For some reason I have a nostalgic place in my heart for the Detroit Free Press sports page. When I was a kid I never missed a day reading the work of columnist Mike Downey or a young Mitch Albom (before the Keebler Elf became a compromised embarrassment).
Now, I am sure the paper employed garbage writers back then (I remember Charlie Vincent and Keith Gave in particular giving me chest pains) but I was generally too young or naive to get extremely upset about the product. And in comparison to the Detroit News sports section manned by old men like Joe Falls and Jerry Green, the Freep seemed wonderful.
In fact, one of my favorite high school memories was a trip to the old Freep building as part of a journalism class trip where I got to meet the paper’s employees and other media figures. A far cry from today where if I had a chance to get inside their headquarters, I’d probably try to strap a suicide vest to my person.
What I wouldn’t give for a picture of a 16-year-old, Jew Fro’d Joff Mess looking at Terry Foster with reverence as the then-Pistons beat writer gave a symposium speech.
This was well before the paper’s standards went into the toilet. Before they turned a blind eye to Albom’s fabulist pieces and creative fiction. Before they not only excused plagiarism but refused to address it. Before they employed a derelict, sexually-harassing moron who can’t write. Before they employed a lazy, imbecilic propagandist to cover the Wings.
A year ago I probably wouldn’t have even written this article because shit was so bad at the Freep that it was beyond salvation. But recent events have given me a glimmer of hope. That rat Michigan beat writer Mark Snyder — who tag-teamed with Michael RosenNebbish in an effort to bury Rich Rodriguez over a couple of minutes of PRACTICE — recently left the sports section to work for Lake Orion schools.
Hopefully, the girls’ JV soccer team doesn’t spend a few extra minutes on the pitch or Snyder will probably turn state’s evidence on the Dragons’ coach.
Snyder the Weasel was replaced by the excellent Nick Baumgardner who had turned in extremely fine work at MLive.com before jumping ship earlier this month.
But the biggest impetus for this article is the exit of Kevin Bull (the dipshit who allowed Drew Sharp to plagiarize and lie to his face without any real ramifications) as the section’s Sports Editor. I’ve been told that the search is on for Bull’s replacement so I figured I would throw my yarmulke into the ring with the following detailed plan.
I am sure my wife will be playing the $700 million Powerball tonight so if she wins that prize, I promise to purchase the Free Press and make the following changes. (These are all reasonable maneuvers that any new editor could pull off. I am not going to suggest something wild like bringing in Bill Barnwell to cover the Lions beat.)
Here we go …..
1] I would show Condescending Baggins the door and put his seven-figure annual salary to good use by hiring 20 to 25 young, hungry journalists at that combined cost and spread those people around the entire newspaper. I am not sure what we’d do without Doctor Football articles, barista shaming and instructing African-Americans on how to protest, but I bet we’d find a way.
2] Incredibly, the paper doesn’t have a sports columnist. They didn’t replace the troll when he dropped dead, and Jeff Seidel is a feature writer. Albom can barely be bothered to write about sports, and when he does, it’s usually either a defense of his buddy Matthew Stafford or an anti-math screed.
I’d promote Dave Birkett from the Lions beat and make him the Freep’s featured columnist. I’d then swipe Tony Paul from the News and give him a columnist gig as well. I’d rather read Paul opinion pieces than straight Tigers coverage. Finally, Carlos Monarrez would get the third columnist slot but not before he was told to be himself™ (Audioslave) and not attempt to transform into Hispanic Sharp.
Seidel? Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out the door!!!
Shawn Windsor? He’d be free to replace Jared Fogle as Subway’s new spokesperson.
3) With Birkett writing opinion pieces, we’d need a new Lions beat writer and that’s the easiest decision of all. I’d bring in Kyle Meinke from the sinking vessel known as MLive.com. In the last few months the online paper has lost Baumgardner and Brendan Quinn and they decided not to cover the Wings and Pistons on the road. Meinke is one of the best in town and I don’t think you’d have to twist his arm to make the move. Though his contract would include a clause where he wouldn’t be allowed to Tweet about cats. And I’d probably want to know the inside story about his failed relationship with Kellie Rowe. Those last two are non-negotiable.
4) Believe it or not, I wouldn’t fire Anthony Fenech. I would, of course, remove him from the Tigers beat and place him on security detail to ensure nobody at the Freep is fucking their superiors in the parking garage. “The Beast” has firsthand knowledge of this subject and would know what to look out for. The beat writer for the Tigers is the most important gig at the paper in my opinion so I would commence a nationwide search to replace this scumbag.
Prerequisites for the gig would be an extensive knowledge of sabermetrics, a backbone, and a clean driving record. No applicants should be in desperate need of ProActiv while going around telling female co-workers he is better looking than their current boyfriend.
5) I’d gently drag Helene St. James out of the Little Caesars Arena press box by her scarf. Ok, I wouldn’t do that, OBVIOUSLY, but I’d fire her ass the minute I got the job. The Red Wings chief propagandist and Ken Holland apologist wouldn’t last a second under a Myst Regime. She’s an embarrassment to the profession and the debacle earlier this week whe she had absolutely zero knowledge of the CBA as it relates to Henrik Zetterberg’s contract situation was a disgrace. She disingenuously edited her article TWICE after fucking up the facts in her original piece and made ZERO MENTION of the updates. What a piece of shit.
That immoral behavior guaranteed this dingbat a #1 seed in the DSR’s Worst Detroit Sports Media Personality Tournament this coming February. Hopefully she can break the glass ceiling and become the first female to reach the Fucked-Up Four.
I’d replace The Scarf with George Sipple, who has done excellent work backing up Fenech. And what an indignity that must be.
6] I am pretty sure the Pistons are still a local sports franchise (right?) so I’d replace Vince “The Turtle” Ellis with Rod Beard of the News. I refuse to spend any additional time on this issue until Andre Drummond is no longer on the team.
7] With all of the savings the paper would accrue from telling Frodo to retire, I’d spend some of that dough on an investigative reporter in the sports department. I am not sure we’ve had someone like that in Detroit since Fred Girard left the News but it’s a needed position.
I’ve had the following question posed to me literally hundreds of times since I started this website …..
— Crummie (@Crummie) October 3, 2012
Well, I just wrote a 1,200-plus word article about folks I respect and LIKE. Journalists who would elevate the Freep sports section back to the level of reverence and esteem that I had for it when I was a kid.
Now, is 91 one of the potential Powerball numbers?
(You can follow Moss on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. You can discuss this article on Facebook by clicking here. You can also go fuck yourself if you’d like. Totally up to you.)