Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rick Telander Kind of Talks About the Cubs or Something

Rick Telander is the master at filling space.

In a newspaper.


His latest series of single sentence-fragment paragraphs run by the Sun-Times in a spot that is normally reserved for columnists manages to take up a whole page without saying much. 

It is something to behold.

If you are a college student...

...looking for ways to turn those two paragraphs into a five-page paper.

First he talks about the roof blowing off of Wrigley a week ago.  He repeats jokes that have been made a million times before, and then implies that it is part of some cosmic plan by the Cubs to kill him.

I just used three lines, two sentences and one paragraph to sum up something he wrote using sixteen lines of text comprised of twelve sentences (if you include fragments ending in periods) and seven paragraphs.

Then he goes into making jokes about how many statues the Cubs have for players that have never played in a World Series and broadcasters.  For some reason, he includes the statue that is downtown in front of the Trib Tower as a Cubs statue.  Damned if I know why, but it did use a few more words and he's got space to fill.  Why else bring up Ronnie Woo?

So he has added fifteen more sentences (five of which are in the last paragraph) and nine paragraphs to not express a single thought that hasn't already been made by at least two hundred people on Twitter when people were actually talking about the Cubs' statues.  He is really earning the money the Sun-Times is paying him.  It is hard to imagine how they went bankrupt with such efficient use of revenues.

Next he takes a shot about Ryne Sandberg leaving the organization... that happened in November.  Rick likes to stay on top of the breaking news stories and bring you in-depth analysis that totals two sentences and two paragraphs. 

"Pictures take up a lot of space so I don't have to use too many words or original thoughts."

Now we are getting to the real meat of the column.  He uses nineteen sentences (and I am being EXTREMELY generous in my definition of "sentence" here, since one was simply "The Giants." But to be fair, it wasn't its own paragraph) to mock the Cubs and Lou Piniella for him taking a consulting job with the San Francisco Giants.  So he's kind of current since Lou took that position last week, but he's now implying that Lou quit on the Cubs in August of last year, since he seems just fine and dandy now to talk about baseball again.

So if his mother had actually died, it would have been understandable if Lou had felt being with her as she was on her death bed was more important than navigating a terrible Cubs team to a lackluster finish, but since she pulled through, he's a quitter?  There is nothing in the reports I've seen about the Giants' job that requires him to fly to San Francisco to consult on-site.  Chances are excellent that the Giants will just pick up a telephone and give Lou a call whenever they want him to weigh in on something.  But even if he does go out to Scottsdale to see the team train for Spring Training and/or makes a couple of flights out to San Fran for a personal visit, so the hell what?  He has to be chained to his mother's bedside now?  This isn't the 19th century where it's a couple month-long covered wagon trek to go from coast to coast.  If something dire comes up, he can probably up and leave to deal with it without anything crucial being left undone.

Telander goes and calls him Sour Lou and says he isn't showing a lot of love for the Cubs with his actions.  I'm betting he wasn't asked to be a consultant for the Cubs.  I'm betting the subject never came up.  Why?  Because the Cubs have acted like the last four years under Piniella didn't exist in everything they have done since his departure.  There was no acknowledgement of Lou in Ricketts' letter to the season ticket holders, and it's not like he was worried about being too wordy, and there wasn't a peep uttered about Lou at the Cubs Convention.  Not. One. Word. (Hey! Those sentence fragments do come in handy!)  So when the Giants came and offered a job that probably didn't require anything of him other than to occasionally give an opinion about a sport to which he has dedicated the bulk of his life, he said sure.  I don't see what there is to get worked up about, but Rick really needed to




Next Rick made fun of comments that Cubs pitchers and catchers made over two weeks ago at the Cubs Convention in regards to comments Ryan Theriot made about the Cubs over two months ago.  I hate to beat an extremely dead and decomposing horse, but why is this relevant in the slightest now?  Rick used up six more sentences in five paragraphs to talk about a comment that the rest of the world had gotten over before Christmas.

But at least Rick managed to stay on a central theme of the Cubs and their foibles.  He didn't meander completely off target and start talking about plane crashes or anything.  Wait... yes he did.  I know I stretch the truth for the sake of humor around here quite a bit, so allow me to share the full, exciting conclusion to Rick's column:

 I HAD LOTS MORE to say, but I want to leave you with this.

