Jayne and I have both been sick at various times during the past six or seven days, so there hasn’t been much opportunity to blog in the last little while.
So today, I’m catching up in the style of one of the great old New York newspaper sports columnists, Jimmy Cannon (1910-1973). Cannon — no relation — had a signature phrase with which he would start what is sometimes called an “item column,” usually his random observations about matters both inside and outside the sports world. I’ve used it in the headline to this post.
So, nobody asked me, but:
— I’m more intrigued than sad about the demise of the printed version of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The P-I publishes its last print edition tomorrow, then becomes an online-only publication. It will be the largest daily newspaper in the U.S. to go entirely digital. The publisher’s statement about the reasons behind the move and what the new “paper” will look like may give us a window on the future of this segment of the news business.
— I think the selection committee for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament got it about right in their 65-team field. For every team that’s in, the seeding seems appropriate, and for most of the teams that didn’t make it, there seems to be a good reason for the omission. And they pass the partisan fan test with me. I thought my three schools Clemson (a No. 7 seed in Kansas City), Texas A&M (a little surprising at No. 9 in Philadelphia) and Florida (in the NIT) got pretty much what they deserved.
— I’m glad this phase of “bracketology” is over. As big a basketball fan as I am, I was at the point where I no longer cared who was “on the bubble.” And the phrase “body of work” should be used in discussions of Faulkner and Madame Curie, not, say, the Auburn Tigers.
— I thought the “showdown” between Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, and Jim Cramer, the CNBC pundit/infotainer, lacked the expected sparks, mostly because Cramer couldn’t put up much of a defense. There was a lot of truth in Stewart’s critique of CNBC’s coverage — or lack of it — in the runup to the financial crisis. But he’s not the first to point out the myriad of conflicts of interests between these TV business commentators and the people they “cover” — if indeed they’re really journalists. Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz wrote a book about this in 2000 called “The Fortune Tellers: Inside Wall Street’s Game of Money, Media and Manipulation.”
— I think the World Baseball Classic is a great idea staged at the worst possible time. I’ve caught bits and pieces of this event between bouts of watching basketball, and there are some great stories in it. Among the best is the suprising national baseball team from The Netherlands, which advanced to the second round after eliminating the Dominican Republic in the first round, a huge upset. How big? ESPN used the measuring stick of major league baseball salaries paid to each roster. One Netherlands player is a big-leaguer making the MLB minimum of $400,000, compared to the Dominicans’ 23 major league players with a combined payroll of $80 million.