Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Embarrassment to the MSM

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Today, I am going to write another chapter in the war between the MSM and bloggers. And yes, we can call it a war (of words). It's at that point.

Now we've all seen the articles. MSM journalists blogger-bashing and calling us all losers who are typing in our underwear from somewhere in the depths of our parent's basement. Or that we're no talent hacks that should stick to being fans. That's all well and good by me. This is America and people are entitled to their opinions. And you know what, to a certain extent they're right. There are a lot of bloggers that are fans first (and they make no bones about it) and like anything else in life, there are bloggers in the minority that don't represent the majority. I think you get the point.

But what really bugs me is hypocrisy.

When the MSM preaches about how they've gone to J-school and are so much more important because of it, that's fine. When the MSM calls bloggers no talent hacks that reek of fan bias, that's fine. There's one problem with all that, though. You see, when you say those things, boy you had better back them up. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this is just a case of someone in the minority not representing the upstanding majority. Tell me if I wrong because, unlike many newspapers, BMR has a comments section after every article. Oh, excuse me, post. But majority, minority, whatever. If the MSM's rules are to single out one person and make them a poster child for the whole, then I think I should be allowed to play by those rules as well.

So today, we examine Mr. Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun. Why? Lately, with the hometown Sens facing the Pens in the playoffs, he has sounded more like a Senators fanboy or a crazed message boarder than an actual journalist.

Back on Tuesday, Mr. Brennan proposed -- and I kid you not -- that the Sens should go after Sidney Crosby and his injured right ankle. No, really. We've all seen the clips. Philadelphia unleashed a corps of goons on the NHL this year. Chris Pronger had a number of questionable elbows last spring. Then, of course, you can get into the McSorely and Bertuzzi debates. There have been a lot of plays in recent memory that led to serious injury and whether or not they were premeditated can be debated endlessly (or taken to court). For a journalist to not only endorse this behavior but to also ask for it? Is this some sort of sick joke? I sure hope it is.

The very banging and battering the Penguins wanted to avoid from the Flyers can serve as an equalizer in this series for the undermanned Senators. They just need to bring it. Schubert, Chris Neil, Martin Lapointe, Cody Bass, Shean Donovan, Mike Commodore and Anton Volchenkov will be key players for Ottawa.


Crosby's got a bad RIGHT ankle? How will it stand up to a two-hander? The Senators have to find out.

The Penguins obviously wanted Ottawa over the Broadstreet Bullies. The defending Eastern Conference champs should feel a great sense of disrespect. They should be insulted -- even more so than in being referred to as purse swingers -- and they should respond in kind.

As much as they will be looking for timely goaltending and scoring, the Senators need somebody to emerge as a modern-day Bobby Clarke. Maybe hockey historian Jason Spezza can explain to his teammates what the former Flyers captain did to Russian star Valeri Kharlamov when the latter had a bad ankle in the 1972 Summit Series.

It's playoff time. Anything goes.

Kharlamov, the USSR's star in that '72 Summit Series, took a slash to the ankle from Clarke and was unable to play in the final game of the series, which Canada won. Clarke, for what it's worth, was ordered by coach John Ferguson to take out Kharlamov's ankle. Clearly an upstanding example to follow.

If asking for players to go after an opposing star player's weak spot isn't the biggest case of homerism/being a fanboy/crazed message boarder -- whatever you want to call it -- then I don't know what to say. We all hear the rumors that this coached ordered his player to do this, and that team has a hit out on this guy, but to actually ask for and encourage this type of behavior is shameful. Especially from someone in a privileged position.

We all know the NHL is a violent sport. There is fighting. Injuries do occur. One thing the NHL is not is a sport where those sitting on the sidelines cry for blood. And this isn't even of a case of someone wanting to see a good fight. This is a case of someone wanting to see an opposing player injured. Look, I don't like Mark Messier. I don't like the Rangers. I've never hoped that any of them would get their jaw broken by a Chris Simon cheap shot. And for the record, I've never endorsed Chris Simon's on ice actions. They're despicable.

And if I need anyone to back me up on this, I can simply turn to another MSM outlet. ESPN actually took notice of Brennan's article, making it a topic of conversation on it's television show Around the Horn earlier this week. Yes ESPN, the American network that only pays attention to hockey when there's a big brawl or cheapshot, took notice of something a Canadian journalist had written. I couldn't believe it either. If you want to hear the podcast of it, click here and then skip ahead to the 14:00 mark of the 4/9 Episode of Around the Horn. Not surprisingly, even the journalists at ATH thought the column was a disgrace. The always divisive Mr. Jay Mariotti even said Mr. Brennan sounds like "a fan up in the stands." If the hockey novices at ESPN have a problem with it, then I rest my case.

