Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How not to write a column

I'm not a well-paid writer. Actually, check that, I'm not even a paid writer. But I can still spot a rude and mean-spirited column, and that's exactly what T.J. Simers's recent column in the Los Angeles Times is.

Writing about new Dodgers left fielder Marcus Thames and why he hasn't played more in his career, Simers approached Thames to ask him some rather blunt and impolite questions. Here was the awkward exchange, if you can call it that:
"Are you that horrible on defense that teams don't think it's worth playing such a home run threat?'' I asked by way of introduction.

Maybe somebody else wastes time schmoozing with Tims/Tems, but he's a one-year rental who has some explaining to do. How bad are you on defense that teams don't dare risk playing you?

Tims/Tems just smiled.

I asked again, because I remember my dealings with Lofton, who would never answer the first question. Eventually he would, while also complaining, "You never write down what I say."

I always told him the same thing. "You're boring, but I come back hoping one day you might say something of interest."

When I came back on Tims/Tems, he sat silent. I can see one problem he might have on defense if everyone is relying on him to yell "I got it."

He said he wasn't going to talk to me because I hadn't introduced myself. That would have allowed him to pull out the little card the Dodgers' PR department provides players advising them how to get a running start on Page 2.

I can't imagine this is the first time in 10 years that Tims/Tems has been asked why he stinks on defense, thereby limiting his time as a regular player.

Unable to answer, he just stood and walked away.
If that wasn't bad enough, Simers had a few other rude lines in his column, including: "So I thought I might talk to Tims/Tems on Monday. Ordinarily I don't like to start off a week talking to stiffs, but that leaves so few Dodgers to interview these days." You get the idea.

Simers has already been ripped for the column in a few places, and apparently that confrontational/rude column technique is sort of his shtick. Nonetheless, it's rather embarrassing that a professional columnist would approach an athlete -- or anyone, for that matter -- and ask him why he's so "horrible on defense."

By the way, kudos to Thames for not taking the bait. Oh, and stay classy, T.J.

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