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Joe Posnanski: your new Senior Writer for SI (Not No More, He Ain't)

Discussion in 'Our Errors are Mistakes: The Media Forum' started by John Marzano Olympic Hero, Oct 18, 2007.

  1. snowmanny

    snowmanny Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I don't think he's really advocating for full-speed replays.  He's saying that slow motion reviews overturn calls that really don't need to be overturned and therefore change the nature of the game.  He's right, but I'd say the good outweighs the bad.  And of course baseball gets lots of calls wrong that aren't reviewable despite available technology, particularly balls and strikes. 
     
    I think you're right that American fans aren't going to stand for egregious mistakes on black and white issues anymore (out/safe;inbounds/out of bounds;fair/foul).To me it's an interesting cultural phenomenon that soccer is unwilling to sacrifice the (relative) flow of the game to replay despite the fact that replays do show that important calls on fouls and offsides are frequently wrong.
     
  2. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Personally, I'm fully in step with Joe on one point which I think he is trying to emphasize: replay makes certain razor-thin margins between success and failure seem gigantic. It's one thing when a wide receiver lands clearly out of bounds, with half of his second foot fully on the chalk, and a referee blows the call. But it's another when the big toe is really close to the edge of the chalk and you have to zoom in with a virtual magnifying glass to see which microfiber of turf is dominant. I think the forensic search for truth in these latter cases is clearly absurd on one level, and of course it's those cases which almost always take the most time to analyze (and therefore most disrupt the flow of normal play); if you could somehow cut those reviews out, or time all reviews so that if you haven't made a clear determination within 60 seconds the ruling on the field stands, that would be close to the sort of effect Joe is probably looking for.
     
  3. Remagellan

    Remagellan Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I'm pretty sure Greg Brady once helped his high school win a huge game this way, so do not knock it!  
     
  4. Dan Murfman

    Dan Murfman Member SoSH Member

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    Nope even though he took the photo that showed it was a bad call it wasn't able to be reversed.
     
  5. ipol

    ipol Member SoSH Member

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    Were someone to make a poll, I'd vote on the, "Make sure the call is right" side. I've never understood why, "the flow of the game" is more important than being correct. 
     
  6. JimBoSox9

    JimBoSox9 will you be my friend? SoSH Member

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    Because the point of the game is to enjoy it, and on occasion 'right' is just also plain dumb.
     
  7. ipol

    ipol Member SoSH Member

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    As discussions go, this wouldn't be a good one but I would prefer to be on the side of, "being right is not plain dumb."
     
  8. Euclis20

    Euclis20 Member SoSH Member

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    What's more important, that the game be fun to watch?  Or that the correct team wins?  It's a legitimate question, with no 100% right answer.  
     
  9. PC Drunken Friar

    PC Drunken Friar Member SoSH Member

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    Right, there is no 100% right answer. I have to admit tho, that the replay stuff has completely been a downer this offseason, with the caveat I honestly don't care who wins of the final...as of last night..4. I was pumped for so many afternoon games, but it was like every 15 minutes, on top of an all the commercials, were these challenges. It very much was the opposite of entertaining. Keep it to HR challenges and catches.
     
  10. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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  11. OilCanShotTupac

    OilCanShotTupac Sunny von Bulow Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    American pro sports need to emulate children and adopt the do-over.
     
  12. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Thank you Justice Scalia.
     
  13. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    In Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby wrote this: "Indignation is a crucial ingredient of the perfect footballing experience; I cannot therefore agree with match commentators who argue that a referee has had a good game if he isn't noticed (although like everybody else, I don't like the game stopped every few seconds). I prefer to notice them, and howl at them, and feel cheated by them."
     
    So there's that.
     
  14. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I don't see how one can object to the use of instant replay. The calls are overturned almost 50% of the time! The chances of a bad call meaningfully changing an outcome are far too high, especially in the post-season. I think another softer benefit of the replay system as it has evolved is it has humbled a ot of umpires. Too many of them used to be down right SOBs and thought themselves beyond reproach. If the price of getting it right is a few pop-up slide outs, so be it.
     
  15. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    The objection is that too much stoppage of play ruins the game watching experience, and that's why these games exist.  At some point I'd rather just live with a few more bad calls.  I mean, if you want to drill down to the atomic level, there's some small amount of error every time a ball is spotted.
     
