Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Racist baseball ... racist SI ... racist America ... Yawn

There are many criticisms one can level at Sports Illustrated's baseball "Dream Team" - the best 11 players of all time. Guess which one Scoop chose?

I'm not going to object to his superficial and endlessly debatable point - that Satchel Paige and Roberto Clemente both belong in a list of baseball's 11 greatest players - but I will draw your attention to some typically awkward and silly Scoopisms, and respond to a few of ol' Scoop's more misguided comments.

Some things are so unhidden they go beyond being missed -- they get totally overlooked.

And the difference, Scoop?

And like most situations that resemble this, those in the "we didn't know" will tell you that in this moment it really doesn't matter because, in time, the untold truth will come out.

I entered this phrase into Babelfish and translated it into French and then back to English. The result was:

And as the majority of the situations which resemble this, those in "us did not know that" that in this moment you will say when it really does not import because, in time, the incalculable truth will leave.

Not a huge fall-off in comprehensibility. I think I've discovered Scoop's secret! Type a straightforward paragraph, plug it into Babelfish, translate it into a foreign tongue, then back to English and, hey presto, you have a Scoop column!

Let's give this theory a test spin, shall we? Here is a randomly selected paragraph from the latest Gene Wojciechowski column:

"I'm still trying to figure out how a 5-7, 160-pound high school senior who dreaded classes, grew up in what he calls "one of the better bad neighborhoods" of tough west side Chicago, and was ignored by almost every recruiter once they saw his grade transcripts, conceivably could surpass Sanders' all-time single-season rushing record of 2,628 yards."

And here is the same paragraphs after passing through a Greek translation (with minimal clean up):

"I still try to calculate how a 5-7, elder of high school 160-pounder that feared the categories, grew in what he calls "one from the better bad neighborhoods of" hard western secondary Chicago, and was ignored by almost each recruiter who hardly ever saw his copies of degree, could probably exceed Sanders' all dashing single-season 2.628 yards."

Throw some "un-s" in their, a 'Pac reference, and a slick nickname or two, and that's about it.

But once I got past the names, past the digitally constructed illustration, un-caught up in the mystery of the greatness of this fictional squad, I saw the reality in the history that was missed.

Or purposely forgotten. It wasn't until I stopped looking at the picture and began to look into it that I noticed how unbeautiful the picture -- and what the picture was saying -- really was.

Un-caught up? Unbeautiful? On the heels of un-overrated? Time for a new gimmick, Scoop. This one's just unfunny.

But Ruth is not the only player whose representation in baseball is larger than the game itself. There are two others, and it's interesting -- funny in an oversensitive, cryptic, culturally paranoid type of way -- how both were not chosen for the picture. Or the corresponding roster.

"Funny in an oversensitve, cryptic, culturally paranoid type of way." Have you suggested adding that to your bio at, Scoop? You can stick it right after the "award-winning journalist" part.

I'm talking about Satchel Paige and Roberto Clemente.

How did two of the game's greatest players at their positions (or any position) and ambassadors of baseball -- and their influence on the influx of minority contributions to the game -- get so conveniently overlooked? How does this happen to those two particular players who are larger than life, bigger than the game, but doesn't happen to the only other one?

I don't know how, Scoop. I'm not a baseball historian or stats guy, which I suppose the SI writers were (and you aren't). Maybe Paige and Clemente should have been in, but who do you take out, Scoop? Because this part of your column focuses on the dugout picture of SI's starting 11, I assume you'd substitute Paige (RHP) for Clemens (RHP) and Clemente (RF) for ... Babe Ruth? Hank Aaron? Seriously? If SI had left Aaron of the team, the Chicago PD would be telling Scoop to "put the gun down" through a megaphone by now.

Interestingly, SI did something similar to the current ranking back in Fall 1992. Back then the list looked like this:

LF: Ty Cobb
2B: Jackie Robinson
RF: Babe Ruth
1B: Lou Gehrig
CF: Willie Mays
3B: Mike Schmidt
SS: Cal Ripken Jr.
C: Mickey Cochrane
RHP: Christy Matthewson
LHP: Warren Spahn
RP: Dennis Eckersley
MGR: Casey Stengel

Googling that SI story, I came across a sports bulletin board where fans debated the old list, and who belonged in or out. In the entire discussion, only one fan mentions Paige and nobody mentions Clemente. Not once. I don't know who these fans were, but most of them seem engaged with the statistics and the debate, and there is even a discussion of which Negro League players deserve to be on the list, in which no-one picks up on the earlier mention of Paige.

How can these experts not take into full consideration what these two meant to the sport, in and outside of the sport, to America, when they were creating a team that embodies baseball's complete history of the greatest ever?

Maybe because they were basing their decisions on skills and accomplishments, and not trying to put together a warm fuzzy college recruiting brochure.

Paige and Clemente represent more than what their stats show, even though their stats hold strong against all. Having them in the illustration would represent all the Negro League players and all the Latin players who for so many years were held out of the game, and now dominate the game but continue to go unrecognized. Satchel's image on that team would not be about him -- it'd be about Gibson and Cool Papa Bell and Roy Campanella and Larry Doby and Biz Mackey and Oscar Charleston and Peanut Johnson; Roberto's image would stand for Ortiz and Pujols and Pedro and Johan and Vlad and everyone in between, including all those who will eventually make it into baseball's Hall of Fame because No. 21 was a pioneer who changed the game forever.

This paragraph could be re-written as "There are lots of black and latino ballplayers, so couldn't SI have included a token Negro Leaguer and a token Latino?" I don't even know where to start. Of course, it's all about race for Scoop, so tokenism doesn't seem to bother him. (Yes, an objective case can be made for including Paige and Clemente, and Scoop makes it elsewhere, but here he expressly argues for their inclusion based solely on their respective races: that's tokenism.) But Scoop is so obsessed with race that he even ignores ethnicity and nationality. Why would Clemente, a Puerto Rican, represent "Ortiz and Pujols and Pedro and Johan and Vlad": four Dominicans and a Venezualan? The inter-latin rivalry and animosity on most baseball rosters is much worse than the black-white dynamic.

I can see how Paige could represent other overlooked Negro Leaguers shut out of the majors for most of their careers, but how does Clemente represent today's latin players? He may have paved the way, but he doesn't represent any current "struggle." Not of the "race" that makes up the majority of professional baseball contracts. Heck, a Venezualan or Dominican is more likely to play professional baseball in America than an American. But in Scoop's world, diversity trumps all, so none of this matters. I'm just surprised he left off Eddie Gaedel - to represent all the excluded little people still dreaming of making it to the show, you know.

Can you imagine if Paige had pitched his entire career in the majors?

Imagine with a degree of certainty that would make it a useful exercise? Nope. I can imagine him winning 600 games and being the undisputed best pitcher of all time. I can also imagine him being a great 300 game winner but no better than Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson. So can you, Scoop, if you're honest.

It's interesting that this issue of Sports Illustrated came out the same week the great Buck O'Neil passed away. Guess it's only right. Just as O'Neil died without the Hall of Fame recognizing him and his contribution to baseball by inducting him into Cooperstown, it's only fitting that Paige got the same injustice by not being represented in the visual representation of the game's history.

You know, Scoop, I don't think most ballplayers and managers consider making the cover of SI the equivalent of election to the hall of fame. But I haven't asked them, and you're the expert ...

A beef is not what you should feel when you look at that picture. You should feel a slight sense of illness and disgust at how the game of baseball and those that tell its story still refuse to make the story complete, even inside of an image so beautiful.

Well, I "feel a slight sense of illness and disgust," and I haven't even seen the picture yet. Thanks, Scoop.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

So, Scoop CAN write (sort of)

Two unrelated but similar Scoop stories came my way yesterday so, if you don't mind, I will address them both in one post.

First, a kind reader left a comment directing me to a HoopsTV video of Scoop offering his thoughts on basketball, black culture, and his hometown Chicago. Second, Scoop posted a column on the WWL responding to Jason Whitlock's stinging attack in The Big Lead, which I covered here and here.

