Thursday, August 13, 2009

0 comments Puff Pieces On Old People Using Cliches

I put a message up on the Yahoo Football board with a possible compromise to our current situation. Give feedback for those that care on what you think about it.

It's been a long week in my part of the woods and to add to my misery, there hasn't been a whole lot of bad journalism this week. It's so bad even a Bill Simmons column isn't worth tackling for this week and there are times I would love to write about one his columns just to make fun of him.

Before I get to a puff piece Bill Plaschke wrote about an old scout, I want to share a conversation I heard on PTI yesterday between Kornheiser and Wilbon. I just can't even fathom how sportswriters can be so stupid after working in the business for so long...hell, maybe that is the problem they work in the business too long and get stupid. They were discussing Jamie Moyer's move to the bullpen to make room for Pedro Martinez and the conversation went something (I am trying my best to remember...but I get the key points) like this.

(Wilbon) "Jamie Moyer is not happy he is moving to the bullpen with Pedro Martinez, does he have a case Tony?"

(Kornheiser) "He does. He leads the team with 10 wins and even Ruben Amaro, Jr. recognizes he may have misled Moyer a little bit, saying he signed him 'under the pretense of starting.'"

(Wilbon) "He really has been awful this year though. He has an ERA of over 5.00 Tony. That's really not good."

(Kornheiser) "He has 10 wins this year, which leads the team! They can't just put him in the bullpen when he has more wins than anyone else on the staff."

(Wilbon) "He has the worst ERA of all qualifying starting pitchers though Tony, he is not pitching well this year."

(Kornheiser) "Moyer is also a known quantity in the locker room and nobody knows Pedro Martinez in that Phillies clubhouse. I think we could be looking at another Rip Hamilton-Allen Iverson situation here."

(Wilbon laughing that he still has to work with this moron) "You really think this is a situation like that."

(Kornheiser realizing he has made zero sense) "I think it could be a similar situation but I don't see how you just put Moyer in the bullpen."

Why is it sportswriters can't understand that wins are a product of run support? The Phillies scored double digit runs last night, pretty much any pitcher in Major League Baseball could have won the game last night. The best part was when Kornheiser realized he was making no freaking sense he just automatically switched to the "clubhouse leader" argument, which is the standard backup for a journalist when there is really not a case to be made for keeping a player in the day-to-day lineup, no matter the sport. If you have no point or are losing the argument, just say the player is a "clubhouse leader," that seems to be the sportswriter rule.

-Gary Parrish thinks coaches have been fired for less than what Rick Pitino has done.

Remember, Eustachy was pushed out of Iowa State after photographs of him partying with young women and drinking cheap beer surfaced. It was a bad deal, no question. But was it worse than a married man nailing a stranger on a table in a restaurant, and then paying for a subsequent abortion?

Rick Pitino is never going to get fired. There is no way it is happening. If his name wasn't Rick Pitino he would be fired already, but he has a National Championship and has the Louisville basketball team in the Top 25 every single year. People are offended by his actions but a Louisville basketball team that doesn't have the name recognition and recruiting prowess of a Rick Pitino Louisville basketball team offends these people even more.

I never had that much respect for Rick Pitino as it is, but what little I had left is pretty much gone now. His idea the money he gave the woman he was sleeping with was NOT for an abortion and was for health insurance is bullshit. The simple fact is he gave a pregnant woman who wanted an abortion and had no health insurance $3,000. There's no difference in what the money was for and what is was used for. I am sure he didn't write "for abortion" or "for health insurance" in the description part of the check. I am not so stupid enough to believe Pitino when he says the money was not for an abortion.

I'd keep Rick Pitino as my head coach, and all indications are that he will indeed continue as Louisville's head coach. But it took a couple of radio guys in Iowa to remind me that coaches (specifically Eustachy) have been removed for much less,

I don't think Pitino will get fired but this incident has put him on notice at the University of Louisville. Basically the team has one more reason to fire him if the team starts to perform poorly. If the school had any guts they would fire him, but if Pitino had any guts he would quit. I don't know how he is expected to go into a recruit's house and talk about his program with any sort of a straight face. How can he even talk to his team this year with everyone knowing his extracurricular actions have revealed him as someone has sex with women in restaurants, gets them pregnant and then tries to lie about why he gave her money. This is embarrassing for the school, but I fully expect him to be the head coach this year and next.

