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SMG on a roll: Thomas Boswell

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Evil ... Thy name is Orville Redenbacher!!, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. Sports Media Guide is all over it.

    Thomas Boswell


    An excerpt:
    When I write a column like that it's the reward for doing it all these years. One of the rewards for covering the Kemper Open and the Masters for 30 years is you actually know the people. After Tiger's tournament he sent somebody to ask if I was willing to meet him in the 19th hole for a while. I said 'are you kidding?' - that's like being asked to see the Pope. We talked about a few different things - some of which I used in the column.
  2. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Boswell's tale is proof that experience, longevity, building relationships and having trustworthy and trusting sources can pay off.

    Laying off or buying out that top tier of experienced, older employees who do good work is helping gut newsrooms.

    Good stuff from SMG. I like these interviews.
  3. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    I'm not entirely convinced that Tiger "sent" someone out the blue to ask for Bos to come chat a bit.

    And as D.C. native myself, I caught two mistakes by the great and powerful Boz: D.C. Stadium was never named JFK Stadium. It went right from D.C. Stadium to RFK.

    And the pre-expansion Senators never played in the new stadium. Their final season in 1960 was in Griffith. The expansion team started in the new park in '61.
  4. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Great interview, and he's a great talent and had a great career (enough with the greats, I know), but boy, he can be just a bit, um, much in the way he comes off sometime.
  5. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    boswell was way ahead of the curve in 88, i.e, canseco, steroids.
    he created the curve.

    too bad SMG didn't go there.
  6. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Speaks for itself:

    It Hurts to Watch Buckner
    October 25, 1986, Saturday, Final Edition SPORTS; PAGE B1; THOMAS BOSWELL

    Limpin' lizards, here comes Bill Buckner. What on earth are we to make of the Boston Red Sox player who has become the symbol of The Agony of Victory?

    He crawls on his belly like a reptile. He couldn't run any worse if his feet were on backward. That isn't Billy Buckshot praying; he's walking. The man is a child's Christmas toy. No matter how you put his body together, he still plays baseball.

    What's the count on Buckner? Two arms, two legs, no ankles. Laugh, laugh, I thought I'd cry. Who else falls down, then does the backstroke under a popup?

    When it comes to visual memories of the 83rd World Series, Buckner may hold the patent. Buckner crawling after a ground ball on his knees. Buckner diving for a popped up bunt and giving it a Bobo Brazil head butt. Buckner carrying his sickly bat out to the foul line during pregame introductions as a public statement that, damn it, he will break out of his slump.

    Buckner belly-flopping across home plate, helmet over face like an 11-year-old, then lying there waiting for an autopsy. "I didn't slide," he said. "I died."

    Buckner says he's not really that slow going from home to first, "It's third to home that takes 20 minutes."

    In Boston, they say he wears so much tape that "he looks like the Invisible Man, out for a walk."

    He ices so many parts of his body after every game -- both feet, one knee, one shoulder and his hamstrings -- that he has been asked if he's a devotee of cryogenics, the science of freezing a body until a cure for what ails it comes along.

    "The way he runs is the theme contest of this World Series, isn't it?" wrote Leigh Montville in the Boston Globe.

    At first glance and second, too, Buckner is both amusing and inspiring. He's every kind of blood-'n'-guts.

    He's the willingness to endure any amount of pain and any potential for embarrassment or failure just so he can say he played the game.

    But Buckner, and his situation, also are more complex than that.

    Is he playing hurt?

    Or is he hurting the team?

    Is he unselfish or very selfish?

    Is he a hero or a hotdog?

    Is he the worst player on the field in this Series -- an utter liability on offense, defense and the base paths who should be on the bench in New York so Don Baylor, who at least has joints that move, can play first base?

    Or is he an inspiration, the symbol of everything the Red Sox are about and the last man you'd want to remove for the sake of some dry strategy?

    Is the brown-haired man with one high-topped black shoe incredibly courageous or amazingly foolish?

    The answer, please.

    All of the above. Though probably quite a bit more of the good stuff.

    It is unlikely that any man so hurt -- at least so conspicuously hurt -- ever has played a major role in a Series. Or been so determined not to get off the stage, no matter what the cost to himself. Or maybe his team.

    This postseason has been agony for Buckner in more than one sense. It's not the pain. He's used to that. He's taken an anti-inflammatory drug for the last 10 years of his 16-season major league career, although he knows doctors don't like that.

    He has had nine cortisone shots this season. The X-rays of one ankle show bone virtually against bone. After the season, he'll have spurs and chips removed. He has studied up on plastic ankles. No, it's not funny.

    Buckner knows all the stories about players who called it quits rather than risk permanent injury. Buckner openly courts an invalid old age and perhaps middle age, too. "I think it's worth it," he says.

