The first and only time I ever spoke with longtime Boston Globe Red Sox reporter Clif Keane, the man was so impressed with my inquisitions that he hung up on me.
Granted, at the time, the man was approaching 90, had long since been bothered to comment on any sort of story in at least a decade, and I had probably interrupted whatever retirement activity he had planned for that particular lovely spring afternoon. I get that. The abrupt “click,” I received on the other end, without more than even an annoyed grunt, was, however, a pretty good introduction to the paralyzing pettiness of sports media in general.
You’d half expect many of these people to carry Ezekiel 25:17 around with them to recite at a moment’s notice.
What are we doing here? A vocation that was originally meant to cover events meant as an armchair escape route to the rigors of life has become an exercise in dealing with egos, retaliatory presences, and material for your next, pretentious Aaron Sorkin presentation. While the Keepers of the Gate pretend to decide the journalistic integrity of others, there’s enough narcissistic air in the joint that, if flammable, would spark a fireball from here to the set of the “Sports Reporters,” where the truly judgmental spew their higher-than-thou nonsense.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: we’re not debating whether to drop the bomb here. It’s only sports.
Can you still have fun?
But oh, what a week it has been for media-on-media crime, a storyline that should bore sports fans to tears of the clowns involved, yet one that seems to gain a great amount of traction anytime they’re able to kick one of the offending party’s teeth in just a smudge. Case in point, if you didn’t visualize WEEI.com’s Kirk Minihane sharpening his blade with a toothy grin in the wake of Joe Haggerty’s infamous blunder of a Game 3 recap earlier this week, then you must not have had your back-stabbing glasses on. Then again, Minihane owns the whole lot of them, so they’re difficult to come by.
You know when Ned Flanders insists that Bart and Todd’s showdown in miniature golf doesn’t eventually result in a loser, but instead “the boy who didn’t win?” This is the opposite of that, a one-on-one war that’s like Billy Madison’s assembly speech followed up by a celebratory dinner at Olive Garden. We’re all dumber for having listened to it, but we’re also now nauseous as all hell.
God have mercy on our souls.
Haggerty’s unintelligible submission on Wednesday morning was immediately recognizable as something many of us might have done; erroneously combining copy with notes – however peripherally nonsensical the combination would seem to any other eye – likely written while covering the game and jotting down observations. I’m not going to tell you who the 13-year-old girls are, or just where Dan Roche is hiding his hammer, but that was the first thing to cross my mind when I read the original story on CSNNE.com. (The original copy for this piece included the line “I like fruit, but only when the snow is falling in France, but I have lost my socks.”)
Unfortunately, Haggerty did himself no favors, whether out of embarrassment or the overwhelming self-admiration that aspires him to be “the best sportswriter there ever was” on his Twitter account. In the hours after the likes of Deadspin picked up on the oddity of it all, Haggerty went on the airwaves with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and feigned exhaustion while tossing the editing desk at CSNNE.com under the Bloom Bus that should have been sent to Montreal to diffuse the situation. This is where not having even a shred of self-depreciation can bite you.
Of course Minihane would take it from there, tearing his media enemy to pieces in a column Thursday on WEEI.com that read like the Pope laying a judgment of hell upon a legion of Doubting Thomases. “My theory on Haggerty,” Minihane wrote, “is the same as it has been for three years — he’s lazy, not very bright, incredibly insecure with a touch of delusion. Not one of the great combinations.”
I will note that Minihane once asked me to participate on a podcast that I believe has ceased to exist on his website, and we had a benign conversation beforehand in which the interviewer and I seemed to share a common reaction to the topic at hand. At least, that is, until the recorders were rolling, and Minihane decided to unleash a lecture the likes I hadn’t heard since Sister Helen in the 4th Grade, and then raised unrelated issues with me, including everything from my criticism of Tom Brady (if you don’t know, don’t ask) to the point where I thought he’d ask why exactly I use a type of aftershave that kills baby deer. (My answer: I like the bubbles.)
So there’s really no shock in the way he reacted, particularly for a guy he’s held a grudge against for the past few years. But hey, professionalism takes a backseat when it comes to ratings, wouldn’t you say?
This would all be a lot more fun if we didn’t take ourselves so damned seriously as members of the sports media. There’s always an agenda, and even worse, skin thinner than your average cocktail shrimp along the way. The cliques can be worse than anything you remember in high school, including more gossip and back-stabbing than your average sorority outing; more pretention than you’d expect in an Amy Heckerling antagonist. Honest question: If you can’t take criticism when you dish it out, what the hell are you doing in the opinion business anyway?
We’re not all going to get along, but when this stupidity boils into colleagues – even those writing under the same paycheck (ahem) – attacking each other over social media, airwaves, or via COD postcard, the preferred delivery of the Boston Herald (I kid, I kid…) it just delves into a sad state of braggadocio that should just be ignored…..
…..After you read this, of course.