I am not jumping up on my high horse or anything. There is a different attitude in college athletics towards actions such as this because Pitino is dealing with kids who he serves as a role model for and he is also possibly one of the few male authority figures in their lives as well. There is not a higher standard for him as a person but he should set a higher standard for himself just based on the fact he represents the school and everything he does reflects on the school in some way.

-This is probably my favorite FJMorgan post they ever did. It was about Bill Plaschke and his fascination with puff pieces on old people. Well, Plaschke has done it again.

The old scout has a shuffling gait from years of chasing prospects, deep wrinkled skin cancer from doing it in the sun, declining vision from describing it all in tiny handwritten notes on crumpled paper.

He hasn't literally been "chasing" prospects Plaschke. I would say this "gait" is due to this old scout being old and not being able to walk as well as he used to.

When I first read this sentence, my initial thought was, "I really hope this guy isn't still driving a car," which of course he is. Call me crazy but an elderly gentleman who can barely walk anymore, and can't see either, isn't the type of person I like to meet out on the roads of America.
Even more compelling is what he doesn't have.

No wife, no children, no air conditioning in his cluttered, ancient house on a hill near Dodger Stadium, and no more expense account from his bosses with the Seattle Mariners.

I feel like I am reading a 9th grade paper. Plaschke has a real problem getting subtlety across in his columns. There have been four paragraphs and we have already been treated to descriptions of "a shuffling gait," "his cluttered, ancient house," and "tiny handwritten notes." We get it. He's old.

During the middle of this week's national high school showcase Area Code Games at USC, the old scout excuses himself from his folding chair to return to his battered convertible parked on a nearby street.

Unable to afford the campus lot, he has to feed the meter.

How much is the campus lot? I need to know this because if the meter is $1.00/hour and there are 3 sets of games, he could be looking at paying $9.00 to park. I can't imagine the campus lot would be that much more expensive with a visitor's pass.

Also, where does he get all the quarters from? Is he constantly pulling them from behind a young child's ear?

"I'm beat up and broke down," Phil Pote says, laughing. "If you don't slow down, you will end up like me."

You will end up like me.

I don't even know what that means. His job is to sit in the stands and scout baseball players, then get in his car and go sit and scout other baseball players. This isn't exactly the rat race he is involved in. I know there is a lot of travel involved with being a scout but it seems from all indications in this article that Pote only scouts in a small area. I am not trying to disrespect the profession but I don't get how he needs to "slow down."

Once a scout reaches the age of 76 like Southland legend Pote, there is no way to retire gracefully, so they simply don't retire.

I wonder if Bill Plaschke can write a sentence that is not a cliche.

Why is there no way to retire gracefully? You walk into the office of the team you work for and say you have saved up enough money and are looking to retire. Farewell, goodbye.

When you offer to meet Pote at his home, he sets up two folding chairs down the left-field line of a prep baseball game.

"This is my home," he says.

Oh Jesus. Not only is Bill Plaschke writing in cliches, this Pote guy is a walking cliche. These two are perfect for each other. If there was any justice in this world, these two could get married and move to a gritty ranch in Montana and write books about the majesty of senior citizens together using only cliches, 3-5 word sentences and a paragraph for each sentence.

Plaschke writes like he is writing a children's book. Every sentence would be a new page.

While other scouts are ensconced in bleacher seats in the shade, Pote opts for a better view under the sun.

This could be why he has skin cancer. I don't feel sorry for him, I just think he is stupid for not sitting in the shade if given the opportunity.

"It's not about seeing better, it's about hearing better," he says. "I want to hear the ball off the bat. I want to hear the players talk. I want to hear the game."

Yet he says this with a giant hearing aid in each ear.

Possibly Bill Plaschke is confused about the purpose of a hearing aid. Hearing aids are worn to help people hear things better. Perhaps Bill Plaschke believes hearing aids are worn to signify that someone is elderly, gritty and sun drenched. I don't really know, but I am pretty sure after reading the last sentence he doesn't know what a hearing aid does.

Nothing given, it seems, and everything taken.

We are not talking about soldiers, someone who takes in and cares for mentally/physically handicapped children or a social worker who brings food to poor children in third world countries. We are talking about a baseball scout who makes a living watching people play baseball and then grades them on well they play. Quit the melodrama.

"Like any old scout, I'm full of b.s." Pote says. "But I think I dispelled enough of it over the years that there isn't any left."

You will end up like me.

