Another pretender telling us how to do our job

It has been suggested that emotion is the enemy of rational argument. True, true. Just not now. Not today. This is one of those times when you just need to see souvenir chunks of your spleen splattered against the furniture.

And it's because someone sent me a link to Alan Siegel's recent piece in Boston Magazine, "The Fellowship of the Miserable: How Boston Sportswriters Got So Awful."

Dear Mr. Siegel: Are you prone to such hyperbolic blather in all your creations or was this the day your liquor cabinet was better stocked than your bookshelf?

Because let me just say that the only person who needs to be slapped sillier than the author of this is the wizard who suggested it. Does anyone honestly think that Joe Average Reader wants an exposé about his team or the people who cover it?

Mr. Siegel's conclusion: "Were the Globe to stop publishing sports tomorrow, how much loss would readers feel? Certainly some, but much less than even a decade ago. That's because Boston fans have gotten increasingly used to following the ups and downs of their favorite teams in national outlets rather than local ones. The message is clear: Change, or die the death of utter irrelevance."

Wouldn't it be a hoot if every Boston media outlet went to Aruba the next time the Yanks come to Fenway or for the Pats' home opener in September? That's right. No coverage whatsoever. Zero. Love to see the reaction. Mr. Siegel's conclusion is that because Boston media types: 1) spend too much time bloviating on television; 2) fail to use "advanced" statistics and 3) get beat by all the big, bad national guys anyway, who'd really care?

Mr. Siegel seems to have a crush on what he calls "next generation talents," otherwise known as the smart guys who grew up around laptops and not locker rooms. Why build relationships with the people you cover when there's just got to be a corresponding number that tells the whole story way better some miserable, fat old coot?

"In most (Boston media-produced) game stories, there's a conspicuous lack of creative analysis, which is compounded by the local media's apparent allergy to the type of advanced statistics that other outlets have used to shine new, interesting light on old sports," Siegel wrote.

Later in the same lengthy paragraph, he wrote of the recent Pats/Texans playoff game, "Meanwhile, the sharp minds over at the national website Pro Football Focus informed their readers that the Texans blitzed on 48.8 percent of their plays, a decision that allowed Tom Brady to pick their defense apart."

Wow. The Texans blitzed on 48.8 percent of their plays. It's this kind of information that will one day lead us to al-Qaeda. I just know it. I mean, if that were any more fascinating, readers on the T the next morning would have started breathing into brown paper bags.

This is the premise of a magazine story?

I mean, who thought this was a good idea?

Does that person still have a job?

If so, why?

The essence of sportswriting, Mr. Siegel, is about people. Learning their likes and dislikes, friends and enemies, their idiosyncrasies. Learning how they deal with victory and defeat, rumor and fact, love and hate, truth and lies, loyalty and betrayal. It's cultivating relationships in locker rooms, gin mills and during card games long into the evening.

Sportswriting is not just reporting scores and regurgitating statistics. Or worse, using limited knowledge to make inferences about such statistics that do nothing else but advance some pseudo-intellectual posturing.

Mr. Siegel clearly has an issue with media "personalities." Hence, his hatchet job on Dan Shaughnessy, the veteran Globe sports columnist who is everyone's favorite piñata.

And all these years later, after the Siegels of the world have warned Shaughnessy of his impending irrelevance, they still read every word he writes.

Funny, too, how Terry Francona chose old, irrelevant Dan to write his new book, "Francona: The Red Sox Years." And to think Francona could have opted for some scholarly, new-generation national guy who knew Derek Lowe threw sinkers 73.87346 percent of the time.

Let me just say nobody in Boston needs me to defend them. Most of them don't know me or care to. I'm just another irrelevancy at some small newspaper. Just one thing, though: I've had it with pseudo-intellectual pretenders who write once every six months telling the rest of us who write on deadline and deal with the people we cover every day how to do our jobs.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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