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Friday, September 28, 2012

Jeff Pearlman: Why I don’t miss covering playoff baseball

Sourness:

During my talk, a student asked whether, come playoff time, I miss being a Sports Illustrated baseball writer.

...But I detested the playoffs.

The swarm, the cliches the TV boobs, the occasional Mike Lupica sighting, the Chris Berman strut, the 10-deep crowd around Derek Jeter as he discussed the intricacies of his ankle sprain. It was just … too much. Too big. Too packed. Too repetitive. As I told today’s class, I’d always take two hours by a pond with Walter Payton’s old agent over five minutes of playoff post-game.

I assure you, Bryce Harper will be asked, oh, 576 times how the pressure will impact him. Jeter will be asked how he’s help back Father Time. Chipper Jones will be asked about retiring on top and Mike Rizzo will be asked repeatedly about Stephen S.

Meanwhile, in the background, all alone by his locker, there’ll be some backup catcher anxious to spill the beans.

He’ll receive nary a question.

Repoz Posted: September 28, 2012 at 01:22 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. flournoy Posted: September 28, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4248120)
The feeling is mutual.
   2. SOLockwood Posted: September 28, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4248135)
OK Jeff, did you ever ask the backup catcher any questions?
   3. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 28, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4248136)
Meanwhile, in the background, all alone by his locker, there’ll be some backup catcher anxious to spill the beans.

He’ll receive nary a question.


It's tragic that reporters only talk to the players who people want to hear from.
   4. asinwreck Posted: September 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4248137)
Given that Jeff Pearlman hates baseball, sports, athletes, people, and puppies, this comes as little shock to anyone.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: September 28, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4248148)
Given that Jeff Pearlman hates baseball, sports, athletes, people, and puppies, this comes as little shock to anyone.


He's also not a big fan of candy, sunshine, apple pie, and grandma.
   6. TR_Sullivan Posted: September 28, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4248166)
My favorite playoff media moment....

Back in the 1990's, I was covering the Indians in the playoffs for the Fort Worth newspaper. This was not a good team to cover from a media standpoint...Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez...et al. Jim Thome was one of the main guys that the media went to after a game.

So after one game, don't remember where, the Indians had lost a tough one and the usual huge throng had filled clubhouse. The reporters and camera crews were circled around Thome's locker three deep.

Thome shows up with a plate of food - chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and corn - and asks politely if he can eat first before he answers questions Nobody says anything.

So Thome sits down at a chair in front of his locker and proceeds to eat...while the throng of reporters justs sits there crowded around him waiting for him to finish. Nobody left him in peace.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 28, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4248172)
I'd hate my job too if I sucked at it.
   8. Topher Posted: September 28, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4248184)
Since you are reading this thread TR ...

I assume there is a decent amount of truth to what Pearlman is saying. A lot more media type folks, not all of which are going to be able to tell you either team's starting 8 without the help of the media guide. And they get in the way of you trying to get your job done.

I would assume that getting to cover a World Series makes those annoyances well worth it. But covering a wild card round? Maybe not so much. (I might be revealing my biases against the wild card by thinking that.)

I guess I'm assuming that for the really big events, it's worth dealing with all the inconveniences. And for the kinda big events, maybe not so much. Playoff baseball, depending on the round, sort of falls into both categories. So I'd be interested as you are trying to do your job for the Rangers if you find the AL series to be more of a pleasure or a nuisance.
   9. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 28, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4248247)
It must suck to hate life.
   10. Hack Wilson Posted: September 28, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4248250)
My God he even hates boobs.
   11. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: September 28, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4248274)
My God he even hates boobs.


That's where I draw the line. I can deal with the bad writing and narcissism, and his affair with Walter Payton's agent, but anyone who hates boobs has gone too far.
   12. TR_Sullivan Posted: September 28, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4248286)
I love covering the playoffs whether the Rangers are in there or not. I doubt the World Series is as bad as the Super Bowl as far as the questionable media. The big thing is you are covering history, like Game 6 last year and the veterans learn how to navigate through the media crowd. And the backup catchers do their share of interviews. Nobody gets ignored.
   13. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 28, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4248287)
TR - If you are still reading how much heat comes from editors to get quotes from the same ol' same ol'? For example are you going to get a phone call from your editor if instead of having a Michael Young quote you have something from Mitch Moreland? As an outsider to the business it seems Pearlman's complaint about the ignored backup catcher are something he had the ability to fix but if he's being told by his editors "thou shalt listen to Jeter's non-speak" that's a different story.
   14. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 28, 2012 at 04:20 PM (#4248301)
TR that is an excellent story.

