Friday, February 27, 2009

On Another Rough Week

There are a lot of charlatans about in the newspaper business these days. They wrap themselves in corporate-speak buzzwords, and they talk a lot about using Twitter and Facebook to save journalism.

And they're full of shit.

It's the business model that's broken in newspapers. And these people don't have the first clue how to fix it. Neither do I, but I least I have the guts to admit it. And I'm not scared of Facebook or Twitter. I use both. But neither is bringing back lost classified revenue. Neither is going to go back in time and make greedy-ass newspaper companies not take out loans based on 20-percent profit projections in perpetuity.

The bloodletting in Cedar Rapids this week was about money. Period. And anyone who tells other people that it was about something else is lying. There's no grand plan. There's no re-envisioning. They're making it up. It's a cover to allow the suits to hack costs.

And I for one wonder how the people who let themselves be useful idiots to the money folks who actually screwed this whole thing up... Well, I wonder how they sleep at night.

I really do.

Make no mistake, these people didn't kill the newspaper, either. But they are profiting from its demise, rather than trying to save it.

So when they write the obit for newspapers, let it be said in the lede, those who forgot the purpose of newspapers was to use language to illuminate, not obfuscate, dug the grave.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All I Can Muster

When they write the obit, let it be said that those who forgot that the purpose of newspapers was to use language to illuminate, not obfuscate, dug the grave.

RIP, Cedar Rapids Gazette.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Did Steroids Turn ARod Orange, And Other Delights

I held off as long as I could, I really did.
But now, it’s time.
Try as I might, I just couldn’t avoid writing a dot-dot-dot column this week. Too many things rattling around the old gourd. Sure, they’re hacky and often disjointed. But I love reading them. Maybe some of you do, too.
At last check, more than 15,000 people had joined a Facebook group called "I don’t care that Michael Phelps smokes weed." Which is just the sort of thing that makes Facebook great. I’ve got to say, though, that Kellog’s comes off looking awful in the whole deal. You didn’t mind a celebrity endorser who got a DUI underage, but now you drop him? Weak sauce... Alex Rodriguez should had quit while he was ahead in his interview with Peter Gammons. I give him points for being (sort of) honest and not using a dodge, but he looked petty and sounded like he was lying the longer the interview went on. Also, he should probably lay off the lip gloss and the spray-on tan. Of course, maybe if kids think steroids turn you orange, they won’t take them... Sticking with baseball, if Michael Cuddyer can play third base — even a little bit — the Twins pretty much have to put him there this season. Carlos Gomez, Denard Span and Delmon Young are all young guys who need to play every day, and Kubel needs his ABs at DH, though I suppose Cuddyer would be a good DH option against tough lefties. But the bottom line is that the Twins need his bat in the lineup more than they need a Gold Glover at third. If he’s serviceable, he should be out there... I got some negative feedback on my column about the girls HS coach in Texas and running up the score. One caller noted that the coach said he wasn’t running up the score. I would point out that the score was 100-0. Who you gonna believe, a fired coach or your own lying eyes... After having seen most of the teams in South Dakota play hockey this season, I have come to this conclusion: Things are still wide open. I think everyone is still waiting for someone to get hot, but, apart from Sioux Falls, all of the top teams have been consistently inconsistent. I also can’t help but wonder if people would be able to catch a pass more often with a wooden stick, or at least a wooden blade. Or maybe I’m just getting old... I am told that Pierre and Watertown has developed into a solid rivalry in girls basketball, and there is always a great atmosphere for hoops at Watertown. Should be entertaining... What happened to my Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team? Egads, boys... Was delighted to see Alison Krauss get some much-deserved Grammy love last week. If you’re not already a fan, you probably heard her on the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. An amazing talent... Have people been checking out the new MLB Network? Lots of interesting stuff on there, in addition to old games. Caught most of Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game from his rookie season in 1998. He was filthy. Oh, what might have been, Cubs fans... The Pierre—Brookings girls basketball game was a lot of fun to watch, though probably not to play in or coach. The Lady Govs just could not get anything to fall for long stretches and Brookings played excellent defense, especially denying the entry pass to the post. Pierre will have to be able to find some back door plays or lobs if other teams can muster that kind of effort. And, as the story of this season unfolds, I think you’ll end up with Berg’s Block right up there with Paluch’s Free Throws as plays of the year...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Hardest Thing To Do In Sports

It’s often said that the hardest thing to do in sports is hitting a baseball.
But I’ve always agreed with whoever wrote that the hardest thing to do in sports is to go into the locker room at half time of a championship game and completely change the strategy that got you there, because it isn’t working anymore.
So, while it wasn’t a championship game, you have to give Pierre boys basketball coach Terry Becker a lot of credit for being willing to change gears midseason.
The Govs’ new run-and-gun offense — combined with a constant full court press — allows Pierre to force other teams into contesting what they feel is their biggest strength: Athletic ability. And it also allows Pierre to get a lot of kids involved in the game, which gives them confidence and a deeper bench.
The advent of the shot clock in South Dakota AA basketball makes this style of play even more attractive, because opposing teams can’t really avoid running with the Govs. Gone are the days when ESD coaches could hold the ball for minutes at a time and keep scores in the teens and twenties.
At 3-9, the Govs are sitting at the bottom of District 3. But Pierre played Mitchell tough twice and lost at Aberdeen when the Golden Eagles shot out the lights.
The Govs have eight games left in the regular season to fine-tune their up-tempo style before the playoffs. And, as is also often said, anything can happen when you get to the playoffs.
The Pierre Capitals have three big games at home this weekend. The Caps play host to the rapidly improving Rapid City Thunder.
Pierre won Junior Gold tournament in Grand Forks, N.D. over the weekend, while Rapid dropped three games at Brookings — but played the Rangers tight in two of them.
The Thunder have played a lot of teams close this year, but have found a way to lose a lot of those close games. That’s another of the hardest things to do in sports: Learning how to win.
While Sioux Falls is running away with the league and Brookings is coming on strong of late, Watertown has suddenly lost four league games in a row.
With the league shaping up to be fairly wide open at the state tournament, the Capitals will want to stay in the 3-6 range.
Pierre stands in sixth place right now, one point behind the Thunder. But Rapid City has played three more games to this point than the Capitals.
Long story short, Pierre likely wants to take at least four of six possible points from the Thunder to put themselves into at least the fifth slot at the state tournament in March. A sweep, and the Caps would be right in the hunt for a top-four finish.
The Pierre Lady Govs will try and set a team record for consecutive wins when they take on the Brookings Bobcats at Riggs Gym on Friday night.
While Steph Paluch has grabbed headlines lately in becoming Pierre’s all-time leading scorer, she’s only part of what makes the Lady Govs fun to watch.
Coach Lisa Kannegieter’s squad is aggressive on both ends of the floor and transitions smoothly. They play tough man defense and even throw in a zone from time.
Against Brandon Valley, in perhaps as dominant a performance as they’ve given all season, the Lady Govs put all facets of their game together.
Katie Lingle dominated defensively, eventually turning the Lynx into a team of jump-shooters. Alexa Berg pushed the ball on the point and had a very tough game defensively. Tristan Rogers creates a lot of matchup problems for opposing teams and seems to hit plenty of timely 3-pointers. And Pierre has a bevy of players who contribute off the bench without the team missing a beat.
All told, the Lady Govs play aggressive, physical, up-tempo basketball that makes for a fun evening, whether you’re covering the game or not.
And they’re about half the way to doing the hardest thing in all of sports.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Daschle Out

No second acts, or some such.