Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sour Pickles and Serious Losses

THE PICK-IT FENCE: There are people who have worked both sides of the journalism fence: reporting on; or reported on. You'd think, therefore, they'd be alert to the sensitivities of people on both sides of that fence.

Apparently, not Bobby Valentine. The Red Sox manager came freshly packaged off the ESPN set of its game-of-the-week and its Baseball Tonight telecasts, from where it seemed no one wanted him back in the Major League ranks whenever a position opened. This despite his vigorous lobbying for such.

Maybe it was his brash manner. Maybe it was his arrogance in practically declaring his availability and using the ESPN pulpit to do it.

But now that he's finally back where he thinks he belongs, he told Sports Illustrated that having managed in both New York and now Boston, he had no "preference" for either town's media.

He'd prefer, rather, to " in a nice little vacuum and play the game and not to have deal with people who have to either describe what happened or make up something about what they wish they saw."

What in the world would they have to "make up" without the Bobby Valentines of the world? Careful Bobby - you'll need someplace to park your car after the Red Sox gig. But, on second thought, ESPN needs people like you so they can continue to report things they "make up." They likely haven't leased out your parking spot yet to someone else who can "...make up something about what they wish they saw."

Like you would.


THE SOUREST PICKLE: I don't usually say I don't like people I've never met. But I'm beginning to think I can definitely say that people who call sports journalism a "juvenile interest" could be people I don't like.

Such a person is Dane Claussen, a sour pickle who did just that and much more in the Summer 2012 edition of Journalism & Mass Communication Educatora publication which he edits for its publisher, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). (By way of full disclosure, I'm a member of said organization.)

When I wrote to Claussen though, in disagreement, he replied to this career sports journalist that I have a temper problem (apparently anyone does who disagrees with him).

Yo, Dane, don't you get it? Your vicious attack on sports journalism is an attack on journalism. You claim to have encountered sports journalists in various newsrooms throughout that thing you call a career who "...were primarily having a good time" and that the "...more serious-acting journalists on staff later covered political news for USA Today, [the] Seattle Times, [the] Portland Oregonian, [the] Detroit News and other major dailies."

Good for them. And when did it become a crime to enjoy your job? By the way, I'm still waiting for political writers to tell me anything about this year's presidential campaign beyond the personal insults Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been swapping. Maybe that's why insults are your first fallback in personal communication, Dane.

If anyone else wants to read the discouraging outlook Claussen has about (sports) journalism, go ahead. I won't reduce myself to repeat any more of it here other than to note that along his academic stops he found it personally disgusting that among "...students seriously planning to go into journalism...a far disproportionate number of them focused on sports journalism."

I guess Bryant Gumbel, Mary Carillo, Frank Deford, Bernard Goldberg, Jon Frankel, Andrea Kremer, Armen Keteyian and the Emmy Award-winning crew at HBO's Real Sports are pursuing a "juvenile interest." So is Bob Costas at NBC and so are Bob Ley and his Outside the Lines team at ESPN.

Stands to reason then that so is Christine Brennan at USA Today (ask your political reporter friends there what they think of her, Dane). So are the outstanding colleagues with whom I so proudly serve at the Journal of Sports Media, and especially founding editor Brad Schultz, whose chair I will never be distinguished enough to fill. So are the talented, award-recognized sports reporters alongside whose bylines I proudly plant this contributor's at The Daily Herald in suburban Chicago.

While we're at it, Dane, what do you think of your "colleagues" in the university ranks who teach sports journalism? Are we just instructing students on "...primarily having a good time?" Please explain that one to them at the AEJMC National Convention two weeks from this writing in Chicago (look forward to seeing you - no I don't).

Bottom line, your published words, Dane, are an insult to the entire journalism profession, if not the journalism-education profession as well. I'm stunned AEJMC allows you to use its publication to insult everyone who is attending its national convention. I would call upon the organization board to sanction you at the very least, although expelling you would be more appropriate.

By the way, I don't think unkindly of political writers, business writers, or any others, which is the way you obviously feel about all of us sports reporters of "juvenile interest." I was a business writer and author for a long time, concurrent to my sports reporting. I count among those business-journalism ranks some of my best friends and most-cherished relationships.

And I would never use my editorship of the Journal of Sports Media as a bully pulpit as you have, Dane, in conjunction with your editorial responsibility at Journalism & Mass Communication Educator.

No, wait ...I just used your name and the word "responsibility" in the same sentence.

I guess I do owe you an apology after all.

Nah. That wouldn't serve any purpose. It would just be of "juvenile interest."


A GREAT LOSS: Paul McGrath was not a sports writer. He wasn't one of my closest friends.

But his recent passing removes a connection to Chicago's great eras of political reporting and communications in general. Plus, he was a friend of journalism education, including at my beloved Columbia College Chicago.

To his beloved Bonnie, also a great friend of journalism education at Columbia, my sincerest, most-heartfelt condolences.

Eventually, you replace good writers. But not great writing and Paul was a great writer.


