Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sports Yak with Ben Bass

I'm no better than a sports talk radio yammerer. Three days in a row now about sports. Sheesh!

There has been much hand-wringing lately over the gulf between the trained journalists in the mainstream sports media (who apparently never blow a story or dodge a tough issue) and the Wild West of opinionated, irresponsible bloggers (who apparently trade in slander and gossip, drowning out the traditional press by their sheer numbers). This reductive view is, of course, a false divide.

Bob Costas' typically thorough 90-minute live "Costas Now" on HBO last week articulated the shades of gray in our brave new world of instant online DIY publishing and video. Among other things, Costas pointed out that there are legitimate sources contributing credible journalism on the Internet. Today, we acknowledge one of these.

When I was a kid, my dad used to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (in fact, still does) and I would sometimes flip through it too. Although I didn't really get into their dense articles about the regulatory climate or the Fed, I did like the Journal's coverage of arts, sports and pop culture. One columnist I'd often read was their sports editor, the imposingly named Frederick C. Klein.

Fast-forward to 2008. In the years since I used to read his columns on the family room floor in Glencoe, Illinois, someone introduced my dad to Mr. Klein ("Fred" away from the newsprint), a fellow Chicago native as it turns out, and they've become friends. He's now retired from the Journal but still writing books and articles. His latest project is a sports blog, Fred Klein on Sports, which I encourage you to check out.

Incidentally, Mr. Klein supports a theory I alluded to the other day, that Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game at the dawn of his big-league career was ruinous to his long-term prospects. His take is that Wood tried to repeat the feat in every subsequent start, with disastrous consequences for his arm. Don't take it from me, take it from the emeritus sports editor of the Wall Street Journal.

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