Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jingo All the Way

I feel like the media is trying to fire Cecil Cooper.

The Houston Chronicle's Jerome Solomon and Richard Justice, and 790 AM's Ted DeLuca and John Lopez have been talking about nothing but the firing of Cooper for the last two weeks, speaking of it as though it were a foregone conclusion.

In the last decade or so, sports media has been building to something, that until recently, I did not realize was really starting to bother me. There are no "sports reporters" anymore - they've been replaced by sports editorialists, who are more often than not personalities.

Look at Richard Justice's blog, for instance. At first, I was going to complain about how the blog, which started out as a(n intended) humorous side project between columns had morphed into a blathering irrelevancy that started to bleed into his proper columns, but then I realized that all blogs are basically that, and having a blog as part of your official workload is the problem in the first place. Some editor somewhere (I'm sure Houston is not alone here) decided that the cult of personality was going to be the savior of print media, and started requiring columnists to keep blogs.

Thing is, we don't tune in to sports media for their opinions the way we do entertainment and dining critics. Sports reporting used to be news with a little bit of analysis thrown in. Now it's all - I can't use the word analysis because it seems too lofty for what these guys do - criticism. Non-constructive at that.

Of course, we don't need Sports news the way we used to. We DVR the games so we can see what happened for ourselves, and now even the most casual fan can use the internet to get the latest on Brandon Backe's rehab assignment or the pitching staff at Salem that's supposed to be on the rise. But boy, do we love to discuss it.

So sports personalities help us facilitate that. The good ones (like Charlie Palillo) stand apart from the pack, stating the facts and letting them vent, and when they do offer up an opinion, it's reserved and backed up, and it almost never feeds into the hype. The Chronicle and the Monsters go it the easy way, by picking up a big stick covered in gasoline and sticking it into the embers, igniting a huge fire out of something that was simply meant to keep our feet warm.

This leads me back to where I led off: I'm sure discontent within the organization has led some to question the security of Cecil Cooper's job. But I would bet you dinner at Fogo De Chao that it was far from a foregone conclusion, and that cooler heads might have prevailed before guys like Solomon and DeLuca stuck their big gasoline-soaked sticks into the mess and made it an issue that couldn't be avoided. Now everyone who follows the Houston Astros has been innundated with the nonsense of "Cecil Cooper should be fired" to the point where half or two-thirds of them believe it to be true because this is their sports *news,* after all, and they start clamoring for Coop's head, booing him at home when he comes out to make a pitching change or something. And Drayton McLane, one of the biggest sheep in the flock, hears this, and decides that the manager has to go.

Maybe Cooper needs to be fired. I don't know, and I don't want to discuss it. My beef is with the sports media for creating a situation in which he has to be. They've made themselves a part of the story. It's irresponsible journalism, and I am sorry that it had to end this way for a decent, hard-working guy, a guy who will probably be a lot more forgiving towards his transgressors than I would be.

All for now.

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