1) BASEBALL JOURNALISM’S HALL OF SHAME
With yesterday’s Baseball Hall of Fame selection vote, sportswriters are moralizing about performance-enhancing drugs in the game. Several have declared they won’t vote for players in the PED era.
What were the sportswriters doing when it was all going on? In many cases, Bryan Grant of Grantland writes, they were looking the other way — intentionally or otherwise.
In an odd twist, several writers joined La Russa’s crusade (Bob notes: Tony LaRussa, Cardinals manager who insisted rumors of steroid use were untrue). This is an unfortunate tic of sportswriting — when a writer becomes so deadened by the code of silence that he begins to demand it himself. (This frequently occurs when writers blame players for “throwing teammates under the bus.”) A Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist called Wilstein “rude.” Dan Shaughnessy wrote in the Boston Globe, “No wonder players loathe the media.”
I spoke to Shaughnessy recently about the steroid issue. “I’ve never been an investigative reporter,” he said. “I’m not really interested in that. It’s not what I got into this for.”
But the harshest blowback came from the St. Louis media. When the New York Post asked a local photographer to take a picture of McGwire’s locker, the Post found that the photographer had ratted out the paper to the Cardinals. Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz, also working with the permission of the team, attempted to re-create Wilstein spotting the andro. Miklasz stood several feet from McGwire’s locker. With Grassy Knoll precision, he announced in his August 24 column that he had to “intentionally look, and look hard” to read the label.
He says solid reporting on performance-enhancing drug use in baseball didn’t happen until the story was taken away from beat writers whose relationships with players might be too cozy, and given to “a new kind of baseball writer.”
Back to yesterday’s vote. One writer, who views the process as a joke, gave his ballot away — to Deadspin. It was a protest against the moralizing by baseball writers.
I hate all the moralizing we do in sports in general, but I especially hate the hypocrisy in this: Many of the gatekeeper voters denying Barry Bonds Hall Of Fame entry would have they themselves taken a magical, healing, not-tested-for-in-their-workplace elixir if it made them better at their jobs, especially if lesser talents were getting the glory and money. Lord knows I’d take the elixir for our ESPN2 TV show if I could.
LaVelle E. Neal III, the president of the Baseball Writers of America and the Minnesota Twins beat writer for the Star Tribune, says there have already been discussions about what punishment Dan Le Betard will face for making a mockery of a vote that is, itself, a mockery.
2) THE CHEAP STANDING OVATION
Perhaps you’ve been to an arts performance lately which was pretty good — not the best you’ve ever heard, but pretty good. People start clapping and you do, too. Then you start looking around, thinking, “please don’t stand, please don’t stand,” but people start standing. Now the pressure is on you. Do you give in to the pressure of the peers and forsake your standards which say you only stand for the truly great performances? Or do you hold your ground — your seat — and risk the disdain of those around you?
Tane Danger, who hosts the Public Policy Theater in Minneapolis, writes this week that we need to stay seated more often.
By giving everything a standing ovation, we diminish the act to near uselessness. If a train-wreck like Elf: the Musical gets the same praise as the Jungle Theater’s critically-acclaimed production of Driving Miss Daisy, then what’s the point? Are we standing because we were actually so moved we couldn’t remain sitting, or because we’re hoping to shorten the time until we get out of the theater by a few seconds?
Plus, if we stand for everything, what is left to do when something truly is remarkable? If the standing-O has been diminished in significance, what can we do to show special admiration, short of throwing personal undergarments onto the Guthrie stage?
3) LAST DANCE
It’d be swell with us if we didn’t have a need for any more stories about teenagers with only a short time to live. But we’d need a new source to remind us of astounding grace in our midst.
Vlad Yanstev, 19, has brain cancer. His friends say during his time at Osseo High School, from where he graduated in 2012, he never went to a school dance because of his battle.
Now, his cancer has returned. So his friends organized a surprise school dance for him, KARE 11 says.
4) SOON, WE’LL WANT TO DRESS UP TO FLY AGAIN
OK Delta, what’s your end game here? You’re going to make flying more comfortable? Bigger overheard bins to accommodate that guy who likes to try to jam a grand piano in there? Adjusted head rests? In seat video? Power outlets? How much more is this going to cost us?
The Star Tribune reports:
Delta spokesman Paul Skrbec said that while he can “never say never,” the airline has no plans to create fees for any of these improvements.
“The focus is not doing things to increase fees at this point,” Skrbec said.
Again, what’s really going on here? Skinnier seats, putting more customers in the planes, Motley Fool says.
Whether the new seats are really closer together depends on how you measure. By the usual measure, called “pitch,” the new ones are generally an inch closer together from front to back as measured at the armrest.
