interesting people. I’m just saying that I don’t know if they are. Perhaps that’s because when it comes to talking about baseball they offer no insight, no nuance and no depth. If given the choice between talking to the press about baseball and having a nail driven into their head, Howard, Utley (and many others on the team) would take the nail.

I just don’t get that. How can that make sense? If I were a baseball player and were as passionate about the game as nearly every baseball player says they are, you would not be able to shut me up. I’d put a lectern in front of my locker and give sermons from up high. I’d drive everyone crazy talking about baseball, my workouts, the other players, the shape of the ball, the grain of the wood on the bats, the hue of the ivy growing on the batter’s eye in center field, the fit of the uniforms, the clubhouse spread, the water pressure in the shower, the temperature of the whirlpool last Tuesday in the visitors’ clubhouse in Nationals Park… I’d talk about everything.

Go ahead and ask me an innocuous question about running and marathoning… and then be prepared to sit quietly for at least 30 minutes while I wax on and ramble off into one tangent or another.

So that’s what I don’t get – how can a baseball player not want to talk about baseball?

Chase UtleyActually, the better question is why does anyone care? Are insights from professional athletes so vital to the national discourse? I certainly hope not. But in the proliferation of the celebrity culture, athletes need not apply. In 2008 there is no difference between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard than there is between George Clooney and Denzel Washington. And, in an odd bit of irony, athletes are being chided for not speaking out on issues as well as for their general verbosity, while movie stars are ripped for speaking out too much.

As if such a thing was possible.

Nevertheless, the real reason for the long-winded essay and knee-jerk observations is because of the latest from former Sports Illustrated writer Pat Jordan, who detailed the good old days of sports writing in a piece for Slate Magazine. Even with the proliferation of all media fans and writers have even less depth and nuance from the athletes. At least that’s what Jordan has observed in his 40 years in the business.

Read the story from Jordan. It’s good.

From my end, I can only relate writing about mainstream professional athletes in comparison to writing about politicians and business leaders from a decade ago. Back then the subjects of my stories wanted to be partners in what I wrote. Not only did they want a say in what information I used and how I used it, but also they wanted full control of the message. They parsed everything and nit-picked everything including something as trite as the use of a comma or semi-colon in the copy.

To say most folks were engaged in the process didn’t cover it. They wanted minutes on the process. They wanted sample paragraphs and to be alerted when the story went to press.

Conversely, athletes don’t care about any of it. Strangely, I think most professional baseball players believe that the guy holding the camera to the guy with the microphone to the guy with a pen and a pad all work for the same TV station. They simply don’t care enough to differentiate between writers, let alone the scribes and TV reporters.

As I once explained to someone working in a small-town newspaper about the differences between covering the news in a place like Lancaster and covering the Philadelphia Phillies: “The guy you write about in Lancaster might cut out the story and hang it on his wall or put it in a scrapbook. It’s meaningful to him.

“But Travis Lee doesn’t give a [bleep].”

For that matter, neither do most ballplayers…

Or fans.

More: “Josh Beckett Won’t Return My Phone Calls” by Pat Jordan (Slate)

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Ryan Howard… get a blog. Or better yet, just invite the writing media over to the locker to chat instead of those pesky TV folks with their makeup and those white, hot lights and cameras. Besides, talking to actual humans instead of inanimate objects like cameras and TV reporters is much more revealing anyway. Sure, the fans might like tuning in from so far away to watch a guy talk with those lights and the microphones bearing down, but come on… no one really enjoys it.

At least that’s the way it was for Ryan Howard in Clearwater today. Rather than do the whole big ballyhoo and faux production of a made-for-TV inquiry about his contract and whether or not animosity has festered like a bad blister because the Phillies only want to pay him $7 million for 2008 instead of $10 million just chatted up a few scribes and some inanimate objects in the clubhouse.

It made for a more contemplative, more intimate, more revealing and perhaps even a more trenchant conversation. That’s the key word there – conversation. Look, when dealing with athletes, pro writers are dealing with a short deck mostly because they don’t know a damn thing about exercise or fitness or training or anything. But that’s beside the point. When the glare and scrutiny beats on a guy, it gets hard to explain things, so everyone loses.