The common thread is that both items have further endeared Scoop the man to me. In the video, Scoop really seems to be a decent cat (to use his own argot). Friendly, loyal, and principled when it comes to his family, his neighborhood, and his work ethic. As for the column - and here we discover one of the most important developments in Scoopwatch's short history - Scoop reveals that he can write properly when he tries. His response to Whitlock's going off half cocked is written (for the most part) in straightforward, proper English.

So what's up, Scoop? Despite a few classic Scoop sentences. Short sentences. Really short. Sentences. ("I had idols. People in the game I respected. Looked up to. ") And ignoring a couple of awkward sentences and his iffy uses of the verb "to further," Scoop writes reasonably well (by Scoop standards, mind you). Of course, this shouldn't be cause for praise; his job, after all, is to write. Praising him for writing competently is like praising Tiger Woods for hitting a 285-yard drive down the middle of the fairway: it's the minimum qualification for his job and one expects much more.

It's an admirably civil response to a pointed attack. I'll leave the substance largely untouched, however, except to note that Scoop seems a bit confused on the subject of legitimate criticism. Scoopwatch was pleased to read that "I will tolerate someone who has a problem with the way I write and my style. I will tolerate someone who disagrees with my opinion. I'll even go so far as to tolerate someone trying to publicly (or privately) discredit me as a writer. Those things I will stand." Phew! "[T]rying to publicly ... discredit [him] as a writer"? That's us in a nutshell Scoop - glad you approve! But then we were puzzled by Scoop's suggestion that a critic should avoid "disrespect" for Scoop's writing "because he doesn't like or understand or 'get' the words I type. Words that I will never apologize for. Words that define who I am."

Pace Scoop, I think Whitlock generally "understands" the words you type. And to the extent he doesn't, it's probably because (like many of your readers) he isn't accustomed to bizarre and indecipherable Scoopisms. ("I saw a man become un-overrated." Does this mean he is now underrated? Properly rated? Unrated?).

I've said it before, but one of Scoop's biggest problems as a writer is his preference for sound over sense - an obsession with playful form at the expense of clear meaning. Truly gifted writers can invert linguistic norms without compromising clarity; some can even enhance the acuity of their insights with clever word play. But the rest of us - the 99.9% who struggle just to get a simple point across - should steer clear of neologisms in formal prose. That splendid brainbox Dr. Johnson once offered the following sound advice to writers: "Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out." With Scoop, I'd start by advising just to read over your compositions. Because I charitably assume you just dash them off within minutes of your deadlines.

Here at Scoopwatch, I think we "get" your words, Scoop. We just don't think they add up to a worthy column. If you want to write (and you appear genuine in your desire to), please stick to SLAM, Scratch, The Economist, and other publications without obvious standards.

Turning briefly to the HoopsTV video, Scoop, while charming, ably demonstrates why nobody should take his sports analysis seriously (I know, not that anyone does). His pick for best NBA team of all time? 1983 76ers. Really. Sure the Sixers dominated the post-season, and Moses Malone practically intimidated opponents into submission before tip off, but it's a brave (and probably crazy) man who ranks them above all of the following teams (courtesy Maxim magazine online - probably the only time that grim publication will be linked to on this site).

The 1964–65 Boston Celtics
Regular-season: 62–18, .775; playoffs: 8–4

The 1966–67 Philadelphia 76ers
Regular season: 68–13, .840; playoffs: 11–4
[That's right, Scoop, the '83 Sixers might not even be the best Sixers team in history.]

The 1969–70 New York Knicks
Regular season: 60–22, .732; playoffs: 12–7

The 1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers
Regular season: 69–13, .841; playoffs: 12–3

The 1985–86 Boston Celtics
Regular season: 67–15, .817; playoffs: 15–3

The 1986–87 Los Angeles Lakers
Regular season: 65–17, .793; playoffs: 15–3

The 1995–96 Chicago Bulls
Regular season: 72–10, .878; playoffs: 15–3

Scoop's pick for best player of all time? Dr. J. No offense Scoop, but "best" and "favorite" aren't synonyms. Best college program (he says "team or university," but his commentary and lack of a specified year strongly implies "program")? North Carolina. Scoop, ever heard of a little school on the West Coast called UCLA? Won a few championships back in the day. Best guard? Oscar Robertson. Interesting pick; debatable, but not ridiculous . . . unless you've just given us your all-time starting five and not included Robertson in any of the three guard positions (in case you're interested, Magic, MJ, and Dr. J. were his picks). It's moves like that that drive your readership nuts, Scoop. When it doesn't just drive them away.

Finally, I'm starting to regret the Whitlock rant. Sure he said what we were all thinking - and probably what most sportswriters were thinking - and it was good for a cheap laugh at Scoop's expense. But here's the rub: the public, personal criticism of Scoop by the departing - and now persona non grata - Whitlock probably guaranteed Scoop keeps his .com job for at least six more months. It would look terrible for ESPN if, after anathematizing Whitlock for his scathing criticism of Scoop, they turned around and dropped Scoop's column. It would be an admission that Whitlock, while wrong for calling Scoop out, was right on the merits. And that's a vindication that ESPN just can't afford. So raise a glass of bubbly, Scoop. Whitlock just gave you the kind of job security that only naked pics of the boss's daughter can buy.

Well, that's more than I'd intended to write today. Scoop, you're killing me with your columns. Ten days without a peep and then three in a week. Don't be afraid to take it easy for a while, Scoop. You can use the time to watch some old UCLA games on ESPN Classic.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Brushing back Scoop

Sports satire site The Brushback has a history of gently mocking Scoop's mild obsession with the racial angle of every sports story. While we here at Scoopwatch believe that Scoop's racial myopia is actually among the least of his offenses (see, e.g., grammar (lack thereof) and insight (absence thereof)), Brushback is to be commended for its mature approach to the Scoop question (unlike certain sites, which are content to snipe unhelpfully from the sidelines): Hires White Supremacist To Counter Scoop Jackson

Scoop Jackson Informed Of Your Racist Comments

"Jesus walks with him."

The raison d'etre of Scoopwatch is to draw attention to the atrocious writing and analysis of one Robert "Scoop" Jackson in the hope that either (1) he will ditch his Scoopbo act and start putting some effort into his columns, or (2) ESPN will drop him. Of course, I realize that Scoopwatch is but a lowly single-issue narcissite in a roiling sea of cyber-chatter and, as such, it lacks the power to achieve its goals. Which is where the secondary purpose comes in: puerile, self-indulgent venting. But sometimes even I am left speechless by Scoop's more ... how to put it politely ... insane drivel.

Like this piece, to which a commenter kindly drew my attention. It's from SLAM, not ESPN, so it is arguably ultra vires for Scoopwatch, but it is too good (awful?) to ignore.

Caveat lector: As I said, it is from SLAM. Anyone reading SLAM knows what they're getting, and get's what they deserve.

I will withhold comment for fear of violating all rules of civility, except to say that "He woulda saveth us" is a first-ballot Scoopism.

Ok, one more comment (I'm bursting, here): "Michael Redd sees past all the superficiality, fights the temptations of superstar-ism . . ." This only a short page after Redd is described thus: "A black left gator steps out, followed by a long black sable. Around the man’s neck, a cross. 58 Van Cleef & Arpel diamonds, set in David Yurman platinum. Those are 6.22 carats. Total weight? Only God knows." About those temptations of superstar-ism, Scoop . . .

Oh, and I can't resist drawing particular attention to this dog's breakfast of pseudo-poetry, pop-religiosity, and banality:

This has nothing to do with basketball. Not really. It has nothing to do with religion. It really has nothing to do with God. What it—Michael Redd’s life captured in this room—has to do with is faith. Blind faith. Unconditional faith. Internal faith. For leaders come not just in different forms but in times of need. As much as Michael Redd may have been sent here to save the Milwaukee Bucks franchise and possibly save the 2008 US Olympic Team and even NBA basketball internationally, he has also been sent here to save the men who can’t get into players-only parking lots.

