Saturday, April 30, 2011

Standing Up for the Rich and Powerful

Chicago has a proud tradition of brilliant sportswriters. I grew up on Jerome Holtzman, who taught me to love newspapers and gave me even more reasons to love baseball in the city.

Chicago also has an embarrassing tradition of giving morons columns and allowing them to poison the atmosphere: Skip Bayless and Jay Mariotti taught me the lesson that in contemporary America, being an a*^hole is often confused with being interesting. Steve Rosenbloom currently proves that this inability to distinguish between the two continues to characterize the environment.

David Haugh is a whole different story. Haugh is generally a solid writer about the Bears and game performance and analysis. His opinion pieces, on the other hand, are idiotic and induce winces while reading. Not because I disagree with his opinions necessarily: Haugh recently wrote that he thought the Bears should do right by the Ravens and send Baltimore its fourth round pick to remedy the team's silly mistake. I also think that it would have been a classy move that would not only salve any hard feelings from the Ravens but also be a tremendous boon in terms of public relations and general perceptions of the club. But Haugh wrote this in support of his argument:
Salvaging Angelo’s reputation around the league by showing he’s a man of his word might be worth whatever fringe roster player might be picked at that slot in the fourth round.

Bob LeGere, who does excellent work for the Daily Herald and is a must-read for all Bears fans, appropriately mocks the stupidity of labeling the possible fourth round selection as a "fringe roster player":

And those who act as if giving away a fourth-round pick is no big deal are uninformed. Since Angelo began running the Bears’ draft in 2002, the fourth round has brought DE Alex Brown, CB Nate Vasher, QB Kyle Orton, LB Jamar Williams, OG Josh Beekman, S Craig Steltz, DE Henry Melton, CB D.J. Moore and DE Corey Wootton.

Indeed, in honor of "fringe roster players" selected in the fourth round, I walked around Byrd Stadium today wearing Marcus Robinson's jersey -- the Bears' 1997 fourth round draft pick out of South Carolina who, under current Terp offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, set and still holds the franchise record for receiving yards in a single season (1,400 yds).

To be fair, it is a throwaway line. Sloppy, ill-conceived, and unsupported, but minor.

Haugh's follow-up? Feigned outrage at Robbie Gould in one of the dumbest concocted controversies in recent memory. Haugh quotes our kicker as telling the Chicago Tribune:
"Look, fans don't buy tickets to see Virginia or Brian McCaskey. They pay to watch Brian Urlacher, Drew Brees and all the great players. This lockout is all because of the owners' greed. I'm sorry if that sounds cold, but it is the truth."

This quote seems, on its face, unremarkable. Not to Haugh. Haugh sees Gould defiling Virginia McCaskey, disparaging her honor. This, Haugh will not abide. Now, expressing this opinion is one thing. When Haugh writes:
By today's anything-goes standards, what Gould said falls short of offensive to many. But a Bears player criticizing Virginia McCaskey is like a baseball manager arguing balls and strikes. You're wrong the moment you begin to speak, whatever you say.

he just comes off as an idiot. A lack of outrage at a fellow sportswriter who repeatedly and continually attacks player for failing to play through injury evinces "anything-goes standards." On the other hand, saying that people don't pay to see the McCaskeys and that the lockout is due to owner's greed is a mixture of fact (people don't pay to see the McCaskeys) and opinion (the lockout is a product of a number of things, including owners' desire for more money -- i.e., greed -- the weight afforded to each factor depends upon perspective).

But Haugh goes further:
I called Gould to see if he regretted escalating lockout rhetoric to include a woman considered off-limits for a long time.

You what?
I asked Gould if he will apologize to Mrs. McCaskey whenever football resumes.

Is this the third grade?

Grow up, David.

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