Or something like that. Who knows. I’m just making this all up as I go along and I’m sure that five minutes from now I’ll have no idea what I wrote. But don’t let that stop anyone from acknowledging that sooner or later Ryan Howard will have to answer questions about his contract. What, do you think the writing press is a bunch of shrinking violets? Hey, they might not know the ins and outs of exercise or physiology, but that’s not going to stop them from using clichés oh so cavalierly.

You know, whatever.

***
Here’s a question: is it worse that someone made a typographical error in typing up a document filed yesterday in the Barry Bonds perjury case that erroneously stated the player tested positive for steroids in November of 2001, or is it worse that so many media outlets blindly jumped on the story without checking it out first.

Look, people trust the wire services and the big names in the media business without giving it much thought. But even the tiniest bit of research over the false Bonds report should have had folks scratching their heads a bit with wonderment over why the star-crossed slugger would have taken a drugs test in 2001.

Plus, knowing that there are no more secrets anywhere and that the truth always rears its troll-like face, the notion of a failed drugs test by Bonds in November of 2001 should have had the fact-checkers scrambling.

Alas…

Nevertheless, the underlying problem was evident: Media types are too worried about being first instead of being right.

***
Pedro Finally, my favorite story of the day comes out of the Mets’ camp in Port Saint Lucie where Pedro Martinez rightfully claimed that he stared down the so-called Steroid Era and plunked it on its ass.

According to Pedro, “I dominated that era and I did it clean.

“I have a small frame and when I hurt all I could do was take a couple of Aleve or Advil, a cup of coffee and a little mango and an egg – and let it go!”

It sounds like Pedro (and Cole Hamels) are wannabe marathon runners who wake up every morning with everything hurting, shuffle stiff-legged downstairs for some coffee, a vitamin, maybe a Clif Bar or even an ibuprofen with the thought of visiting the chiro for some Active Release Technique therapy before heading out the door for the first of two brutal workouts.

Drugs tests? Where the cup…

“I wish that they would check every day,” Pedro said. “That’s how bad I want the game to be clean. I would rather go home (than) taint the game.”

Here’s a theory: the pitching during the so-called “Steroid Era” wasn’t so bad. Oh sure, certain media types — blabbermouths on certain radio stations in particular — are quick to point out how today’s pitchers can’t throw strikes, won’t work deep into games and how some of them shouldn’t be in the big leagues. Expansion, they say, has watered down the game.

Maybe so. But try this out: in facing hitters with baseballs that are wound tighter and who are using harder bats made of harder wood against a tinier strike zone in ball parks that are smaller still, pitchers have to add guile to the repertoire. And we didn’t even get into the performance-enhancing drugs part yet. Nonetheless, pitchers just can’t lean back and huck it up there as fast as they can — pitchers have had to pitch in the post-modern era of baseball.

***
Jamie MoyerSpeaking of doing it the right way for a long time, Sully Salisbury turned in a great story on the meritorious Jamie Moyer, who is heading into his 22nd big league season.

A few minutes in the presence of Moyer makes it easy to believe that you never, ever have to get old. You never have to burn out, get tired, act old, compromise, get mediocre or slow down. Moyer turned 45 last November and be sure that there are players on the Phillies who are “older” than he is – they’ve stopped being engaged, they know what they know and they don’t want to be exposed to anything new. They are already completely formed and they might only be 23 years old.

Not Moyer, though. In a conversation last October, the pitcher says one of the best parts about playing for so long has been the exposure to new people and ideas.

“A lot of times, I just focus on the simplicity of things, and not be the focus of what should be going on here, and just keep things simple. I call it the K.I.S.S. factor — keep it simple, stupid,” he said last October. “I look back on instances in my career like that — good and bad – but things that I’ve learned from, and try to re-educate myself and rethink things, and reinforce what I already know. A lot of times, we can overlook things and forget, and after the fact, after the mistake is made, you’re like, ‘Oh, I knew that. Why did I do that?’ You can’t catch everything. But if you can catch some of it, hopefully, it’ll work out. What’s been fun is being around this group of guys and the energy they bring.”

As Moyer told Sailisbury yesterday:

“I’m not as proud of the age thing as I am of the ups and downs I’ve overcome to create some longevity,” Moyer said after yesterday’s workout. “I’ve enjoyed that part. I can smile and say I’m doing what I want to do.”

