Friday, September 26, 2008

Sports "journalism"

I know, I'm flogging a dead horse even to try to take seriously what goes on in the fun and games section of even a respected newspaper like the Chicago Tribune, but this is my last chance to criticize the "old' Tribune before their upcoming cool, compete-with-the-Internet redesign (coming Sunday, apparently).

Actually, the Tribune is only one of the many outlets that suffer from what I'm saying here, but I have higher expectations of them than I do of local sports news or the abomination that is sports talk radio. One assumes that their columnists are a little more considered and rational than the blowhards who make and take phone calls right after the game.

Of course, I'm wrong. Tuesday the buzz in Chicago was that the White Sox were going to wrap up the divisional championship with ease, that their 2-1/2 game lead made the title a cinch, that it was business as usual. I can't really convey to you the offhandedness with which these assumptions were made, but it pervaded every single story.

Let me say here that I am the unusual Cub fan who also roots for the Sox. My first baseball game was at old Comiskey Park, and the first pennant race I remember well was the 1967 American League, in which four teams, including both Sox, had a chance to win on the final weekend (I still have vague memories of the long list of playoff possibilities if 2, 3, or 4 teams all tied for the title). I don't follow the Sox as closely as I do the Cubs - I waste enough time on baseball every summer - but I have no animosity toward them, and I can never understand why that's considered so natural in Chicago (I think it has to do with pinheads, yes, pinheads).

Each day since Tuesday, though, has been a lesson in journalistic hysteria. The Sox lost all three games against the Twins this week, now trail them by a half game, and the attitude has turned 180 degrees. Now there's screaming, gnashing of teeth, calls for the manager's head, statements that the writer "knew it all along."

What a joke! Even within the strange rules of "sports journalism," this manic-depression is inappropriate. Try covering the games, gang, tell us what you see, explain why things are happening. I don't want a deep dose of your psyche every time a game goes the "wrong way." I'll decide what I want to feel, I don't need your hyper-overreaction trying to frame it for me.

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