    But is it worth it if he bats .174 in the Series and .196 for the postseason? Is it worth it if he has no walks, four RBI and only one measly extra base hit (a double) in 51 at-bats in October?

    Is it worth it if he botches a popup and a bunt that should be a double play? Is it worth it if he reaches nothing at first base?

    Above all, is it worth it if he is two for 11 in the playoffs and one for 10 in the World Series with men in scoring position?

    In short, to be honest, is it worth it if he's worthless?

    What makes all this so wrenching, so unfair, is that the sophisticated statistical studies of baseball in the '80s have, basically, unearthed only two men who, throughout their careers, have consistently proved that the word "clutch" can have an empirical basis: Eddie Murray and, to an even greater degree, Buckner.

    No other player in baseball raises his level of performance so consistently when the pressure is greatest, the game situation most dire and the team in the greatest need.

    Quoth "The Elias Baseball Analyst": "Has batted for higher average with runners on base than with the bases empty in eight of last nine seasons."

    With runners in scoring position in recent years, Buckner has batted .430, .341, .220, .325 and .320. His slugging average rockets up even more in such spots.

    That's why it's so painful to watch Buckner's defensive swings and the weak pops and grounders they are producing now.

    Ever since he hurt his Achilles' tendon in Game 7 of the AL playoffs, he really has been a shadow of a ballplayer.

    Buckner just says he's stubborn. His grit, however, puts Red Sox Manager John McNamara in a tough spot. When a man gives this much for the team, how do you take him out, even if you should?

    When McNamara fills out his lineup Saturday before the Red Sox face left-hander Bob Ojeda, he'll choose between his head and heart.

    With no DH spot, should it be the rusty but healthy Baylor at first?

    Or should he gamble on Buckner one more time, in the vital No. 3 hole where he can kill rallies, and at first base, where Len Dykstra and Wally Backman may finally, in desperation against Roger Clemens, try to expose him to a drag bunt?

    As of now, McNamara says, "If he's hobbling like he has been, he'll be playing." If so, hold your breath. He may play funny, but he doesn't deserve a sad end.

    Copyright 1986 The Washington Post
  7. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    A ton of people owe Boswell a big apology from his steroids comments (apparently on television rather than in print), starting at the top of major league baseball, down through the players union and all the way to Canseco and LaRussa.

    Had Boswell's peers followed up on his comments properly, so much of this crap might have been headed off. Where was the big, bad NY Times unleashing an investigative team? Or any of the other top-drawer publications or networks (SI, ESPN, CNN, hell even The National)?

    By the way, is it just me or do I sense that several ESPN baseball reporters -- Olney, Kirkjian, a few anchor types -- aren't anywhere close to objective reporting on the Mitchell report, and then spin from there? I get the definite impression that those guys don't WANT it to be true. They don't WANT steroids to have tainted baseball, and they don't WANT the guys they have covered and gotten close to to be diminished in any way. Immediately reminds me of ESPN's business relationships with so many sports -- and from that point on, they cannot be taken seriously in terms of their reporting.

    Just my take on it.
  8. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    I should probably point out, for those who might scan instead of reading carefully, that the 1986 column above appeared in the Post before Game 6, not after it.
  9. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    Boswell himself didn't put it in print. He didn't pursue it. Nor did the Post.

    Now, let me ask the board a question: if a $20 million, 20-month, senatorial level-staffed, MLB-sponsored, FBI-supported investigation offering a federal prosecutor's goody bag of favorable treatment can get nothing rock-solid on steroids/HGH/PED from the clubs, players or even a single not-under-arrest source, how in hell were America's sportswriters supposed to get that story into print?
  10. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    How were sportswriters supposed to get that story? I'm not sure. I do know the Washington Post managed to take down a president in the 1970s, and it would have taken a Woodward-and-Bernstein type of effort to crack this story.
  11. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    How were sportswriters supposed to get that story? I'm not sure. I do know the Washington Post managed to take down a president in the 1970s, and it would have taken a Woodward-and-Bernstein type of effort to crack this story.

    Even Woodward and Bernstein don't claim they took down Nixon. Congress and courts did that, following the Post's reporting on Watergate, much as Congress and courts followed the Fainaru-Wada-Williams reporting on BALCO.
  12. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Dave's question is on the money. I imagine that if a paper like the Post or Time wanted to assign, oh, five reporters to the steroid story in 1998, by 2002 they might've had something. Not a lot, but enough for a story. Come on gang, we all know the business doesn't work that way.
    Bos is a columnist, and a damn fine one. If a columnist raises a question, and it's a good question, it's not his fault he didn't have the answer.
    Fainaru-Wada and Williams did about as much good reporting as can be done. Without that grand jury, they've got nothing and plenty of it. Without a lever, you cannot move the world.
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