Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Two Ways of Looking at the Calipari Hire

There is a style in modern sportswriting that seems here to stay, in which even a thoughtful analysis is coached in terms of overly challenging machismo; a constant subtext in which it is impossible not to hear the voice of the casual fan at home calling his favorite team's managment "a bunch of idiots" over and over again. The tone I used to associate with my Fantasy Football magazine seems to be everywhere.

We are not innocent of it here, to be sure. And it isn't that big of a deal regardless, because you can work a lot of facts into a column just as easily in that voice as any other. I'll point you to Pat Forde's piece of the Calipari hire--it is far to say that the whole thing is written as a sarcastic congratulatory note to Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart. But (and this is important) Forde packs a lot of info into that wiseass piece of writing.

Compare Forde to the a favorite target in these here parts--Gregg Doyel. After what seems like an editor-less journey into hyperbole of a rather fantastical nature--according to Doyel, with Calipari at the helm, Kentucky will be the "dominant team." He asks, "Every year?" and answers with an almost absolute "Yes. Every year."

Unless, you know, Kentucky suffers the same things that every team suffers from, eventually (academic problems, injuries, etc). But if nothing ever goes wrong in Kentucky, they will be the most dominant team every year until Calipari dies and ascends to sit on the right hand of Adolph Rupp.

After almost 600 words of raving about the coming Messiah, Jesu Calipari, Doyel does admit that "You can question how he attracts that talent, and you can question the character of some of the talent he attracts, and those are legitimate issues for someone to tackle. But those are issues for another day." Presumably that "someone" is "someone else." I don't see Doyel doing it. Or maybe poor Gregg just ran out of space today; all that totally necessary congratulatory purple prose takes up space.

But you know who found room to talk about those issues that were for another time? Pat Forde. I strongly recommend reading his whole piece, but just compare the tone of this to Doyel's cheerleading: "Memphis is hardly the only place that works package deals. Or has players who get into trouble. Or goes the prep school route. These days, that's accepted as the price of doing business in the big leagues, isn't it? Well, Calipari manages to stuff that stat sheet on all those fronts."

So while both Forde and Doyel write in that kind of smug, I'm Smarter Than You And Most Everyone Else style, only one of them backs it up with something worth reading. You could get the same critical take as Doyel's by contacting any old Kentucky fan at random.


Andrew Wice said...

Adolph Rupp's right hand? I didn't think anything existed to further right than Adolph Rupp.

Speaking of Calipari ... foul shots?

Big Blue Monkey 2: The Quickening said...

I can't believe I missed such a great Rupp-As-Right-Wing Reactionary joke. Damn you, Wice! Damn you to hell.

foul shooting percentage is statistically insignificant, in the big picture.