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Please have sympathy for the sportswriters

Jan 23, 2013, 8:31 AM EDT

Frank Deford

Frank Deford would like you to know that being a sportswriter is not fun and enjoyable like it used to be. We actually have to work during games now and attempt to be experts in a given sport rather than be generalist raconteurs who sit back and enjoy a ballgame while drinking a Tom Collins and then, several hours later, writing up a few hundred words that no one has the means to challenge or question:

But today there are no news cycles. News is like the Earth going around the sun, cycling constantly. As a consequence, sportswriters are required to update and blog and react to everything … now it is the sports fans at home with their gargantuan HDTVs who are the privileged ones watching the games, while sportswriters are the ones not able to. Now, that’s a fine how-do-you-do, isn’t it?

And it’s especially bad this time of year:

… this is the most trying time of the year, because there is no game this week, so we have this interminable countdown to the Super Bowl, and each day is worse for sportswriters because there is nothing new to analyze. And this year everything besides the Super Bowl is also so depressing … So fans, be kind. I’ve dubbed this “be sympathetic to sportswriters week,” the black hole in our sports calendar.

I don’t know. I just try to take these trying days one at a time. Wake up each morning and steel myself against the tribulations that rain down upon me and my sports writing brethren. To hope that my personal fortitude, combined with the thoughts and prayers of non-sportswriters, help me make it through and to realize that whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

Or, alternatively, I wake up each morning and pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming about having this cool-ass job, even when it’s the offseason and there’s nothing particularly interesting to write about.  Either way.

  1. paperlions - Jan 23, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    Hey Frank, look off in the distance….you see that thing over there? No, okay, here use this high powered telescope, now do you see it? Yes? Good. That is reality, you might want to get your bearings and start walking that way.

  2. paperlions - Jan 23, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    If Frank Deford is ever a character in a movie, I feel like Powers Boothe would be a good choice to play him.

    • Sign Ahead - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:06 AM

      I was thinking of two actors. Whenever he sees himself in the mirror, he’s Powers Boothe. But whenever we see him in real life, he’s William Sanderson. It would be a Deadwood reunion! Cy Tolliver for the self-image, EB Farnum in the eyes of everyone else.

      • hep3 - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        Yeah, I can see him standing there with this brother, Darryl and his other brother Darryl.

    • sdelmonte - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      Didn’t Craig T. Nelson play him in that telepic about Deford’s daughter’s illness? That wasn’t a bad match.

    • philliesblow - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Or Al Lewis (Grandpa from The Munsters).
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Lewis_%28actor%29

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        Mr Lewis having being deceased for almost 7 years now would seem to take him out of the running. Bear in mind that he was not really a vampire, he just played one on TV.

  3. heyblueyoustink - Jan 23, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    Sounds like he fell on black days.

    Or, how about you, Mr. Deford, pen a piece on the finer, more positive points of Aquaman. That would get a rise out of some folks,

  4. mazblast - Jan 23, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    College basketball is in full swing
    The NHL is back
    The WWE/NBA is rolling, including the massively entertaining CF that is the Lakers
    It’s less than a month until St. PACR’s Day in MLB

    What black hole?

    • historiophiliac - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      I’m cracking up at the idea of Deford covering WWE.

      • kopy - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:30 AM

        The Twin Cities’ largest newspaper used to do it.

  5. danaking - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    I read the article and think Deford was having us on a bit, tongue poked so firmly in cheek it might pop through.

    • stex52 - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      Frank can be a little self-involved and has a tendency for bloviating. But I think you are close to the mark. This is a tongue-in-cheek exercise.

  6. hgfrombc2 - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    “We actually have to work during games now and be attempt to be experts…”.
    How ’bout a junior high school writing course or some attempt at proof reading?

  7. snowbirdgothic - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    One might note it’s the Peter Kings of the world who make that two week trudge through the Harbaughpocalypse and the canonization of St. Ray of Ball’mer so insufferable.

  8. chacochicken - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    For just the cost of a cup of coffee you can help sportswriters like Frank. Forced to work for money, joylessly assessing the grit of professional athletes and spinning opinion day after day. Struggling through the hard winter months, thanklessly producing inane lists or lunching with other suffering writers, sportswriters like Frank just want to remain relevant without thinking what relevant actually means…Want you help someone like Frank today?

    • zzalapski - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      I don’t drink coffee.

      • jarathen - Jan 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM

        Perhaps a glass of hot orange juice?

  9. albertmn - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    I find it interesting that if anyone rips on Craig or others about sportswriting, they will point out that they are “bloggers” not sportswriters. But, today it is “my sports writing brethren”. I’m not even trying to rip Craig specifically (at least on this issue), but I just find it interesting how things change.

