Why Your Hometown Columnist Sucks: Bill Plaschke

We have seen Bill Plaschke's desk. Well, to be more precise, we haven''t actually seen the surface of the desk — just the refuse piled on top. We doubt that anyone working at the Los Angeles Times since the early 1990s has seen what's underneath. To best describe it, think Dennis Nedry's work station in the film Jurassic Park.

All of this is why, we feel, Plaschke writes the way he does: with clean, simple, one-sentence paragraphs; with thoughts and concepts not cluttered with logic or statistical proof. He has a psychological need to tidy up, to simplify his life with his writing where he failed with a Dustbuster. Or: It could just mean that he's simply a hack. Let's go to the vital statistics.

Name: Bill Plaschke.
Born: Louisville, Ky.
Columnist: Los Angeles Times.
Nicknames: Oscar Madison, The Forehead, Jim Tracy's Possible Lover.
Attended: Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (Cougars).
Most Often Seen On: "Around the Horn."
Best Description Of His Writing Style In A Blog: "Like high-powered magnets, his thoughts are too weighty to put side-by-side." [The Futility Infielder]
Most Resembles: Michael Chiklis ("The Commish" years).
Grooming Trivia: Rarely shaves. Eyebrows may simply be crayon marks.

Unlike many of his high-profile sports columnist brethren, by all accounts, Plaschke is a very nice guy. That's why we're sure he will end up in Heaven, albeit in a special wing for overwrought, flowery, self-indulgent writers such as Mitch Albom, Woody Paige and anyone who has ever written novels involving talking unicorns.

Ah, the writing. At first we thought his penchant for one-line paragraphs was an urban myth, until we went back and sampled a few columns. The first one we found included nine one-liners among the first 11, including this stretch:

"An office that was once as forbidding as Dorrell's perfectly pressed sweat pants — how does he do that? — is now one big living room.

His daughter's drawings are on the door, snacks are on the counter, and a neatly folded blanket and pillow are on a leather couch in the corner.

Where kids used to sit on the edge of their seats, they now feel comfortable enough to sprawl on their backs.

While Dorrell sometimes sleeps here, so do his players."


The column was about UCLA football coach Karl Dorrell, and how he will be successful because, um, he never runs out of Chex Mix? We're still not sure. Anyway, we searched about a dozen offerings and found nary a connected thought. All of this flies in the face of his early work as a reporter for the Times , which was quite good. But somehow, tragically, he was seduced by the Dark Side. Well, that'll happen, we suppose.

Bill Plaschke Archive [LA Times]
Bill Plaschke Yard Work Archive [Yard Work]