   15. Yardape Posted: September 28, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4248360)
Yardape: Why I don't miss reading Jeff Pearlman
   16. lonestarball Posted: September 28, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4248381)
The big thing is you are covering history, like Game 6 last year


...

...

* cries *
   17. TR_Sullivan Posted: September 28, 2012 at 05:49 PM (#4248385)
Editors want good stories and usually trust the reporters judgement
   18. HowardMegdal Posted: September 28, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4248393)
I can only speak to a handful of Yankee playoff games, but the opportunity to be present at momentous baseball games (and, to be fair, an editor that allows me to go talk to the backup catcher if I think that's interesting) made it wonderful.
Would it get tiresome if repetitive? I don't know. It hasn't yet, and that's mainly covering regular season games.
Oh, I guess ASG 2008 would qualify as all the pomp and crowded media, none of the drama. And I got home around 3 AM. Still amazing.
This isn't a knock on anyone who feels differently. I just think it's great.
   19. Perry Posted: September 28, 2012 at 07:31 PM (#4248479)
What a remarkable coincidence: I also don't miss Jeff Pearlman covering playoff baseball.
   20. AT-AT at bat@AT&T Posted: September 28, 2012 at 08:44 PM (#4248536)
any chance the dodgers can make the wildcard ? i kinda like vince scully !
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4248576)
I can only speak to a handful of Yankee playoff games, but the opportunity to be present at momentous baseball games (and, to be fair, an editor that allows me to go talk to the backup catcher if I think that's interesting) made it wonderful.
Would it get tiresome if repetitive? I don't know. It hasn't yet, and that's mainly covering regular season games.
Oh, I guess ASG 2008 would qualify as all the pomp and crowded media, none of the drama. And I got home around 3 AM. Still amazing.
This isn't a knock on anyone who feels differently. I just think it's great.


Nice to see a non-jaded take. Howard, have you ever read Leonard Koppett's The Rise and Fall of the Press Box? Koppett wrote nothing but winners, and this was a great swan song.
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: September 28, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4248663)
I helped cover both the 2008 and 2012 Giants Super Bowl wins, among other things, and it's .... not exactly what fans might think.

If you have a blowout game, you can get a good sidebar done by mid-4th qtr, then touch up with a few postgame quotes at your leisure.

Uh, not quite the case with a nailbiter.

I watched the last 5 minutes of the 2008 game in a huge media tent just outside the Arizona Cardinals stadium with hundreds of other journalists, so that I could be sure to make it to the locker rooms in time when the game ended. A lot of the foreign press seemed to have a rooting interest, but few if any on the U.S. side do (I never covered a beat where a writer was a fan or enemy of the team he covered. The only biases were things like single guys hope to get to Miami or guys with a pregnant wife hoped their beat team missed the playoffs).

After barreling to the front of the media horde for my key players to get my questions in right away, I literally ran back out looking for that media tent. A bunch of volunteers didn't know what I meant, which nearly meant doom. Found one guy who guided me, allowing me 20 precious minutes to write 15-16 paragraphs which will be part of a newspaper that some Giants fans will hand down to the generations. If the gods are kind, they won't notice how little time I had to write that.

I did see the end of the 2012 game in the press box (due to somewhat different assignment), but you don't "watch" it exactly. You just keep rewriting off every single play, then work the stairwells like a madman or an "Amazing Race" contestant as soon as the last play is over. I'm sure Wes Welker didn't notice how giddy I was inside when he was one of the first into the interview area and practically set himself on fire to try to atone for what he felt was a bad play by him late in the game.

Sorry, Wes, but now I know I will have a decent deadline sidebar and I can linger a bit longer. And while Tom Brady took way too long to make himself pretty for the cameras, he was pretty thoughtful once he arrived.

I'm not sure there is any point in ######## to the public about the constraints, though. My father had Germans shooting at his B-17 in WW II and then ran into burning NYC buildings for 40 years. Having hectic deadlines or lesser chances to do extensive interviews isn't quite at the top of the "lousy jobs" list, I realize.

   23. Moeball Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:58 PM (#4250553)
Editors want good stories and usually trust the reporters judgement


I had a friend who used to work at a Rupert Murdoch paper. He said the attitude there was:

"That's a great story! Print it! And if it's the truth, even better!" (but being truthful not necessarily a requirement...)
   24. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4250564)
Bryce Harper: I don't care about Jeff Pearlman, either. We just won the division.

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