Why sportswriters suck

I really haven't had a chance to cut loose yet, and that sucks. But after working 28 hours of overtime in the past three days, the Carinals World Series book is finally at the printer. With my name on the cover. And probably full of errors that I couldn't catch because I was in a state of bleary-eyed hysteria after working two straight graveyard shifts, followed by four hours of sleep, and then a 14-hour day on Saturday.

But now that it's at the printer, I can finally catch up on everything I missed. I can celebrate during everyone else's post-celebration hangover. I'm going to re-watch Game 5 today, because my first screening of the game was interrupted several times by the printer calling with proofs to review. M made me put down the laptop for the final three outs, thank goodness, so I could experience some joy in a live setting. But I still haven't had that post-victory cry that I expect is welling up in me.

If I let that out this morning, it will look more like tears of rage, however. What is up with America's sportwriters? Not that this will be news to anyone who reads the sports section on a daily basis, but sportwriters are some of the worst writers on Earth -- and on top of that they're gutless sheep who spend about as much time thinking about what they're writing as they do improving their understanding of the games they cover. Far too little. They can't find the storyline -- or refuse to acknowledge it -- through their typical, juvenile snobbery.

Indulge me, please, as I itch my Midwest inferiority complex. The Cardinals were praised prior to the 2006 season as a team with a great shot at winning the NL Central and making it back to the Fall Classic. Why? They had the reigning MVP and Cy Young winners, and with Rolen and Edmonds they boasted a stable veteran core. But in truth, they were a shaky team on paper from the start, and things didn't improve in that regard due to in-season acquisitions. We were a team of castoffs solidified by two of the best players in the game today. When you put it down on paper, it's sort of startling. Eckstein was DFA'd by the Angels. Miles and Belliard were both traded by their respective clubs, considered less valuable than middling prospects and fat old relievers. Very few teams took any interest in Encarnacion in the offseason. Or Spiezio. Preston Wilson was cut by the Stros. Weaver was going to be cut, until we traded for him. And we didn't exactly have to get in a bidding war with any other club to land Taguchi three years ago. Our pen consisted of a dude who pitched in the indy leagues just a couple years ago (Kinney), two lefties that have never been on any scout's radar, a Reds castoff, a rookie in his first year of pen service, and a guy who got boo'd out of NYC. And don't forget about the Cardinals converted "outfielder" who prior to hitting 21 homers in 3 months was considered a nepotistic addition to the roster.

St. Louis played like crap for four months of the season, in part due to a ton of significant injuries (Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Eckstein, Mulder, and Isringhausen). But come October, the team was relatively healthy again. And they still had the reigning MVP and Cy Young -- both of which were gunning for to repeat in that department. But because a sportswriter's only memory is recent memory, those same critics who lauded St. Louis as "a good bet" now thought that the Cardinals were "a good bet to get swept" by the Padres, then the Mets, then the Tigers. Either they fucked up seven months ago when they said St. Louis was a great team, or they fucked up in October by failing to remember what they had written seven months ago.

Or maybe the Cardinals truly had become a crappy team in the meantime. But I don't think so. As much as I bitched this season about my team's performance, I did so because I'm a perfectionist that has been conditioned to a high standard. These Cardinals were not the NL juggernaut of their '04 brethren, but they were a far cry from the laughingstock of the playoffs. The Cardinals were built around the philosophy of their World Series MVP, the blue-collar Eckstein: flash isn't necessary, just hard work. They were a team led by veterans who had been-there-done-that in the postseason, but were still hungry for that first ring. And, I have to admit, they were led by a manager who just happened to be on top of his game at the right time.

Still, they can't get no respect. Not even after winning the whole shebang. Not even after beating three of the best pitching staffs in the Majors. Not even after overcoming a poor-by-his-standards postseason from Pujols.

Here's a sampling of the tone that's being adopted by plenty of columnists from around the country. This from Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times:
When historians recall the 2006 World Series, which mercifully ended Friday on another odd night of freezing winds and flocking birds, one word will come to mind.

It will not be Cardinals, who, let's face it, won a world championship by virtue of possessing a pulse.