Boring ourselves to death

Not too long ago, Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban took the media to task for its fascination with salaries of entertainment figures (athletes included) as well as how much it costs to make a movie or buy a team, etc.

Basically, Cuban wondered why salaries of rich people were so important to media types and why the financial side was always centered on the wealthy.

He wrote:

If making salaries public is so important, why don’t reporters disclose their salaries? If weekly box office is so important, why don’t newspapers report daily sales and subscription numbers? If box office is the ultimate reflection of the quality of a movie, shouldn’t a newspaper, or magazines ‘ daily or by issue sales be a reflection of the quality of that issue?

It’s not hypocritical is it?

Hearing Cuban on the subject made me look back to see if I wrote about individual salaries and how much money people make. Guess what? I did. A lot. Worse, I’m not even sure I noticed what I was doing. In retrospect, I suppose, I wrote about such things without even thinking – a salary, it seems, is just another statistic like batting average or ERA. And like those stats, salary figured in whether or not a player could be moved or if others could be acquired.

But the part that is mystifying is that salaries never interested me nor did it really indicate anything to me about a person. The fact that Chase Utley recently signed such a large contract is not interesting at all. It proves nothing and doesn’t make Utley smarter or a better player. It’s meaningless.

Needless to say, these types of ideas are not in line with conventional thinking. Actually, it’s more like if the world is a rat race then it’s OK to be a rat. Perhaps because of the way I was raised – in my bourgeoisie-ness with that safe and sound middle-class safety net where deeds and ideas are the most important thing, failure is easily fixed, and the total pursuit of money is viewed as a tacky move of a Philistine – I was never motivated by money. That’s both good and bad, but we’ll leave that alone for now.

The point is that I never really thought much about advertising another man’s salary simply because he was paid a lot of money and was on a professional baseball team. At the heart of it, Cuban was railing against people like me and he was/is correct.

But it gets deeper than that, too. Over the past two days regular readers of this site have been “treated” to a few not-so-subtle jabs at Jon Lieber’s purchase of a $211,000 truck, that, frankly, I find superficial, wasteful and disgusting for many, many reasons. But at the same time, I don’t know if I’m more disgusted that Lieber enjoyed flaunting his vehicle that cost about the same amount as the median price of a single-family home in the U.S. or the media’s coverage of it.

Maybe what Cuban meant to write was that stories like this aren’t just hypocritical, they’re boring. Worse, it seems as if the media is more focused on the wealthy and superficial than the things that really matter.

As of the January 15, 2007, the war in Iraq costs the U.S. $229 million a day, but space on web sites and newspapers is given to a guy with an expensive car because he can throw a baseball reasonably well.

Good.

I don’t think anything will change, and I’m not about to wage a war against the celebrity culture and frivolousness. For one, I can’t win, and for another, I’m a participant. Overcoming personal hypocrisy and contradictions is never easy.

But at least someone is taking notice. In a story in the National Journal, William Powers points out that the media’s fascination with wealth has become trite and ubiquitous.

Powers writes:

Stories about the rich are nothing new. Wealth is intrinsically interesting, and extreme wealth all the more so. You see a piece about the grandiose estates the hedge-fund crowd has been building in Greenwich, Conn., the new capital of conspicuous consumption, and some mix of admiration, envy, disgust and pure voyeurism naturally pulls you in. The mega-rich have always been a nice cottage industry for the news media, and there’s nothing wrong in that.

But we’ve crossed some line in recent years. The press covers these people not just as the narrow slice of society that they are, but more and more as the only slice that matters; not as exotic exceptions to the cultural norm, but as the norm itself. This is especially true in the leisure/lifestyle realm, where the market for eight-figure houses is sometimes covered as if it were a popular trend.

More importantly:

Indeed, the media are so saturated with the very wealthy, the story line is losing its novelty. When covering human excess, a less-is-more approach is the way to keep ’em coming. By normalizing the very rich, journalists are making them boring, which is the opposite of news.

Meanwhile, the old middle class — remember them? — is taking on a strange magnetism. Did you know there are actually Americans who live very happily on five-figure incomes, without a single pied-a-terre? It’s so amazing, it almost feels like a story.

