So in the aftermath of the Bissinger v. Leitch showdown on Costas Now there was, somewhat predictably, an uproar across the Internet. A little more surprising was that the discussion spilled over to “traditional” media (radio, TV, print), but, hey, when a respected writer starts to look like he’s going Cruise, who doesn’t feel the need to either attack or apologize?
Clearly, me neither.
Anyway, most of the reactions were telegraphed with blogs defending blogging, basically claiming that many old guard writers, like Bissinger, were scared or threatened.
Bissinger is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Friday Night Lights—widely regarded as one of the better sports books ever written—was made into a movie, as was his Vanity Fair account of Stephen Glass’ downfall. Universal Pictures recently optioned the rights to another Vanity Fair piece he did, “Gone With the Wind” about—God help us—Barbaro (appropriate because Bissinger is also a horse fucker). And if his wikipedia page is to be believed, he’s pocketed enough dough to lead a bi-coastal life.
So, what exactly would Bissinger, or any of his ilk, be afraid of? That blogs are going to render him irrelevant and he’ll have no place to ply his trade? Uh, the printing press has been around since the 1400s, blogs for about a decade or so. And I haven’t seen Michael Wilbon pulled from PTI and replaced with “Big Daddy Balls.”
In fact, I agree with many of the old men shaking their typewriter ribbons and shouting, “Hey kids, get off of my media” that many blogs are awful, unreadably so. But I also think that the market solves this problem. Amazingly, people are smart enough to discern bad (and untrustworthy) writing from good (as well as bad TV from good).
And because I can do the same, why the fuck would I want to read Jay Mariotti when there are thousands of more thoughtful and thought-provoking people available with the click of a mouse? I wouldn’t.
I’m not here to defend Bissinger. Instead I’d like to suggest a different interpretation to all this. Maybe Buzz Bissinger is just a dick.
Seriously? Who gets that worked up about writing—and I’m going to guess writing he doesn’t even consume much of (blogs) as he thinks they are “dedicated to cruelty”—to take it out on someone with such vitriol, especially another writer, on TV as Bissinger did on Costas? What? Did he think he was going to extinguish the entire Internet with one stomp of his self-important rhetorical shoe?
But it wasn’t just the TV appearance. Bissinger has been a complete dick in other media. Unfortunately, Exhibit 2 is going to be hard to share with you because, well, it’s been taken down.
There was an audio clip of Bissinger appearing on the Boog Sciambi show on 790 the Ticket in Miami.
I swear, this isn’t shoddy journalism, but the clip that was there on May 1, 2008 is now gone (after having been there for quite some time as the interview was apparently conducted in June of 2007). Anyway, proof that other people saw (or heard it) can be found here, here, here, and here at Fire Joe Morgan where I fist came across it.
[Ed Note: See, I wasn’t lying. Either the clip is back or my browser was just being retarded for a while (probably the latter). If the original isn’t available above, I archived it here (mp3 link).]
Basically, in the interview Bissinger is talking about an article he wrote for the New York Times Play magazine detailing how pitchers are no longer getting enough innings in the minors before being called up and it’s killing their careers.
Sciambi said, more or less, what’s great about stats is that you can look these things up and tell whether they are valid or not (and if you click on the Fire Joe Morgan link, you’ll see they aren’t and that Bissinger was either being lazy or stupid enough to take Tony LaRussa at this word).
Bissinger first responded by saying something like (paraphrasing) “Well for every study that says one thing there are 14 others that say something else…”
Then when pressed more by Sciambi—because how many innings a pitcher logged in the minors isn’t a “study” so much as a fact—Bissinger went insta-prick, changed the subject and started to badmouth another host who has a show on that station, like he hadn’t progressed beyond a 3rd grade level of debate. Sciambi, somewhat justifiably, hung up on Bissinger at that point.
It’s too bad the clip is gone, because it’s really quality stuff. And it does support the thesis here, namely that Bissinger isn’t scared of blogs so much as he’s just a dick. Now, I’ve never met Bissinger, maybe he’s Mother Theresa and Lady Di all rolled into one (only without two vaginas). But in the only two appearances of him I’ve come across, he’s swung and missed on both, and I think he knows enough about baseball, even without having to look anything up, to figure out that you don’t get too many more strikes than that.
As for Costas’ inability to distinguish posts from comments, that’s another post.