At least I thought that's where I could rest my case. Thanks to Mr. Brennan, I've got a few more closing arguments. Mr. Brennan did us all a favor today, allowing us to dismiss him completely, with a response to his previously mentioned column. In his article summarizing Game One between the Sens and Pens last night, he put the icing on the cake, making himself look like a bully on an ego trip, all the while hiding up in the press box so he doesn't have to answer to Mr. Georges Laraque.

Seem to have created quite a media uproar with my win-at-all-costs way of thinking and suggestions that the Senators test Sidney Crosby's previously injured ankle by giving it a good whack, eh. We'll spare you details and instead focus on those we are all actually here to cover. Like 6-foot-3, 245-lb. Penguins enforcer Laraque, whom last week we heard Wild tough guy Derek Boogaard refer to as "freakishly strong." Big Georges, who was quoted as calling yours truly "stupid," had this gem yesterday when asked about Senators targeting Crosby's tender joint. "I thought Slapshot was a movie, not reality." And who didn't like that classic?

Spare us the details? Sounds to me like Mr. Brennan doesn't want to defend himself and his words. But that's OK, we don't need any explanation. Like Slapshot, he's one big joke.


  1. According to Mirtle, this happened after that column:

    So, with a full house of media and players looking on, Laraque spotted Brennan in the dressing room and marched over. “You wanted me to call you stupid to your face? Well, you're stupid,” he said, towering over the scribe.

    I realize that hockey interest in Canada is at a fever pitch right now but this is just unacceptable. Is this only setting the bar for media directed violence if the Pens play the Habs? I think this guy is off his nut and should be fired by the paper.

  2. Kev, I fully agree with you. Some of these so-called professionals are getting ridiculous. I called out Adrian at the Denver Post after this article and he didn't deign to reply ...

  3. unfortunately, these times when we bash idiot columnists for stuff like this, we're also giving them more press at the same time. it'll be nice when Brennan is quiet after this series ends quickly.

  4. Kevin,

    I agree with you on Brennan.

    Going off topic, I just have to say that I've never understood the equations "blogger+fan=bad" and "blogger-fan=good".

    I understand what is meant by that, of course. I just think a distinction ought to be made between "fans" and "homers."

    After all, it's not as though any current hockey blogger said one day "I think I'll start a blog. Now, what will it be about? Let me throw a dart at a list of topics and find out. A-ha! Hockey it is!"

    No. All the bloggers I know, even the "serious" ones, started because they love the game and a particular team. The honest ones have a critical mind about their team and the game. But they remain fans because being a real fan is more than the blind devotion of a homer.

    I've been blogging for five years now and I have always thought of myself as a fan, but not a homer. I am one of those that "make no bones about it" as far as being a fan but I'm no "OMG teh Redwings rulz" stereotype. Does my considering myself a fan make my work at OtW any less legitimate? I don't think so.

    I, like any other blogger, work to add another layer between non-blogging fans and the media. That's the role of the blogosphere, not the supplanting of the MSM. What rankles journalists, and rightly so, is the pretention of some that bloggers, who began as fans and will always be fans or else they aren't bloggers, can and will replace the media. After all, many beat writers may or may not be fans of the team they cover depending on how they got into a given position. Those that came to cover a team because of newsroom politics or shuffling see the kind of cold objectivity that such a career path engenders as the paragon of virtue.

    Serious bloggers worship at the Temple of Critical Fan Thinking, not the Temple of Objectivity as established by the Orthodox High Priests of Journalism. I'm not willing to sell my soul as a fan just to get in with those guys. I'm just sorry "fan" has become a dirty word in this context.

  5. Journalists are paid to deliver the news, not to give us opinions about why your team's players should intentionally harm your opponent's star. A six year old could that me that. It's ridiculous to see how unprofessional the MSM has gotten lately, is typified in the article that you've mentioned. Perhaps if Ottawa actually looked like a decent team, maybe Brennan wouldn't have to write out his fantasies.

  6. I'm not nearly as big as G. Laraque, and I'd love to call him stupid to his face.

    What an idiot.

  7. I read the Brennen clip about Laraque at least 5 times and lent me just say I haven't seen idiocy of that magnitude since the time I tried listening to the Gary Bettman radio show with guest Mike Milbury. I mean, sure taking out an already weak ankle would help out you team, but you never know if the attacker would hit Sid at just the right angle with just enough force and REALLY screw up that ankle (I would venture career ending, except I don't know my hockey injuries.) It just ain't worth it.

    for a great take on bloggers and fans, I reccommend everyone check out (if you haven't already) this week's "Balls Deep with BDD" over at Deadspin:

  8. Sounds like it's time to convene a blogger ethics panel!

  9. Don Brennan is the same knuckle-dragger who accused the Ducks of "ripping off" the Senators idea of having the singer of the national anthem hold the mic up for the crowd.