You know what, Scoop? I think you've topped yourself. That paragraph may actually be blasphemous.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"the cause is lost inside the emotions." (Well, something is certainly lost.)

The first word of the latest Scoop column may be "Miami!" but it's all about the Crilla. Apparently the denizens of the Windy City are extrapolating a perfect season from the Bears 4 - 0 start while visions of Superbowls dance in their heads.

Sensibly, Scoop takes a more skeptical line in what is, all in all, not an embarrassing offering by his standards (which are, admittedly, lower than a Golota haymaker.) But what would Scoopwatch be without some cavils?

And yet, people are roaming the streets of the Chi not shy. Not even close to humble. Grown men who drive CTA buses and campaign for governors, grown women who work for CPS and agree with Oprah that Barack Obama should run for president, U of C kids at Jimmy's, UIC kids at Sweet Maple's, anyone at Starbucks and Target -- all acting like there aren't 12 more games to play. Acting like last year never happened.

I suppose Scoop thinks that he is painting a colorful portrait of his hometown, invoking telling local details to convey the breadth of Bears hysteria. The CTA, CPS, Oprah, Obama, U of C, UIC: Chicago icons all. I don't know the Second City too well, but I'll assume without looking them up that Jimmy's and Sweet Maple's are similarly well-known landmarks. But Starbucks? Target? Where do they come from, Scoop? Why end on two flat notes?

So the city can continue to overreact like Kim Etheredge. Or suicide is what it's setting itself up for. As of right now, right here, standing on the west side of Lake Michigan, it seems as if the cause is lost inside the emotions. We caught up.

I've said it before, and I know I'll say it again, but . . . Scoop, that's not English. "Or suicide is what it's setting itself up for"? Are you being paid by the word, Scoop? What would have been wrong with "It's setting itself up for suicide"? "We caught up"? Pretty sure there should be a verb in there. ". . . the cause is lost inside the emotions"? Do you even know what you are trying to say here, Scoop?

"We gone." Again with the verbs, Scoop. You know, the "action words."

"And this sums up how everyone in the city is basically feeling. Collectively."

If a junior high student turned in this tripe I'd expect him to fail. "[H]ow everyone in the city is ... feeling. Collectively." Here's a hint Scoop, part of that quote is either (a) redundant, or (b) redundant. And what, exactly, do you think "basically" adds to the sentence? Hmm? Basically nothing?

Why do Scoop's columns all sound like they were dictated extemporaneously by a character in a sneaker ad? Writing isn't just talking in print, Scoop. Please tell me someone mentioned that during your masters program.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The doubtful benefits of Scoop Jackson

To be fair, Scoop just wanted to say something thoughtful, profound, perhaps even moving about the T.O. suicide/drug reaction debacle. Unfortunately, he gave us this, instead.

If anyone is qualified to comment on T.O.’s frame of mind, it's our man Scoop. In fact, he even wrote an entire column channeling the troubled wideout's private Coney Island of the Mind. So what did Scoop serve up for our delectation? Let's take a peek, shall we.

You always want to give doubt the benefit. The benefit that inside of all three sides to every story, the truth of the matter, even if not found, can be someone's salvation.

Come again, Scoop? You don't mean you always want to give the benefit of the doubt, do you Scoop? On, oh let's say, racial issues? To the athletic director at Notre Dame, perhaps? To the "Revolverlutionary"?

And I assume that's what you mean, the benefit of the doubt. Because the way you mangled that syntax inverted the object of the gift. You see, Scoop - and stop me if I'm using too many big words - it isn't doubt that receives the benefit of, well, whatever the benefit that it’s receiving is in your linguistic playpen. Rather, it's the person (admittedly implied rather than stated) who receives the "benefit" of the "doubt," which is another way of saying you assume the best possible interpretation when there is room for doubt. Capiche?

I know, Scoop, you see clever writers play with language, twisting it round for effect, surprising their readers with unexpected paradoxes. But here's the thing Scoop, the end result still has to mean something. Ideally it should mean something clever, but, at a minimum, it has to mean something. You, on the other hand, are like a boy who sees a chainsaw artist at work and then rushes home to hack the dinner table to bits with his dad's axe. Not the same thing, see?

As to how the truth can be someone's salvation "even if not found," I won't even ask.

When the story broke that Terrell Owens attempted to commit suicide by an overdose of pain medication Tuesday night, the benefit of doubt given to most athletes flew out the window.

Almost there, Scoop! Just need one more definite article.

The "benefit" and "doubt" motif recurs throughout the rest of the article. At this point, though, I don't even care if Scoop understands what it means.

As for the substance of the piece (always an afterthought, given the slog involved in deciphering it), Scoop seems to be of two minds about the situation. And, ever the rebel, Scoop eschews the petty journalistic convention of making his mind up before writing, and gives us the benefit of his doubtful vacillations.

In particular, Scoop can't decide whether T.O. is to be pitied as a victim of a biased media, or blamed as the author of his own victimhood (my new main man JW's take, for what it's worth). At times he appears to blame the media, fans and even the Dallas P.D. for overreacting to the story (though exactly what part of the police's rapid response to a 911 call from a frantic woman and an incoherent man was "overzealous," he leaves unsaid). While at other times he seems to concede that, given the stunts T.O. has pulled in the past, this was his "boy who cries wolf" comeuppance.

These competing intuitions blur beyond recognition when Scoop writes:

As wrong as it was to instantly believe that Owens had attempted suicide, it would be naïve to think that something like this from him wouldn't be far-fetched. And more than the speculation of facts in this story, that's where the true tragedy rests.

If it isn't far-fetched to think a story might be true, why was it wrong to believe it initially? And why is this illogical state of affairs a tragedy (putting aside the ungrammatical nature of that last sentence)?

Either T.O. is an immature punk who has created a situation in which someone might mistake him for being mentally unbalanced, which is far from tragic, or he really has serious mental problems that prompt him to act the way he does. In the latter case, he needs to get help now, before there is a real tragedy. But by dismissing the possibility that T.O. really did attempt suicide ("this falsely-interpreted incident") and by implying that T.O. is mentally secure (exuding "clarity and credibility") while still painting T.O. as the victim of external bias ("the public and the media" don't give him "a chance") and admitting that the fault for this bias might accrue in some part to his "past behavior and antics," Scoop twists himself up into a knot of unresolved contradictions and non sequiturs.

In other words, a typical Scoop column. There may be a subtle point to be made incorporating Scoop's "doubts," but Scoop clearly isn't the man to make it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Jason Whitlock - the gift that keeps on giving

To be honest, Scoopwatch has never paid much attention to Jason Whitlock, current and Kansas City Star sportswriter and former and ESPN commentator. I'm sure I read his columns from time to time, but he wasn't so obviously bad or good that I can remember any particular pieces. Needless to say, however, J-Dub has soared in Scoopwatch's estimation over the last week.

First there was the early Christmas present that was Whitlock's Big Lead interview. And now these gems from his latest KC Star column:

Jackson is the infamous sports columnist who bragged in a recent column about telling black kids they had a better chance of being NBA players than sportswriters. [SW: He actually said this. For real.]

James Cohen, an executive at the network, called me Monday and asked me whether the comments attributed to me in the interview were true. When I said “yes,” he informed me that I could no longer appear on ESPN television shows and that my November appearances on “Pardon the Interruption” would be canceled.

. . .

I told the blog that part of the reason I was leaving Page 2 was because I was uncomfortable with Page 2’s relationship with Scoop Jackson. Much of his writing is childish, anti-white and a caricature of a negative black stereotype. I didn’t say it in the blog interview, but it’s my belief that it is irresponsible for the World Wide Leader to publish much of what Scoop writes. Over the last year, I’ve shared these opinions with ESPN executives countless times. I said nothing in the blog interview that I hadn’t said privately.

