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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Shysterball: Maybe the worst sports column ever

You’re a newspaper columnist. You’re on a deadline. You have to find something worthy of 800 words and you’re stumped. What do you do? Why, you use a horriffic 18 year-long child abduction, rape and imprisonment as a hook for a rehashed “aren’t those athletes just nutty” piece!

The writer, Mark Whicker of the OC Register, then proceeds to bullet point a couple dozen “oh, how times change” sports zingers. He ends the piece with what I guess is a pun of some kind: “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard.”

Classy, Whicker. Now please go die in a fire someplace so I can use it as a hook for a “who’s hot, who’s not” bit.

OC Register

Absolutely disgusting.

J.C. Bradbury Posted: September 09, 2009 at 05:26 PM | 147 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:11 PM (#3317866)
That lead in is God-awful.

He should have his....ooooh, wrong thread for that joke.
   2. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:15 PM (#3317872)
I always feel bad for Nazi death camp survivors who missed Hal Newhouser's heyday.
   3. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:19 PM (#3317873)
My only beef is with this:

Who's John Daly? Never mind.
   4. Hubie Brooks (Not Really) Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:35 PM (#3317895)
This guy is a total dooshbag.
   5. UCCF Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:39 PM (#3317903)
Maybe the next time she gets abducted, the guy will replace that outdated Mark Spitz poster on her cell wall with a new Michael Phelps poster.
   6. villageidiom Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:41 PM (#3317908)
I, for one, would love to hear Jack Keefe's take on it.
   7. RJ in TO Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:46 PM (#3317911)
Yeah, that's pretty much the worst column ever.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:47 PM (#3317913)
I think its hilarious and kinda sad when sports media types and sports fans make sports much bigger than it really is. Its entertainment. That's all. A bunch of dudes and a ball. I'm a huge sports fan, but I also have a life full enough to enjoy lots of other things. I think if sports is on par in your life with issues like child abductions, 9/11, or whatever ridiculous issue writers have tried to conflate sports with, your life must be really empty.
   9. Iwakuma Chameleon (jonathan) Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:53 PM (#3317918)
I can't even begin to think what kind of mindset a person must be in to have actually, seriously, written this and then went ahead and submitted it.

And then they put it in the paper! Good God.
   10. Young Blasarius yonder Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:56 PM (#3317920)
Given their financial troubles, hopefully this jack-ass will be out of a job soon. Maybe he can land a gig along with Bucky Fox over at The Columnists.
   11. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 09, 2009 at 06:57 PM (#3317922)
The jackass stole my idea.
   12. Jeff K. Posted: September 09, 2009 at 07:06 PM (#3317932)
The jackass stole my idea.

Look, we already agreed it was a terrible idea; we're past that now. This guy doesn't need you piling on with more indicators of how bad an idea it was.
   13. Win one for Agrippa (haplo53) Posted: September 09, 2009 at 07:06 PM (#3317933)
I think its hilarious and kinda sad when sports media types and sports fans make sports much bigger than it really is. Its entertainment. That's all. A bunch of dudes and a ball. I'm a huge sports fan, but I also have a life full enough to enjoy lots of other things. I think if sports is on par in your life with issues like child abductions, 9/11, or whatever ridiculous issue writers have tried to conflate sports with, your life must be really empty.


Pretty much. I kind of want to throw up after reading the snippet Craig posted.
   14. Jack Keefe Posted: September 09, 2009 at 07:18 PM (#3317946)
Well now every 1 is all up set because there is this rider named Mark Whacker and he wrote a story about a little girl who was kidnapt and murdered and what she missed in the world of sports Al. Some 1 named Craig Calcomania says it is the worst sports colunm every written now I wont have that. My pal A.J. Pierogi is a rider in his Spair Time and he has some colunm ideas that he has put to the test by asking my O'Pinion because I am a writer too. A..J. has quite a porkfolio now he started with Could Terry Schiavo Play First Base Better Than Jim Thome you can imagine the laughs.

Sure, Terry Schiavo is in a total vegetative state. But Jim Thome has his head completely up his ###!


And so Forth. This summer A.J. wrote 1 which was What if the Cambridge Police Had Arrested Milton Bradley Instead of Henry Lewis Gaits?

