Let's see, something about the NCAA letting every basketball team that exists into the final tournament, the Bears managed to find someone too arrogant to realize that the offensive coordinator position in Chicago is a death trap, some coach with an apparent anger management problem drills one of his own volleyball players in the head with a volleyball during a match (from @JerodMSF at MidwestSportsFans.com), and Joe Mauer is about to sign a deal to stay with the Twins for the rest of his life.
Then I saw a tweet from Mr. Paul Sullivan, the Chicago Tribune's beat writer for the Cubs:
"One idiot gone, one idiot en route. Former leader of Boston's '04 "Idiots" signs minor league deal with Cubs. http//bit.ly/9Dbnak"Obviously, the idiot that is en route is Kevin Millar, but the identity of the idiot that is gone was left to our imagination. Of course, the most likely candidates for the identity of the idiot would seem to be departed Cubs: Kevin Gregg, Aaron Miles, Jake Fox, Neal Cotts, Reed Johnson, Rich Harden, or Milton Bradley.
I checked out his Twitter feed and looked for references to any of those players. Milton Bradley was referred to nineteen times in the last two months with such phrases as "deadbeat," "really bad idea," and "overpriced" peppered into his descriptions. Aaron Miles was mentioned once, two months ago. None of the other departed players was mentioned even in passing, so it seems we have a more than likely target for Sullivan's name-calling.
Still, there was one other possibility, so I thought I should make sure Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune wasn't engaging in petty name-calling of a player that he covered as an objective sportswriter. I thought some due diligence was required before accusing him of being more of a child than my girlfriend's three-year old niece. So, to be sure he wasn't just being self-deprecating, I tweeted back to him:
"Did you go somewhere? RT @PWSullivan: One idiot gone, one idiot en route."
Within a couple of hours, I noticed that Sullivan's tweets had disappeared from my feed. I checked and found I had been blocked. I guess Paul didn't like being mistaken for an idiot despite the fact that he had absolutely no problem at all in publicly calling another person an idiot.
Maybe Paul doesn't understand that there is a difference between being a columnist and a beat writer. Maybe he doesn't get that a beat writer needs to stay fairly objective. Maybe he thought he was free to go off on a rant on one of the players if he so chooses.
No, that's not it. I found an interview SportsNutz.com did with Paul back in 2005 (The interviewer calls himself The Heckler, so its possible there is some copyright infringement with the real Heckler, but that is for another day):
[The Heckler]: Does being the beat writer for the team instead of a columnist affect you as far as the questions you ask the players, since you see them everyday?That's one hell of an effort you made last year, Paul. I'd hate to see what kind of poisonous bile would get published if you weren't making such a valiant effort to be objective.
[Paul Sullivan]: I don’t think people understand the difference between a columnist and a beat writer. A beat writer is supposed to be fairly objective. Obviously if I was totally objective it would be pretty boring, but I think most of it is based on the premise of objectivity. A columnist can say whatever he wants. He can go off on a rant against one of the players. I’ve got to deal with the players, so I try to get along with everyone if I can. It’s not always possible, but I think I make an effort.
There is one last possible scenario where Paul Sullivan has remained objective and not resorted to petty name-calling. I looked up the definition of "idiot" and found that there are indeed two accepted definitions:
1. an utterly foolish or senseless person.
2. Psychology. a person of the lowest order in a former classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.
Accepting the first definition would require that the user of the word would have made some subjective conclusions about the person they are referring to. The second is an objective (though outdated) term reserved for those with extreme mental handicaps and a measured IQ under 25. Maybe Paul has some test results that show that Milton Bradley actually is a severely mentally disabled individual.
That would indeed be news. If it were true. Otherwise, it is libelous. Or he was just being a subjective dickhead and calling someone names disguised as journalism when he knows that person isn't going to read what he writes. I'll miss his classy words of wisdom.
Another fine blogger and fellow Paul Sullivan-blocked tweeter, Wrigleyville23, asked Paul Sullivan's editor, Mike Kellams about Sullivan's latest tweet. Specifically, he asked if Kellams felt it was acceptable for a beat writer to refer to the people he covers as idiots.
Mr. Kellams did respond via an e-mail to WV23:
I believe a lot of things.
I believe Chicago is a big place with tough people – or least I thought we were – and this is pretty tame.
I also believe a guy who can’t keep track of outs, a guy who was sent home by his GM (who was then applauded for his actions by the player’s former teammates), a guy who checked out early on his rent, might well fit the description.
I also believe readers who don’t sign their names yet demand publicly accountability by others might also fit the description.
Not saying. Just saying.
Have a great day, Mr. Ville23. Is that a family name?
So, it is OK to insult people as an objective journalist as long as the insult is tame and also, Bradley really is an idiot.
It is also OK to insult people who write under a pseudonym because they are obviously not decent human beings themselves.
Well, Mr. Kellam and Mr. Sullivan, my name is Tim McGinnis and I think you are both cheap hacks who are desperately trying to hold onto jobs in a dying medium by being dicks to the players they cover and the few readers they have left. You can find me in Aisle 424 on most game days.