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Live! From Worst Sportwriting Awards!

Chuck RothmanMonday, December 4, 2006
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."

"How's that?"

"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 ..."

About Chuck Rothman: I haven't always been a Mets fan, since I started following baseball one year too early. But I've been rooting for them since 1965, and is so much a fan that I actually remember Sean Fitzmaurice's big league debut, that Chuck Estrada was the winning pitcher for Tom Seaver's first big-league start, and that Newsday predicted the Mets would win the pennant in 1969. For forty years, he's been living and dying with the team. Mostly the latter, alas, but it hasn't shaken my confidence -- if you root for a team, you stick with it.   Read More -->

Comments (7)

hi chuck - i have a long standing dislike of almost everything wallace matthews spews...i have even gone so far as to send him an email and call his editor at newsday to complain and tell him i was cancelling my subscription to newsday when he mentioned david wrights name in an article about steroids - i think i may even have sent the link to mike at the time - i was just furious because the reference was totally unfounded and uncalled for - it was matthews' negativity and irresponsible journalistic behavior that i couldn't deal with any longer. of course matthews didn't even have the decency to respond to my email...what a surprise...

I know its not really sports but that guy Mushnick is so bad. Its like he tries to find a negative in everything. I just turn the page when I see his 'work'... anything he wrote could be called worst of the year...

There are many reasons why newspaper circulations are declining so drastically. Ironically, it's blogs like Mike's that are policing themselves to higher journalistic standards than the "professional" dinosaur media.

Not sure what their various agendas actually are, but they apparently aren't bright enough to know their (former) readers are brighter than they give them credit for.

Did I just end a sentence with a preposition? Dang.

Actually, I don't pay much attention to Wallace Matthews, since I don't read Newsday regularly (or any NYC papers -- I'm in Schenectady). It was just that those two columns struck me as being particularly stupid.

It's sad when a professional columnist has to lower himself to the level of Internet troll, though, and say stupid and provacative things just to get some attention.

Price's article was embarrassing. His point -- that Glavine made the Mets look silly by being so patient -- was beyond absurd. It may be the worst piece on the Mets I've ever read.

I have to admit that I thought it was satire at first, then I realized it was unintentional satire.

Great job!!!!

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