Thank you, Jason! Much respeck. Can't wait for your first column.

"Scoop is a clown"

Wow. Scoopwatch might have to hang up its keyboard and modem because, really, after the stinkbomb Jason Whitlock let off on his way out the ESPN Page 2 door, what more is there to say?

Courtesy of the Big Lead:

Q: What about Scoop? Based on the way you bitch-slapped him in the KC Star, you couldn’t have liked working with him.

We didn’t work together. But, yeah, there’s a big dropoff from being associated with Ralph, Hunter and Bill than being linked to someone doing a bad Nat X impersonation. It pissed me off that the dude tried to call himself the next Ralph Wiley and stated some [bleep] about carrying Ralph’s legacy. Ralph was one of my best friends. I hate to go all Lloyd Bentsen, but Scoop Jackson is no Ralph Wiley. Ralph was a grown-ass man who didn’t bojangle for anybody. Scoop is a clown. And the publishing of his fake ghetto posturing is an insult to black intelligence, and it interferes with intelligent discussion of important racial issues. Scoop showed up on the scene and all of a sudden I’m getting e-mails from readers connecting what I write to Scoop. And his stuff is being presented like grown folks should take it seriously. Please. I guess I’ll go Bill Cosby on you, but it’s about time we as black people quit letting Flavor Flav and the rest of these clowns bojangle for dollars. There’s going to be a new civil-rights movement among black people and the people bojangling for dollars are going to be put in check.

. . .

Q: Who are your boys in the sports writing industry? Who do you read?

. . . Who do I read? Simmons, TJ Simers, Wilbon, Deadspin, John Feinstein’s books, message boards and Scoop Jackson whenever I’ve overeaten and want to purge.

Theodor Adorno said that there could be no poetry after Auschwitz. I'm not sure there can be any Scoopwatch after Whitlock.

Then again, as long as Scoop is still drawing a paycheck from the .com, duty calls.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

If You Squint, It Looks Sports Related.

I'm going to do something I haven't done much of since I foisted Scoopwatch upon an unsuspecting and, for the most part, uncaring world only a few short weeks ago: praise Scoop Jackson. Never let it be said that Scoopwatch doesn't give credit where credit is due, however grudgingly and backhandedly.

So here goes. Scoop Jackson's most recent column - The Christies can't survive TV - makes a very good (if blindingly obvious) point. I think there's a lesson here, Scoop. If you stick to stories that don't require sports acumen or complex reasoning, you too can provide the sort of profound insight one expects from TV Guide or Bill O'Reilly. Well, once you learn to write, of course. But that's a whole 'nother issue (about which more anon).

The gist of the column is that some BET programming executive thinks that the country cares enough about semi-retired NBA journeyman Doug Christie to spend an hour each week (an hour, let me remind you, that you can never get back no matter how contrite you are on your deathbed) ogling the life of "the sexy NBA baller turned fashion plate" and his "controlling wife."
If the show is a success, it will be solely for its schadenfreude value. Its fortunes will rise or fall on its ability to affored betrothed men everywhere a chance to escape their own brow-beating scolds for a weekly escape into the world of a truly emasculated husband. After an hour of Doug Christie shifting nervously in his chair and blinking "S.O.S." to the camera while his harridan of a wife cuts out all the pictures in his Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, even the worst relationship will feel like connubial bliss. BET might as well drop the pretence and rename the show Whipped: The Ongoing Search for Doug Christies Testicles. If it's as bad as Scoop intimates, it should be aired as a scared straight program by marriage counselors.

Scoop, in his great wisdom, realizes that airing private dysfunctions to the nation (or at least the black part of it that watches BET) may not be the smartest idea for the Christies. He draws on the track record of other reality TV couples to predict that publicity could spell the end of the conjugally-committed Christies and the beginning of the institutionally-committed Christies.

Of course, Scoop takes a full column to say this and does so in his inimitable Scoop-style. Some highlights:

Maybe they shouldn't do it.

Maybe this isn't in their best interest, in the best interest of "them."

I've read this sentence backwards and forwards, and that second clause doesn't get any less redundant on repeated readings.

. . .

The only reality-show couple that seems to have survived the inevitable Judge Toler visit is Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne ("The Osbournes"). And their marriage is on a whole 'nother planet … Neptune.

The truth of the observation aside, Scoop, the word is "other." You can contract words, on rare occasions, but you really can't split them with another word, Scoop. Not in English. Not as a grown man.

. . .

And then everything will come out. All the whispers and "undocumented" stories that have been damned by them will be deemed true:

Now here's where I break off my nit-picking to make a serious point. Scoop, write as though you have the Christies' best interests at heart. And you rightly warn the Christies not to appear on television because it will result in the wider publication of insidious gossip. So where do you get off stuffing the heart of your column with those very "whispers and 'undocumented' stories"? You're a journalist, Scoop (bear with me here). What's more, you "write" (loosely defined) for a reputable publication. So why the gutter press patter? Scoop, most of your columns are just bad, but this is sleazy. Now back to our regularly-scheduled caviling.

So my suggestion to the Christies is, don't do it! Pull out of the deal. Let Viacom/BET take you to court, hire Starr Jones to represent you (remember she is a lawyer by trade, former NYC assistant DA), use the aftereffect of other reality shows as evidence that both of you noticed a pattern and (for the sake of your marriage) you didn't want to take that chance, take a plea, settle out of court, pay the settlement and go back to your home -- where the now "lost" episodes were taped.

Talk about taking chances, letting Starr Jones represent you??? Where did that come from, Scoop? You going through View withdrawal? And what about being an "NYC assistant DA" makes you an expert in civil litigation and contract negotiation?

Come on, Scoop, did you really spend 10 days on this? On a yet-to-air BET reality show? I suppose there's nothing really going on in the world of sports to write about now that the U.S. Open is over (three columns, Scoop?), but perhaps you could extend yourself and find something to say about the MLB pennant races, the Ryder Cup (did you know Tiger Woods was playing?), the new NFL and College Football seasons, or (perish the thought) the imminent NHL and NBA seasons. You know, sports?

Welcome Deadspinners and others who have stumbled onto this site.

The other day, Deadspin was kind enough to link to my narcissite and girlfriend-substitute, otherwise known as Scoopwatch. Unlike such established outlets as Deadspin, FJM, and the Big Lead, Scoopwatch is the solipsistic project of one man with a full-time job. Accordingly, posts are fewer here at Scoopwatch than at those other sites, and tend to come in bunches (also known as "weekends"). Moreover, Scoop's erratic publishing schedule (though a blessing in so many other ways) is itself a great hindrance to the steady posting one expects of a narcissite. To compensate for Scoop's delinquency, I've resorted to mining the internet's virtual archives for old Scoop pieces with which to amuse myself and what was, hitherto, an audience of five friends and relatives.

This is a long-winded way of saying if you expect rapid-fire commentary and instant updates, Scoopwatch is going to live up to the example of its namesake by continually frustrating and disappointing you. On the other hand, if you want to support the mission of Scoopwatch - to lambaste, cajole, lampoon, and otherwise mock the appalling drivel that spills from the pen of Scoop Jackson - please stop by regularly for the latest installment.

In that vein, look for an exegesis of Scoop's latest offering very soon (i.e., sooner than the ten days it took for Scoop to provide it) . . .

P.S. Thanks for all the supportive comments and emails. Keep 'em clean and keep 'em coming.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Scoop's Sophisticated Readership

Because Scoop is still recovering from the ritual humiliation that was his last ESPN chat, and hasn't managed to post a column in more than 10 days, Scoopwatch has had to dig deep to bring you new and interesting Scoopanalia.

But don't despair! Trawling the depths of the internets, Scoopwatch has found perhaps the oddest Scoop-related item yet: Scoop's Barnes & Noble page.

