In Heaven’s Press Box, Grantland Weeps

Grantland Rice
August23/ 2010

Outlined against a blue-grey August sky they rode….”  The New Breed of Sports Media-ites.  Depending upon where you get your sports news, two of the major sports stories over the weekend involved two controversial sportswriters – Jason Whitlock & Jay Marriotti. 

I am not a stalwart defender of “the good old days” which were not necessarily good.  But, when that venture in Bristol, Ct was launched back in the 70s, it was inevitable that sports media would change.  Somewhere in Heaven’s Press Box, Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Shirley Povich and Jim Murray weep.


RECORD BREAKER:  “Married A Stripper” was THE FIRST of our 1350+ columns to be viewed in ALL 50 states (a normal BLSays gets about 30-35) and eight foreign countries.  More on “reactions to Stripper” at the bottom of this column.


The first thing I ever wanted to “be” was a sportswriter.  That’s what I told Agnes Freeman; Guidance Counselor at Jesse W. Grainger High School.  After a Moses-esque 40 years wandering the corporate wilderness, I have become one of a fashion.

If I had become a writer while still in short pants I would have brought to the keyboard the profoundly shallow perspective that short pants writers bring to their craft.  To possess any degree of perspective on the interaction of people and events in a historical context requires that the perspector be well-marinated in Life prior to having a by-line. There is something to be said for the know-it-all absoluteness of a fuzzy-cheeked perspective. Not MUCH, but surely something.

that the perspector be well marinated in LIFE.

Opinions are like noses – everyone has one.  Every baby is born with one. Every old coot dies with one.  I believe opinions are more interesting if the opinioner’s nose has been punched a few times “by Life”.  Mixing the taste of one’s blood with the ink adds a richer flavor ….. at least twhitlock-jason-kchat’s my opinion.  Paraphrased credit to Red Smith for that “blood & writing” metaphor.

Jason Whitlock is a very large angry black guy who used to write sports for the Kansas City Star.  He has appeared sporadically on the ESPN Sports Reporters.  He also writes for   Jason Whitlock’s schtick is angry, black, provocative guy.

“Provocative” is media-speak. Jason pisses off his readers a lot.  A lot of folks consider me provocative when I compare Butch Davis to “a stripper”.  A lot of people are correct to consider me that.  Provocative is not necessarily good or bad but will elicit reactions.  Some elicited reactions will be uncomplimentary.

Being a very large angry black guy adds to Jason’s provocativity.  The majority of his readers are angry white guys for whom Sports has inordinate importance in their lives.  Angry white guys reading the sports opinions of a big angry black guy is a sure-fire recipe for high octane Internet chitty chat.

I enjoy Jason Whitlock’s columns.  Jason is a talented wordsmith.  Even when I disagree with his opinions, I appreciate his talent.  Jason sees Race in every thing.  That tends to get old for those of us not very large angry and black.  On the rare occasions when Jason is not playing race solitaire he can be incredibly clever.

As the angry black lightning rod for the KC Star sports dept for a number of years;  Jason’s primary beat was covering the Chiefs.  For the past 2 decades the most noteworthy feature of The Chiefs was that “Great Googly Moogly” commercial where the groundskeeper misspelled “Chiefs” as “Cheeps” when painting the end zone.

Jason quit his day job last week in LeBron fashion.  Jason went on the local sports talk station in a 3-hour “Jason Explains Why He Quit” Special.  Jason ranted that his bosses were mean to him and conspired against him …. probably because he was fat, angry and black.

Blaming his problems on evil, stoopid authority figures, endears him temporarily to the angry white guys who traditionally hate him.  Disliking authority figures is a commonality among angry people regardless of color.

Jason is moving to LA to write provocative commentaries for  He claims ESPN also picked on him.  The angry white guys who momentarily feel his pain over being “picked on” will undoubtedly hate him again very soon.  Jason will be angry at soon.

Meanwhile, already in LA, fellow controversial sportwriter Jay Marriotti beat up his girlfriend, got arrested and will likely soon join a growing list of jaymariotti_370x278former ESPN sports guys who did stoopid things involving women.  Jay’s persona is chronically constipasted angry white wise-guy.

Jay Marriotti is/was a regular on ESPN’s Around The Horn (for the time being).  He used to work for a newspaper in Chicago where he was forever getting into trouble for writing stoopid crap to increase his provocative rep.   Jay quit his newspaper job via a text message after his employer had just sent him to Beijing all expenses covered to cover the Olympics.  Class guy that Jay Marriotti.

The 20s, 30s, 40s have been dubbed the Golden Age of Sportswriting.  What I miss most from the sportswriting legends is “nicknames”.  Nicknames added so very much to the texture of athletes.  Nicknames got “PC-ed” early on …. except HERE of course – “Pale Rider” …. “Prince Tassel Loafer” …. “Blue Messiah”  et al.

Many of those ink-stained legends were boozy guys in fedoras who rode trains, drank lots of gin, played canasta and had illicit trysts with wimmen named Daphne and Muriel.

I don’t know how to play canasta.  I’m not angry.  Maybe Mrs Agnes Freeman should have suggested that I consider playing piano in a whorehouse allowing for the fact I have no idea how to play a piano.

The flare that was lit with Married A Stripper continues to burn “outlined against a blue-gray August sky”.  Lots of BL-fans (?!?) among wuff-loons, pirate-loons AND Heel-loons gobbled up Stripper.

I DO NOT “hate Butch” or “hate strippers”.  But “marrying a stripper” has assumed risks.  It also has advantages of a sort.  Such is Life.

A stripper readers convention would overflow William Neal Reynolds Coliseum!  The bigger words flummoxed some but they got the gist of it.  Now, instead of just blaming Dickie, Heel-loons blame me too.  I can’t speak for Prince TL, but I’m quite OK shouldering the wrath of the Beady-eyed BCS Or Bust Bunch.


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