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Cleveland sportswriters

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by shallow_gal, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. shallow_gal

    shallow_gal New Member

    Bill Livingston and sports talker Greg Brinda have a book out on Cleveland sports lists. One of them is 10 best sportswriters since 1980, compiled by former Toledo Blade columnist John Gugger. Apparently these are his rankings and his alone (hopefully), since Livy is No. 1. Kind of weird to be No.1 on a book you wrote. But anyway... Here are the top 10, along with Gugger's comments on each.

    10. Terry Pluto, Plain Dealer: This was a tough one. If the criterion is quantity, Pluto finishes No. 1. If it's quality, which it is, he's right here. Pluto writes so much and so often, and that includes books, that his stuff begins to read like 30-minute columns. Hurried, simplistic, no depth. When he takes his time, which is increasingly rare, he can be very good. He went into Washington Heights, a fungo from the Bronx, when the Indians played the Yankees in the playoffs in the late 1990s, and came out with the best quotes and best background story of a young Manny Ramirez that I've ever read.

    9. Tom Reed, ABJ (Now Columbus Dispatch): An insatiable curiousity about Olympic sports allied with the writing skills of a polished pro on more familiar ones made Tom's columns go down easy before me moved to the Columbus Dispatch during the downsizing at the Beacon. His only flaw was a lack of desire to mix it up in controversy. But he was so imaginative that he made up for it.

    8. Tony Grossi, Plain Dealer: A long time ago, Art Modell complained about Grossi on the Browns' beat and PD management sided with Modell. That should tell you all you need to know about PD management. Grossi lost something when that happened and has never been the same, though he still occasionally shows the reporting skills and knowledge that he used to show daily.

    7. Paul Hoynes, Plain Dealer: You ever see Hoynes at work? His head is in front of a computer, pounding keys an hour before a game until an hour after. He'll never shortchange his employer for work ethic and he has above-average writing skills. Yet, after 25 years covering baseball, his knowledge of the game remains just average.

    6. Bud Shaw, Plain Dealer: A true wordsmith and a good guy with a nice sense of humor. He's misplaced as a columnist because he writes more features than hard opinion. He stays in his comfort zone, which means Browns, Indians, Cavs, Browns. If he were a takeout writer and upped his energy level, he'd be near the top of this list.

    5. Jason Lloyd, Lorain/Lake County: He's proven he can criticize Ohio State athletics. In a part of the state that absolutely fawns over everything Buckeye, that's a good thing and sometimes a very difficult thing to do. Trust me, I know. He can also write well and like Windhorst will find a larger newspaper that wants his services.

    4. Brian Windhorst, ABJ (Now PD): He gets it. He understands the NBA game and his stories reflect that on one of the toughest beats on a newspaper. High energy level and even writes a blog for stuff he couldn't fit into a story. It's a good blog, too. He wasn't afraid to criticize Larry Hughes or Mike Brown, which was easy, or LeBron James, which is a lot harder. The BJ is a shambles of what it used to be, and it won't keep Windhorst forever.

    3. Doug Lesmerises, PD: I'm tempted to rate him higher, but he's only been around a few years. He writes very well and has a knack for finding an angle that the other Ohio State beat writers missed or, more importantly, never thought about. He's going to need to show his cojones at some point the way former OSU beat writer Bruce Hooley did, because so far all he's had to write about Ohio State are nice wins. That'll determine whether he rises or sinks.

    2. Jim Ingraham, Lorain/Lake County: The undiscovered gem of the northeast Ohio market. He's wasted on the Indians' beat because he has so much more to offer. Read one of his Indians' columns on Saturday. You get insight that can't be found anywhere else in this market, including from the other beat guys. There's always the question of how he'd do out of his comfort zone, but that wouldn't stop me from making him a full-time columnist.