They wouldn't have just booked him for having a foul disposition. They'd have added charges of not being able to hit a curveball anymore!


But some of his stuff is Ever Green like when they released those pictures from Aboo Grave and there was gentlemen getting tortured with a sack over their head and A.J. wrote his classic column Think That's Torture? How Would You Like to Have to Wear That Stupid Purple Uniform the Arizona Diamondbacks Do?

Say, I'd rather stand for 36 hours with electrodes attached to my boys than put on that stupid Snake-Curled-Into-a-D logo on my hat. Give me Hanes Her Way on my head any time!


So you see Al it is all Rellative and you can never say No Worst There Is None.
   15. Zipperholes Posted: September 09, 2009 at 07:30 PM (#3317960)
I think its hilarious and kinda sad when sports media types and sports fans make sports much bigger than it really is.

Right. What makes this article even dumber is the list is filled with things the vast majority of people in LA/SC don't even care/know about, like when was the last time the Kings won a Stanley Cup. It's hilarious how out of touch most sportswriters are -- they think sports stories capture the attention of the average person and are some kind of a compass for society.
   16. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 09, 2009 at 07:38 PM (#3317969)
I just pray that Ernie Harwell can hang on long enough to see the big screen adaptation of "The A-Team."
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: September 09, 2009 at 07:41 PM (#3317973)
I'm curious if the "tackiness" of this article is brought up to the writer would he even recognize why.
   18. Craig Calcaterra Posted: September 09, 2009 at 07:50 PM (#3317984)
I (and several others) already did so via email. His response was that he was attempting to celebrate the girl's freedom by illustrating the passage of time while the girl was in captivity or some such nonsense. Then he chastised me for missing his point and calling him names (though I didn't). I decided he wasn't worth the mental energy and broke off the correspondence.

Someone else I know, however, asked him if it would be appropriate to use the Bataan Death March as a hook for a sports story showing just how long a marathon was. I lol'd.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: September 09, 2009 at 07:58 PM (#3318000)
Milton Bradley

I believe this is he first correctly spelled name in Jack Keefe history -- quite the honor!
   20. base ball chick Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:10 PM (#3318021)
i wrote an actuall leter to editor of the news paper. all clean up and using Big Words and ajektivs and ever thang. i cant let jack look bettern me
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:11 PM (#3318025)
I (and several others) already did so via email. His response was that he was attempting to celebrate the girl's freedom by illustrating the passage of time while the girl was in captivity or some such nonsense. Then he chastised me for missing his point and calling him names (though I didn't). I decided he wasn't worth the mental energy and broke off the correspondence.

Someone else I know, however, asked him if it would be appropriate to use the Bataan Death March as a hook for a sports story showing just how long a marathon was. I lol'd.


I actually can see where he is coming from, but I just don't think I would feel too comfortable making the leap from a tragedy like this to a light hearted column even if it's an attempt to be a celebration. I guess he was watching 50 first dates and saw that the summary worked for Adam Sandler to help lighten it up for Drews character.

Usually these type of articles are done when something of celebration happens that is a long drought (like when either of the Sox won the world series---best part which was "and the Cubs still haven't won") or celebration of a birthday (oldest man, oldest dog, turtle etc) but as a count of a tragedy it just seems wrong.

I mean imagine writing an article after 911 talking about the changes to the US since the last time an attack of that magnitude(Pearl Harbor) took place in the U.S.
   22. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:12 PM (#3318028)
You know, I bet this Whicker guy doesn't put the seat back down either.
   23. WillYoung Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:14 PM (#3318035)
Jack Keefe is a national treasure.
   24. Zipperholes Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:20 PM (#3318042)
I don't think he was trying to make light of the girl's story, or realized he was doing so. I just think he's so out of touch that he thinks these inane sports factoids are actually important to anything, and that people care about them enough to use them to put the passage of time in perspective.
   25. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:23 PM (#3318047)
Jack Keefe is a national treasure.
As long as he's not National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.
   26. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:25 PM (#3318048)
The best part is the comment guidelines at the bottom of the page:

Reader Comments
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement.
1. Keep it civil and stay on topic.
2. No profanity, vulgarity, racial slurs or personal attacks.
3. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked.