  16. JimBoSox9

    JimBoSox9 will you be my friend? SoSH Member

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    I agree with both ends of this; instant replay is good.  But the bolded is to me a false choice; why do we need to pay a price?  The point of iterating on something is that when you can identify a distinct area in need of fixing, you fix it.  As it happens, I just wrote on the .com how I think that one issue can be easily addressed without getting all wacky with the replay rules:
     
     
     
     
    http://sonsofsamhorn.com/baseball/umpires/instant-replay-needs-a-makeover/
     
  17. Red(s)HawksFan

    Red(s)HawksFan Member SoSH Member

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    The stoppage argument would be stronger if the pre-replay days didn't include managers running out on to the field to yell, scream, kick dirt, and otherwise argue with an umpire for minutes on end despite a zero percent chance of anything ever getting changed or overturned.  At least now the stoppage in play is going to result in getting the call right rather than having it be called incorrectly and stand.
     
  18. timlinin8th

    timlinin8th Member SoSH Member

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    I dunno, I think this downplays how much some objectionably bad calls ruin the game watching experience, especially when it starts calling into question the credibility of the games being played.

    [​IMG]

    This tuned me out far more than a couple minute stoppage ever would.
     
  19. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Really?

    It's not obvious why he doesn't want replay?
     
    [​IMG]
     
  20. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I guess I have no problem with the price because I'm ok with, "you can't have it both ways..." Although, I would not have an issue with the 1-second immunity rule you suggest either.
     
    Responding to MD80, at the rate of 50% overturn, I don't think we are dealing with some 'micro-rate' of bad calls nor do I think the football spotting analogy is apt. I see it as a huge number. A good number of these overturns are not particularly close calls. They are particularly bad calls. I'm all for it. The delays can be longer when managers get into it with umpires over calls the umpires used let stand just because they were all-powerful and basked in it. The delays are minimized and the calls get righted. Umpires are easily and objectively evaluated by the results. I can't see the downside.
     
  21. Bergs

    Bergs Member SoSH Member

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    To me, the only downside is the LACK of managers losing their shit and kicking dirt everywhere. That shit always cracked me up.
     
    Replay is fantastic. I like the "one-second immunity" idea, but whatever tweaks get made or don't get made, it's still a lot better than watching the umps fundamentally alter a team's season via human error.
     
  22. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I love instant replay and its ability to right obvious wrongs. But I also don't think referees and umpires should be judged to impossibly strict standards. The age of forensic instant replay analysis has made the referee-player, referee-coach and referee-fan dynamics rather more complicated than they used to be in the age before television replays became commonplace, and the better replay technology gets, the worse those dynamics seem to become. I mean, sure, Billy Martin used to lose his rag all the time at perceived injustices, but perceiving injustice is different from knowing that referees get it wrong so often and ceasing to respect the institution of the referee/umpire at all. (To put this another way, what percentage of NBA referees do you think are any good at all? NFL referees? MLB umpires, particularly re: balls and strikes? FIFA-accredited referees and linesmen? The numbers you give will almost certainly be much lower than the equivalent answers you'd have given 20 or 30 years ago...)
     
    The "one-second immunity" idea points toward a concept which already exists within replay systems but could be more purposefully isolated: i.e., the need to have conclusive evidence to overturn a disputed decision. In the NFL, this is the difference between "The call stands" and "The call is confirmed"; in cricket, a margin of error is built into the Hawkeye predictive ball tracking system which leads to an "Umpire's Call" result, whereby a batsman who was given out stays out but a batsman who was given not out stays not out (even if the predictive tracking suggests the ball would be hitting a fair portion of a stump). This sort of thinking leads me in two directions:
     
    1) What if instant replay officials weren't allowed to slow down the replays they view below a certain speed? No freeze-framed images, no telescopic magnification, no splitting the finest of hairs...just enough evidence to make sure that Jorge Orta is always called out by Don Denkinger, and all other obvious injustices are resolved satisfactorily (and speedily).
     
    2) For a player to ask for a replay review in cricket - as opposed to umpires asking for replay assistance themselves, which also happens - he has to call for the review within 15 seconds of the previous play being concluded, and he has to call for it before any television replays are broadcast within the stadium or to the viewing audience at home. (The host broadcaster is made to comply with this policy, by the way.) How different would NFL and MLB replay be if a) only players were allowed to call for challenges, not coaches or managers, and/or b) if challenges had to be made within 10-15 seconds of the previous play being concluded, with no hints provided as to whether such challenges might be successful?
     
  23. JimBoSox9

    JimBoSox9 will you be my friend? SoSH Member

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    This is exactly what Posnanski suggested in his column, and I think it entirely misses the goal of what we're about here with instant replay.  The problem was TV cameras and the gap between what the umps/refs call and what fans can see at home or on the Jumbotron, and the ever-descending feelings of unfairness and controversy that result.  If I'm still getting a superior view from my couch than the ump going under the hood on appeal, for all the good it'll do you might as well just go back to not having replay at all.  
     