It will not be Weaver, the Angels and Dodgers bust who blearily stumbled his way into postseason religion.

It will not be Eckstein, the wonderful little Series MVP who will live longer as a Bill Stoneman nightmare.

The word will not be a name, but a directive, one that defined a team and detailed an embarrassment.

The word will be "Duck!"

Here comes a short throw from a Detroit Tigers pitcher to the third baseman -- duck!

Here comes a throw from a Tigers pitcher to the first baseman -- duck!

You get his point. And unfortunately, it's the same point that is being made by a host of writers: St. Louis, an inferior 83-win team, lucked into a World Series title. While a certain portion of baseball is luck -- "a game of inches" -- a lucky team does not win 11 games in October. It takes a good one. It took a good one to beat the Mets, that's for sure. And it took a good one to beat the Tigers, too, a team that plowed through supposedly superior AL teams to make it to the Fall Classic. Even without those eight errors -- and last time I checked fielding is still a significant part of the game -- the Cardinals would likely at worst be facing a Game 7 today. Why? Because St. Louis pitchers manhandled a good Tigers lineup and tamed an even better Mets one.

Pitching wins ballgames in October. The Cardinals didn't bring the good stuff in June. Or August. Or September. But in October, they brought their A game against baseball's best teams. And that's why they are the '06 champions. You want a story to write, sportswriters? How about tyring out the real story. You may be familiar with it already: a talented Midwest sports team drowning in turmoil bonds at the right time to defeat Goliath. If you need a refresher, just rent Hoosiers.

In the meantime, I'm going to stop reading your slop before it kills my buzz.

UPDATE: Brian Gunn sings a similar tune (to me) over at Hardball Times. Worth a read if you're still not convinced.


Listmaker said...

oh man, i don't have time to get into this right now, but stop your bitching. i'll write more later but geez, man, enjoy this rather than getting all caught up in what some dumb sportswriters say.

thenoiseboy said...

I'm enjoying it, for sure. I just needed a quick rant to get that outta my system. It didn't sit well with my Sunday breakfast.

Listmaker said...

alright, where to begin.

first of all, i don't have a bias against the midwest. (at least their sports teams.)

secondly, i don't feel that bad about the cardinals winning because it truly is the culmination of a great run they've had over the past few years.

plus they had major injuries all year and got healthy at the right time - something the mets couldn't quite do. also, if isringhausen hadn't gotten injured, i don't think the cardinals win the ws. they needed wainwright closing. that kid has ice in his veins.

but you can't have it both ways here. you talk about how they have a bunch of unheralded guys (which they do but please they have tons of superstars) but then complain about how nobody gives them any respect. it has nothing to do with an anti east coast basis. i didn't hear any bitching about the white sox last year and there wouldn't have been if detroit had won this year. people can't quite get over that a team with only 83 wins won the ws. they have the lowest winning percentage of any team ever so i can understand the sentiment. 83 wins for a champion is pathetic.

granted, they looked great once the postseason began. if you are going to allow 8 teams in the playoffs, then you have to live with the consequences. i mean, jesus, you wrote a post before the postseason about how you were less than enthused about the playoffs. forgive the rest of america for being a little less than impressed with an 83 win champion.

does that mean that st. louis isn't a legitimate champion? of course not. they started playing well when it mattered and that is all that matters. i still am blown away by the performances of weaver and suppan throughout the postseason. i mean, holy fuck.

but please don't give me the whole story about how unappreciated the cardinals are. everyone knows that la russa is a genius and that you are the best fans in baseball. i hear that all the fucking time.

on a serious note, you have one of the best third baseman of the past quarter century, one of the best centerfielders of the same time frame, the best pure hitter in the game, and the cy young award winner as your centerpieces. not bad.

eckstein is so supposedly underrated that he is overrated.

and come on, belliard was not considered less valuable than a middling prospect or a fat old reliever. the indians didn't want to pay him what he'd be worth next year so they traded him hoping that hector luna or their own 2b prospect would be decent. he wasn't. now rumor is they want to maybe try to resign belliard.

