Try To Make An Honest StandPosted 20 June 2011 by Wee Bey
Life’s hard out there for pimps, cable salesmen and beat writers.
So we really hate to slag someone for the seemingly minor journalistic offense of self-plagiarism. But this was too good — and by good, we mean bad — to pass up.
In case you missed it, the Boston Bruins restored order to the hockey world by winning the Stanley Cup, pounding Vancouver in their own building in Game Seven. The final score matters, here, so hang with us.
The B’s got a goal in the first and two more in the second to take a commanding 3-0 lead. For a writer or columnist, this is the dream outcome. At 3-0 after two, you start writing. You have the entire second intermission plus the down parts of the third period — and with Boston forechecking one, that was all of the third period — to write. What’s more, Tim Thomas is the MVP. You knew that before the puck dropped. And he’s pitching a shutout. Really, this shit writes itself.
So what did Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy bang out for his readers back home? Glad you asked.
They won it for every New England mom and dad who ever woke up to drive kids to the rink at 6 a.m., and drank hot chocolate while they waited in the cold. They won it for the Revere girls with the big hair and O’Reilly sweaters; or the shot-and-beer guys who pour every dollar of expendable income into the hockey budget. They won it to avenge losing Bobby Orr to Chicago, too many men on the ice in Montreal, free agents never signed, trades that went bad, unspeakable injuries, and Game 7 disappointments.
At first blush, not awful. Up against it, that isn’t bad. We doubt any of the current Bruins, or their fans, were thinking much about free agents that didn’t get signed as they hoisted Lord Stanley, sure. We’d sub coffee, since we’ve never seen a hockey dad — or mom, for that matter — drink hot chocolate, and sure as shit not at 6 a.m. So there’s an Applebee’s salad bar whiff to this, but on balance, it doesn’t, you know, suck.
Except it does.
Here’s Dan Shaughnessy when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004:
They did it for the old folks in Presque Isle, Maine, and White River Junction, Vt. They did it for the baby boomers in North Conway, N.H., and Groton, Mass. They did it for the kids in Central Falls, R.I., and Putnam, Conn.
Now, as journalistic crimes go, this is a misdemeanor. Every writer plagiarizes herself from time to time. And, let’s face it, we rip off other writers, too. With any luck and level of honesty, though, not intentionally or maliciously.
But it still sucks, and here’s why: It shows a massive lack of respect for the reader. And, what’s more, shows a lack of respect for the craft itself. In an age when journalists get laid off every week, the Boston Globe paid Dan Shaughnessy to travel across the continent and add his perspective to their coverage of the Boston hockey team. The least he can do is sit down and bang out an original 1000 words on what happened that night, and maybe where it fits, in his immediate estimation, in the grand scheme of things.
Give us a thousand words on Tim Thomas’ beard. Give us a treatise on how creepy the Sedin twins are. For fuck’s sake, tell us what it smells like in the arena in Vancouver. Give us something.
And Then The Poets Down Here Don’t Write Nothing At All: Jeff MacGregor makes a different but not dissimilar point today after digesting four rounds of the professional sporting press trying to come to grips with Rory McIlroy being really fucking good at golf.
He’s absolutely right. McIlroy being so good brings into relief how bad we are at simply conveying simple goodness. The apparatus that’s constructed for these events, in the physical world and in the heads of the scribblers, cries out for conflict. For drama. And where none exists, the mediator will construct it, and that probably turns people off more than we can imagine.
Rory McIlroy isn’t Tiger Woods and he isn’t Christ reborn from the crucifixion of an awful round at Augusta. He’s a 22-year-old kid from County Down who for four glorious days did what he does better than most people deemed imaginable.
That really ought be enough.
Chalupa Wept: We’ve long held the opinion that newspapers would be better — and sell better, too — if we simply printed the shit we want to print instead of the shit we think we’re supposed to print. Every night, brilliant headlines and ledes and turns of phrase are self-censored in America’s newsrooms because we’re trying to dumb the end product down enough to be palatable to everyone, instead of just writing the best thing we’ve got and letting the chips fall.
This, however, has us reconsidering all of that.
Grow A Mustache, Kid, It’s Embarrassing: In actual baseball news, Mariners uber-prospect Dustin Ackley finally made his debut with the big club over the weekend, homering and tripling in his first two games. Which is good, because someone has to win the AL West, and it won’t be the Rangers if they keep pulling shit like this. Justin Verlander continues to be unhittable, which is nearly ceasing to be news.
The Twins and Nationals can’t seem to lose (much, much more on this later) and the Marlins can’t win. This prompted their manager to fall on his sword, which will lead to an 80-year-old man managing a big league club. We wish we had a joke that was kind and funny at the same time. We don’t. But that’s really old. Go get ‘em, Jack.
Albert Pujols will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken arm. This will, oddly, make Cardinals games more interesting, because we figure Tony La Russa will now attempt to show everyone how brilliant he is by playing 36 different lineups while his star first baseman is out. Call it a hunch.
Soul Engines Locked In A Night So Tender: There was no Song Of The Week debate this week. Go easy, Big Man. Thank you for your songs.