Monday, October 19, 2009

Kaplan Explains How to be Classy

My Sunday was spent watching some football, keeping an eye on my fantasy teams, and getting ready for the big Bears/Atlanta game in the evening.  My thoughts about David Kaplan and our stupid little argument about Rudy Jaramillo's qualifications was fading into the background.  I was pretty much over him resorting to name calling, and I was ready for the Bears to make all the pain go away.

Unfortunately, the Bears did not read the script and proceeded to fail tremendously in almost every aspect of the game.  Jay Cutler engineered a long drive that seemed to be exactly what Hank Stram was talking about when he discussed matriculating the ball down the field, but then capped the drive off with an interception in the red zone.

The Falcons were giving Matt Ryan about 800 years to throw on every play, every blitz was picked up, and then Michael Turner started getting some traction in the ground game.

Meanwhile for the Bears, Matt Forte fumbled twice on the half-yard line while trying to score, losing the second one for a turnover.  The special teams allowed a huge return after Cutler tied the score late in the fourth quarter, setting up the go ahead TD for Atlanta.

Then in the final drive, the Bears kept shooting themselves in the foot with stupid penalties making Jay Cutler's job of tying the score even harder.  None of the penalties was bigger than a false start on Orlando Pace on 4th and 1, making it 4th and 6.  The final pass was incomplete, Falcons win, and I was pissed.

I was stewing about the lost opportunity the Bears had to assert themselves on the national stage.  I was steamed about the blown chance to defeat a very good NFC team in their building to keep pressure on the undefeated Vikings and gain ground in crucial tie-breakers that could come into play.  I was pissed as hell at the Bears' lack of execution after having two weeks to prepare for the game.

If you haven't guessed, I was not in a good mood.  Cue Dave Kaplan via Twitter:

"Jay Cutler's postgame press conference performance is embarrasing. Be a man and talk about the game. Very disappointing."

I didn't see the postgame conference.  My TV was still on NBC where they don't show the post game press conference.  That said, I could give a flying f--- what Jay Cutler does in a press conference.  As far as I'm concerned, he could have walked into the room, flipped everybody off, started hurling sweaty jocks at the reporters, and then relieved himself on the podium and it wouldn't have made me any more or less pissed off at him for his performance in the actual game.

He could have sat and recited the memorized cliches that all athletes not named Milton Bradley use on a regular basis to get the media off their back.  He could have sat there and blamed the whole game on himself and made a vow before God and all of the witnesses that the Bears would never lose another game as long as he had blood left in his veins.

Nothing he said or did would change that the Bears are now two games behind the Vikings and only 2-2 in the NFC.  So I considered saying so, but then I was happy to see one of my Twitter pals, @Adambuckled step up instead:

"@thekapman Only the media cares about a QB's press conference approach. Win, lose, shut up either way. I can live with that motto."

When you see something you like on Twitter, you usually retweet it and thereby share it with people who may not have seen it because they don't follow the original person who sent out the tweet.  I liked what Adam had to say, so I retweeted it.

Kaplan quickly fired back:

"There is a difference between being pissed and not showing class. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning they don't act the way Cutler did. That 's it."

This is where my bad mood caused me to stir a pot that had frankly been stirred enough, but when you have Kaplan lecturing people on class after his lack of it over the last couple of days and then attempting to end all criticism by declaring, "That's it."  I felt the lure of the Dark Side and gave in to my hate:

"Classy like calling people who disagree with you stupid? RT @thekapman: There is a difference between being pissed and not showing class."

Yeah, I'm the one who dredged it up again.  I released my inner Desipio and purposely baited Kaplan. As sure as Ryan Theriot getting picked off in a crucial situation, Kaplan went back to his tried and true method of taking the snark behind the scenes via direct messages:

"I did not call you stupid. I dogged your analysis of Rudy Jaramillo."

This is when I realized that Kaplan is not a middle-aged man who talks about sports for a living. He is a 1980's era teenager who still thinks that it is cool to say you "dogged" something as a put down.

So, like a puppy that has made a mess in the corner, I felt I needed to rub his nose in his naughty mess to make sure he realized what I was referring to:

"'Fan' said 'too stupid to be able to afford better seats' & you agreed. RT @thekapman I did not call you stupid."

At this point, I decided to bring the conversation back on point and sent out my reasoning for not giving a damn how rude Cutler (or any athlete) is to the media.

"Did the Bears get penalized any points in the next game because Cutler is a dick? Otherwise, I don't require my athletes to be nice guys."

"If the Bears have a choice between working on Cutler's manners and his propensity to throw stupid INTs, I say they work on the INTs."

"I didn't see it, but I bet Forte was a pretty stand up guy and it didn't change the fact that he fumbled the ball twice on the goal line." 

