Reporter-Turned-Blogger Blasts Blogger-Turned-Reporter

This is William Houston, former Toronto Globe and Mail columnist. He was relevant, oh, around the last time the Maple Leafs were. He has some absurd things to say about the new Leafs beat writer.

Houston was a fixture at the Globe and Mail for decades, using his Truth and Rumours column to cover everything in sports and sports media gossip (sound familiar?). He "retired" last year, and took his column online. It's continued as pretty much the same animal, until today when he went after one of his successors at the paper:

The biggest joke of 2009-10, unfortunately, was the spectacle of James Mirtle attempting to function as a Globe and Mail hockey writer. A statistics wonk with limited journalistic skills, poor James struggled, to say the least. Consider his gruesome effort on April 12, in which he "reports" on Leaf coach Ron Wilson's assessment of the season.

Mirtle wanted us to know that some ex-Leafs felt the players in the room had given up playing for Wilson.

He wrote, "And while at least one of those traded has quietly told friends around the league that the Leafs coach had ‘lost the room,' it's now crystal clear Burke came down on the side of Wilson, shuttling out nearly 40 per cent of his roster in a span of five weeks in a bid to clear out the malcontents."

Okay, so who's the player quietly telling "friends around the league" that Wilson lost the room? Either James didn't know, or he didn't have the guts to report his name. It was just cheap gossip and a cowardly bit of work. And didn't you love his term "crystal clear"? My god, that hackneyed piece of twaddle was worn out and over-used decades ago.

"Crystal clear?" How dare he use a well-known turn of phrase! Just for comparison's sake, here are some "hackneyed pieces of twaddle" from Houston's last few columns:

•"Brain trust"
•"Good for a laugh"
•"Gone fishing"
•"Marathon epic"
•"Plies his trade"
•"Looks at [him] like he's got two heads"

But let's set aside the hypocrisy (two instances of it, actually; Houston, tearing into Mirtle for not naming his source, is known for his own unnamed sources) and focus on the special vitriol he apparently has for Mirtle. Canucks Corner pretty much nails this one:

I understand why Houston resents James because I suspect Mirtle got the job after senior people – like Houston – were forced into retirement when the Globe reorganized the sports department to save money. Out with the old expensive guys and in with the cheap young bucks.

We've got like seven different levels of irony going on here. Old guy blasts new guy for doing the same things old guy does because new guy used to work where old guy does now, and new guy working at old guy's place is the reason old guy can't do his old thing.

Here's the "too long; didn't read" version: William Houston is petty and jealous.

Gone fishing? Not yet, but it's tempting [Truth & Rumours]