  24. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    But what is the ultimate goal of instant replay? Is it to eliminate all unfairness from every aspect of sport, even at the risk of dulling its spectacle? Or should its real raison d'etre be to eliminate Denkinger-level mistakes and remove controversy from the plays which ultimately determine the winners and losers in sport?
     
    Personally, I'd have no problem using the Jumbotron standard for replay: if you show a replay on a big screen within a stadium, and the fans viscerally react to it (for better or worse) to the point that an umpire/referee can clearly see that a mistake has been made, that call should be overturned. But if it takes a super-HD television and six instant replays within the comfort of one's home to discover that something might be amiss, is that truth really worth the time it takes to uncover? What about speculative challenges, where a manager or coach asks for a replay review simply because he hopes to find something amiss despite the absence of obvious evidence to support him - is the possible discovery of miscarried justice worth the speculative delay?
     
    Here's another hypothetical I rather like which addresses my first question: what if every type of call were subject to review (e.g., including judgment calls like pass interference in football) at a microscopic level, but only plays which change the overall Win Probability of a game by more than X percent in either direction were subject to review? That sort of system would be designed specifically to make sure all of the big plays in a game are called correctly, no matter how long it takes, in part by making sure that no time is wasted reviewing inconsequential trivialities.
     
  25. JimD

    JimD Member SoSH Member

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  26. LogansDad

    LogansDad Member SoSH Member

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  27. ConigliarosPotential

    ConigliarosPotential Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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  28. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    You know what is coming every time he does something like this and yet its always so well executed that it feels new.
     
  29. One Leg at a Time

    One Leg at a Time Member SoSH Member

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    He makes me think of (pre-2004) Mariano Rivera. Hitters knew that cut fastball was coming...
     
  30. Number45forever

    Number45forever Member SoSH Member

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    Seconded (thirded, fourthed?) on that Dear Elizabeth article. Amazing.

    DAMMIT JOE, TIME FOR ANOTHER POSCAST!!
     
  31. JimD

    JimD Member SoSH Member

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    Joe's weekly Cleveland Browns columns have been awesome.

    The latest is a talk with fellow Clevelander and fed-up Browns fan Drew Carey - At Least the Orchestra is Elite
     
  32. OilCanShotTupac

    OilCanShotTupac Sunny von Bulow Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    My respect for Carey just went up. What he's doing with Seattle sounds great.
     
  33. Vandalman

    Vandalman Member SoSH Member

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  34. touchstone033

    touchstone033 lurker

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    Okay. I love Pos' writing. Love his columns. But I can't help think his legacy will be defined by his "work" on Paterno. The latest: apparently some court documents recently surfaced that showed Joe Paterno knew about Sandusky molesting children as early as 1976.

    I just...I don't know what to say. It just sours me on Posnanski, his Paterno book, his working on behalf of the Paterno family to clear the name... It irks me. Maybe I'm too harsh. I know Pos writes sentimental pieces..he's not the kind of guy who digs at things, who prefers instead to celebrate and elevate...but, man.
     
  35. jacklamabe65

    jacklamabe65 A New Frontier butt boy Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Joe is innately celebratory, which is why I would be stunned if he wrote a piece on Paterno now and how he was conned. He literally doesn't have it in him. However, down the road, he might - given time - write about how the Paterno experience was a personal loss of innocence for him. That might happen some day.
     
  36. tbrep

    tbrep Member SoSH Member

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    No, you're not too harsh. I was a regular reader of Posnanski but since he took his stance on the Paterno situation, I haven't read a single piece of his work nor do I intend to.
     
  37. johnmd20

    johnmd20 literally like ebola Lifetime Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I will also say that I read much much less of Pos since the whole Paterno thing. It really did leave a sour taste. Which is unfortunate because he is such a great writer and his hope is something to behold, but obviously that hope really sent him down the wrong path on Paterno. He could have either scrapped the Paterno book entirely or maybe changed it a bit. But he never did, defended him the whole way.
     
  38. drleather2001

    drleather2001 given himself a skunk spot SoSH Member

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    It's not too harsh. He used his platform as a national sports writer to be a mouthpiece for Joe Paterno's PR efforts. I do not think he ever believed that Paterno was a culpable as he clearly was. Nevertheless, he made the cardinal journalistic sin of becoming too close to his subject, and it clouded his ability to be objective.

