Mar 28, 2011, 9:00 AM EST
Once upon a time, ESPN’s Rick Reilly was looking for a subject for his column, and thought it would be fun to rip Jimmer Fredette — the BYU guard who saw his season end recently in an NCAA Tourney loss to Florida. Excerpt:
If his last college game is what he’s bringing to the NBA, then I’d say, in five years, he’s got a really good chance to be your Provo area Isuzu dealer.
In a way, Reilly is the best person to write about this. Because if anyone is an expert on mailing in a performance, it’s Rick Reilly. His columns since arriving at ESPN make Fredette’s effort against Florida look like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. Another graph:
Note to Jimmer: To get the ball, one must occasionally check one’s man and/or box said man out. One did neither.
Here’s the deal: When you’re an influential national columnist and write a piece ripping a college kid, at least be accountable for it. But Reilly lives in a celebrity bubble where the common man isn’t allowed to approach the throne. There’s no comments section at the end of his columns (Bill Simmons is similarly protected by the ESPN mother ship), and so he can take his potshots with impunity. That just makes him look like a bully.
Oh, there’s a link to a form where you can write to “Reilly’s Mailbag,” and become possible fodder for a snarky end-of-the-year “look-at-the-weird-letters-I-get” column. But there’s no forum where readers can call Reilly on his incredible bull****. And I mean that last sentence literally, owing to one of his worst columns of all time: when he thought it would be cutting-edge journalism to go to Pamplona, Spain, and run with the bulls.
Hiding behind the skirts of a no-commenting policy is the worst form of sports writing cowardice, especially after one spends an entire column hammering a college kid for doing what he has essentially been coached to do. Do you think that Fredette would have played “worse defense than a dead man” if he played at Indiana under Bobby Knight, or at Duke or Florida State or North Carolina? At 22 years of age, the holes in his game are the fault of the adults in his life. Reilly should have been criticizing Dave Rose, but his keen journalistic instincts didn’t take him that far. Probably had an early tee time.
But Reilly will never hear that criticism, because if you write to him, he’ll never see the letter. And if by chance one of his assistants does deem to pass your email along (on a silver platter, accompanied by buttered toast and a rose in a tiny vase), he’ll look at it briefly, and like the Wizard of Oz will make you go out and find a witch’s broomstick before he’ll consider it further.
ESPN is missing the boat on this of course. A Rick Reilly comments section would be the most entertaining spot on the entire site, with the possible exception of a Simmons comments section. And it surely would be funnier than the typical Reilly column.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
What you missed while invading the neighboring county over the weekend …
- “During a pregame captains meeting with officials, Rodriguez said one of the (Morris) brothers offered him some parting words: ‘The run ends here.’ ” #illadvisedcomments
- Oxford beats Cambridge to win the Xchanging Trophy. Yay!
- Step right up Arizona Diamondbacks fans and see the human garbage can!
TODAY IN MARK TRAIL …
Time for someone to take off their shirt to cause a diversion. No Mark, not you! (Sigh).
- So long folks, it’s time for me to take off 18
- Man wins full marathon while pushing his daughter in a baby stroller (video) 14
- Lock and load, it’s youth baseball fundraising time: league raffling off AR-15 rifle (video) 8
- Sim Bhullar is a large basketball player, and I mean it. Anybody want a peanut? 0
- What’s with kids and all these death-defying stunts? 674
- Nothing to see here…just a 70-yard field goal by a high-schooler (video) 3
- None found