Emphasis added.
   27. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:41 PM (#3318069)
I sent it to Deadspin. I don't like Deadspin but this guy deserves all the hate they'll spew at him.
   28. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 09, 2009 at 08:54 PM (#3318082)
The celebration argument is hilarious.

I know that if I had been kidnapped and lost 18 years of my life and suffered constant physical abuse, the first thing I would want to be reminded of is how many things I missed over the last 18 years.

If this dude's ever lying in a hospice, terminally ill, I'm going to write him a letter "Hey, at least you'll get to miss Christmas!" to "celebrate" his life.
   29. Jeff K. Posted: September 09, 2009 at 09:11 PM (#3318101)
Someone else I know, however, asked him if it would be appropriate to use the Bataan Death March as a hook for a sports story showing just how long a marathon was. I lol'd.

Wait, I used to refer to the walk from my off-campus apartment to my first class as "The Trail of Tears"...you're saying that was insensitive?
   30. base ball chick Posted: September 09, 2009 at 09:17 PM (#3318113)
AND this vile piece of stuff excuses it by saying something about how people don't realize how long 18 years are and besides the girl can get over it.

18 years of rape, torture and living in a prison shed - we can relate to that by listing freaking SPORTING events?

this guy doesn't not only put the toilet seat down, he uses this poor rape and torture victim AS a toilet seat.

he should get his column tooked away from him and gived to some body who can, you know, like, you know WRITE without poking at some poor kid who was abused for 18 long years
   31. Craig Calcaterra Posted: September 09, 2009 at 09:17 PM (#3318114)
Wait, I used to refer to the walk from my off-campus apartment to my first class as "The Trail of Tears"...you're saying that was insensitive?


I actually used the phrase "Trail of tears" in a blog post within the past few months. I can't remember what it was I was referring to, but it was baseball. It wasn't an extended analogy or anything. Just the phrase. People freaked out on my ass.
   32. RJ in TO Posted: September 09, 2009 at 09:24 PM (#3318120)
Based on a quick google search, it seems like it was in relation to the Cliff Lee trade.
   33. Craig Calcaterra Posted: September 09, 2009 at 09:26 PM (#3318122)
Ah, that was it. And it was the post I was linking it that first used the phrase, which I quoted for the post title.

Then again, anything I've ever written about the Indians that even refers to Wahoo obliquely causes a near riot.
   34. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 09, 2009 at 09:31 PM (#3318131)
Craig's last line is great.

That article is horrifying.
   35. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: September 09, 2009 at 09:52 PM (#3318158)
People freaked out on my ass.


While I oftentimes wonder if our society has become a little too politically correct, there are some topics that even a simpleton should realize are taboo. For example, the degradation, exploitation and abuse of the weak and powerless. You would think it a no-brainer that kidnapping and imprisonment of children for purposes of sexual gratification should be off-limits for trivialization. When you don't speak out against such offensive language; you, in essence, condone it and allow it grow.

Whenever reports come out about young women held against their wills for years for such purposes come to light, I find it personally incredibly revolting as I have a daughter. How any sane person can make light of such a situation by writing, “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard.” is totally f*cking appalling.
   36. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 09, 2009 at 09:55 PM (#3318163)
My e-mail was not nice. I simply said that I was just testing to see if they had removed his e-mail access or if they were going to do it after he was terminated.
   37. cardsfanboy Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:04 PM (#3318175)
Whenever reports come out about young women held against their wills for years for such purposes come to light, I find it personally incredibly revolting as I have a daughter. How any sane person can make light of such a situation by writing, “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard.” is totally f*cking appalling.

the fact that that sentence had the plural version of the word report is the truly appalling thing.
   38. The Good Face Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:05 PM (#3318176)
Wait, I used to refer to the walk from my off-campus apartment to my first class as "The Trail of Tears"...you're saying that was insensitive?


Too soon!
   39. base ball chick Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:14 PM (#3318186)
good for u dan.

and i hope you wrote to the editor, too
   40. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:25 PM (#3318193)
TFA cleanly eclipses what had previously been the worst sports column I'd ever read.
   41. Zipperholes Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:31 PM (#3318197)
i hope you wrote to the editor, too

Why, to get the guy fired?
   42. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:32 PM (#3318200)
To give the editor just as much hell for green-lighting this as the writer writing this.
   43. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:35 PM (#3318202)
I'm happy to report that for the first time in the history of the internets, I agree with every single comment in the comments section. That doesn't even happen around here.
   44. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:42 PM (#3318204)
I agree with every single comment in the comments section.

