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Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Growl Of The Empty Stomach

I've failed you all, I'm afraid. My assorted rantings, vain attempts to wax historical, and endless fascination with minor league minutiae don't add up to the sort of stuff that Will Leitch raves about today at the Baseball Analysts. Sportswriters -- among whom I count as a "writer" whose topic is principally "sports" -- sportswriters, he says, are far more entertaining on their blogs than they are in print; falling prey to the trap of formulaic story structure, the grind of their daily lives becomes apparent on the broadsheet, but not so on the electronic page:
I would like to submit Mark Tupper, sports editor of the Decatur (Ill.) Herald & Review as an example. Tupper has been covering the Illinois men's basketball and football teams for nearly two decades, but he doesn't have the stodgy, turgid, curmudgeon style that longtimers are often prone toward. He understands what fans care about, and he writes in a conversational, intelligent and lively style. No one knows more about Illinois basketball, and he's a joy to read.

Well, he is on his blog, anyway. His game stories aren't boring, exactly, but they fall prey to the same verse-chorus-verse, inverted pyramid, statement-playerquote-statement-playerquote formula that has made anyone with a modem switch to blogs.

Zeroing in further, he allows as how the problem is simply one of space:
This is not to say that beat reporters are lazy; far from it. It's just that the world of newspapers, when compared to blogs, does not give them the freedom (or, more accurately, the space), to delve into what actually mattered in the game, accounting for context, complexity and ultimate impact.
And therein lies my failure, at least, one of them, and probably the key one, at that. I make vast and unabashed apologies for the woeful state of my writing skills -- an original sentence or metaphor from my keyboard is as unlikely as Dubya delivering the State of the Union in drag. If it's meaning you want, head over to Chronicles or Dodger Thoughts; my aim here is to clear the buildup in certain of my internal organs, and if anyone stops by and finds themselves amused, outraged, or -- gasp -- even edified, well, so much the better.

I can't tell if that means you like his column or don't like his column.

I think he's pretty much right. Reporters write game stories that tell you what happened in the game. It's their job. But if you watched the game, their stories aren't all that exciting. They don't really provide any insight. But a good blog post about a game generally might cover what "really" happened. Where were the momentum swings, and such.

Tupper is a good example. I'm an Illini, so I read his blog all the time, but I hardly ever read his articles. I think it's fun to compare his recaps to my own and see if we both "saw" the same sorts of things during the game.
You're too hard on your own writing, Rob. You occasionally piss people off (who doesn't?), but you're clearly a go-to site for more than just spleenage.
Seitz -- I'm nonplussed by his column; he may be right about Tupper, I don't know, I don't read him. It's certainly true that there are bloggers out there who are better writers than most of the sports columnists out there (I read several of them on a daily basis), but simultaneously, he's right in that the newspaper format is a handcuff for their staff. There's also plenty of bloggers who don't add anything to the topic, though I daresay many of them disappear after not too long. And I agree with you about using another pair of eyes to see if you missed something crucial during a game.

Jon -- thanks. Nonetheless, I'd flatter myself if I could be half the writer you are.
Rob -- I'm here multiple times throughout the day to see if you have posted anything additional. The site is entertaining and funny, and you know, I enjoy when you piss people off, ha. Don't change a bit.
"... an original sentence or metaphor from my keyboard is as unlikely as Dubya delivering the State of the Union in drag."

There you go with the politics again!:)

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