Quit repeating that sentence. If Bill Plaschke had any pride left in his lisp loving body, he would be embarrassed at the way he repeats statements like this...but he doesn't.

First thing you notice is, it's tough for Pote to watch a game from his spot down the left-field line because his view is increasingly blocked.

Stretched golf shirts everywhere, scouts leaving the stands and lining up to say hello to him, to thank him, to pump that fist.

Everyone either loves Phil Pote or they don't want to give him a chance to scout the players. I prefer to look at it from the jaded point of view that his fellow scouts don't want him to be able to see the game and scout the players they want to scout.

Like many scouts, he not only found prospects, he groomed them, spending more than 30 years coaching inner-city Los Angeles baseball in places like Fremont High, Locke High and Los Angeles City College.

"He would go places nobody else would go," remembers Derrel Thomas, a longtime major leaguer who went to Dorsey High.

(Bengoodfella whispering) "Does that mean he would go where black people lived?"

Derrel Thomas may be a new entry in the category of "Most Underachieving First Pick of the Draft Ever." Check out these badass numbers.

During Pote's 50 years scouting for the Oakland Athletics, Dodgers and Mariners, he signed several notable major leaguers, including Matt Keough, Chet Lemon and Wayne Gross.

Chet Lemon, that was a pretty good signing. Matt Keough sounded pretty familiar to me and now I know why. An All-Star pitcher with a career losing record AND he now he has a slight drinking problem? Now that is a good signing!

The third thing you notice is that Phil Pote does all of this the hard way.

I would like to know at what point doing something "the hard way" became honorable? Call me a jerk but it just seems stupid, not honorable, to try and do your job the hard way.

Unlike virtually every other scout alive, he doesn't use a computer, he has no e-mail address, he has never accessed the Internet. Unlike most scouts, he also doesn't use a radar gun or video camera, nothing but a stopwatch and a stare.

Which, with all due respect, could explain why he has been working for 50 years and his notable signings are all from the 1960's and 1970's. Again, with all due respect to Phil Pote, if you aren't using technology like this to evalute players then you probably don't have a place in scouting today. You should probably be fired. If he worked in what I call "the real world" meaning "my exact job" and I insisted on working with a typewriter and writing all my notes down by hand, I would be fired fairly quickly.

"I came into this world without all that technology, I will leave without it," says Pote.

He came into this world without his hearing aids, yet he still uses THAT technology to hear better. Go figure.

Also, unlike everyone in all areas of baseball, Pote doesn't work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, as he observes his Sabbath as a Seventh Day Adventist.

I tried this at a job interview once. It didn't work.

Listen to the story of how Crenshaw's Darryl Strawberry signed his first contract with the New York Mets only after Pote -- who didn't even work for the Mets -- assured him that he was being treated fairly.

So far we have been treated to four players who Pote had a hand in signing and two of them have had substance abuse problems at some point in their lives. I just wanted to point this out.

Listen to the story of how Pote's Fremont team wore uniforms with giant numbers because he wanted them to walk into hostile suburban schools with oversized pride.

Well, that and as Bill Plaschke mentioned earlier Phil Pote can't see that well anymore. It's hard to manage a team when you can't read the numbers on your own teams uniforms.

Oversized numbers caused oversized pride? What are the odds the suburban school kids made fun of the oversized numbers and Pote's players by saying the numbers were big because they were stupid or something?

"Phil Pote was my inspiration for that program," says Young, a former major leaguer from south Los Angeles. "I remember I signed my first contract and I bought a new car and I was cruising around when I ran into Phil."

He ran into Phil with his new car? That would be a much interesting story.

"I don't have much time left," Pote says. "I'm just an old beat-up guy, but I'm hoping somebody will still listen."

I am still waiting for a quote from Pote that is not a cliche or cliche based...

Tacked to the backstop of a green gem of a baseball field is a square wooden sign

"Pote Field" it reads.

Here Bill Plaschke boldly takes on decades of English sentence structure rules and decides to start a new paragraph without ending the last paragraph in a period.

By the way, the most sentences any paragraph had on this page of Plaschke's column was 2 sentences and it only happened twice. Yes, every other paragraph is one sentence long...and he doesn't even use run-on sentences like I do.

You will end up like me.

An elderly gentleman with skin cancer who lives out of a car and refuses to use modern technology to do his job and speaks in cliches. I really hope not. That being said, I really like his straw hat.

Cliche count (by sentence): 16.