Well, so did I, until you said that.
   45. BDC Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:43 PM (#3318205)
You might not have seen it during your busy weekend, Mrs Lincoln, but Joe Start went five-for-five against the Knickerbockers.
   46. tfbg9 Posted: September 09, 2009 at 10:57 PM (#3318212)
or if they were going to do it after he was terminated.


What about the editors? Shouldn't they have simply spiked this column? (sorry if already asked)
It seems their judgement was just as bad as the writer's to me, in running the thing.
   47. Jeff K. Posted: September 09, 2009 at 11:09 PM (#3318223)
Then again, anything I've ever written about the Indians that even refers to Wahoo obliquely causes a near riot.

Try writing about Wu Tang. "Method and NativeAmerican" doesn't have the ring.
   48. WiHaloFan Posted: September 09, 2009 at 11:11 PM (#3318225)
What about the editors? Shouldn't they have simply spiked this column? (sorry if already asked)
It seems their judgement was just as bad as the writer's to me, in running the thing.


The Register's editors allowed this dandy a few months ago claiming the OC baseball fans were happy K-Rod left because they are racist (written by Jeff Miller):
http://www.ocregister.com/articles/rodriguez-fans-angels-2252061-season-most

Whicker's a dim-wit for writing this crap, but the editors are ultimately responsible for printing it.
   49. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 09, 2009 at 11:16 PM (#3318231)
18 years of rape, torture and living in a prison shed - we can relate to that by listing freaking SPORTING events?

Los Angeles Clippers fans can probably relate.
   50. Comic Strip Person Posted: September 09, 2009 at 11:41 PM (#3318274)
This article is horrible for its tone-deaf insensitivity to a dreadful situation. And, without trying to be funny, I think the headline is also horrible, in a more comically inept way. Have you ever read a headline that drew you into an article less than:

Many odd things have happened in sports the past 18 years
   51. Comic Strip Person Posted: September 09, 2009 at 11:51 PM (#3318301)
Double post removed.
   52. The Most Interesting Man In The World Posted: September 09, 2009 at 11:57 PM (#3318318)
•I know you've had trouble digesting all this so far, but they also built a basketball arena at USC. Honest to God.

I'm sure that's exactly what was on the victim's mind.
   53. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 10, 2009 at 12:16 AM (#3318359)
What about the editors? Shouldn't they have simply spiked this column? (sorry if already asked) It seems their judgement was just as bad as the writer's to me, in running the thing.


I doubt he'll get, fired, for this very reason. Some editor is supposed to read this and say, "What the #### were you thinking Whicker? We can't run this."

But based on the overwhelming and justifiable negative reaction, I suspect the OC will be doing some considerable apologizing in the next 12 hours.
   54. Young Blasarius yonder Posted: September 10, 2009 at 12:31 AM (#3318394)
   55. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: September 10, 2009 at 12:36 AM (#3318402)
the fact that that sentence had the plural version of the word report is the truly appalling thing.


No - what is even more horrific is that there are most likely others imprisioned as we speak.

This article is horrible for its tone-deaf insensitivity to a dreadful situation. And, without trying to be funny, I think the headline is also horrible, in a more comically inept way. Have you ever read a headline that drew you into an article less than:

Many odd things have happened in sports the past 18 years


After more thought, I don't doubt that the article's author means well and most likely did mean to celebrate this young lady's freedom in his own ham-fisted way of writing. But to be able take this topic and turn such visceral tragedy into a light hearted celebration, you'd better be the second coming of William f*cking Shakespeare. This dude should stick to sportswriting and thank his lucky stars if he doesn't get ####-canned over this column.
   56. Zipperholes Posted: September 10, 2009 at 12:38 AM (#3318409)
I respect the guy for not making excuses or claiming the readers "misunderstood" the article, as many do in this situation.
   57. Young Blasarius yonder Posted: September 10, 2009 at 12:44 AM (#3318415)
I respect the guy for not making excuses or claiming the readers "misunderstood" the article, as many do in this situation.


