The battle of defunct local sports-osaurs forges on…
Kansas City’s had its share of sports rivalries. The Royals and Yankees. The Chiefs and the Raiders. Jason Whitlock and Joe Posnanski. With the underlying theme of good versus evil always in play. Including the latter, Whitlock wearing the black hat, JoPo in white.
It’s been more than a year, but you remember. Those loveable/hateable clowns who used party with me down at 18th and Grand in the pages of the Star. Make no mistake, there was indeed a sibling rivalry between the effusive Joe and the erosive Jason.
Jason got a sports radio gig, so then Joe got one. Jason got big pay raises. Joe went after them. Jason wrote sports columns waaaay longer than the standard Star sports column. Joe wrote ‘em longer – a lot longer. Joe played good cop, Jason bad. And to my knowledge, nobody ever stumbled onto the two hugging it out in the parking lot.
But with the economy in the tank and staff and paycheck downsizing running rampant, Posnanski bailed from the Star in late 2009 for the equally uncertain financial – but arguably more glam – pages of Sports Illustrated. Then Whitlock went out ugly last summer and remains mired in blogger limbo on Fox Sports.
That’s not to say the rivalry died. Quite the contrary.
As evidenced by Esquire writer Chris Jones…
Jones – who presumably doesn’t have a dog in this now long distance dogfight – breathed life into the matter recently. As if by accident.
“The secret to Joe Posnanski’s success—apart from his incredible industry; the man brushes his teeth and a blog falls out—is that Joe is one of those rare writers who lets you in…” Jones writes. “We’re lucky that Joe Posnanski chose writing, or that writing chose him, or that choosing had nothing to do with it.”
Clearly, Jones is smitten.
As evidenced by Jones love letter to JoPo in his January 24 “How To Be A Professional Writer” essay.
“Sadly, among sportswriters especially, our most famous members are our loudest, not necessarily our best,” Jones writes. “Nobody knows Gary Smith to look at him. And so kids see a picture of Jason Whitlock with an Asian transvestite hooker on his lap in a club, and they think they have to be like Jason Whitlock to make it.
“Well, here’s the stone-cold truth, kids: Jason Whitlock has no soul. He’s neither a good reporter nor a good writer. He’s a bloviator who’s somehow carved out a niche for himself as a kind of anti-establishment figure by making references to The Wire and pretending he’s the second coming of Ralph Wiley, when Ralph Wiley would be fucking mortified to be associated with Whitlock’s brand of self-serving buffoonery.”
That’s pretty good shot at the dude who went on local radio and cable TV last summer and bragged about the Star almost making him sports editor while outing the newspaper’s current editor for having an affair with its now former Star editor.
Back to Jones JoPo tribute…
“Journalism, for whatever reason, tends to attract hard nuts,” Jones writes. “Drinkers, carousers, tellers of tall tales. Most writers aren’t nearly as brave as they might seem, but we put on a pretty good show. Most of us are trying to live up to Ernest Hemingway or Norman Mailer or John Updike; most of us harbor fantasies of living forever through our words, but also through that legendary night we stabbed our wife or ran for mayor or shot a hippo.
“The truth is, most of us know that we’re phonies.”
So this round goes to the guy who still has the paycheck, Posnanski.
While making it clear that somehow, some way, these two former sports stablemates are manifestly destined to forever be compared.