As you may have repressed the memory, let me remind you that Scoop's major foray into the world of literature has been the book Sole Provider, in which he chronicled the first thirty years of Nike shoes. What you may not have suspected is the audience that this book has attracted. Enter Barnes & Noble, the national mega-bookstore chain. A quick perusal of the Sole Provider page on shows that customers that bought Scoop's Nike catalogue also bought the following books:

Recent Essays: 1990-1996
Peter Halley

Halley, as you may or may not know, is an American minimalist painter and writer, who has some particularly interesting things to say in response to Barnett Newman, perhaps the most outspoken artist of the AbEx school. (Canadians will remember Newman for the controversial purchase of his Voice of Fire by the National Gallery of Canada).

Numerical Ocean Circulation Modeling
Dale B. Haidvogel, Aike Beckmann

I have nothing say about this. Nothing.

Clarissa and the Countryman
Wright, Johnny L. Scott

Splendid book! At least I liked the pictures. Clarissa is better known as one half of the Two Fat Ladies and a columnist for the Telegraph (or was it the Times? I don't recall). I used to see her occasionally at Borough Market, when she wasn't doing yeowoman's work for the Countryside Alliance. Trivia: her real name is Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson-Wright.

Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress, 1800-1909
Jean Hunnisett, Janette Haslam

At least costumes and shoes make sense. Though I don't know what they would have made of AJs in the Regency period.

The Complete Reprint of John Willie's Bizarre
Eric Kroll

According to the website, "This two-volume collector's boxed set includes all 26 issues of Bizarre magazine, the cult periodical started in 1946 by the master of bondage and fetish: photographer, writer, and publisher John Alexander Scott Coutts, aka John Willie. Filled with graphic black-and-white photos and illustrations." Precisely.

Maybe Scoop's fan-base is more diverse than I'd thought. Or maybe even smart people have dumb nephews who need Christmas presents.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Scoop speaks! An ESPN chat.

Avert your eyes. It's that time of the month again; time for a Scoop Jackson live chat on So you don't have to suffer, here are some highlights.

Because it gets repetitive to post "Uh, Scoop, that's not English" or "Uh, Scoop, ????" after every incomprehensible sentence, Scoopwatch will limit itself to merely highlighting the most of the mangled syntax and leave it to you to provide the appropriate response. Some passages, of course, still beg for a verbal wedgie, which Scoopwatch is more than happy to administer as required.

Jamaal (Trenton): I am a true fan of your work Scoop. [SW: Gulp] I was in the minority in thinking that McNabb had a lot more to do with his souring relationship with T.O. than most of the national media suggested. While T.O. is immature, I think it's also true that McNabb was jealous of the title of "the missing piece" the city gave to T.O. Thoughts?

Scoop Jackson: (4:00 PM ET ) I thought/think there are some legit issues that when on the T.O. exposed. To me a franchise can nopt be that strong if one man came come in and distrupt and destroy it the way that T.O. did. To me, that episode said as much about Owens as it did the Eagles as a team/franchise.

A banner start, Scoop! 4:00 on the dot, and we've already left comprehensibility stranded at the station.

Sebastian Melmoth, Scarsdale, NY: Have you ever been to a sports event that wasn't a lifechanging experience?

Scoop Jackson: (4:11 PM ET ) yes. the 1994 NBA Finals.

Scoopwatch makes its first appearance in a Scoop Jackson chat! Mark the date folks. Borrowing Oscar Wilde's old pseudonym, Scoopwatch's first question is an unexceptional piece of cheap sarcasm. Hard to tell whether Scoop's answer is serious. Hard to tell if Scoop is ever serious, come to think of it.

LaBonte Jackson, Sacramento, Cali: 'sup, Scoop? bout time a voice was herd on the air, on the page, and in the brains of the nation like yours. My Qs: Doyou feel pressure to conform on ESPN? To change who you is as you is presented, if not who you is deep down? How can I, as a college freshman, stay true to my roots, my hood, myself and still succeed on "their" terms?

Scoop Jackson: (4:17 PM ET ) the only thing I can tell you is in order to stay true, or the best way I can suggest that you stay true, is by going beyond whats necessaary or normal for whatever field you want to get into. I believe that if you over-compensate yourself to the degree that your resume, work ethic and exectiion of that work are beyond what others in that field are doing, you have a strong chance in staying true to what you believe and have a chance to have your work show that.

Scoopwatch makes its second appearance. That's two in a row! At this point I was seriously wondering whether I was the only person submitting questions, and was worrying about coming up with aliases and dumb questions for a full hour. In this case, I thought I was walking a fine line. I wanted to see how linguistically-challenged a question could be and still make the cut in a Scoop chat. Apparently the line ain't so fine, because (dear God!) Scoop took it. I'm going to have to pound a few sixers and type blindfolded next time. The second point of this question was to see if Scoop, when offering career advice to a college freshman (i.e., someone who is supposed to be able to write semi-coherently) would tell him to learn to write properly. Apparently not.

J-Pete (Alexandria, Virginia): I read an interview in which you slammed sports reporters as"nauseating" and said they are just out to trip up the players. If you're not a sports reporter, then what do you consider yourself?

Scoop Jackson: (4:33 PM ET ) i was misquoted! :-)

The third of my questions, and the last that Scoop took. Given the number of repeat questioners in this chat, Scoop's worldwide fanbase must be hovering between the number of black Barry Manilow fans and the number of male WNBA fans who aren't team owners. I'm actually sorry that Scoop ducked this question. I'll have to repost it next week. Though the next guy may have answered it for him:

Tom (Rockville): How many times do you have to tell these people that you're a sports writer, not an expert analyst? Love the work man. The U.S. Open piece was unreal. Might have to take a trip up to Flushing next year because of it. And don't be afraid to put the race subject out there. It's a huge part of sports and more importantly life.

Scoop Jackson: (5:41 PM ET ) Thanks. I agree.

Tom, by any chance is your real name Robert Jackson? I can think of a few sportswriters who weren't expert analysts - George Plimpton springs to mind - but they could all ... how should I put this ... write.

Soren (LA): How bad can it get for the Raiders? Do you think Shell should kick the crap out of Porter?

Scoop Jackson: (5:41 PM ET ) Shell has so many more problems than Porter. [SW: Ambiguous, please revise.] His teameither played horrble or they just are. After watching that game Monday, I think it's the latter. i'm wondering is Aaron Brooks really that bad? Is the O-Line that bad? Is Moss that one-dimensional? Or are the Chargers really that good?

Come again, Scoop? You're wondering "is Aaron Brooks really that bad?" You know, they show the NFL on t.v. these days, Scoop.

Greg(Boston): You going to see my Pats in the Super Bowl this year? If so, see ya there Scoop

Jackson: (4:45 PM ET ) losing BDBranch was big. I think they''ve lost too many intrigal players over the last two-three years. As good as Brady is, I always thought they won by committee. McGinnis gone hurts, but losing Adam V. is going to really hurt them as the season goes on. I think he alone was good for 3wins in the regular season and 1 in the playoffs. they'll miss that and that will be the difference.

"Intrigal." Pay attention. You'll be seeing this one again.

Tom (Dictionary): "Intrigal" is not a word. You meant "integral".

Scoop Jackson: (4:49 PM ET ) you all gotta understand, I Can't Type!!!

. . .

Joe (CA): Scoop, not to break your chops but isn't a journalist who can't type like a teacher who can't read?!

Scoop Jackson: (4:53 PM ET ) it depends. See typing on a chat is different than typing astory. there is no spell check and you can't really look back on what u type b/c you're trying to answer as many questiona as possible in an hour. so when i say i can't type i mean under the chat rules. typos are going to be regular.

Uh, Scoop? Confusing "integral" and "intrigal" isn't a typo, it's a spelling mistake (and, quite probably, a pronunciation mistake). Misspelling "integral" as "integrla" or "intergal" might be a typo resulting from typing too fast, but "intrigal" isn't even close. The keys you'd have to mishit aren't close enough to each other for this misspelling to be accidental. So there's a mystery solved. Scoop's appalling grammar and spelling isn't just affected, he either (a) doesn't care to try harder, or (b) doesn't know any better. Or both. Did Scoop mention he has a masters degree?