    As jacklamabe says, he's not the guy to do an investigative expose, which is what someone in his position needed to write. He should have excused himself from the job. Doing a feel-good story in that environment, at that time, was so clearly a bad idea to everyone paying attention that there's no getting around it. He fucked up about as badly as you can for someone of his stature. And I'm sure his career has been irrevocably altered in a negative way, as a result. I still shake my head and wonder how he wasn't able to pull his head from his ass at some point during the scandal or at any point prior to the book being published and say "wait a minute, maybe JoePa is USING me." Pos' most endearing quality, his belief in humanity, ended up being his undoing.

    I think Pos is a good man who made a terrible, inexcusable, professional decision. He ultimately used his considerable talents for evil, literally, so he'll always be damaged goods, IMO. I still enjoy his baseball writing, but I no longer seek him out.
     
  39. Average Reds

    Average Reds Dope Staff Member Dope V&N Mod SoSH Member

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    It's worth remembering that Posnanski contracted to do an authorized biography and had already accepted a significant advance. I have no idea what kind of agreement he had with Paterno, but authorized biographers typically cede some portion of editorial control to their subject. So my guess is that he was either going to write the book that he completed or he was going to abandon the project and return his (presumably significant) advance even though he had likely spent much of it on travel and research at that point.

    The criticism of Posnanski is fair, because he did make the choice to continue. But the book was never going to be any sort of investigative journalism and Posnanski's decision was not as black and white as people are making it out to be. And the tone of some of the comments here feels a bit like blaming a defense attorney for the crimes of his client.

    To a certain extent, that's also fair. Some defense attorneys are unethical on behalf of clients who are truly evil. But I see no evidence that Posnanski did this. Rather, I see a man who found himself between a rock and a hard place and lost his objectivity as he completed his book.

    I'm not trying to be overly critical of anyone's opinion here. But I do think the truth (about Posnanski) has more complexity than people might realize.
     
    #1289 Average Reds, May 8, 2016
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
  40. drleather2001

    drleather2001 given himself a skunk spot SoSH Member

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    The comparison to a defense attorney is inapt because Posnanski was not obligated to present Paterno in a sympathetic light by more-or-less taking JoePa's word at face value and glossing over the scandal. He could have quit, sure. He also could have recognized that the book is woefully incomplete without a more serious discussion of what was always going to end up being one of two defining things about Paterno's life.

    If there was ever a situation where it was appropriate, necessary even, to reconsider the nature of a writing project, this was it. The "well, he already got paid, and JoePa probably retained some say in the content" stuff holds no water to me, because fulfilling his duty as a writer demanded that he make the difficult decision, bite the bullet, and write the truth and not some mealy mouthed paragraphs pushing JoePa's (ridiculous) defense.
     
  41. Leskanic's_Thread

    Leskanic's_Thread Member SoSH Member

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    I think this is the central issue here, at least based on this appearance in the Penn State class dedicated to Paterno as the scandal was unfolding: Posnanski didn't want to re-think the subject and bite any bullets. He firmly believed Paterno was an innocent victim. Maybe that stance has changed over time, but taking that stance so prominently at that time (and with apparent disregard to the actual innocent victims involved) is what leaves many, including me, unable to fully embrace his writing the way we used to.
     
  42. Average Reds

    Average Reds Dope Staff Member Dope V&N Mod SoSH Member

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    Perhaps I tried to slice the onion too finely, but your last paragraph isn't close to the intent of what I wrote.

    This is obviously speculative, but the only authorized biographers I am aware of who retain total editorial control of authorized biographies are established writers and/or investigative journalists. I doubt that Posnanski even thought to ask for it at the outset of the project.

    If that was true, he couldn't have published the "truth" even if he wanted to. Although I do acknowledge that he appears not to have wanted to look under any rocks.
     
  43. drleather2001

    drleather2001 given himself a skunk spot SoSH Member

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    I understand. Sorry.

    I think, though, Leskanic is right. It's not just that he wrote the book. It's that he also spoke in Paterno's defense. His actions went beyond merely (possibly) fulfilling whatever contractual obligation he had. He developed a loyalty to Paterno that was, IMO, as ethically inappropriate as it was morally questionable.

    He abdicated his responsibility as a writer to die on a really bad hill to die on.
     
  44. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    It's a nice try (seriously) but Posnanski himself said that the Paternos never tried to control the content: "The one thing they were so good about, they never, from Joe all the way down, they never tried to influence the book." http://www.cbsnews.com/news/author-...book-said-tell-the-truth-the-best-you-see-it/

    I agree with Dr. Leather that while his project probably sounded really good as a pitch, Posnanski just happened to be the wrong person at the wrong place and in the wrong time. JoePa was a master manipulator and Posnanski is a person who likes to believe in things.

