“I have explained many times that I am, by Profession, a Gambler — not some jock-sniffing nerd or a hired human squawk-box with the brain of a one-cell animal. No. That would be your average career sportswriter — and, more specifically, a full-time Baseball writer.”
The particular piece remains interesting this time of year when High-Stakes Gamblers are already slugging it out for the White House. Written 16 years ago, Thompson’s last line reads: “All we need now is the squalid Spectacle of Jeb Bush on TV, saying ‘I am Not a Crook.'”
My God, we nearly have it!
Thompson, of course, is dead, but his “Hey Rube” pieces are available in book form and through various decaying links online.
Discussing HST’s “sports columns” and political analysis still proves valuable today. For instance, while looking up the word “rube” in my thesaurus, I learned a smashing synonym: “chawbacon.” That’s a $5,000 word if there ever were one.
But neither of those delicious facts is why I’m writing today.
Instead, I’m discussing a favorite Thompson topic: bad sportswriters.
I read her columns from withers to brisket, but I still have to shove my head down in the couch cushions to search for facts or a semblance of purpose.
The story broke, drew a few headlines and caught some attention from OU baseball fans like myself. (Full disclosure, you know.)
But what Golloway and Auburn’s exchange of press releases didn’t do is elicit the sort of sportswriter bloviation that Thompson called “rude & brainless.”
Carlson spent 700 words calling Golloway’s career a “train wreck.” There was a metaphorical “crash” and something figuratively “blew up,” because pedantic sportswriting is the art of making menial nonsense sound like epic tragedy.
What Carlson did not do, it appears, is call the former Whittier Middle School teacher; the guy who replaced College-World-Series-champion and N-word-using Larry Cochell as head coach in 2005 before leading OU to the CWS in 2010.
While Carlson was writing a column instead of a news article, not reaching out to a public figure before calling his career a “train wreck” pairs painfully with what else is not in the piece.
For instance, there is no attribution for or link to the words “sorry,” “crooked” or “bad” that the oft-criticized sportswriter bestows upon the oft-criticized coach.
There are no hyperlinks to, well, anything — not even the writer’s own site page whose URL is spelled out in an awkwardly undesignated shirttail.
There is no discussion of a reported reason for Golloway’s firing: “illegal fall bullpens” and a lie of denial. College Baseball Daily’s (unsourced) scoop isn’t even mentioned, despite it being posted three full days ahead of Carlson’s opinion piece. Plenty of time for some confirmation calls.
There are no new interviews or new quotes, nor any perspective on why Golloway rubbed some longtime OU baseball good ol’ boys the wrong way, unless you already knew who his lead detractors were. That alone would have been worth explanation.
Any time we can recall how former OU coach Enos Semore was shot in the back by a lover’s ex-husband in Haskell County, we should probably take it, lest the lore be lost to gray hair.
And while there’s a whole heap of things Jenni Carlson’s column did not do, there were several things it actually did: insinuate no one cares about college baseball; vaguely rehash Golloway’s drama with his dead sister’s son; and offer the eye-rolling onomatopoeia, “dunt-dunt-duhhhh.”
To quote Gundy, “It makes me wanna puke.”
I’m a fan of OU baseball, but I am not a sportswriter, and I’d never try to cover the team by saying otherwise.
I am a consumer of media who wants actual information instead of hyperbolic jibber jabber from “a hired human squawk-box,” as Thompson would put it.
Of course, there’s the real ruse. By labeling himself — first and foremost — as a Professional Gambler, Thompson artfully threaded the needle of calling a pack of hyenas ugly without looking in the mirror.
I’m not sure I achieved the same here, but I did work the word “chawbacon” into a piece of #sportswriting.
That’ll be $5,000, please. I need to go bet on the Raiders.