So we've been noticing something goofy going on with the coverage of the Ozzie Guillen-Jay Mariotti story; on the whole, the sturm und drang seems to be directed away from Guillen, who, after all, is Ozzie Guillen, a guy whose rantings whom we all kind of accept like the drunk uncle at Thanksgiving who's convinced the reason he can't hold down a job is because of immigration. Whaddya gonna do? He is who he is.
No, it's Jay Mariotti — "fucktard," if you're a crude sort — who has everyone all hand-wringing. First it was real man Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey, who framed the debate by saying that if you criticize a player, you should be able to face him/her in the locker room. Today, Mariotti's fellow Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander nails it, asking, in all seriousness, "should we just stay away and pontificate? All the quotes are there, some taken down by court stenographers. Is our presence required? This is news that Mariotti has become." (It should go without saying that the preceding quote took four paragraphs for Telander to write.)
In other words, this has become a soul-searcher for media members on their place in the world today. The fan has access to live video of almost every game, the ability to read transcripts of press conferences and all the same statistical materials everyone in the press box is handed when they walk in. Telander, because he sees what's going on here, has no choice but to put it bluntly: "Is our presence required?" In an age where athletes say nothing interesting and reporters have to write it down as if they care, what is the point, anyway?
We don't think Jay Mariotti sitting at home, watching White Sox games while applying makeup and waiting for the cue from Tony Reali, can be classified as a reporter. But can someone with a press pass and locker room access, but with no more information or insight than anyone sitting at home, be called one either? Does it even matter anymore?
Which is really just a long way of saying: Mariotti's a fucktard.
(UPDATE: The only thing we've read about this all week that didn't sound helplessly stupid was this Bob Klapisch piece, a writer smart enough to write about it without really writing about it at all. Aside from this piece, though, it never fails to amuse us how sports reporters are acting as if it's some sort of manly thing to enter the locker room and face people they criticize. Listen: We are writers, and we are all dorks. No matter how much you talk yourself into thinking you have a high level of testosterone because you stand behind your words, you're still a dude who types for a living and every single person you write about could kick your ass, without thinking or caring much about it. You're fooling yourself if you even pretend otherwise.)