Kevin(Chicago): Scoop, how do you feel about the Bears this year?

Scoop Jackson: (4:48 PM ET ) I thought the Bears were going to start the season 0-3. They were having so many issues at 3 of their main offensive positions: QB. RB and WR. But i didn't look at their schedule. So I think they're safe. Win the North. But I can't see them getting to the Conference Finals.

Hold it right there, Scoop. You thought the Bears were going to start the season 0-3, but you didn't look at their schedule? I know you don't do much of what journalists like to call "research" and you aren't really so concerned with what some people might call the "facts," but come on, Scoop. Could you at least make an effort to hide the fact you just mail it in? Please? By the way Scoop, who do you think is going to win the 2:30 game on ABC this Saturday? Without looking at the teams.

Tom Rehobath DE: Do you like the Ravens defense this year

Scoop Jackson: (4:41 PM ET ) Love it. i'm just concerned about a major injury taking them out for about 6 or 7games. Ed Reed - not ray Lewis - might finally get the DOY this year.

. . .

Billy Bob (Kansas): It's me again. You are so dumb - Ed Reed won DOY in 2004. Oh, and you're also an idiot.

Scoop Jackson: (4:51 PM ET ) Thanks. I did forget. Idiot, true.

This is a recurring theme in any Scoop chat. The same posters writing in to point out Scoop's blunders and gratuitously insult him. Sounds kind of fun, huh? Actually it's painful. Like watching Paul Newman get beat up by George Kennedy. Stay down, Scoop. Actually, I'm just impressed Scoop looked at the roster.

Finally, we'll end with one of the most pointless and ridiculous series of Qs and As in ESPN chat history. I'll just post the text and let Scoop dig his own grave.

Willie (NY): Who is the best player in the NBA?

Scoop Jackson: (4:01 PM ET ) 24, 3, 23, 3, 21. In that order.

. . .

Pres (Boise, Idaho): There's a hole in your player rankings, the only reason you could put Wade ahead of LBJ is because of the ring ... if that's true how the hell could you put KG or AI ahead of Duncan and his three that he won?

Scoop Jackson: (5:15 PM ET ) Dude, it's not in any order. I just posted 5. The top 5, noorder. And for the record, 21 is TD in my five.

. . .

nick (ny, ny): Willie (NY): Who is the best player in the NBA? Scoop Jackson: (4:01 PM ET ) 24, 3, 23, 3, 21. In that order. dont you dare get snippy with your audience

Scoop Jackson: (5:19 PM ET ) I feel you, but It wasnt a ranking. "In that order" was more of an empahsis on the players. not a ranking from 1-5. My bad on the misunderstand.

mikey (teaneck): But on the list you wrote "In that order"?

Scoop Jackson: (5:22 PM ET ) Afagin i didn't mean it like that. But since we're being"specific" I'll do this. Best 5 Players in the NBA by rank. 1. Kobe Bryant. 2. Tim Duncan 3.Dwyade 4. Lebron James 5. Allen Iverson. Cool?!?

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Scoop Jackson! (Or Robert Jackson, since we're being "specific").

Scoop: the anti-Nostradamus

Before I tackle the disaster that was Scoop's latest ESPN chat (I'm building up to it - I need to develop my Scoop immunity gradually), here's a golden oldie for all Scoop fans.

The chat was conducted by an English basketball website back in the Spring of '03, as far as I can tell, when Scoop was still in his natural habitat at SLAM:

Steven Chang, Birmingham: Scoop - do you think the bridge between Europe and America has closed since the disappointing US finish at the Worlds, and do you think the future is in Europe with so many non-Americans featuring in the draft last season and this season too? Also, do you believe in the team approach as seen in Europe or do you believe in the one-on-one individual stuff in the NBA?

Scoop Jackson: I think the gap is closing but not to the degree that everyone thinks that it is. To me there’s still a defensive gap between how D is played in the NBA and how European players play D. I still haven’t seen one player from overseas that has made any type of defensive impact over here.

With an almost eerie lack of prescience, Scoop dismissed the defensive game of all European players (we'll put aside that he said overseas, which would technically include defensive standouts Mutombo, Bol, and Olajuwon, who played U.S. college ball - barely, in the case of Bol) the year before Andre Kirilenko began his streak of three consecutive NBA all-defensive team appearances (two second team and one first team). It's not like he was unknown back in 2002-2003 either. He'd been named to the all-rookie team the year before and was eighth in the league in blocks per game even as Scoop was speaking. More impressively (and common knowledge for an NBA insider like Scoop) Kirilenko was the only non-center in the top ten in blocks per game.

. . .

William Alimi, Philadelphia (USA): Were you always interested in being a writer? If so, as an aspiring basketball writer, were you always good or did it take time for you to get to the level you are at? PS - Any tips you could give me, on becoming a writer like you?

Scoop Jackson: Oh it took time.
[SW: I think I just blacked out. My mind reels at the thought that Scoop was once significantly worse. Did he just bash the keyboard against his forehead and publish the result? I was going to make a monkeys and typewriters joke, but Scoop would probably think it was racist.]

I never really had visions of being a writer but I always had great love for writing and news. In high school I was a magazine fanatic: Sports Ill, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Parade, Esquire, all of them. [SW: All of them, Scoop? New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harpers, Spectator, Paris Review, National Review, New York Review of Books?]

So I read a lot. Not books [SW: ::shocked::], but newspapers and magazines. Nelson George and Gary Smith were like my idols. As was my father, who was a writer for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. So I followed all of them. And I guess my passion turned into work ethic and career interest. I just studied the game and found out how I can be effective.

And I got lucky. [SW: Amen!]

Don’t get me wrong, when I was young, there was no outlets like The Source, Slam, Vibe, ESPN, none of that was around. So I was just lucky that there have been outlets. [SW: Can't say the same.]

My advice to you: read, find writers that you like and read everything that they do. Study them, dissect their stories, learn why they write what they write, the way they write, the angles they use. [SW: And do the opposite.]

To me that is the greatest asset any writer can have to find his or her own voice is to read others. [SW: Scoop, what were you reading, Finnegan's Wake? That isn't even a coherent sentence. You do know that, don't you? Don't you? "The fall(bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronn-tuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!)
of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy."]

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Unrestricted View on Scoop's Chats

An amusing account of the last Scoop chat on Having followed Scoop's latest chat, earlier today (in which he answered no fewer than three questions posed by Scoopwatch!), I can attest that FJM's account of just how uncomfortable these chats can be is dead on. It's embarrassing how many of Scoop's questioners are not only antagonistic, but outright disdainful. Does Scoop have ANY real fans? Seriously, I submitted about 10 questions and 3 made it into the chat. Assuming that proportion holds true for other submitters, that means that, if Scoop answered 40 questions (just a guess), only 120 or so were actually submitted! From a website that gets hundreds of thousands of hits a day? And of those 120, I'd guess about half are hostile. That's just sad. I almost feel sorry for Scoop. He must look forward to these bi-weekly chats about as much as Ted Kennedy looks forward to running into Mrs. Kopechne at the Edgartown post office.

Some gems from Unrestricted View's post:

Vinny (jersey): bronx bombers or the boys from b"a"ston to win the east?

Notice how even Scoop's readers fail to use capitalization or complete sentences. This is the theme throughout a Scoop Jackson chat.

Scoop Jackson: Vin- man I don't know.The fact that the yanks are ballin' and Madsui and Sheff are hurt and ARod might snap out of his funk scares me. But... any team with Papi on it, i gotta role with. So I'll say Sox get the East.

