Slate's Robert Weintraub, like many of us, loves the old purple prose of early 1900s sportswriting, the Grantland Rices, the men who painted epic tales of warriors, grizzled combatants and lardywarks too manly to wear gloves. In an occasional series, Weintraub writes about the week's best baseball game in the style of the vaunted sportswriters of yesteryear. This week: He bids farewell. Yes, sadly, this will be Mr. Weintraub's last "Purple Prose" column for Deadspin. But he will write for this site again. For now, please say goodbye to Mr. Weintraub in the comments below and thank him for this column. He wrote this one, just for you.
Your faithful reporter tried. Honestly, he did. But the happenings at the Continental Divide Bandbox bore little resemblance to The Pastime as we know and love it. A toxic combination of altitude and ineptitude made for a ridiculous affair that rivaled Custer’s Charge for simple-minded wrong-headedness.
The Mountain Men wound up with the left-columner, outlasting a muscular school of Sunshine State Swordfish, the scoreboard frozen for posterity, and for those in the grandstand equipped with stereoscopes, reading 18-17. 18-17!! Imagine plating nearly a score of tallies, and shuffling out of the dressing room and into the Bar & Spittoon defeated! This wasn’t base ball, it was table tennis, or one of those games the Mongol hordes played with the skulls of vanquished opponents.
So your reporter departed the ground long before the Independence Day Combustibles exploded in earnest. Aimlessly wandering the Mint City downtown, I stumbled upon a Touring Fair that displayed the latest possibilities for the future utopian society promised by our finest writers of science fiction. Among the various models of rocket-propelled transport vehicles and stick-mounted edibles, I was introduced to something called the Comp-U-Ter. Intrigued, I began tapping the keys, awaiting the satisfying thwock of the typeset and ribbon tool I had left back at Adolph’s Abomination.
Disappointment on that note. Instead, to my horror, was encountered a far different “sound”—that of rabid barracking and insufferable insults aimed at (Egads!) this reporter!! The solid, ancient Anglo-Saxon name of Weintraub was being dragged through the tar, then enshrouded with feathers! The masses were repeatedly hiding yours truly with the dueling glove. The calls for this reporter’s head could be “heard” across the Plains.
“Too many words!” cybershouted the rabble.
“Pointless waste of time!” clattered the salivating pack of Hellhounds.
“No scantily-clad femmes!” hooted the Intelligent Designers.
Graphs, religious slurs, invitations to graphic, self-induced acts of violence—why, it’s enough to make a Knoble Knight of the Keyboard attempt to drown himself in his own inkwell. Had this reporter been more aware of the Villagers and their collective Torches marching to demand the WeinMonster be slain (instead of concentrating on his five-month old child), he would have not let his good name (and that of Weintrauben everywhere) be lumped together with those of Lenin or Bissinger.
Fortunately for you, this reporter is made of stern stuff. And he refuses to be sent out of town on a rail by some agoraphobic office drones with an axe to grind and mayhem on their mind (a distressing number of whom seem to be affiliated with the Steel City). But the new constable of this particular village, A.J. “The Whiskered Wizard” Daulerio, seeks to commingle the names Pipp and Leitch, and therefore has in mind other responsibilities for the much-vilified reporter who humbles himself before you today. I bow to all of you in recognition of your “victory” over my attempt to import some refinement and nostalgia into this unsightly, ominous world.
I must beg of you, however, to do me the honor of turning your bestiality upon others more worthy of abuse. This reporter’s goal, aside from a nod in the direction of a more flowery and interesting period in the annals of language, has been to provide a gentle satiric smack upside my typing colleagues’ brow for their laziness in covering our beloved base ball, particularly when it comes to bestowing alternate monikers upon those who grace our Great Nation’s playing fields. Not for this reporter the dullard A-Rod, I-Rod, K-Rod trope. It demeans the process and the players—can we not be bothered to dig at least a little into their backgrounds and performing styles to conjure a more sibilant and pleasing alter ego?
As this foray into a new form of mass communication has proven, the sporting fandom collective can be used for good as well as Weintraub-brutalizing. Surely, said hive intelligence can come up with something more interesting than “HanRam.” After all, you brave and righteous “commenters” hide behind a virtual speakeasy full of aliases, most of them creative and designed to amuse. Shouldn’t we demand the same of our punditry, those paid (often handsomely) to comment?
Alas, the marine layer has been lifted from my optical orbs. You the reader, corpuscle to my bloodstream, whale oil to my lantern, prefer the simpleton nickname, the tales of ribaldry instead of on-field glory, the 18-17 burlesque. It is this reporter who is out of place in this modernized, top-volume, I-want-it-now, opinions-are-like-elbows society.
Who woulda thunk it?