Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Interview with a Buzz Machine

The start of the new year is a time for reflection and self-improvement, and Distinguished Senators is no exception. 2005 was a banner year here: there was a baseball team to talk about, and sometimes I even did. Dayn Perry got on my shitlist, got his nose bloodied, and then stopped being such a creep. Professor Bacon won the hearts of millions and improved the blog's demographics with every gratuitous appearance. I finally received my due as an online journalist, making a Pulitzer -- or at least a Caldecott -- only a matter of time.

But as great as things were, there's always room for improvement. In 2006, you're going to see a new, leaner, more sinewy Distinginguished Senators. More hard news, more pictures of me in my cowboy hat, and interviews with baseball's hottest newsmakers and newsmaker-uppers. Our first score in that last category is a big one, as I convinced Will Carroll, an acknowledged expert in sports injuries, iPods, writing, journalistic ethics, and everything else, to sit down for a one-on-one. Expect more of this actual reporting or at least fact-checking in the new year!

(Note to literal-minded readers: that's not really Will Carroll. Well, it's actually his picture, but that's not him talking. See if you can spot the actual Carroll quotations!)

Thanks so much for joining us, Will. As you know, I'm a huge fan of yours.

With reason!

But there are those -- not me, mind you -- who take issue with your reporting style.

Are these the statistical racists? Or the chemical McCarthyites?

Well, remember when you said a player we cared about had tested positive for steroids . . .

Which don't help baseball players.

. . . right, which don't help baseball players, and it turned out to be Matt Lawton?

I care about Matt Lawton. So does his mother. I think as baseball fans, we should care about any athlete. Unless you're a blogging baby-smotherer or something.

You didn't think that was the slightest bit misleading?

Certainly not. I can only imagine what you factual bolsheviks are going to think of my next scoop.

Another scoop? Can you give us a hint?

Well, okay, but only because I like you -- I enjoy your blog in phases, you know -- and because if it turns out to be bull, no one will have seen it.

Thanks, Will.

No problem. And now buckle up: a perennial all-star major league has just announced that he's gay.

You're kidding!

Nope. Here's the story, in fact.

Um . . . there was nothing in there about anyone being gay.

Sure there was. Right here, Jason Johnson says "It's going to be nice on a team like this that has a chance to win every time they take the field." He's happy to be in Cleveland, and in my dictionary, "gay" means "happy." What are you, a grammatical skinhead?

I guess not. But Jason Johnson was never an all-star.

Who are you to say that? Johnson gives a hundred percent, he deals with diabetes -- which I know all about as a fully accredited injury guy -- and he's good to his mother. That makes him an all-star in my book. Really, what player SHOULDNT we call an all-star, and if I say, on national radio, "No, we shouldnt care" what does that say about me? It makes me sound like a national radio-appearing dog-poisoner.

Fair enough, and I'll take the lack of apostrophes as a sly reminder to "stop blogging and start writing." Now, Will . . .

I'm Bob Wickman.

Oh. Sorry, Bob. Now, Will, you've often taken shots at bloggers . . .

Buncha chattering neo-Nazis, you ask me.

Sure. But it seems like your advice, well . . .

Yes?

Well, leaving aside the "stop blogging and start writing" thing, there was the time you told bloggers to "do some actual reporting or at least fact-checking." And it just seems like every time you break a story . . .

I create discussion.

That's true, I guess. Could you tell us about your scoop that the Expos were going to be renamed the Grays?

Sure thing. I had a very inside source there. I can't tell you who it is, but trust me that you would be hugely jealous if you knew this guy returned my calls.

The guy who makes hats?

Yeah, him. He told me Grays, so I ran with it. Sure, it was wrong and I didn't make any effort to make sure it wasn't, but I have two jobs - generate content and generate interest. It's best when I can do both, but doing one or the other has some value as well. Only a journalistic Klansman would object to that.

Okay. But a couple months later, you said, "After the Rose story in 2003, I’ve learned not to take people at their word, to get the documentation in hand."

Exactly. It's like when I made up that player to have something to put in my book. See, I'm a real journalist, and I deserve a Baseball Writers of America membership.

Even though you admit to making stuff up just to get people talking?

Look, a while ago I read my good friend Alex Belth's piece on the death of his friend, and it really got me thinking: I need a BBWAA card.

Pardon?

What I'm trying to say is, there's a lot of great stuff on the internet. Peter Gammons, Professor Bacon (if there are ten good bloggers, he's three of them), goats falling down, all kinds of erotic fan fiction -- that stuff's on the internet, and it's great. I'm on the internet too, so why don't I get to vote for the MVP? I've ceased hoping that the BBWAA will open their doors to us, yet I still lobby and dream. Like I told a GM recently, "you don't have to talk to me or read your column, but there's a kid out there who will have your job someday who does. I'm writing for him and hoping he remembers me."

What did the GM say?

He thought I was Bob Wickman.

3 comments:

Jamey Carroll said...

Fantastic interview!!!! And I love the hat!

The Marlboro Man said...

Give me back my hat!

BRAAAAAINNSSSSS!

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