By Chuck Rothman
"... And welcome back. It's coming to the moment we've all been waiting for, the 2006 Worst Single Sports Column category. It's been a very interesting race, hasn't it, Stan?"
"Sure thing, Mel. Up until Sunday, it looked like a simple race: Wallace Matthews's "I Lust for Alfonso Soriano" column from Thanksgiving, and two hundred "Why the hell did Omar sign Valentin?" columns from early April. Matthews was the clear choice, since all the other commentators seem to have vanished; no one will admit they wrote such a thing."
"But to be fair, Stan, Matthews' column was really deserving of the honor."
"Of course, Mel. It had everything: lack of logic; highlighting the potential problems, while ignoring bigger problems with the solution; overrating the "solution"; predicting doom on the basis of a handful of utility player signings. It could be a classic. But that was before last Sunday, when Bill Price came out of nowhere to challenge."
"You certainly right about that. But you might want to tell our viewers what Bill said."
"Gladly, Mel. Bill castigated the way the Mets handled Tom Glavine's signing."
"Wait a minute, Stan. The Mets signed Glavine."
"That's right, Mel. Bill complained that the team handled it badly."
"They handled it badly? But they >signed< Glavine."
"Please don't let the facts interfere -- Bill Price doesn't. After all, he claimed that Steve Trachsel led the Mets in wins last year. But he said the team shouldn't have let Tom take so much time to make a decision. They should have insisted he decide immediately."
"But, why, Stan? Wouldn't that have guaranteed Glavine returned to Atlanta?" "Of course, but it would have taught him a lesson."
"What lesson is that?"
"I don't know, Mel. Maybe Bill Price could explain some day. Some have even suggested that Bill was certain that Glavine would go to Atlanta and wrote the column beforehand. So when Tommy came to New York, Bill rewrote the first paragraph and let it run that way."
"No professional reporter would ever do that!"
"I don't know, Mel. Deadlines can do strange things to a man."
"Well, in any case, it's truly a prizeworthy bit of bad commentary. Which do you think will win Worst Column, Stan?"
"Well, it's hard to say. Bill definitely has the getting-facts-wrong thing in his favor. And there's the strong sour grapes factor -- he spends a lot of time saying that Glavine wasn't all that good anyway. And, of course, the Mets signing Glavine made his entire point moot before it was published. Still, he has a lot in common with Matthews."
"You have to understand why Bill Price is so down on Glavine. Tom acted like a gentleman and a man of his word. We have entirely too much of that in baseball. A clubhouse where the players get together and work as a team to win ballgames may have a novelty factor in New York, but once that wears out, what's a writer to write about? Glavine is clearly a bad influence. If he acts as a man of his word and is considerate of others and tries to help out his teammates, others just possibly might act that way, too. And then reporters like Price and Matthews will have to write about the game instead of the personalities. It'd be much better if a self-absorbed showboat like Soriano was in the clubhouse to be a good influence. If the team had a few more Sorianos and a few less Glavines and Reyeses and LoDucas and Wrights, it would be better overall."
"Even if the team loses, Stan?"
"Well, you know the old saying, Mel. It doesn't matter if you win or lose; it matters that there's some nice juicy copy for the back page."
"Thank you, Stan. And the envelope has been handed to me. The Worst Sportswriting award, Worst Single Sports Column, goes to ..."