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The Venerable Peter Gammons

Boston Globe sports media columnist Chad Finn called out Peter Gammons for calling out Bob Hohler for calling out the Red Sox.

Gammons and Hohler occupy two distinct schools of journalism.   Hohler comes from a background of hard news.  Gammons does not.  Gammons is out of his element in hard news, as was the case when he interviewed Alex Rodriguez about steroid use in February 2009, at least in the estimation of the ESPN ombudsman, who wrote:

“My own assessment is that Gammons asked the hard questions — Did you take steroids? For how long? Where did you get them? Did you lie to Katie Couric? — but that after getting Rodriguez’s opening admission of guilt, he did not press hard enough when Rodriguez gave evasive or self-serving answers to the what/where/when/why questions. I also think Gammons’ lack of follow-up was attributable, in large part, to his genuine sympathetic engagement in the human drama of what the viewer somewhat cynically called “Rodriguez’s first step toward personal redemption.”

Leonard-Hagler at 25

They fought on April 6,1987 before nearly 2 million closed-circuit viewers and 20,000 more in the open stadium behind Caesars Palace.  Now Leonard-Hagler is 25, and aficionados still argue about the split decision for Leonard.

To commemorate the anniversary, and to honor the brothers Petronelli – Pat and Goody – who passed away in 2011, following is the Epilogue to “Sorcery at Caesars: Sugar Ray’s Marvelous Fight”, published in 2008:

In the cocaine-addled, junk bond ‘80s, Leonard and Hagler gave us a fable, and themselves a permanent place in boxing lore.  Both are elevated among the all-time greats, Leonard a step higher.

As much as his career, Hagler is remembered for his exit.  He quit, at the age of 32, after losing to Leonard, and declined multi-million dollar offers to fight again.  He was one of a few champions – Rocky Marciano being another – to quit with his health intact and money on the table.

The Last Great Blog Post

“The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds that Changed Basketball”, by Gene Wojciechowski, was released in January.  It is the last book – until the next one – in a weird tradition of sports books claiming to be about the Last Something.

Wojciechowski is a gifted writer, no question. Yes, in a literal sense, the 1992 Duke-Kentucky NCAA East Regional final did change basketball, because Duke advanced and Kentucky did not.  A Kentucky victory also would have changed basketball.  And your lawn changes when the grass grows.

But the notion that it was “the last great game” in basketball is more silly than weird.

Until you realize that writers and publishers rely on this gimmick over and over.  No doubt they think it makes the book sound important, and that it evokes nostalgia.  And maybe it did both of those things, before it became a cliché.

Flapping Skulls and Severed Limbs

Not long ago I woke up in the middle of the night, television on, sound muted.  A film was on HBO,  “House of 1000 Corpses”, from 2003.   The plot, as laid out on IMDb: “Two teenage couples traveling across the backwoods of Texas searching for urban legends of serial killers end up as prisoners of a bizarre and sadistic backwater family of serial killers.”

What ensued was an uninterrupted barrage of violence, sadism, torture, agony, blood and twisted limbs.  It was so off the chart there could be no chart.  Did I turn the channel?  No.  I waited to see how each scene would outdo the last in psychosis.  Which is what director Rob Zombie intended, no doubt.  Zombie was an awful musician who transitioned seamlessly to tasteless film director.

The point is that graphic content is magnetic, like it or not.  You don’t have to be Rob Zombie to go for it.  News media face the same temptation, and risk, with graphic content.  It can grab viewers, or repulse them, or both.  It might be necessary to tell a story in accurate context. Or it might drag the story out of context.

E:60 Production Notes explores the two-edged sword of graphic content in Part One and Part Two.


Meet Him in St. Louis

This photo of Augie Favazza says everything about the St. Louis Cardinals and their epic World Series championship.

Augie Favazza

He grew up in the same neighborhood as Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola – The Hill.  He was a graduate of Southwest High, and the University of Missouri (B.J., 1973), and went on to become sports editor of the Portland Press Herald.

Now he splits the year between Old Orchard Beach and St. Petersburg – and works as an accreditation consultant to cosmetology schools.  But he still has family in St. Louis, and his heart still pumps Cardinal red.