Somewhere along the way, I believe I have gotten a reputation for being a bit curmudgeonly.
That’s cool, I guess. I dunno. I’ve called out some bullshit in my day. I tend to wheeze on a bit, or overshare, force intimacy. The shrink would probably have a field day.
But what’s funny about that rep, real or imagined, is that it ignores the dozens of writers I’ve helped along my almost two-decade sportswriting journey, whether as a pissant beginner walking mouth agape onto the United Center floor, a magazine editor hiring the likes of Rick Barry, a beat writer doing all that dirty beat stuff, or even the SSS honcho.
I’ve also reached out dozens, even hundreds of times, to applaud the good work of a writer. Almost always that’s been in a private comment or email, very occasionally on my all-powerful Twitter account, seen by ... a few.
South Side Sox provides a pretty public forum with which to send plaudits. And in what I doubt will be the last time, I’m sending you to The Athletic to read James Fegan’s devastatingly good article on Danny Farquhar, Lucas Giolito, the Tampa Bay Rays and flat fastballs.
Mind you, you have to subscribe to The Athletic to read James’ article. It’s not my business to pimp The Athletic, but because any of you who already subscribe undoubtedly have already read the feature White Sox internet spent most of Tuesday melting down over, I guess I am pimping The Athletic a bit.
Really, for James’ beat work on the White Sox alone, The Athletic is worth the subscription. He is achieving something very rare for a beat writer, combining crisp insight, analysis, story craft, tone and language. The result, more often than not, is a delightful, longform read.
These days, teams break the news (at least in the White Sox’s case). There’s no longer any advantage to just being a de facto pool reporter, following the pack. Zagging instead of zigging to carve your own path as a writer is the only remaining way to distinguish yourself.
Like any writer, I have quite a chip on my shoulder. I am confident in what I do well (and, uh, maybe try to downplay what I don’t). Each beat, and each sportswriter, has a different mission or job description, so it’s never as simple as saying, Writer X is bad, or Writer Y is great.
That said, if James was on press row next to me, my chip would get flipped.
It’s like the third day of spring training, the hot stories are, hey, Abreu’s beard, and who drives Luis Robert to practice, anyway, and Fegan has hit a tape-measure home run.
You should probably hop on to The Athletic before they start blowing up the subscription rate just to read his stuff.
Funny thing, it would still be a bargain.