He did, though. If you look at the comments over at Shyster Ball, that's exactly what he did.

He's an ass and adds nothing to the Register whatsoever.
   58. dlf Posted: September 10, 2009 at 12:45 AM (#3318416)
I respect the guy for not making excuses or claiming the readers "misunderstood" the article, as many do in this situation.


He saved that, together with some nice personal insults, for the private emails he sent back to some of the people who emailed him directly. Take a look at some of the examples from posters at Craig's linked article above.

Edit: my first purchase of a coke!
   59. Zipperholes Posted: September 10, 2009 at 12:57 AM (#3318424)
He saved that, together with some nice personal insults, for the private emails he sent back to some of the people who emailed him directly. Take a look at some of the examples from posters at Craig's linked article above.


Ok, I see. I had only read the Register version. I didn't see any personal insults though.
   60. J.C. Bradbury Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:22 AM (#3318475)
Here are some of e-mail responses from Whicker that are shared on Craig's Facebook wall.

"Name one thing in that column that was insulting. It was a column celebrating the girl's release and using an athletic context to show just how long an 18-year period is, illustrating just what she had been through."


"The column celebrated the girl's release and tried to use sports as a context to explain just how long 18 years is. I'm sorry you misinterpreted it."


"I can't comprehend the motivation of anybody who would interpret "Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard" as anything other than
sympathetic or congratulatory."
   61. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:25 AM (#3318482)
From one of the comments:

going through your archive for your "Mary Jo Kopechne Missed the Amazin' Mets" story.

That dude needs to be a Primate, because that is gold, Jerry, gold!
   62. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:26 AM (#3318487)
Ben Jacobs is quoted in the apology, presumably "our" Ben Jacobs.
   63. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:34 AM (#3318498)
Here are some of e-mail responses from Whicker that are shared on Craig's Facebook wall.


I suspect his first instinct was to defend his work and believe others had misinterpreted it. As the volume of complaints poured in to him and his editors, it became clear to him (or, them) that if no one is "getting it," then the fault doesn't lie with the reader.
   64. rr Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:39 AM (#3318506)
To semi-echo SoSh, my guess is that Whicker reacted as SoSh said, then the editor said, as emails poured in, "We need to apologize" and Whicker did so based on that. But IMO Whicker probably still feels the way the initial emails indicated he did. Guys who have worked in media might be able to speculate more effectively about it, though.

I am surprised that Whicker's judgment was this bad after all these years in the biz.
   65. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:43 AM (#3318512)
Right. Someone insensitive enough to write that in the first place, much less write it and submit for your professional career as a reporter, isn't going to get a handful of comments and immediately realize their mistake. That said:

I'm hopeful that I can be forgiven for this lapse of professionalism by those who were affected most profoundly.

I don't see how, if Jimmy the Greek or Howard Cosell or even *shudder* Don Imus can be taken to task and fired for a truly off-the-cuff comment on live broadcast, this guy can be allowed to keep his job. Regardless of whether editors should have caught it, he should be done, if we're being consistent about this. Now I'm not sure if in a vacuum I think he should be done, but anyone who thought so for Imus (for the one incident, some argued it was a pattern and therefore that would be different), or JtG, or Michael Richards (in the sense of not getting future work) would have some heavy explaining to convince me that this isn't at least as bad.

As for "you can't unring a bell", that's true, but the Register could start by pulling down the ####### column. Link it directly to the apology, but taking it down isn't 1984-ish, it's just polite.
   66. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:44 AM (#3318514)
Bone fragment in Garrido case 'probably human'


This headline near the article in question on the OC's website. Perhaps Mr. Whicker can use this for his next light-hearted sports column. And incorporate the word "boneyard" somehow.
   67. rr Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:46 AM (#3318516)
But it's obvious that I miscalculated the effect the column on Jaycee Dugard, and the events that she might have missed during her captivity, had on those who read, buy and advertise in our newspaper.


Emphasis mine.
   68. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:48 AM (#3318521)
It's hit deadspin. I can't help but feel partially responsible.
   69. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:51 AM (#3318526)
Guys who have worked in media might be able to speculate more effectively about it, though.


