Tuesday, June 16, 2009

L.A. Haters

This here is T.J. Simers, a sports columnist for the L.A. Times. Most sports coverage in brah-burg veers into lazy homerism. There's also the opposite, lazy hating. The day after the Lakers deservedly copped the championship, T.J. Simers spat out a caustic holier-than-thou column titled "Idolatry of Lakers is Ludicrous."

Our wanna-be Fonzie begins with:

"The Lakers won. Yippee, hooray for them and all that stuff."

Yeah, like whatevs, daddy-o, who cares about anything right?

"As civic pride dictates in these things, of course, everyone is supposed to be a Lakers lover now, giddy and overcome with affection for their heroes, but excuse me if I sit this one out."

Why, oh why do you yawn Simers? Let's see:

"The Lakers were good, all right, and gritty when they had to be, Kobe brilliant as almost always, while Trevor and Lamar added spice to the championship mix."

Hmmm, where's the beef?

"But winning it all makes them no more appealing, Kobe still over the top absurd in his mood swings, Pau still carrying on like someone swiped his rattle, Phil so above it all it's surprising he doesn't demand to be carried off the court like Cleopatra.

The Lakers are champions, but they did little to cozy up to the folks of L.A. beyond being good -- Kobe and Phil, the two leaders of this outfit, just as removed as always."

C'mon Kobe, can't you do a lil soft-shoe for our man Simers? Can't you guys do more than just be good and win ballgames for the ol' man? Can't you let those pearly whites gleam? Can't you preen?

But that can't be it. No, can't just be the lack of 'pizazz' that has ol' Iceberg Simers' panties in a bunch. Give it to us str8, no chaser, Teej:

"But now there will be a parade here, so everyone can pay homage to a bunch of people blessed by God with extraordinary athletic ability, but in some cases, the social skills that would make them outcasts in many workplaces.

Wouldn't you like to see the look on Gasol's face if your boss yelled at him?

You want to have a parade and scream your lungs out for a job well done, then invite the young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to walk down Figueroa Street and be feted like heroes in the Coliseum.

How many people give it their all every day in their jobs, every year until retirement, 30, 40 and 50 years, with no chance of a parade -- as determined as Kobe, as focused as Kobe, as accomplished as Phil?"

Laziest sports journalism of the highest order. Most of us sports fans have bought the ticket, taken the ride, we consciously divide the back pages of the paper from the front. Without doing that, following sports would be impossible. In the context of all the crazy shiznit that goes in the world, investing our emotions in the athletic accomplishments of strangers is foolishness bordering on mental illness. But again, what makes it not insanity is our conscious division of real shiznit into column A and our entertainment, whether it be sports, movies, robots that transform into cars, videos of people getting hit in the groin with footballs, whatever, into Column B.

We don't need need holier-than-thou hacks like Simers to pull the "fuck these guys, they're not the real heroes" card on us. Go embed yourself in the frontlines in Fallujah if you're gonna pull this kind of armchair harrumphing. Otherwise, if you're gonna stick to the sports pages, stick to the ballgames. Same reason I don't follow Heathcliff's madcap adventures in the funny pages for insight into our crumbling economy.

Reminds me of Rick Reilly, who's so fond of churning out compare/contrast pieces between some supposedly spoiled athlete and some salt-of-the-earth coal miner. There was the time he said QB Kerry Collins had "the 'nads of a danish," and, wow, aint this a knee-slapper, saying if World War II had been up to pastry-pubes Kerry, "we would all be using umlauts now and taking Monday off for Goebbels Day."

Oddly, eight years later, Reilly dropped a Collins love letter, ending a column about him from this past season with this killer coda:

"If you look at Collins' face this week, you'll see a big cut on his nose. He was deer hunting, saw a six-pointer loping by, didn't have time to get a good rifle rest on his shoulder, fired anyway and the recoil nailed him. But he got the deer.

Figures. He never did like to pass the buck."

That's another calling-card of the sports-hack, ending their hard-hitting columns with lame faux-Hemingway-tough guy sparse prose. Let's see how cold-blooded Teej can be with his ending:

"[W]hat's the difference between a Lakers championship and one won by the Sparks?

As far as I'm concerned -- with no rooting interest in either -- nothing."

Would you believe he rolls ciggies into his white-shirt sleeve and can make a jukebox hum just by elbowing it?

Now, I love newspapers more than anybody, but why shouldn't fans today read anything but newspaper sports sections if their prime column space is wasted on the ham-fisted humbug histrionics of grumpy geezers?


cannatar said...

100% agree. I'm fine with someone who thinks it's stupid for adults to care about sports.

But, Simers is a SPORTSwriter! If he thinks paying attention to sports is a waste of time, then why did he choose it as his profession???

Anonymous said...

Very well said, especially the "holier than thou" comment. Here's an exceedingly well fed, well paid scribe who gets to write about the Toy Department of Life, who gets his hotels, airfare, and meals comped, who attends the hottest events in town (events that the blue collar folk he so condescendingly champions could only dream of attending), and has nothing better to think of than to descend from his ivory tower, remove the rose colored shades, and lecture us unwashed on priorities. Absolutely sickening. Take a look at the vast mosaic of race, age, and class on display at the parade, Mr. Simers. THAT'S what the Lakers mean to this city. Bringing people together and making them happy, two concepts totally foreign to you, Mr. Simers.