Shockingly, Kaplan actually responded (via direct message, of course) with actual clarification of his point.  This is a big step forward for Kap, and I hope he will take the next step and engage in some civilized discourse in the public arena in which he works, but let's not get carried away and stick with what he gives us for now:

"I don't care if they are nice guys. However, Pace faced the music as did Olsen, Briggs etc. Cutler has a responsibility to talk."

"He is the CAPTAIN! Lead by example."

I guess Kaplan feels that after a bad game, these guys need to sit and be scolded by the media for playing poorly and Cutler has the responsibility as a captain to be the head whipping boy.  Granted, I wanted to scold them myself.  I wanted to slap them around, but nothing gives anyone the RIGHT to grill these guys on every negative aspect of the game.  They have the right to ask whatever fool questions they want, and the athletes have the right to answer however they want. That whole freedom of speech goes both ways, Kap.

Urlacher (another team captain) has treated the press to hardly more than one word answers for the last few years now, and while the press doesn't like it, fans could care less that Urlacher or anyone else is not an expert on proper media handling decorum.  We would prefer they concentrate on kicking the crap out of the opposing teams.

As I was formulating my next response, Kaplan apparently got impatient and sent this:

"You are avoiding the discussion. I agree, curtail the INT's first. That doesn't excuse the other though."

He went from actually attempting to have a semi-civilized argument (albeit completely hidden away from the public) to reverting right back to an attempt at bullying and chastising the person criticizing his opinions.

After all of this, I find it hilarious that Kaplan believes himself to be an expert in how to win friends and influence people.  The man makes a living cutting people off in mid-sentence on the radio, hanging up on them, and either ignoring or insulting people who question him in print, so I'm not sure who dubbed him Miss Manners.  In response to his lead by example comment I sent this:

"Then the Bears shouldn't have made him a captain. He is who he is. He's a dick. He's been a dick. No surprise."

As for Kaplan's charge that I was ducking him:

"I'm not avoiding anything. I'm saying I care more about the performance on the field than how he reacts to it to the press."

Kaplan then fell silent to me, but my understanding is he had a number of direct message battles being waged (I know of at least two others who were getting into it with him last night), so he probably just lost track of all his squabbles.

So to recap, Kaplan calls people stupid and ridiculous on a regular basis, but thinks this interview is embarassing and classless.  I often wonder what color the sky is in Kaplan's world.  We know the skin color is bright orange.


Adam said...

Hosting sports talk radio, especially as a solo gig, tends to create a ridiculous sense of self-importance and obsessive control issues. I can't remember ever hearing Kap treat a caller with a dissenting opinion with respect. It may have happened. I listen to him less and less as the years go by. But for as warm and cuddly as their Cubs broadcasts are, WGN's sports call-in guys might be the most condescending in Chicago.

That's all well and good on the radio, but when you open it up to blogging and tweeting, you can't hang up on people and berate them. I don't know if Kap will ever adjust to that reality.

Aisle 424 said...

AK, I'm fairly certain that WGN has some sort of mandate that their personalities have Twitter accounts, because they all do, but hardly any of them use them much. Nick Digilio is the only one that seems to have a firm grasp on how to use the account to interact. Sadly, I think Kaplan comes in second, but he still uses it more to talk at you than with you. My guess is he would probably not do it if someone didn't tell him he had to.

To throw Kaplan a bone, most radio callers are unbelievably ill-informed, so I can see how lumping everyone into a category of stupid would be very easy to do. But the flipside is, by sterotyping all of your listeners/readers as stupid, you lose credibility with anyone who might actually add value to your show, blog, or whatever by contributing healthy discourse.

Anonymous said...

In the past few weeks, I've been seeing self-centered newspaper journalists complain that athletes do a dis-service to their fans when they are surly to or uncooperative with the press. Kaplan seems to have picked up on this. Its become the latest variation of "the public has a right to know" excuse that the media uses to create an obligation on the part of story subjects to talk, where one does not exist. First and foremost, I'm part of the public and for most of the stuff that gets reported, I feel neither a right, nor more importantly, a need to know. The fans have not appointed the media as their agents for developing relations with athletes. If I was going to appoint such an agent, it sure as hell wouldn't be Kaplan. Secondly, I don't pay my season ticket invoice or put up with commercials on TV or otherwise be a fan because I expect an athlete to give someone in the media a nice story. I do it because I hope that the team wins. I really don't give a good god damn about what the athlete has to say afterwards. Third, these athletes get paid to play a game and have no obligation to talk to anyone. I wish that people like Kaplan would just end the hypocrisy that comes with lines like "He has an obligation to face the music", "athletes are doing a dis-service to the fans by not talking to the press" and similar manure and tell it like it is: Kaplan and his ilk are paid to do a job and when an athlete doesn't talk, it makes their job harder. If they want to complain about that, its fine. But please stop all the crap about how this is all done for the goodness of the fans. Seat 106.

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