  10. bigtrav425 - Jan 23, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    I have zero sympathy for you guys.especially when most of the time it’s bs none scene and logic

    • Sign Ahead - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Irony level…rising

  11. dabirdguy - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Give that whiney asshat a shovel and have him dig ditches for a week.
    I bet BIG money the sob story ends IMMEDIATELY.

  12. bat42boy - Jan 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    I’m hoping you don’t want me to feel sorry for all sportswriters. Because l won’t.

  13. cur68 - Jan 23, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Uh, I don’t mean to cast a rock into anyone’s calm pool of sportswriter self awareness but Deford’s article struck me as meant in fun. Y’know, satire? :”I’m writing this as a bit of a joke?” Dunno for sure, though. My irony-meter’s been on the fritz for a few decades now.

    • stex52 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      Cur, per my note above, I agree. It’s in his general style.

    • indaburg - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      I saw it like you but my sarcasm spidey sense has also been broken. I blame Dickey and his earnestness for breaking it.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        Yea, she’s back!

      • cur68 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Possibly. She might also still be abroad and using her laptop. Best to play this one cagey-like. Don’t wanna blow her cover in case she’s told the locals she’s a sportswriter/blogger so that they buy her drinks. That’s Rule 5 in the HBT Guide To The Galaxy: No getting free drinks by claiming to write for HBT, unless a) your life is in danger; b) you really want to.

      • indaburg - Jan 23, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        I am back in the states. Back and better than ever. I kissed the Blarney Stone and now my innate gift of eloquence has been magnified tenfold. Do not engage me in a battle of wits. You shall be slain.

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        BTW, Cur, on an unrelated note. How’s the weather today? Still super nasty? I’m not as callous as they say, so I won’t describe Texas Gulf Coast weather today.

      • cur68 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:31 PM

        Snowing. Snowing a lot. -15 today. Wind’s out of the north west. So dry your shrivel to a raisin in nothing flat.

        67 days to Opening Day. Seems like years right now.

    • cur68 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      On a total aside, does Deford not look like a 30′s or 40′s film extra? Kind of guy Jimmy Stewart would go to for advice? You’d see him once or twice in the movie, maybe in the beginning to establish his role, around the middle as he becomes aware of poor Jimmy’s fix, then near the beginning of the end as he steps in to lend a hand with his magnificent presence and natural authority to Jimmy’s cause (whatever it is Jimmy’s up to. Could be herding cattle, finding money at Christmas or getting a flubber onto shoes…wait…that last wasn’t Stewart, was it? Whatever. He could have dealt in flubber. And Deford could have helped, too. If he wanted to. After, its flubber. Deford and Stewart would have been great in Flubber).

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        I don’t know. He reminds me more of the dishonest banker come to foreclose on Jimmy’s ranch in mid-January. Note the seeming sincerity, destroyed by the beady eyes and slight smirk. Jimmy would end up having to shoot him.

      • cur68 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        Deford as the villain? Dunno. Looks too much like an aging and dignified Rhett Butler to me. I can only ever think of Butler as a good-ish guy. The notion of him as a baddie…he might be versatile enough. He’d have to give a damn, though.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:33 PM

        He looks like a guest character on Magnum, PI.

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:33 PM

        Yeah, the picture plays for Rhett Butler. Good-ish is the perfect descriptor in that case.

        Here’s to warmer days for you.

  14. forsch31 - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    It seems that Craig, a mass producer of snark, completely misses it when it actually reads somebody else’s.

  15. misterchainbluelightning - Jan 23, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    Bloggers are not writers, perhaps if they have some credentials specifically calling them writers they could be considered so, but otherwise, there are just Bloggers.

  16. anxovies - Jan 23, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Sports writers today drink Tom Collins during a game? In the old days Dizzy Dean and Buddy Blatner drank Falstaff until they puked on their cordovans. How different things are now.

  17. joerymi - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    No news cycles? Huh?

    Did he just miss the Manti Te’o thing? For a week it was huge, now people would rather have root canals than listen to it. It may be a different cycle, but cycles are still here and they follow the same premise as always. There was no golden era of media. There are simply media people that get old, and like every area of life, grow to believe they were a part of the last great generation.

    And I am annoyed with this whole “now we are required to…” malarkey. No one is requiring anyone to blog constantly, but people love one thing above all: their own opinions. Don’t blame a communications revolution for the fact that we all love to talk out of our ass constantly. Sportswriters use to shoot the shit on every subject at the bar, now they do so on twitter.

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