encarnicion? come on, that guy is not very good. plus, he's pouting now, right? that 3 year deal doesn't look so good, does it? preston wilson isn't very good either. if you want to run down the laundry list of castoffs that produced this year, look no further than the mets. jose valentin? endy chavez? guillermo mota? the list goes on and on.

walt jocketty made some great moves. he's a good gm. but please don't get excited about crappy overpaid corner outfielders. i'd say that jocketty really excelled at putting together an amazing bench. i still can't quite believe how bad the mets bench was this year. it doesn't help that their should be bench coach is actually an active player. yes, the cardinals bullpen was impressive. i've got to give credit to dave duncan for that as well as the unexpected turnaround of jeff weaver. amazing stuff.

you wrote "Not even after beating three of the best pitching staffs in the Majors." you mean the likes of john maine and oliver perez? the mets staff can not be considered one of the best staffs in the majors this postseason. you complain about the media not giving the cards credit because of their mediocre regular season but then you want to give the mets extra credit (and make the cardinals look better because of it) for saying they had a great pitching staff. please. not to mention with a healthy floyd, maybe the series would have looked a little different. who knows? i'm not complaining. the mets couldn't get healthy and the cardinals did in the nick of time. that is baseball.

anyway, now i'm all riled up for no good reason. you still have the championship and i am left with a called 3rd strike with the tying run on 2nd.

another take-

thenoiseboy said...

Ah, good to see you riled up.

I need to clarify a few points. First of all, I don't really give a fuck what sportswriters have to say. And I say that even though I have to work with them every fucking day of my life. But that doesn't mean I can't rant about their stupidity and sheepish behavior every once in a while. What bothers me is the amount of NEGATIVE stories about this WS. Instead of focusing on a team that peaked at the right time, they chose to focus on how the Tigers choked and the Cards weren't deserving. That's just petty BS, and it cheapens the WS. That's what bothers me. If the roles were reversed and the 83-win Tigers beat the 90-some win Cardinals, I'd still feel the same way if people were dumping on the Tigers. I just think it's shitty to demean the team that won it all when they came so far and crushed the opponent in such a convincing fashion. We can talk about the errors until we're blue in the face, but the truth is we put far more runners on base and forced their hand. In at least 2 of the games we won, the errors didn't matter. They weren't going to score off our pitchers, and we already had the lead.

As for the Mets pitching staff and my comment about them, I was referring more to their pen (best in NL) and their ace, Glavine. I know the rest of the staff was hurt by injuries. But you gotta admit, it took a lot to beat 'em anyway. We beat up your pen, and YOU had your Weaver/Suppan moments with Perez/Oliver/Maine as well.

As for my previous post about the AL>NL and my disinterest in the playoffs, that was a bit of an overstatement and I said as much in the following post. But the fact that EVERYONE thought that was true (AL>NL), yet the NL kicked the AL's butt, well that's why I think the way the WS is getting spun is ridiculous.

Anyway, I'm over it. Whatever.

Listmaker said...

i've got to admit that even though i was rooting for detroit, i was somewhat happy that the supposedly superior al had their asses handed to them.

and suppan and weaver have been effective major league starters and were part of the team's plans from aug. 15 on. perez has been unbelievably bad since '04. maine was a throwin to the kris benson trade. and darren oliver's game 3 performance didn't really matter at all in the long run. to have maine and perez pitch the way they did in games 6 and 7 blows me away considering that on 9/20, neither of those guys were really in the picture. especially perez.

anyway, i'm not all that riled up, it is just fun to be bitchy. and yes, i do know that you amended your not caring remarks in a later post.

anyway, what do we do know until april?

thenoiseboy said...

What do we do until April? That's EASY! We root for the Illini and watch Ben Wallace swat shots for the Bulls!

(That's what I'm doing anyway. And trying to stay away from the Hot Stove League. That shit can get awfully depressing if you're a not a Yankees fan.)

youthlarge said...

these comments was some good reading!

this is the part of the year when brooklyn dan pretends he doesn't know me as i root for the blue devils...of duke!

thenoiseboy said...


Listmaker said...