I wrote a column for the better part of 15 years, rr. While I never wrote anything that generated this kind of intensely negative reaction, there were the occasional columns that were interpreted differently than I intended them. The first instict, which I think is quite natural, is to assume the reader just didn't get it. With a little time, you can come to evaluate it more objectively.

FWIW, I do believe that Whicker's intention was to genuinely celebrate Jaycee's release. He just monumentally failed at the task, something he only belatedly realized by the sheer volume of comments, or was forced to acknowledge by his editors. His apology seems decent enough that I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he's finally come to realize that it wasn't the readers' failure, but his.
   70. rr Posted: September 10, 2009 at 01:53 AM (#3318531)
I actually hadn't noticed this the first time I read it, emphasis mine again:

Dugard's stepfather says she's going to need a lot of therapy — you think? — so perhaps she should take a respite before confronting the new realities.

So, Jaycee, whenever you're ready, here's what you've missed:


Man, oh, man.
   71. rr Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:00 AM (#3318552)
FWIW, I do believe that Whicker's intention was to genuinely celebrate Jaycee's release
.

You're probably right. I suspect, though, that he still thinks people didn't get it and was ordered to apologize, as Jeff K suggests.
   72. Zipperholes Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:01 AM (#3318555)
Regardless of whether editors should have caught it, he should be done, if we're being consistent about this.

I see your point, but two wrongs don't make a right.
   73. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:04 AM (#3318561)
I see your point, but two wrongs don't make a right.

My point is that for those who don't think the first ones were wrongs (Imus, et al), they have to think firing this guy is right. Right?
   74. Sexy Lizard Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:04 AM (#3318562)
So you see Al it is all Rellative and you can never say No Worst There Is None.

Jack Keefe made a Gerard Manley Hopkins reference! "Pitched past pitch of grief"!
   75. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:07 AM (#3318567)
Bone fragment in Garrido case 'probably human'


This headline near the article in question on the OC's website. Perhaps Mr. Whicker can use this for his next light-hearted sports column. And incorporate the word "boneyard" somehow.


"It's amazing, the amount of trouble that a tiny chip of bone can cause. Just look at Dave Hollins's wrist..."
   76. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:11 AM (#3318575)
As for "you can't unring a bell", that's true, but the Register could start by pulling down the ####### column. Link it directly to the apology, but taking it down isn't 1984-ish, it's just polite.

I'd rather see the paper and columnist truly own the mistake.
   77. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:14 AM (#3318581)
My point is that for those who don't think the first ones were wrongs (Imus, et al), they have to think firing this guy is right. Right?


I wouldn't include Imus in that list Jeff. He was specifically and deliberately insulting the Rutgers women at the time. He wasn't trying, but failing, to celebrate them. He was actively denigrating them, and in the process using language that struck a nerve. That, plus his history, distinguishes him from the others.

Cosell never should have been fired for what he said, which really was an attempt to convey a positive feeling about that Redskins receiver (was it Alvin Garrett perhaps). I supposed then, and now, that the Little Monkey remark was just the impetus ABC needed to finally can a guy whose negatives among viewers were at least equal to his positives.

As for Jimmy The Greek, again it's slightly different, in that he was spouting bogus science to describe racial differences. Probably could have survived, but again, CBS may not have been too eager to keep him, thus making him easier to sacrifice than to put up a fight for.

So no, I don't think I'd figure Whicker. But if you do, then the editors that let it go really have to go with him.
   78. Zipperholes Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:18 AM (#3318591)
My point is that for those who don't think the first ones were wrongs (Imus, et al), they have to think firing this guy is right. Right?

Right! (I know, you were just making a point about consistency)
   79. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:21 AM (#3318595)
I'd rather see the paper and columnist truly own the mistake.

You can truly own it while not leaving it up. I don't know, it's not that big a deal to me, but if you recognize that it's offensive (and to a huge majority, there's not one comment in support of it that I see), is it Orwellian to take it down, or is it the right thing?
   80. Mark Armour Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:24 AM (#3318605)
FWIW, I agree that the column was stupid, misguided, tasteless, etc. I don't think this was his intent, and I think the notion that he was deliberately trying to trivialize her ordeal is silly. I also understand why he would defend it, since he did not think he was guilty of what he was being accused of. It took him a while to realize that he ###### up, but he realizes it now.