Way to start it off Scoop! I wouldn't expect anything less. Not only did you successfully use the word "ballin'" and "funk" in the very first sentence, but you also misspelled Matsui's name, used the word the word "role" when you meant to say "roll", and added ellipsis in a place much more suited for a comma. Kudos!

. . .

Brian (Brooklyn): I like how you answer these questions without fully breaking it down, making theses cats go back and think and figure it out for themselves. I'm feelin that, especially that anomoly thing, pretty clever to have them turn the "across the board" thing the other way


scoop Jackson: you busted me!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mr. Neutral

Ran across this gem from an old Scoop chat:

(The occasion was Reggie Miller's retirement after the Pacers bowed out of the playoffs to Detroit):

Eric - Boston, MA: Being at the game last night, what was the feeling like as Reggie received his ovation from both teams? What was it like as Miller walked off the court for the last time?

Scoop Jackson: The first thing Michael Smith, RAchel Nichols and I asked eachother was Can we remember any athlete that went out this way. The only person we could come up with was Elway. It was a huge stage, not the Super Bowl, but it was that kind of atmosphere. And it was very fitting and justified and even though us in the media, we're not supposed to clap for anybody, well, we were on our feet cheering for Reggie. You have to.

Do you really believe that Scoop? That you're not supposed to clap for anybody? Isn't your journalistic m.o. essentially to pick a player you like and gush like Old Faithful? Come on, Scoop, I read your Tiger column, your White Sox column - heck, you admitted you were a Knicks fan in the same chat ("Being at the game last night was really special ... even though I'm a die hard Knick fan.")! Scoop, you give more clap than Wilt.

Kissing Suzy Kolber

The 'blog Kissing Suzy Kolber takes apart Scoop's T.O. column, line by line. [Warning - some comments may be offensive]

"The End of the Boo-yah Era"

The Big Lead has this interesting Scoop-specific comment on the gradual changing of the guard, and change in tone, at ESPN:

* Scoop Jackson has been spayed and neutered. The guy spent the week writing about tennis. Need we say more? We’ve been giving this ink-stained wretch hell for weeks, but his tipping point may have come in July with this misinformed and silly piece that featured the humdinger: “Then I make the point: “Which means you all have a better chance to make it to the NBA than you do doing what I do for a living.” In early August he had this disastrous chat with readers. Scoop’s been on a short leash ever since. (The results will probably be catastrophic. His core readers - his family and parolees - liked his ghetto shtick and will probably turn away from his watered down product. And he turned off so many readers with his initial racist offerings that they won’t click on his stories, regardless. We’ve been reading; they aren’t missing anything.)

I'll second the comments on Scoop's 1.3% Doctrine column. "Misinformed and silly" is generous. Hey, Scoop: the main reason high school kids can't name 300 black sportswriters? Most high school kids can't name 10 sportswriters period.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Scoop Manifesto

Scoop has a manifesto. Of course he does.

Every radical needs a manifesto, and, because Scoop sees himself as a journalistic radical (everyone else sees him as a lazy journalistic lightweight, but that's beside the point) he's published his own manifesto.

I'm not sure about this, but I believe that the Scoop Manifesto was actually Scoop's first column for I sure hope it was, because I couldn't imagine a better introduction to his Scoopness. It's so good, in fact, that you only need to read the first four lines to understand the literary train-wreck that is Scoop Jackson. Actually, train-wreck doesn't do Scoop's mangled idiom justice. And four lines is all you're going to get, because the rest is hidden behind the ESPN Insider firewall. For which we can all be grateful.

Without further ado, Scoop, in his own words:

They asked me to intro self. To take 900 words to explain I.

Well, first off – I is not that important. I am just a writer from Slam, XXL, NBA and Nike who found his way into ESPN's backdoor. Lucked up. Spit a few verbs, convinced 'em that Stephen A. wasn't the only one.

Oh sweet heaven! You can't parody this. It's not even slang, because nobody talks like this. And it's cringe-inducingly self-conscious, because you don't get a masters degree in journalism (which Scoop is quick to remind everyone he has) by "spit[ting] a few verbs" at the professors. At least I sincerely hope you don't. So we can assume that Scoop has consciously chosen to write the way he does. The question, then, is why? Posing? Yes. Marketing? Certainly (it did land him the ESPN gig). Laziness? Let's charitably assume so.

Whatever the reason, the results are priceless. All hail Scoop and his manifesto. The silliest since Charlie Marx and Freddie Engels released their dangerous nonsense on an unsuspecting world.

Scoop-induced anger.

Scoopwatch doesn't actually dislike Scoop Jackson. We mean the man no personal ill will. Scoopwatch is only interested in accountability. And cheap jibes. Gotta have the cheap jibes.

But others aren't so kind. Case in point [Warning: crude language]:

And now, for my 2005 DUMB**** OF THE YEAR…And the winner is: SCOOP JACKSON!Oh how I loathe Scoop. For those not in the know, Scoop was introduced to this year as a new Page 2 writer. He’s a lot like Bill Simmons, but without proper English. And the white. And the good.

Scoop’s idea of a column is to find a current topic in sports—preferably in the NBA, since that’s the only league anybody watches—find something even remotely racist, and run it into the ground with cool hip-hop lingo that only he undertands. When he referred to Chicago as “the Crilla” in his second column, I asked two Chicagoans and two black dudes if they knew what “Crilla” meant. All four of them looked at me like I just asked them if they wanted to have a three-way with those two fat broads on the Food Network.

Scoop came to ESPN from the illustrious Slam! Magazine, which, in terms of worldwide readership, makes Points in Case look like the King James Bible. He also owns a lot of sneakers, which I guess is important.

Scoop has never said a negative word about any black guy, including, are you ready? Ron Artest. Yup, Scoop wrote an entire column praising the NBA’s resident psychopath. [SW: Yet another reason for me to shell out the $39 for ESPN Insider.] He also playa-hated all those people who could care less about the Chicago White Sox winning the World Series, but is all aboard the bandwagon for not caring about the New England Patriots because they don’t have any stars.

To be fair, I haven’t liked this guy from the start. I remember seeing his dwarfish facade on, as if they had somehow reigned in the next Grantland Rice. I decided to give him a chance and read his “Scoop Manifesto” presented here for your pleasure (it helps to have a background knowledge of sports for those who hate following hyperlinks). What pissed me off the most? You guessed it. This line: “I believe the New England Patriots stopped believing in themselves and won their last Super Bowl.”

Keep in mind he said this only a couple short months after Tedy Bruschi nearly died of a stroke. But I guess it doesn’t matter because Bruschi is white. And you may wonder what one has to do with the other. Well, if someone wrote a disparaging piece about the Indy Colts right now, Scoop would throw a shit fit, praising Lord Dungy and neatly forgetting his tendency to choke in the big game. (And yes, I’ll be more than happy to write a disparaging piece about the Colts, just give me a deadline.)

So there you have it, the 2005 Dumb**** of the Year, a blatant racist and a lousy writer (stop smirking). Oh yeah, and in case you’re wondering, I’m applying to in the next couple of weeks and have every intention of using this as my writing sample.

More Flushing.

Scoop's latest offering from Flushing Meadows, the third in a trilogy, stumbles out of the gate ("There is a mural outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium. A live mural."), but then finds its feet and - mirabile dictu - isn't half-bad. At least until the last few paragraphs, when Scoop makes a welcome return to form and serves up the following gibberish:

But the thing that bookended this entire tournament was the division of dominance from Federer and the importance of seeing Agassi one final time. How both play probably the most significant roles in sports. How it's never very often we get to see the strong side of both simultaneously.

What was Agassi's tourn to begin was Federer's to fin. In the span of two weeks the two most important players for two different reasons summed up the game of tennis in the Open Era. No other sport has had this happen. Not like this.

Oh, Scoop. I knew you wouldn't disappoint. I had faith, Even in the midst of your semi-coherence, I knew that something like this was just round the bend. Thank you! "How it's never very often we get to see the strong side of both simultaneously." Priceless! "never very often"? "the strong side"? It's drivel like this that makes Scoopwatch possible - nay, necessary!