    I wonder if Posnanski ever re-reads this column: http://joeposnanski.com/honesty/
     
  45. Average Reds

    Average Reds Dope Staff Member Dope V&N Mod SoSH Member

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    Obviously I was unaware of that. (And said as much, couching everything as speculation.)

    If the Paterno family had no impact on the book's content, then Posnanski was a willing dupe.
     
    #1295 Average Reds, May 8, 2016
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  46. John Marzano Olympic Hero

    John Marzano Olympic Hero has fancy plans, and pants to match Dope

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    I think that the thing that makes Posnaski a great writer makes him a lousy journalist. Say what you want about a guy like Dan Shaughnessy or Mike Lupica, but I don't think that they would have let Paterno or the Paterno family push them around if this story broke while they were embedded with the guy. But that's precisely why Shaughnessy or Lupica didn't get the gig.

    I can't remember if it was this thread or another Pos thread but I felt really strong about him bumbling this opportunity and I still do*. For awhile I went on an extended Pos break because I didn't feel as if I could trust him anymore. And I don't think that I can trust him when writing about certain subjects (I haven't read "The Machine" since it came out, but if memory serves me, he pretty much took everything Pete Rose said as gospel, which is problematic since Rose is a liar), but I started reading him again and I think that his every day stuff is still excellent.

    * I still can't believe that when this story literally fell in his lap, he didn't call up his publisher (or his publisher call him) and say, "I have to take my book in a completely different direction. It's going to be late, but it will be worth it." Posnanski spent a long time with Paterno in what could be his most difficult year and it doesn't seem like he changed a word from his original thesis. Reporters beg the gods for shit like this. And I'm not suggesting that he do a hatchet job on Paterno, but he had to really address it heavily. I don't give a shit that Paterno won the SI Sportsman of the year in 1986, but I was interested in hearing whether he knew about Uncle Sandy's Kiddie Kapers.

    I don't know the guy personally, but I get the impression that Posnanski isn't cynical and he really believes that everyone is always trying to do the right thing. He's an eternal optimist in an industry full of assholes, which is why I like to read him. If I'm reading a daily column I don't want to be bludgeoned every day about how major league sports are always rigged and the people who own the teams are jerks, the people who run the league are worse, the players are ignorant idiots and the referees are all crooked. If reading that every day takes a toll on a person, writing about it must take an even worse toll, which is why Shaughnessy, Lupica and the rests are all bitter, twisted husks of the people they used to be.

    BUT in this case, we needed a bitter, twisted pessimist that had to poke holes in the Paterno story and bring all facets of the man to light. Because I think that's what's missing from Paterno's thinking. If you ignore something like this, you look like another enabler. And Paterno has an entire state full of them. But if you really talk to the guy, find out what makes him tick, figure out why he ignored this, you have the power to change others' minds.
     
  47. gingerbreadmann

    gingerbreadmann Member SoSH Member

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    Very well said. It's a little corny, but I keep returning to the Herb Brooks sports cliche "great moments are born from great opportunity." So much of anyone's life is defined by how they handle circumstances out of their control. Posnanski fell into a situation here that most people could never dream of, and he knew it at the time, too -- I remember a popular refrain during the initial chaos was "I can't wait for Posnanski's book now." He was at the height of his powers, nationally known and almost universally admired, and people were looking to him for perspective given the front-row seat he had during that entire year. In the sports world, what was meant to be a coffee-table book took on the anticipation of a Harry Potter release.

    And it's really just sad. I first read Posnanski because of the reverence people on SoSH had for him, and he continues to be a gifted writer, lending heartfelt emotion to what, in less-passionate hands, could be the most banal of subjects. But whether it was his eternal optimism that did him in, or cowardice, or myopia, or whatever, he withered horribly -- reprehensibly -- in the spotlight and it's unlikely he'll ever stumble into an opportunity to define himself like that one ever again.
     
  48. John Marzano Olympic Hero

    John Marzano Olympic Hero has fancy plans, and pants to match Dope

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    This new piece is why I like Pos and why he was probably the wrong guy to write about Paterno.
     
  49. Smiling Joe Hesketh

    Smiling Joe Hesketh All Hail King Boron Dope

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    Just what I was thinking, not only on that piece but his piece on Leicester City winning the Premier League as well. Joe's not the guy to dig into the darker corners of sports. He's the perfect guy to write pieces celebrating the underdog, the unknown, the warmer places that sport can bring us. We generally watch sports because at some level we know they're fun and we want to be entertained and made happy. Joe's great for writing about how they do that. For the seedy underbelly of sport, he's not the right guy to write about its failings.
     
  50. Dave Stapleton

    Dave Stapleton Just A Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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