Airlines say you won’t notice. And the new seats are designed to minimize this problem. The seats going onto Southwest’s 737s have thinner seatback magazine pockets. Passengers on Alaska Airlines will find slightly smaller tray tables. United’s new seats put the magazine pocket above the tray table, getting it away from passengers’ knees. And seat -makers saved some space with lighter-weight frames and padding.
This allows airlines to claim that passengers have as much above-the-knee “personal space” as they did before, even if the seats are slightly closer together below the knee.
Two things are going to happen soon. Either Kevin Love is going to catch the earliest flight out of Minnesota, joining a long list of stars fleeing Loserville USA. Or a couple of his teammates are going to be sent packing. Trade Kevin Love? It’s a dilemma for a team that will probably recognize soon that Love is going to walk when his contract is up.
The simmering feud between the only true star on the Minnesota Timberwolves and J.J. Barrea, the back-up point guard for the team, boiled over after last night’s 104-103 loss.
“We can’t have two guys sitting at the end of the bench that play good minutes just sitting there and not getting up during timeouts,” Love said, referring to the poor body language exhibited by veterans J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham in the fourth quarter, the Associated Press reported. “We all need to be in this together. That kind of (ticks) me off. We’re supposed to be a team.”
Sound familiar? The two don’t like each other. You may recall this from a season ago.
To his credit, during his entire time in Minnesota, Barrea has almost always been the first off the bench to greet players on the floor. He’s often the biggest cheerleader on the bench.
That he and Love, who has a history of hissyfits, are now having their fight in the open confirms that the team has a locker-room problem and has grown dysfunctional in a season where they were supposed to be a playoff team.
Love’s latest outburst came on the day his team started a campaign to get Love named to the NBA All Star team.
BONUS I: Do the headlines on the web seem a little more “dramatic” than they need to be? Of course, they are. It’s how websites (and blogs) get you to click on them. And, they work.
Now, an online site highlights the nonsense, with a quiz based on a popular card game, according to AdFreak:
The quiz, named in a clear homage to popular game Cards Against Humanity, was created by the team at CentUp, a sort of tip jar/share button combination that lets readers give a few pennies to their favorite websites, which split the contribution with a charity.
In explaining Headlines Against Humanity, CentUp says it wanted to highlight the silly, often-disingenuous approach many sites now take in repackaging vapid content to get maximum clicks.
“Click-baity headlines are taking over the Web. Today, publishers make more money from quantity than quality. They’re incentivized to manipulate lots of people into clicking on a headline instead of getting engaged readers,” CentUp says.
“The average page view today is worth .003 cents. Maybe instead of paying this minuscule amount for crap we don’t really care about, we give a few cents to stuff that we do?”
BONUS III: Attack of the ice balls!
BONUS IV: Colbert mocks WCCO. Then, WCCO mocks WCCO.
What issues are Republicans and Democrats ignoring at their peril?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Stateline, a Pew Charitable Trusts project, is releaseing its annual State of the States series this week. It’s a series of reports looking towards what issues or trends will top agendas in state legislatures and elections this year. The Daily Circuit will look at the report and in particular at trends in health care and fiscal health within states.
Second hour: With former Minneapolis Mayor’s heart attack last weekend and the season of shoveling and overeating, we’ll talk a look at the risk of heart disease. How much do our habits play into the liklihood of having a heart attack, and how much is predisposed due to family history? What does the latest research show in terms of treatment and prevention of heart disease?
Third hour: Notable Books: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – Broadcast of a 2013 Westminster Town Hall Forum event with former CIA covert operations officer Valerie Plame speaking on security, surveillance and privacy.
The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – More than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence in South Sudan that erupted last month. The Takeaway looks at the roots of the current crisis.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Dan Olson profiles Minnesota Historical Society curator Patrick Coleman, who for nearly 40 years has overseen the state’s collection of maps and other documents ranging from 500-year-old travel histories by Father Louis Hennepin to bodice-ripping romance novels, thrillers by Vince Flynn…and everything in between.
Minnesota is projected to be short about 2,000 physicians a decade from now, even as the Affordable Care Act and aging Baby Boomers flood hospitals with new patients. But University of Minnesota medical school officials say a national training bottleneck threatens the state’s ability to generate more doctors. Next week a group of legislators will meet to consider solutions. MPR’s Alex Friedrich will have the story.
Fantasy, comic books and science fiction used to be nerd culture, but now it’s pop culture. And Chris Hardwick can’t believe he gets paid to talk about it on television. NPR takes a look at Hardwick and how hes built success making TV out of pop culture fixations.