Full disclosure: I’m driving a 1998 Honda Accord with 136,000 miles on it. The car is blue, was recently inspected, and hopefully ready for 136,000 more miles. For some reason my golf clubs are still stashed in the trunk, too. I also drive a Saturn Vue that we bought in 2004. It’s black and drives fairly smooth even though I intentionally drove it into a pile of petrified plowed snow this morning… not a good idea. The front-wheel drive is no match for ice.

In Clearwater…
Pitching coach Rich Dubee wants the Phillies’ catchers to take more proprietorship in calling games.

In Lancaster…
It appears as if the snow and ice still hasn’t been removed (don’t get me started), however, nothing could stop the J.P. McCaskey Red Tornadoes from winning a third straight Lancaster-Lebanon League championship on Friday night in Hershey, Pa.

The Tornadoes whipped Lancaster Catholic by 29 points for the largest victory in the league’s championship game. The victory also gave McCaskey 10 league championships in 34 seasons and it is just the second school to win three in a row.

No L-L League team has ever won four in a row, but with 10 of the 14 players for McCaskey slated to return next season it’s going to be hard to stop them.

Mmmmm… lunch

The local scribes and TV media have a luncheon with the Phillies’ new coaches, Charlie Manuel and Pat Gillick. Needless to say, events like this are the one time when media-types don’t show up for the free food.

Well, maybe they do…

Anyway, I’m sure the general manager will be a popular fellow this afternoon – much more popular than new coaches Jimy Williams, Art Howe and Davey Lopes. Then again, Mr. Howe’s stay with the Phillies could be very short. In fact, he won’t even be at the luncheon this afternoon.

Why? Well, Howe’s old pal and coach from his days as the manager of the Oakland A’s, Ron Washington, got the managerial job in Texas. As a result, Howe is off to interview for the bench coach gig on his friend’s staff.

Meanwhile, according to the adroit Todd Zolecki of the Inquirer, the Phillies decided not to make a bid for the negotiating rights for Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura. Instead, it appears as if the club will try to ink third basemen Mark DeRosa or Wes Helms to split time with Abraham Nunez.

The plan is to check in here with all of the tasty nuggets from the media luncheon. If someone spills mustard on their shirt or walks off with someone else’s computer bag , we’ll make sure to report it here.

No comment II

A day after slipping out the side door so he wouldn’t have to talk to the local press about his poor, 2 1/3 inning loss to the Cubs on Monday night, Jon Lieber explained himself on Tuesday afternoon.

It turns out that Lieber figured since he didn’t have anything good to say, maybe he shouldn’t say anything at all.

“I was [upset]. It was nothing to do with [the media]. Trust me, I had nothing good to say. That’s why I’m talking now. I didn’t want to say anything [on Monday] night.”

That’s fair. But it would have been just as easy to say that on Monday night instead of rehashing it all the next day. Nevertheless, Lieber knows he can pitch so poorly in his next start.

“I let my team down,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. It was no one else’s fault but mine. I can’t be pitching like that at this point if we’re going to get to the postseason. That’s not getting it done.”

He’s right about that.

No comment

I have a theory that baseball pitchers are more accountable than politicians. The reason? After every game, no matter if there is a victory or a defeat, the pitcher is there to answer questions and have his outing dissected. Politicians never have to do this. They can skirt issues and hide behind talking points and canned questions.

But after Monday night’s game where he gave up five runs and two homers on 48 pitches in just 2 1/3 innings, Jon Lieber stopped being a pitcher and became a politician.

Instead of dishing out his typical insipid clichés to pointed questions about his craft, Lieber sulked quietly past approximately 20 reporters specifically there to hear from him, gathered a handbag and walked through an off-limits side door. But instead of returning to complete his job — a job that was pretty incomplete based on his work against the Cubs — Lieber crept out a side door and left the ballpark.

Almost as bad, the Phillies’ media relations representative quietly told a select few reporters that Lieber had snuck away 15 minutes afterwards.

Good job!

Yeah, I think the press is a pain in the rear, too. They can be intrusive, obnoxious, rude and tactless. But in this case, when a few camera men and scribes a simply looking for the innocuous of quotes Lieber failed to deliver.

Again.