As for the rest of that first paragraph - "the division of dominance from Federer," "the importance of seeing Agassi one final time," "both play probably the most significant roles in sports" - who knows what any of this means? Who cares? There hasn't been nonsense this sublime since Edward Lear.

As for the second paragraph, I'm going to hazard a guess that Scoop is trying to say that the opportunity to see the two most important players in the modern era - one bidding adieu to the sport whose popularity he helped create; the other exercising his dominance over today's game - was unique in sport. Not so fast, Scoop. Did you miss Jack waving farewell to the crowd on the Swilken Bridge at St. Andrews the weekend Tiger won his second Open? Jack, along with Arnold Palmer, did at least as much to popularize golf in the age of television as Agassi did for tennis. In fact, I'd argue that Borg, Conners, and McEnroe did more than Agassi to seduce American fans to tennis. Even among his own generation, I'm not sure that Agassi - despite his flash and salesmanship - is more important than Sampras.

So, thanks Scoop, for living down to expectations. I never doubted you didn't have it in you. Those two paragraphs, plus a few of the usual headscratchers - "Title IX" (Where'd that come from?), your drooling over Sharapova (what's the inverse of jungle fever? Tundra fever?), the gloriously puerile "She is pretty … good at tennis," the overhyping of a random unknown (in this case, an unranked 18-year old Canadian who lost to the number 10 junior in the world), the repeated, unoriginal Yoda references - redeem this column as Scoopworthy.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Well spotted, Mr. Poon.

Sugar, Mr. Poon? has a good catch from Scoop's preposterous Tiger Woods column:

"Because unless you were at Medinah or until you see him play in person, live and unfiltered, live and uncut -- until you can spend three to four hours watching him, studying him, experiencing him -- you have no idea how dominating, important and imposing the will of Tiger Woods truly is. You have no idea what you're missing.

One dimension doesn't do his aura justice. You need all three."

Uh, Scoop? Television is two dimensions.

I like that Sugar, Mr. Poon? has developed the same reflexive reaction as me: "Uh, Scoop?" He also could have mentioned that "[a]ccording to Euclid, no physical object can be one-dimensional."

"I don't want to use the word 'nauseating.'"

From an interview with R"S"J himself (courtesy of The Heckler):

TH: You're a columnist for and have been an editor for Slam, Hoops, Inside Stuff, among others. Would you consider yourself a reporter or a writer?

SJ: I would say I'm a writer first. I never gained an appreciation for reporting. I could never get into that—beat writing. It's a hard job. Those people are vultures. Managing editors sit back and dictate things but don't do it themselves. They're looking so much for stuff. It's worse in entertainment, but pro sports figures are held to a higher degree than other professions. Hell, half the people we hold dear as icons like musicians were drug addicts.

But you never hold that against them. Editors seem to have a hatred for some athletes. It's like they're out to get them. I'll be at games and I look down at all the reporters crowding them, trying to get quotes. All I think is, "Careful guys, they're out to get you."

But as I got older, I got to appreciate what my father [a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver] did. I don't want to use the word "nauseating" [to describe reporters]. But I just sit back and look and say, "What are these people after?"

. . .

TH: Race plays a major role in much of your writings. How much does race affect sports?

SJ: Race plays no more role in pro sports than the everyday business world. But it is one of the main businesses where the people in it are predominantly people of color. Look at all of the mayors in the country. How many of them are black? Quite a few. But then you look at how many governors are black. How many senators? Very few. It's the same in sports. The further you go up (in management) it dwindles and dwindles and dwindles. Pro sports is a microcosm of life. I at times find myself to be the reminder of it. If we don't remind people of the issues, they don't stay at the forefront. We're still dealing with issues of race in this country. Look at Michael Jordan and the issues he's faced trying to buy a team. And he's trying to buy them with the money. Bob Johnson owns a team now [the Charlotte Bobcats]. It took a billionaire for a black man to own an NBA team. How many other owners are billionaires?

Off the top of my head, Scoop? Mark Cuban (Mavs), the Maloofs (Sacto), Paul Allen (6th richest man in the world) (Blazers), Mickey Arison (Heat), James Dolan (Knicks), Donald Sterling (Clips), William Davidson (Pistons), Gordon Gund (Cavs), Glen Taylor (T-Wolves), the Simons (Pacers), Stan Kroenke (Nuggets), Richard DeVos (Magic). Other recent billionaire owners included John McCaw (Grizz), Ted Turner (Hawks), and Ross Perot (Mavs). Other than them, Scoop? Can't think of any (but I'm sure I missed some).

Scoop's Fan Club

Apparently we're not the only folks with an unhealthy interest in his Scoopness. The Big Lead had some choice comments about our man recently. [Warning: Adult language]

Best comment: "I was stupid enough to read that Scoop Jackson article. I need eye bleach and 17 vodka and tonics to erase it from my memory." I'm seriously considering making that the permanent subheading of Scoopwatch.

"Clutchness has its anomaly": The Scoop Hall of Fame

So far, from the recent (read: free) ESPN archives, my favorite Scoopisms:

(On Big Papi) "Clutchness has its anomaly. And it's him."

"Bird had range, Mullin had range, Miller (aka: Reggie) had range." (I love, love, love the a.k.a)

(On how the U.S. basketball team's lack of a true 3-point threat may cost them) "Oh, my bad, yes it will -- it'll add up to an L."

(On T.O.'s new start in Dallas) "Here we go … been waiting for this for eight months, baby! The hate that hate produced, produced the wrong dude."

(On seeing Tiger on Sunday at the PGA Championship) "To know he was going to be wearing red. To know what that meant."

(On watching Tiger hit an 8-iron to ten feet) "But this was the shot I thanked God for allowing me to see. It was the one that would be insanely seared in my membrane, the one I told my sons about when I got home, the one I'll tell their kids about 20 years from now, the one that made me realize the true difference between a live experience and a plasma one."

Uh, Scoop, it was an 8-iron. To 10 feet. Tiger hits at least a couple of those every round.

I think I'm going to have to subscribe to Espn Insider just so I can read Scoop's archives and compile a definitive top ten list of Scoopisms (a.k.a. Jacksonisms).

Flushing Meadows, Gushing Scoop

On Andy Roddick's victory over Lleyton Hewitt: "I saw a player become un-overrated."

Apart from the sublime absurdity of syntax (which pretty much guarantees this phrase first ballot Scoopism HoF status), just how big was Roddick's accomplishment? A preview of the men's draw on the official U.S. Open website had this to say about the 15th-seeded Hewitt: "Look for him to crash early to rising star Djokovic of Serbia."

On the day's play: "Maybe the greatest day in tennis. "

Uh, Scoop, this wasn't even the semi-finals of a Grand Slam. The best match up of the day was Davenport v. Henin-Hardenne - a 2 v. 10 seed. No other match on the day pitted two top ten seeds against each other. Would you care to explain how this day was better than McEnroe - Borg at Wimbledon in 1980, Agassi - Sampras at the 2001 U.S. Open, Evert - Navratilova at the 1985 French Open, or even Nadal - Federer on clay at the ATP Masters Finals earlier this year?I know these were single matches, but which day's play would you rather attend?

"Not the best [Scoop column] that ever was necessarily."

"Is he, Roger Federer, the Michael Jordan of tennis? The Muhammad Ali? The Babe Ruth? The Wayne Gretzky? The Jim Brown? The Lance Armstrong? The Tiger Woods?"

More wild hyperbole from a column devoted to Federer's joining of the pantheon of all-time greats. Fair enough. No disagreement here. But not one mention of his 2-6 record against Nadal, the number two player in the world?

Who dominated Jordan that much? Ali? Ruth? Gretzky? Brown? Armstrong? Has Tiger's main rival beaten him 75% of the time head-to-head? How do you write an entire article about Federer's dominance without mentioning his nemesis Nadal's name?