Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Folderol

Since I don't get much of a chance to blog on the weekends, I am going to try to throw out a few (brief) items that have been bouncing around my empty head this week.

Shiny, Happy Road Trip
The Wizards got off to a good start on their West Coast road trip last night, beating Utah 109-97 on a night when the Jazz unveiled a Karl Malone statue and retired his number. Utah could not deliver a victory for the Mailman, however, as balanced scoring from Arenas, Jamison and Butler (31, 27 and 27 points respectively) and a team-record 16 three-pointers set just the right tone for the trip that includes five games in the next eight days. Currently in the number five slot in the Eastern conference, the Wizards would be well served to wrest the first-round homecourt advantage away from Cleveland, but to do that, they'll need a Western swing that would make George Strait proud.

Hammer Time

"Hi, is this voteforthe"


"Yes, we have a gentleman on the line who would like to speak with you. It's a Mr. Hammer, first name M., middle name C."

After devoting several paragraphs to VFTW the other day, I feel it's pretty safe to say that this is a story that is over. Done like Katie Holmes acting career. The elimination of Kevin Covais, something of a stunner since he was not even in the bottom three the week before, pretty much destroys what little credibility VFTW had. They are jumping over to Kellie Pickler, but I don't see how she is more qualified for the VFTW endorsement than several other contestants. Anyway, that should be the last you hear about VFTW from me.

I was surprised that Kevin was the last man standing on Wednesday because I thought his performance on Tuesday was decent. I did have Bucky and Lisa in the bottom three, though. So the question is, as in presidential primaries, where do Kevin's votes go? To the other teenyboppers, Lisa and Paris? To the other goofy white guys, Taylor and Elliott? Will another contestant suddenly develop a lisp to capture the niche vote? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Brackets, brackets, brackets
I'll give a full rundown of the Fitz family bracket standings on Monday, but I wanted to note that my Sweet 16 Mascot Bracket was looking pretty good for a while last night. Both Tiger teams took care of business (I am fully on board the LSU bandwagon now. And did everybody get a good look at John Brady's wife, Misty, during the game last night?) Unfortunately, it was very close, but no cigarillo in both late games.

Tough losses for J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison, but nobody is sadder than the executives at CBS. Ratingswise this could be worse than Michelle Kwan pulling out of the Olympics.

I went to bed before the UCLA comeback over Gonzaga. I wish I had seen it, but I am really sorry I missed seeing UCLA's Arron Afflalo
pick Morrison up off the floor after it was over. CBS must have missed it, too, because I can't find any video of that moment on their website. That's the kind of clip I want ESPN to run over and over again, instead of showing Morrison lying on the court crying, let the tape roll until we see the guy whose been trying to guard him all night come over and help him to his feet. That would be my Play of the Day nominee.

After walking the dog this morning, I had a few minutes before the "get the kids to school" parade began, so I opened up my Baltimore Sun. The
biggest story on the front page - above the fold, with a large color photo - was a follow-up on a very sad event last December in which two kids who had played together on the Johns Hopkins University lacrosse team went out drinking and ended up in a single-car accident that killed the passenger but left the driver uninjured. The headline, "Family Not Torn Asunder," and the one sentence summary before the article implied that this would be an in-depth look at the impact of this tragedy on the families of the victim and the survivor as well as the team. Instead, we got a poorly written and edited mishmash of an article that did little more than scratch the surface of what could have been an excellent story.

The crucial aspect of the story, the response of the victim's family, is what makes it interesting. That the family "sought to limit the charges" against the driver, that the father came and spoke to the team before this season began, that the driver is now an assistant coach at Princeton (which Hopkins played a few weeks ago), the Sun got these parts right, but there were no quotes from the driver or his family (only his attorney) and nothing from anyone on the team except the coach. Instead, we got a statement from the police report, a dissection of the charges, including quotes from a legal expert and a Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocate, which seemed tangential at best.

Now, those with real journalism experience might say that there wasn't enough time to do all that, or that there wasn't enough space, but this was not a story with a deadline. The accident happened in December, the driver is being sentenced in May, the season started a few weeks ago, I don't see why there wasn't more time to investigate and write this story. And when you run something prominently placed on the front page, there should be plenty of room on the inside to give all the context. It's quite possible that only the defending attorney spoke because the driver and his family did not want to or were advised against it, and maybe the coach told the team that he would be the spokesman, but the article doesn't tell us that either.

Disclosure time. I worked in fundraising for the JHU athletic department from 1997-2002 and consider many of the people still there my friends. I did not really know the guys in this story at all, but I think that the Sun's superficial coverage does a disservice to both of them and to the Sun's readers. There might be a great story here, but the Sun sure didn't tell it.

Initially, after I read the Sun story, I thought maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it, maybe my expectations were too high, like when you go to a movie that everyone has been saying is great, and you walk out wondering what all the fuss was about. Maybe I wasn't really in the mood to read. But then I sat down at the computer and dropped by Erin O'Brien's blog. Erin is a blogger who shares my enthusiasm for the writings of Larry Brown. If you visit her website, you will notice rather quickly that Brown and blogging are the only two things we have in common. She can flat out write a sentence though. Warning, if you are offended by profanity, vulgarity or the sexual musings of a thoroughly unrepressed Irish-American, please do not click

Have a nice weekend!

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