Passing around the scorn

“You get smaller as the world gets big
The more you know you know you don’t know shit
“The Whiz Man” will never fit you like “The Whiz Kid” did
So why you gotta act like you know when you don’t know?
It’s OK if you don’t know everything”
— Ben Folds, from the song “Bastard”

So let’s start here, because I really don’t know where else to start.

I usually don’t like to criticize people in the media. I guess that’s just the way I operate.

Of course, I operate this way for a number of reasons. First of all, we all know that there are plenty of people throwing jabs at media members. And really, who wants to join that argument?

Secondly — and I think this is the most important thing — I sincerely dislike the fact that many people seem to refer to the media as one singular body. There seems to be this line of thinking that the “media” is this one huge mass of people. And, of course, they all work in the same way. And, of course, everyone works together in the same room.

Of course, this is an exaggeration. However, I think there’s some truth in that statement, too.

For instance, did you know that “media” is plural?

Yep, it’s the plural form of “medium”. So whenever I hear someone say something like, “the media is” terrible, or “The media is” so biased, I really do start to cringe.

Of course, all of this is not that important. But it did cross my mind today… and that’s where we begin.

So I’m watching ESPN’s “Around The Horn” on Tuesday afternoon. To be honest, I really don’t watch this show that often.

I do enjoy Tony Reali, who seems to be a really gifted TV sports guy. And sometimes it’s nice to get a quick, 30-minute run-through of the bigger stories of the day.

And on Tuesday, believe it or not, “Around The Horn” led off with K-State’s Big Monday victory over Texas. So even though I don’t care much for “Around The Horn”, this did seem to be a nice moment for Kansas State.

I have a personal connection to Kansas State. My parents grew up in Manhattan. My sister went to K-State. And I remember the Tom Asbury and Jim Woolridge years, when K-State took the court with Pervis Pasco, Jeremiah Massey and a bunch of worthless spare parts. Those were tough years.

And now, K-State is back in the top 10, they beat the No. 1 team in America, and for 24 hours, they were the toast of college basketball*.

*And did you see that K-State coach Frank Martin said he’d “destroy” his players if they didn’t come hard at their next practice? That had to be one of the all-time great quotes after a victory, right? Here are the exact words…

“Wednesday, if we don’t come in and compete, I am going to destroy them.”

Tony Reali started by hyping K-State’s win. He mentioned Martin’s quote. He mentioned the fact that the Wildcats hadn’t beaten a No. 1-ranked team since 1994 (Kansas). And he mentioned that K-State’s students didn’t rush the floor — a move that is giving K-State’s students some major street-cred among people who care about such things.

But then Reali had to toss off the discussion to the first pundit, and in this case it was Kevin Blackistone*.

*Let me first say that I don’t want this to come off as a dig at Blackistone. I’ve never met the guy, but I’m sure he’s good people. And the guy is a pretty fine journalist. He’s been everywhere — The Boston Globe, The Chicago Reporter, The Dallas Morning News, and now he’s writing for FanHouse.com. However, I am going to use him as an example in a much larger problem.

Of course, Reali threw it to Blackistone using some hip language like this:

Reali: So, K-State students decide NOT TO RUSH THE FLOOR, you cool with this KB?

Blackistone: Yea. I’m cool with this, Tony. It was a good move. They THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO WIN THIS GAME. K-State has a good team this year. They came in ranked ninth (in the coaches’ poll) and Curtis Kelly — this guy is a great player. He’s a National Player of The Year Candidate. He’s a double-double threat every time he takes the floor.

Now, I’m not sure if you follow college basketball. And even if you do, you probably don’t follow K-State basketball that closely. So let’s take things slowly. But there is one sentence here that I want you to pay close attention to.

“Curtis Kelly — this guy is a great player. He’s a National Player of The Year Candidate.”

Thing is, I’ve been following K-State pretty closely this season. Obviously, I haven’t been following the Wildcats as closely as say, an actual “K-State fan”, but let’s just say that sentence seemed a little off.