This is not comparable to Don Imus, in my opinion. Imus spent 30 years deliberately trying to shock and offend. This guy just wrote something stupid.
   81. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:25 AM (#3318607)
You can truly own it while not leaving it up. I don't know, it's not that big a deal to me, but if you recognize that it's offensive (and to a huge majority, there's not one comment in support of it that I see), is it Orwellian to take it down, or is it the right thing?

I wouldn't say it's Orwellian, because it's a private business, and they can do what they want. But it's not like it can be removed from the papers or the libraries, so it'll exist *somewhere*. And when more people see it, more people will be able to learn from somebody else's mistake.
   82. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:25 AM (#3318608)
FWIW, I do believe that Whicker's intention was to genuinely celebrate Jaycee's release.

I should god-damn hope so. Seriously, I'm an #######, and I think other people are too thin-skinned about a lot of stuff. But if his intention was anything other than to genuinely celebrate the release of that girl (whom I hadn't heard of before all this, but sounds like she went through hell), then burn him.

I can laugh at Chappelle's whole bit on Elizabeth Smart and the black girl who freed herself. It'd be harder to imagine something funny wrapped around this story, but it'd be possible. But it would take a black heart to not be glad she's done going through it, physically at least, as I'm sure she'll be reliving it mentally for a good portion of her remaining life.

I wouldn't include Imus in that list Jeff. He was specifically and deliberately insulting the Rutgers women at the time. He wasn't trying, but failing, to celebrate them. He was actively denigrating them, and in the process using language that struck a nerve. That, plus his history, distinguishes him from the others.

Yeah, first time around I noted that some thought Imus was part of a pattern, and if so, they weren't included.
   83. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:28 AM (#3318612)
SOSH, what about Richards?
   84. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:38 AM (#3318633)
SOSH, what about Richards?


Well, he wasn't actually fired from anything. If someone doesn't want to give him work, well, that's too bad for Cosmo. But just as I don't think Whicker warrants getting fired over this (absent other incidents), I also think future potential employers would be perfectly justified in putting his resume in the "Don't Hire" file.
   85. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:39 AM (#3318635)
Olbermann just got all lathery about this column too. He actually went much harder after the editors than the writer.

FWIW, Jeff, I think they should leave it up as well. "Teachable moment" as a phrase gets used too much, but this can be a clinic about how real-world concerns should stay the hell out of sports columns.
   86. nick swisher hygiene Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:41 AM (#3318643)
given that wartime baseball was of notoriously low quality I think it's safe to say that Anne Frank didn't miss much....
   87. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:43 AM (#3318646)
"Teachable moment" as a phrase gets used too much, but this can be a clinic about how real-world concerns should stay the hell out of sports columns.


Real world concerns can be worked into a sports column effectively, if there's an actual relationship between the sporting event/participants and real world concerns.

But you can't just throw together real world concerns and unrelated sports, and that's especially true when it's the kidnapping and rape of a specific individual.
   88. calhounite Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:44 AM (#3318647)
Where was the editor. Writers often allow themselves to go haywire on a high wire, knowing there's a net (editor) below. Mean the stuff's supposed to be checked. Take out the references, and you've got good space filler. Not great, but no white space. The What tha - can be on auto and catch this.
   89. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:45 AM (#3318648)
given that wartime baseball was of notoriously low quality I think it's safe to say that Anne Frank didn't miss much....

Helen Keller, on the other hand...

FWIW, Jeff, I think they should leave it up as well. "Teachable moment" as a phrase gets used too much, but this can be a clinic about how real-world concerns should stay the hell out of sports columns.

You can leave it available for those seeking it (and wanting to use it as a teachable moment in, say, their journalism class) without leaving it where it was.
   90. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: September 10, 2009 at 02:53 AM (#3318655)
You can leave it available for those seeking it (and wanting to use it as a teachable moment in, say, their journalism class) without leaving it where it was.

What good does it do to take it down, aside from appealing to some people's standards of taste? That's not meant sarcastically or rhetorically, but I'm not seeing the greater good. I'd slap an editor's note on top of it with a link to the apology and another apology, and let people fire away at the columnist in the comments.

And it's not just a lesson for journalists. Anybody who opens their mouth to an audience can learn from this, too. Off the top of my head, Nick Saban comparing an Alabama loss to 9/11, for example.
   91. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:02 AM (#3318659)
What good does it do to take it down, aside from appealing to some people's standards of taste?

What are the complaints, including yours or mine, other than an expression that the article offended our standard of taste? If the paper recognizes that in the form of at least asking (if not forcing) Whicker to apologize, why leave it up to offend others? Why not change the page to something saying "Homeslice wrote something stupid. Here's his apology (link) and here, if you want to read it, but please note many readers felt it was over the line and disrespectful to the girl and others in her situation (and maybe even 'as well as all people who think sports are overvalued') so be so forewarned"? I'm not saying it's necessary, but where's the harm?
   92. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:11 AM (#3318661)
What are the complaints, including yours or mine, other than an expression that the article offended our standard of taste? If the paper recognizes that in the form of at least asking (if not forcing) Whicker to apologize, why leave it up to offend others? Why not change the page to something saying "Homeslice wrote something stupid. Here's his apology (link) and here, if you want to read it, but please note many readers felt it was over the line and disrespectful to the girl and others in her situation (and maybe even 'as well as all people who think sports are overvalued') so be so forewarned"? I'm not saying it's necessary, but where's the harm?

Fair points. I suppose I reserve yanking stories down for only emergencies (libelous material, dangerous lapses in judgment), but I can see where you're coming from.
   93. zonk Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:16 AM (#3318662)
FWIW, I do believe that Whicker's intention was to genuinely celebrate Jaycee's release.


I don't think anyone is really questioning 'intent' -- it's a matter of being such a ham-handed ####### about it. I don't know that it's a fireable offense because it's so insensitive and assinine in and of itself, it is because anyone that would write this AND SUBMIT IT rather than crumple it and toss with a "what was I thinking" probably doesn't have much to offer in terms of written opinion.
   94. Howie Menckel Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:16 AM (#3318663)
The writer vs editor blame sometimes goes to who gets paid more.

Given that he's a columnist, it's quite possible that he's the highest-paid guy in his department, and extremely likely he makes more than non-executive editors.

So the blame likely will get dispersed more widely than if some kid blundered and no one on the desk caught it. Veteran columnists have a LOT of leeway, with desks that sometimes are told not to question anything and other times are just afraid to....
   95. Jeff K. Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:16 AM (#3318664)
I do note that at least they linked the apology right at the top, so one could argue that they're doing the same thing as I'm proposing, just instead of linking the article on a separate page, they have it below the link to the apology. I guess the only marginal difference between the two would be people who ignore the link/explanation at the top, and I could certainly see my way to forgetting about them.

(libelous material, dangerous lapses in judgment)

By the latter, do you mean something like printing instructions on how to build pipe bombs?
   96. tfbg9 Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:33 AM (#3318673)
Now, with all this said, and much of it exceedingly well-said, I'd hate to see anyone get "canned" over any of this.
It seems, to me at least, that nobody had any malice in their hearts--it was just plain old clumsy writing, and see-no-evil
editing.

I guess I just don't like seeing a guy have his life ruined for one, non-criminal, mistake.
   97. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:36 AM (#3318675)
By the latter, do you mean something like printing instructions on how to build pipe bombs?

Or the name of an otherwise anonymous rape victim.
   98. CrosbyBird Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:39 AM (#3318677)
given that wartime baseball was of notoriously low quality I think it's safe to say that Anne Frank didn't miss much....

TOO SOON!

I think the article was in exceptionally poor taste, but intent matters. I'll go on a limb here and say that it was a terrible decision but that the writer is a few degrees shy of history's greatest monster and maybe it would be okay if he were allowed to continue in his chosen profession.
   99. CrosbyBird Posted: September 10, 2009 at 03:40 AM (#3318678)
Or the name of an otherwise anonymous rape victim

...or perhaps details that were part of someone's sealed grand jury testimony?

(ducks)
   100. The Most Interesting Man In The World Posted: September 10, 2009 at 04:27 AM (#3318693)
Not to pile on, but apparently Whicker was Olbermann's Worst Person in the World today.
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