Certainly Lieber has been around long enough to know the drill. After all, he pitched for the Yankees in the baseball media capital of the world where he would never have dreamed of pulling a secret dash stunt like the one on Monday. He knows that all he had to do was stand there for 30 seconds and say, “I wasn’t very good tonight. I didn’t have my good stuff. We’ll get ’em next time.” Which is pretty much all he ever says anyway, wild-card race or not.

How hard is that?

Even upon noticing the reporters waiting for him, Lieber could have said, “Look, I pitched really poorly and I really don’t want to talk about it. I’m going to go home now.” That’s acceptable, and accountable.

Instead, the fans who follow the team closely lose out.

Howard is the MVP

Forget the numbers for a second. Often in baseball people get too hung up on the numbers and lose sight of the people and the game. After all, that’s what draws us to the game, right?

How can anyone quantify that running catch Michael Bourn had in right field the other night in his big league debut? Well, yeah, I’m sure some egghead can whip up some type of formula to show that Bourn’s catch was the 463rd best by a right fielder in his Major League debut. But that’s not the point — the point is that Bourn ran like a freakin’ gazelle, extended his arm as high as it could go and softly cradled the ball into his black glove just before he nearly flattened himself into the outfield fence.

That, folks, is baseball. Leave the numbers to the stat geeks — we’ll take the game.

Digressing a bit, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with Scott Rolen a few years ago. When presented with the notion that he could very well be the best fielding third baseman ever to play the game, Rolen shifted his feet uncomfortably for a few seconds before answering, “You know, that’s nice, but I really don’t think there is any way you can determine that. Every game and every player is different and a lot of people being compared never played during the same time.”

He was using an old but popular argument about how it was difficult to compare players from different eras, etc. It’s a valid argument, of course, and it wasn’t just a matter of Rolen trying to be diplomatic, either. He just didn’t want to think about being better than anyone else. Something tells me he’s like that in a lot of facets of his life.

Nevertheless, I told him that, yes, indeed, there are ways to determine who the best is. Smart people with real jobs and the ability to make numbers sing have come up with formulas and hyperbola showing who could do what and all that jazz.

Basically, living, breathing people had been reduced to cold, hard numbers in order to prove something that most baseball people think is silly. The numbers may show something, but they don’t tell the story.

Numbers don’t show how hard Randy Wolf and Rolen worked during the off season in order to play this year. Numbers don’t show how Curt Schilling was able to get all of those strikeouts by studying all of the hitters with John Vukovich. Numbers don’t show the size of Charlie Manuel’s spirit after he battled a heart attack and cancer to return to a Major League bench.

You can have the numbers. Give me something I can touch.

You want to know what else the numbers don’t show? How about how important Ryan Howard has been to the Phillies during their chase for the wild card. Oh sure, there are the home runs and the RBIs with the slugging, OBP, OPS and batting average that will put him in the horserace with Albert Pujols for the NL MVP Award. In that regard, yes, the numbers do tell a big portion of the story.

But they can’t quantify the veteran things Howard has been doing since he has come to the big leagues to stay last summer.

Veteran things?

By that I mean making himself available to the media before and after every game no matter what happened previously. Win, lose, embarrassment, controversy, celebration or whatever the occasion, Howard has been dependable. In fact, last season there were times when Howard was the only player to speak for the team during a difficult period for the team. Now how is a rookie, who had not even played a complete Major League season, going to be the spokesman for the team? I guess that’s just who Ryan Howard is.

Accountability is a lost art that transcends sports. When a “stand up” guy is identified, people have a way of gravitating toward that person. That’s kind of the way it has been for the Phillies this year.

Certainly this group of Phillies has a lot of stand up guys. Howard, Wolf, Rowand, Conine, Gordon, Coste, Moyer, Madson, Victorino, Dellucci, Hamels… the list continues. But when one of the big stars is doing the dirty work — like handling the media and all of the other extenuating non-baseball things – it doesn’t go unnoticed. It may not seem like a big deal to the casual fan or the number crunchers, but if Ryan Howard is standing up in front of the media, it means other players don’t have to. Instead, those guys can get the treatment they need, or they can go home and rest so they can be fresh for the game the next day.

In baseball, the little things matter just as much as the 56 homers, 138 RBIs and .311 batting average.

