Fire Jim Tracy

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

So There I Am Minding My Own Business....

Excited to read what promised to be an excellent piece on Slate about ESPN ruining good sports journalism, when I get:

Cranky and supremely talented Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, a former ATH panelist, gave a look inside the sausage factory when he told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2003 that "ESPN will hire you for your credibility, but after a minute, they've had enough of that," he said. He also disclosed that the money he got from the show would "pay for my daughter's wedding." Not surprisingly, Simers was soon relieved of his duties.


T.J. Simers is such an enjoyable read because he tosses elbows with the jocks he covers. No columnist gives a better view of the locker room: His columns on the Dodgers' short-lived playoff run were sprinkled with acidic running conversations with pitcher/wing nut Jose Lima. And during the Kobe Bryant saga, it was Simers who got the player's ear. Why? Because he shows up.

This is, of course, nonsense. If there is any column in America that reads like a daily PTI rant, it is T.J. Simers's. If ESPN paid for his "credibility," they got nowhere near what they paid for. It is unfortunate that the author here chose to butter up his source, and in so doing, shoot his own journalistic credibility to hell because the point still remains: PTI and the radio is killing sportswriting (and as we're going to find out sooner rather than later, play-by-play as well).

I felt compelled to respond in Slate's "Fray" as "tjhater." For the record:

If it wasn't for his LA Times "colleague" Bill Plaschke, one of the dim bulbs that happens to slink around PTI and writes the single most horrible column in America, the race for worst sports columnist would have to go to Simers. Eliciting strange dialogue from Jose Lima? What a journalistic gift. Jim Murray is spinning in his grave.

Simers' entire ability to analyze is limited to either "chemistry" or, alternatively "malcontent." We know who Simers' friends are, because they have "chemistry," and we know who Simers' enemies are because they are "malcontents" or "out of touch" or idiots. There is no support for these assertions -- they seem to be the result of which side of his rolodex you happen to be in, or whether you didn't return his phone call two years ago. If there was one sports column in the country that read like a PTI rant in print, it is T.J. Simers's -- no information, no interesting takes, no substance -- only scores to be settled and petty tyranny. Boring. If I wanted that, I would read the Times' Op-Ed page.

UPDATE: Jerry e-mails to tell me this is now a "Fray Editor's" pick. The Fray Editor must live in Los Angeles. The author of the piece lives in Brooklyn.


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