All you players who are afraid to fly — you sweaty-palmed dudes who freak when you step on an airplane — consider there were no fatalities on any U.S. airline in 2010. None. (Well, some experts will dispute this, noting that a UPS cargo plane went down in Dubai in September, killing the pilot and first officer. But there were no deaths on passenger planes.)

There were no deaths on U.S. passenger planes in 2007 or 2008, either. Thus, in three of the last four years, about 2.2 billion people took scheduled airline flights, and no one died.

But at least 30,000 people die in automobile wrecks in America every year.

Message? Fly to the bar, guys. It’s way safer than driving.

For those keeping score, that is eleven more sentences and five more paragraphs about nothing that has anything to do with anything he has talked about earlier in his column.  I get that the Cubs are hard to write about.  Check out the Cubs blogs I have linked to on the left and you'll see a vast majority of them are producing new content at a slower rate than if we were physically carving our words onto stone tablets instead of typing them into the digital interwebs.  I understand completely, but the difference is, those folks with the blogs generally have real jobs they perform during the day and only write about the Cubs when the mood strikes.  You get paid for this shit, Rick, and you come up with a bunch of stuff that happened weeks and months ago to talk about and then tack on some nonsense about plane crashes.

I guess Lou won't be the only person phoning it in this year. (rimshot)

I HAD LOTS MORE to say, but I want to leave you with this.

What the hell is it with bicyclists anyway? 

How come I get the dirty look when they blow a stop sign (or stop light) while I'm jamming on my brakes as I had proceeded with the right of way? 

How come I get the nasty glares when I don't hear them coming on the sidewalk where they aren't legally supposed to be? 

How come they can ride the wrong way down a one way street?

Folks, you're either a vehicle or a pedestrian, but you can't cherry pick the rules of the road to suit your needs in any given situation.

Message?  Don't cut me off when you're on a bike, and Rick Telander should give his paycheck back.


Kris said...

I see what you did there. You ended with something not at all related to Rick Telander AND worked in my #1 grievance. Nicely done.

Aisle 424 said...

Happy Valentine's Day.

Johnathan said...

Newspapers are a slowly dying outlet from what I've been told. Perhaps he's just trying to make it look bigger, like there's more than there actually is (that's what she said).

MattA said...

What do you expect? Here's Telander's argument in favor of college football players being paid: Coaches get paid a lot so the players should get paid. That's it. No mention of the fact that players get a free education that is worth far more than what the average 18-22 year old would earn at that time of life. Now there may be a very good argument favoring his point of view, but he never makes it beyond a one sentence declaration.
When newspapers fail, I always think of columnists like this. And Bernie Lincicome can't get hired.

FrankS said...

Gosh, I was going to mention Lincicome. What a great curmudgeon he has been through the years!

Maybe Telander is suffering the delayed effects of post-concussion syndrome. I know most people don't remember this, but Rick was a actually a pretty fair Division 1 football player back in the day. I'm sure he had his bell rung on the gridiron on many occasions. Or it could be early onset Alzheimers.

Will some of us feel like asses if it turns out there is a reason that Telander's writing has been bad lately? It could be there is some personal issue that is affecting his concentration. Perhaps it is an ill family member or a relationship problem. It could be ADHD. Maybe he suffered an undiagnosed minor stroke or an arterial blockage. Maybe he is nearing the end of his contract and is just "mailing it in" for the last few months. There are a lot of possibilities.

I liked Telander's writing for a long time. I have to admit that I don't read him as much these days. And maybe that's the better choice. If you don't like what someone writes, just stop reading.

MattA said...

Lincicome was a curmudgeon but he was a great writer.
If Telander can't produce the quality readers would expect in a big city paper, he should step down or at least let us know that there's a problem. If there is something wrong with him, it is not our fault for judging him based on info we don't have.

Aisle 424 said...

The thing is with Telander, he is still capable of writing a decent column. His piece today about head injuries in football and charges that the NFL's concern is disingenuous was pretty interesting and didn't use too many of his single sentence paragraphs. So I think crap like he wrote about the Cubs is just plain laziness, but what do I know?

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