Howard Schlossberg is editor of the Journal of Sports Media. He's an associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, where creativity and learning are embraced hand-in-hand. And he still writes sports for the award-recognized Daily Herald in Chicago's northwest suburbs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

If We're Lion, We're Dyin'

I keep reading where pundits are debating what Joe Paterno's legacy will be.

This presumes he still has one.


Dane Claussen, editor of the Journalism & Mass Communication Educator journal, thinks that the "...disproportionate interest in sports journalism was a juvenile interest that would give way to something more important..." in commenting on the surprising number of college students he finds interested in sports reporting as a career.

If that's a "juvenile interest," as you would seem to think Dane, please don't forget to congratulate: 

  • the business press on breaking the Enron story before all the shareholders got burned; 
  • the business press again on the real estate market collapse before all those mortgages went underwater; 
  • the foreign correspondents who warned us that all those WMDs weren't there before so many guys got killed and wounded in Iraq; 
  • the crime reporters who smelled out the Jerry Sandusky story; 
  • and whoever appointed you editor of anything.


If you've been reading me, you know I harp on pitchers who make lots of money and burn out quickly, have Tommy John surgery, disappear with loads of money in the bank, etc.

Congratulations to John Danks, the newest member of the club. The now highest-paid White Sox pitcher ever (John Danks! Yes, John Danks!) got a 5-year, $65-million contract and has responded with a 3-4 record, 5.70 ERA and a trip to a rich pitcher's favorite initials - the DL (ooooh, my arm's a little sore - can't pitch today).

Will he be back this year? Who knows. Will the White Sox miss him? They say so (politically correct but they pay him a lot of f**kin' money, as Ozzie Guillen would say).

They're also in first place in a division full of under-achievers. Unless you're talking about them (over-achievers, which is OK).

All I want is for pitching coaches to do their jobs and not only teach these guys how to pitch but how not to get hurt, because these days, there are too many John Danks in the world.


What do pitchers who've had Tommy John surgery [], athletes who've been suspected of using steroids and colleges that have been placed on probation all have in common?

They're all recipients of their respective sports' badge of honor.



The guys suspended in the NFL Bounty-Gate [] investigation have done nothing but complain, file suits, appeal and complain some more.

Shut up, boys. Take your medicine and see you later this year.

Or next.

People always talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Somehow, that didn't quite work out for these guys, did it?


Who the f**k is Savannah Guthrie and what is she doing in Katie Couric's chair? ... Will the White Sox continue their push when Kevin Youkilis comes back to Earth, because Adam Dunn is already on the way (hello, Mendoza BA line)? ... It's a good thing all those A.L. pitches were only going one inning to preserve their arms for the regular season in a game in which they threw away home-field advantage for their league's World Series representative. How'd that work out last year? Oh yeah, the team with the worst record in the playoffs had home-field advantage and used it well. Brilliant, Bud Selig. Brilliant.


Howard Schlossberg is editor of the Journal of Sports Media[,673232.aspx]. He's an associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago [], where creativity and learning are embraced hand-in-hand. And he still writes sports for the Daily Herald [] in Chicago's northwest suburbs.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Just Horsing Around ... And Other Oddities

Is it just me, or does it seem kind of odd that I'll Have Another scratched from the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown?

Trainer Doug O'Neill [] has a long history of doping suspensions and fines in California and something tells me the racing industry would rather not have a Triple Crown winner for a 35th straight year than have one under a prospective cloud of drugging.

So, horse comes up hurt. Scratches. Goes out to stud. No wonder racetracks want slut - uh, slot machines to offset competition from riverboat casinos in many states. They're saying They Want Another way to make money in an industry with an image along the lines and level of - oh, boxing.


Been hearing a lot of scuttlebutt that Penn State should get the death penalty or at least strong sanctions from the NCAA in the wake of the Sandusky scandal.

Problem is, did Penn State violate NCAA regulations over the term of the long history of this scandal?

Probably not, but don't tell that to victims Nos. 1-8. Or is that 10?


Is this for real? The NFL is pushing back starting times of late games on Sunday afternoons by 15 minutes because of all those Tim Tebow-led comebacks that otherwise were missed in some markets because networks were contractually obligated to cut away from the early games?

Next thing you know, Tebow will finish ahead of - oh, say, Jay Cutler [] - in voting by players for players with the most impact in 2011. No, wait...


This just in: Michael Jordan's son Marcus arrested in Omaha, Neb., on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct after a scuffle with a woman at a hotel.

I won't repeat the cliches here verbatim, but... Apples/trees. Leopards/spots.


Is there any question how much the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose [] won't be playing after the Bulls drafted Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague.

He's pretty good. Apparently, he'll need to be.


Out of the thousands and thousands of hours of coverage of Olympic events that will be available, perhaps the ones you don't want to miss are from Mark McLusky at, where he'll be breaking down athlete performance like you've never seen it broken down before.

Never. Thank you, WIRED. That's an up-close-and-personal-coverage angle I can live with.


Howard Schlossberg is editor of the Journal of Sports Media[,673232.aspx]. He's an associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago [], where creativity and learning are embraced hand-in-hand. And he still writes sports for the Daily Herald [] in Chicago's northwest suburbs.