As a member (honorary, now?) of the jocko-journo tribe, I can attest that my people have been terribly disappointing at kvetching since this modest blog launched its weekly honor for outstanding performance in said category.
Then the kvetchiest sportswriter of them all launched a fulminating tirade against his former colleagues, and when that perfect storm arises there is no choice but to stop weighing other candidates and give the man his due hands-down.
So it is for new AOL Fanhouse columnist Jay Mariotti, who when not making rather perceptive comments about the fate of newspapers and online journalism (“If a writer thinks his paper is in trouble, it probably is. And by all means, get your butt out of Dodge . . . “) issues a most robust broadside against Chicago Sun-Times columnists who barely waited for him to get his butt out of their Dodge before having at him. Including a very famous film critic.
So it must have been with great satisfaction for an unrepentant Mariotti to reel off this little sequence aimed at his former employer — in a Q and A with Real Clear Sports — that is a runaway winner for this week’s Kvetch of the Week:
“Have some pride. Don’t seem so hideously desperate that you’re hung up on a sports columnist leaving and handing back about a million bucks. Don’t trot out writers to disparage me when, frankly, they should have been directing that fire toward a newspaper war that was lost years ago.
“It’s my life, not theirs. I wrote 5,000 columns for them in 17 years. I wrote on holidays, spent massive amounts of time away from home. Roger Ebert, whom I’ve met once, can kiss my ass. No one gave more blood to that place than I did, and if I decide it’s going to die an imminent death, it’s my call. And based on events of the last four months, I couldn’t have been more accurate. The place is dead.”
There’s so much more classic ranting that you’d expect from a sports print hack-turned-multimedia-pundit. Mariotti really, really rubs it in:
“RCS: You’re now at AOL. Why does it have the future that the Chicago Sun-Times – and perhaps the newspaper industry more generally – does not?
“Mariotti: Oh, 54 million unique visitors to its content sites in November alone — and no costs for a printing press, newsprint, ink, truck drivers, overtime, delivery, etc.
“If Hunter Thompson envisioned a newspaper during his worst drug trip, it would be the Sun-Times. It’s a nuthouse. By comparison, the environments at AOL and ESPN are a joy — and much more conducive to having fun and doing good work.”
I won’t spoil the rest, but if you’re a kvetching aficionado this one’s worth the whole, self-indulgent read.
No, Mariotti’s not my cup of tea, not close to it. In a word, he’s obnoxious, and knows that’s what works for him. But if you can cut through the noise his thoughts on where journalism is headed — and sports journalism in particular — are pretty sharp. Sometimes too sharp.