    1. Bill Livingston, PD: (Disclaimer here. We've shared cabs, buses, been to lunch, dinner, and Barcelona bullfights together. Livy fell and severely sprained his ankle on one of those two-inch Barcelona curbs while, Olympic athlete that I am, I negotiated it seamlessly.) With a Vanderbilt English major's command of the language, Livingston is a columnist for all seasons. He isn't afraid to tackle a sport -- bullfighting, let's say -- he's never seen before and by the end, it'll read like he grew up with a red piece of cloth in his hand. His energy is above average. His forte: He's a real columnist. He has hard opinions, not feature stories passed off as columns. And he's not afraid to rip the sacred cow that is the Browns. If he weren't so obsessed with Tiger Woods and LeBron James, I wouldn't be able to find any faults worth mentioning.

    So there you have it. The late, great Hal Lebovitz was left off out of respect for the dead. That part I don't get. Any top 10 list involving Cleveland sportswriters starts and ends with Hal. It's disrespectful to NOT have him on the list.

    Counting Windhorst as an ABJ guy, since that's where he earned the ranking, that's six PD writers, two ABJ guys and two Lorain/Lake County guys. And neither of the ABJ guys are at the ABJ anymore. Sad. I would think if Livy's name is on the front of the book, he would recuse himself from the list. Apparently not. Otherwise, I think the rankings are fairly accurate. Ingraham is the best columnist in Ohio, and he's a beat writer. He and Llyod give Lorain/Lake County a strong one-two punch. Thoughts?
  2. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    I don't see Ace on that list, so clearly it's suspect.
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I dunno... Gugger doesn't miss much, tho he always did have that bowl haircut...
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I bet I'm on the best prospects/most potential list.
  5. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Whatever helps you sleep at night. ;D
  6. editorhoo

    editorhoo Member

    Pretty solid list to me. I've always loved Livy's work because it contains a certain cynicism I can relate to. He's dead on about Lesmerises -- excellent writer who's had it pretty easy in his short time on the Buckeye beat. I like the analysis of Pluto, as well. Pluto deserves respect, but he does lack a certain depth to his work.
  7. godspell

    godspell Member

    This list is a joke. Jason Lloyd ahead of Bud Shaw, Paul Hoynes and Terry Pluto because Lloyd criticizes Ohio State? Please. Ahead of Tony Grossi, I can see. Pat McManamon is consistently better than Grossi anyway.

    And if former Cleveland-area sportwriters qualify (since Reed is listed), then where are Bob Kravitz and Joe Menzer? Michael Holley wasn't my cup of tea, but he was better at the ABJ than some on this list.
  8. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    The list begins and ends with Terry Pluto.
  9. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    I'm not really a fan of lists like this. Something about just doesn't seem right. Kind of like EIC's would hold SE's accountable for where the section was ranked after the APSE contest (when they used to do that stuff). All 10 of those writers are excellent journalists. While I agree with many of the comments (especially with Pluto, who seems to write the same six columns over and over and over again), I could never rank them.
  10. 31 Spooner Street

    31 Spooner Street New Member

    Tom Withers of AP should be on this list. He is as good as anybody at the PD or ABJ right now.

    There seems to be a lot of emphasis on what these guys are doing right now, as opposed to body of work. If this is supposed to be the best since 1980, shouldn't Pluto's career be worth more than No.10?

    And Jason Lloyd? Really?
  11. shallow_gal

    shallow_gal New Member

    I second Withers. He's very, very good. But being an AP guy doesn't allow him to show off his chops as much as he could elsewhere. IIRC, ABJ tried wooing him away a few years back when Pat left briefly to go work for the Browns. Not sure which side cooled on that idea.

    That 1980s thing threw me, too. All 10 of the writers listed are current within the last couple of years. If you want to make a current list, that's fine, but don't call it since 1980. If it's the last 30 years, Pluto needs to be much, much higher for his full body of work. Jason doesn't belong on a list of top 10 since 1980. Hell, I don't even know if he was alive in 1980. But then there are a couple of others that might need bumped off, too.

    This obviously is more of a current state of the industry (current as within the last 5 years) type thing. Given that, I have no problem with this list, including Jason where he is. He's a terrific read. Don't let the size of the paper fool you. I'm kind of surprised he's been in Lorain/Lake County as long as he has. Thought he would have moved on a long time ago.
  12. editorhoo

    editorhoo Member

    Didn't even think about Withers because he's AP, but yes, he deserves to be near the top of the list. He's very good at what he does. Always entertaining and creative.
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