Hmm. Let’s look closer. How about we find some stats?

Let’s see here… K-State junior forward Curtis Kelly.

So Kelly, who is in first season at K-State after transferring from UConn, is playing 22.8 minutes per game.

He is averaging 11.4 points per game. So he’s not exactly piling up the points.

The 6-foot-8 Kelly is pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game. Hey, that’s not too bad.

He’s shooting 65.7 percent from the free throw line. He has 47 turnovers against just 24 assists. And how about all those double-doubles he’s recording? It seems he’s had two.

Well, to be fair, he did have 18 points and 10 rebounds against Ole Miss in a K-State loss.

And he did have 11 and 11 against IUPUI. And he did put up 15 and 9 against Xavier.

But according to the information I received from the google machine, that only makes two double-doubles. Hmm.

And to be really honest. He has scored in double-figures in 11 games. Then again, he has scored fewer than six points in four different games.

But let’s go back to that statement one more time.

“Curtis Kelly — this guy is a great player. He’s a National Player of The Year Candidate.”

Now let me slowly take a sip of water, and…(clearing my throat) Really? Really, Blackistone? National Player of The Year?

Now perhaps Blackistone made an honest mistake. Maybe he got some bad information from a friend. Who knows? It’s just one measly comment about some basketball team from Manhattan, Kan. Sure, that basketball team just knocked off the No. 1 team in the land. But can we really expect one man to know every little detail about every team in the country?

I guess that’s the whole point of this little exercise. And it’s the same reason I find myself watching ESPN less and less.

It’s just simply unreasonable to expect anyone to know everything about every sports story in the country. It doesn’t matter if it’s Kevin Blackistone, or Woody Paige, or Skip Bayless, or Kornheiser, or Wilbon, or Greeny and Golic.

All these thoughts were coming together when I thought about that great song from Ben Folds.

“So why you gotta act like you know when you don’t know?
It’s OK if you don’t know everything.”

And yet, all these talking heads on ESPN must know. I mean, they do work for ESPN, right?

Hey, I know it’s there job to go on and talk about the big stories of the day. But just once, I want to hear one of these guys say something like this:

“You know what. K-State played great last night. The home crowd was rocking. Frank Martin is an unheralded guy, and he’s doing a great job building that program. And hey, I didn’t watch the whole game, and I don’t know all that much about this K-State team. But keep an eye on them. They just took down the No. 1 team in the country. And they play Kansas in a week… and that place is going to be crazy.”

There’s one more thing that I find interesting about this discussion. And that’s the fans. Listen, I know I’m speaking in huge generalities, but bear with me. Please.

In general, fans seems to hate their hometown media.

The hometown newspaper is a rag. The local TV stations are jokes. And grown men on message boards seem to spend way too much time discussing how much the local sports radio stations suck.

This seems to happen everywhere.

And yet, fans seem to love the national media*.

*Hey, did you see ESPN.com has a story about us?
Yo, we’re on the cover of Sports Illustrated. We’re the shizz.
Hey, Tony and Mike were talking about us on PTI.
Hey, did you see they mentioned us on Around The Horn?

These words have been said by thousands of fans across the country. Fans of many teams and fans from many cities.

At the same time, the local beat writer at the newspaper is a tool. And all the local radio hosts are idiots.

I have so many personal feelings about this discussion. Yet, at the same time, there’s a little bit of truth in everything.

There are some local media member that are brilliant, and there are some local media members that are less than brilliant.

There are some members of the national media that are phenomenal, and there are some that… well, struggle.

And sometimes, I turn on ESPN and I hear someone say that K-State’s Curtis Kelly is a National Player of the Year candidate.

And then, I just don’t know what to say. But then, I hear Ben Folds and I feel better.

Remember… It’s OK, if you don’t know everything.

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One thought on “Passing around the scorn

  1. Asher says:

    Let’s hear it for saying things just to say things.

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