Monday, June 26, 2006

Jay Mariotti should be fired

Jay Mariotti is an embarrassment to sports journalism. He's the quintessential weasel nerd who couldn't play sports and now spews his frustration out in print every day. The Sun-Times should have fired him years ago.

His column Sunday about the Ozzie Guillen incident was too painful to read. He was moralizing about treating people right after a career of cheap shots.

Here's what two of the best sports columnists in America have to say about Mariotti's refusal to face the men he writes about.

Michael Wilbon, Washington Post (from a Washington Post chat board)
I've avoided this topic publicly, but no more.

Ozzie shouldn't have said what he said. He knows better. And I'm glad Kenny Williams, the White Sox GM, has said if he can't clean up his act he'll be fired.

But Ozzie owes no apology to Jay, my friend for 16-plus years and someone I like very much. Jay can say all he wants that he's not welcome in the White Sox clubhouse...Really? He writes hyper-critical pieces and doesn't go in the clubhouse for years, then thinks he won't be resented years later?

Anybody who reads my column knows I write critically about athletes and coaches. It's my job. But I learned from Tony, Dave Kindred, Ken Denlinger, my longtime sports editor George Solomon, and of course, the late Shirley Povich, that if you're going to throw punches, you'd better be able to take punches. You show up the next day so that the player/coach/manager can take a shot back at you...even if it means a physical confrontation...And I've never had one of those because a player can walk right up to me and say, "I think you're full of .....!" Or whatever. If you know the player/coach/manager/GM and it's a local situation, it shouldn't even be a surprise. I've called people I know and said, "Listen, I've got to light you up for this in the paper." Sometimes they say nothing. Sometimes they say, "Hold on, let me give you my side." Sometimes they say, "I respect you for telling me."

There are all sorts of ways to deal with this, but not showing up in the clubhouse isn't one of them. It's inexcusable.

When you write tough, critical pieces you show up the next day.
And Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (from St. Louis Post chat board)

I do think it is considered honorable to show up soon after writing critical things about a player or a players or a manager. I try to be there the same day the column appears -- but at times that isn't possible, so it may be a day or two later. The point is, the column is still fresh, and as long as you make an appearance, the player or players or the manager have the opportunity to speak to you if they want to.

Columnist who rip and don't show up are called hit and run drivers in the bizness.

I have been threatened, but never in the Cardinals clubhouse. I've been hollered at a little, but nothing I couldn't handle.

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