The numbers add up
Last season there was some debate whether Howard was going to win the rookie of the year award over Jeff Francoeur of Atlanta and Willy Taveras of Houston. Actually, let me rephrase that — there was some debate amongst people who didn’t know any better. For those of us who spoke with rookie of the year voters, we knew Howard was going to win the award easily and thought the idea of the debate was silly.

But sometimes sports media is very silly.

Nevertheless, it seems as if some of the MVP voters are giving Howard a really long look. And based on what’s happening in the final month of the season, Howard just might be sprinting for the finish.

Whether or not he passes Pujols remains to be seen.

Things noticed around the ballpark

  • There was a lot less media checking out the Phillies-Braves series finale on Monday night. In fact, only the big(ger) papers had columnists at the game and afterwards there was just one TV camera crew. Know what this means? The Phillies aren’t very good and training camp has started at Lehigh.Taking CSN out of the equation (because they always show up), we won’t see any more TV cameras until the last weekend of the season.
  • Scouts, once again, were out in full force. Some of them were advance scouts, working ahead and picking up tendencies for an upcoming series against the Phillies, but others were not. Is there a deal brewing? Maybe. Or maybe not.
  • It’s quiet around here. Almost too quiet.
  • David Bell is smoking hot. With a home run and a single in the loss to the Braves, the much-maligned third baseman boosted his average to .288 to continue his torrid July.How hot is Bell? Try this out: in his last five games he’s hitting .571 (12-for-21) with a triple and a homer, and is hitting .426 (29-for-68), a .452 on-base percentage, with nine extra-base hits this month.

    If he isn’t careful, Bell could put together a “career” year.

  • The always astute Dennis Deitch pointed out that Mike Lieberthal has just one walk this season. Yeah, just one. In fact, Lieberthal is four times more likely to be hit by a pitch than to draw a walk.Upon further perusal, four of the Phillies’ pitchers have more walks than Lieberthal this season.
  • The Phillies, at 44-52, lead the last-place Washington Nationals by just 2 1/2 games.
  • I hate to say I told you so, but…

    Yeah, yeah no one likes a smart guy — especially one who rubs it in and gloats. Then again, there really isn’t much need to gloat when my solid premise about Cole Hamels and his durabilty is just a few posts down. There was no way he could go an entire season without breaking down, it says.

    And…

    There’s no reason why he should have started the seventh inning in his last start when it took him 90 pitches to get through six.

    But of course hindsight is always 20-20 and there is no pleasure taken out of another man’s pain. That’s especially the case when the guy in question is so much fun to watch.

    Nevertheless, Cole Hamels, the Phillies’ super phenom, is sitting inNew York and watching the ballgame on the newest Comcast SportsNet (shameless plug) after he felt a pop and some soreness in his left shoulder while throwing before Tuesday night’s game at Shea. In fact, Hamels was probably watching last night’s game on Comcast SportsNet since he went back to Philly during the game, but we’ll touch on that in a moment. Let’s deal with Hamels first.

    To say that Hamels in injury prone or delicate would be like saying Michael Jordan was a pretty good basketball player. Yes, it’s correct, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The Phillies, or whomever Hamels ends up pitching for through his days in the Major Leagues, will have to just accept routine stints on the disabled list like the one Hamels is going through now.

    The good news is that this injury doesn’t sound too serious — at least based on the following paragraphs from the Phillies’ official statement. To wit:

    The diagnosis [strained left shoulder] came following an examination by Phillies team physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti and an MRI at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

    According to Dr. Ciccotti, the MRI revealed no structural damage to his shoulder. Hamels will be treated medically and through an exercise program.

    The other piece of good news is already known — Hamels is tough. Oh sure, he looks like a movie star, and probably needs a Roger Clemens-esque workout regime (who doesn’t?), but this kid has… how can we say this without being vulgar… cojones. Big ones. He is the opposite of his pal Gavin Floyd in that he pitches and plays without self-doubt or fear. In a sense, Hamels is a lot like the pitching version of Chase Utley or Aaron Rowand.

    But, that’s the thing… those little aches and pains and the everyday rigors of professional baseball seem to take a much harsher toll on Hamels’ body.

    Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you…
    The local scribes sitting in the old, cramped and uncomfortable press box at good ol’ Shea showed up at the park at 3:30 p.m. yesterday. No surprise there, because that’s what time writers always show up at the ballpark. The thing about that was that the game didn’t end until after 12:30 a.m. and they were not told about Hamels’ injury until after the game.

    Hamels, as everyone knows now, was injured before the game.

    So in the two hours from batting practice until game time and then the five-hours, 22-minutes it took to actually play last night’s game, the Phillies did not think to inform the local press (and in turn, the fans) that Hamels had left the park to return to Philadelphia, and would not be pitching on Wednesday for close to 10 hours.

    Seriously.

    Yeah, I know. The fans aren’t interested in the plight of the press. Though as an aside, it always interested me before I got into the business. Actually, I always found the entire soap opera interesting and looked at the writers as just as much a part of the show as the players, but that’s me. But the problem seems to be with accountability. The writers are the pipeline to the fans. That’s not something to take delicately by any group.

    Now I didn’t make the trip to Shea this week, which is a story to come later. Besides, there are two more trips to the most difficult ballpark to get to, as well as a full slate of trips during the month of June. Nevertheless, I’m usually just an IM or call away from constant comminique with the folks in the press box, so I’m pretty plugged in.

    When I heard that the Phillies didn’t reveal the injury until after the game, I figured the team was trying to conceal something from the Mets. Why let them know that the Kid isn’t going to pitch. But then Mike Radano set me straight — as he often does — and told me my thinking was a bunch of hooey.

    “Did they think maybe no one would notice Jon Lieber on the mound tomorrow?” Radano said and wrote in his blog.

    Here’s the thing — general manager Pat Gillick has a good relationship with the writers, and everyone really seems to like him. Actually, he really is an impressive professional and I suppose he was just trying to protect his player.

    It just turned a really long night into an even longer one.

    Insert whiner/crybaby noise here.

    News stuff
    After firing seven innings starting in the ninth inning last night, Ryan Madson will take the ball on Sunday against Milwaukee. Gavin Floyd will start on Saturday.
    ***

    I’m not basing this on anything, but I bet the Mets’ trade for Orlando Hernandez (for Jorge Julio) from Arizona will trigger a few more deals in the NL East.

    Finally
    Is this turning into the Cole Hamels blog? Geez, isn’t there anything else to write about?

    Now is the time

    If there is one thing that drives me nuts — batty even — is cliches, tired and derivative ideas, and unoriginality. The biggest culprit of this, it seems to me, is the media. Pack journalism, or “piggybacking” is a disturbing trend practiced by one too many and eschewed by too few. Often, those who indulge in the hack-styled, baseline reporting are trying to get finished with their work so they can move on to something else that, typically, is social in nature. Now I have no problem with that, but if you’re going to play hard, work hard. Come on, who grew up wanting to be a big-league writer or reporter just so they could go out there and hack it up?

    Here’s my credo: When given an opportunity to do something creative and get paid for it, dive on top of it like you’re trying to smother a grenade that is about to kill your wife. The fact that people in the media are blessed with the opportunity to be creative and original for a living, is colossal when compared to what normal people must do at their jobs. For most people, the only creative outlet they get each day is deciding what to order for lunch.

    Anyway, I wrote a preseason story about the Phillies, which, not so subtly attacked this notion. At the same time, I twisted the knife into my own carcass because I shamelessly used the same very premise I was attacking. Kind of ironic, heh?

    Still, it is my goal to take a different view of everything when it comes to writing and reporting. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where I refuse to re-use concepts I may have trotted out years ago during another time and circumstance. My pursuit of freshness is so intense that it’s one and done for every idea. But from what I can tell, this isn’t something that is practiced by other media types. This is especially true of those who work in television where cliches aren’t frowned upon, they’re cravenly embraced like a stuffed animal won at the ring-toss booth of at a carnival.

    OK, so I’m better than everyone else, right? Wrong. It’s just that I find myself getting in less trouble when I choose to follow my own ideas, thoughts and creativity than if I write the nuts-and-bolts story. See, it’s selfish. Sure, it’s extra work and a lot of times the ideas miss, but at least I’ll never be called unoriginal.

    Alright, here’s the story. Incidentally, I received a lot of positive response to it so I guess people enjoyed the joke.

    Then again, maybe they just like reading about baseball.

    Here: