Friday, August 18, 2006

Atrocious Sports Writing at It’s Worst
By Ben Valentine

It’s rare here that I’ll actually take potshots at writers unless they really infuriate me. I mean I’ve written probably an average of 2-3 posts per week here at Sportszilla and the likes of Scott Miller only grave my keyboard when they really piss me off, which equates to about five or six times in the last four months.

But Bill Plaschke, you’ve taken it to a new level.

I’ve mentioned the LA sportswriters and their stupidity before, when I absolutely ripped the Dodgers a new one for firing Paul DePodesta. It was writers like Plaschke that got DePodesta canned, all because he traded away Paul LoDuca the “heart and soul of the Dodgers” for Brad Penny. Basically people hated DePodesta because he got a talented pitcher for a mediocre catcher who was a “good guy.” Well now Penny is the Dodgers best pitcher and the “good guy” LoDuca is sleeping around with 19 year old girls. How does that trade look now?

In any case, Plaschke hates guys who evaluate players by statistics and seems to have a love affair with old scouts as is apparent in this piece that was torn to shreds by the boys at Fire Joe Morgan. It is one of the WORST pieces of journalism I’ve ever read and I say that without hesitation. Scott Miller is my favorite writer to rip in these parts, but this is a million times worse than anything he could possibly throw out there. It’s a condescending piece of garbage that essentially says “You stats guys are all wrong because this old scout figured out Andre Either is a good player!” Also “Paul DePodesta will never be Ned Coletti because he was a YOUNG guy who didn’t listen to scouts!.” (Really, I think part of the problem for DePo was that he was so young.) I won’t critique the whole piece, since FJM did such an excellent job, but I’ll share with you in my opinion, the worst section.

He was on the phone, and it sounded as if he was crying.

"You're writing something about an old fella like me?" said Al LaMacchia.

He's 85, and he's been scouting for 51 years, and he can't believe anybody still cares.

I tell him I am writing the story because the Dodgers still care.

For the first time since Fred Claire was their last world championship general manager, the Dodgers are listening to their older scouts again.

They are reading reports scrawled in aging penmanship. They are evaluating players based on dusted-off instincts.

Ned Colletti's new administration is still using computers, but they also value guys who have no idea how to turn one on.

"I trust my eyes," LaMacchia said. "Been good enough so far."

Colletti trusted LaMacchia's recommendation at last year's winter meetings in Dallas, and the Dodgers are in first place in August, and that is no coincidence.

Okay where to start? Plaschke makes it seem like he’s this heroic reporter who’s telling the story of guy who the cruel world left behind. It’s so melodramatic and just plain, excuse my language, CRAP, that I actually want to vomit. Simpsons fans will remember an episode where Bart becomes a reporter and to show Lisa up, starts doing melodramatic “people” stories. How about this comparison?

“You're writing something about an old fella like me?” said Al LaMacchia.

He's 85, and he's been scouting for 51 years, and he can't believe anybody still cares.

I tell him I’m writing the story because the Dodgers still care.

And the Bart quote:

“Of forgotten veterans. Their guns are quiet now. Their helmets lost, or pawned. And yet here they are, making flags out of old clothes. Sure, they may not have the right number of stripes. And the colors are all wrong. And some purists will tell you the American flag doesn't contain the word "Jordache". But you know, if they run this up the flagpole, I'll salute.”

One is for comedic purposes, the other, someone got paid to write seriously. Disgusting, just disgusting.

But like I said, Plaschke’s true message comes through after, when he takes shots at modern baseball, guys who uses stats and computers. You know horrid statistics like “on base percentage” or “slugging percentage.” God forbid anyone should look at strikeouts per nine innings! The world is falling! Save the children… you know, if they actually believe in looking in player’s eyes and knowing from that if he can play the game.

The Dodgers are in first place because the NL West is complete garbage. If they were in any other division, they’d settling for the Wild Card. And what great deals has Coletti made outside of the Bradley deal? (and it’s far too early to tell if Either will be great.)

Let see, Jae Seo for Duaner Sanchez. Not a bad trade in fairness because Seo with an ERA in the low 4.00’s is cheap and serviceable and relievers can be found easily. Except he traded Seo for Mark Hendrickson, who is just awful. How about Ceasar Izturis for Maddux? I didn’t think it mattered, but Izturis is an overpaid middle infielder. Most G.M.s make that swap. Two months of Julio Lugo for Guzman? By all accounts that trade looks to be a bad one. He got Wilson Betemit from the Braves, but I could tell you that was a great trade for the Dodgers and I’m just 23! And get this, I know how to turn on a computer!

Oh no, I guess my opinion on Betemit is useless then.

He’ll never see this most likely, but Plaschke, you are a disgrace to sportswriters everywhere and young people who want to be sportswriters. Your stories are so cruddy my college journalism professors would have given you a “C”, if they were feeling generous. An average sports fan can tear this to shreds. And for a die hard like me, this isn’t even worth the paper I use to… well you know the rest.

Read the whole column if you’re in a mood to be aggravated. But I feel as though the FJM guys need to spend more time on this guy. Or maybe I’ll get around to creating a site entitled; “Fire Bill Plaschke Now.”

Emphasis on Now.


Blogger Chris said...

It really is complete shit. Thing is...dude uses stats to show how Ethier is doing well this year.

5:45 PM  
Blogger June said...

the sad old guys' eyeballs must've been temporarily unavailable

5:18 PM  

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