A few highlights and the between the lines on Joe Posnanski’s farewell ode…
It was a nice gesture for the Star to choke out a handful of hundred bucks to driveway deliver Joe’s farewell to KC column (he’s moving to North Carolina). That said, it would have been even nicer had the newspaper addeda little reporting to the mix. That way – in theory – readers wouldn’t be left with quite so many unanswered questions.
Like why’s Joe leaving KC and what exactly awaits him in NC.
Left to his own, Posnanski merely says he’s bailing "for many reasons, personal and professional."
What was that again?
Now the Posnanski highlights and critique
*** Joe’s column begins awkwardly with an "editor’s note" explaining that he’s now a senior writer at Sports Illustrated.
However, the circumstances leading up to Posnanski’s departure from the Star – six months or so prior to fellow sports scribe Jason Whitlock’s disappearing act – have never been fully vetted. Given both sports columnists sky high paychecks and the newspaper’s layoffs and cutbacks, it’s a good bet they were under pressure to take pay cuts and/or saw the handwriting on the wall.
*** Posnanski indicates as much where the latter is concerned.
"I was lucky enough to be a newspaper columnist when everybody still read the newspaper," he writes.
Everybody? I don’t think so. But clearly that line – buried deep within one of Joe’s’s longest columns ever – is a reference to the Star‘s dramatically shrinking newspaper footprint.
*** As for Posnanski’s move to Sport Illustrated… What print publication isn’t in financial hot water these days? Take the sale last year of Newsweek for $1 plus assumption of liabilities. Following operating losses of $32 million in 2008, $39.5 million in 2009 and a forecast of a $20 million loss last year.
I remember then Star sports editor Mike Fannin dissing Sports Illustrated to me a handful of years back. SI was washed up; nobody read it anymore, Fannin told me.
Well, that’s Joe’s safe harbour now.
My hunch is Joe took the SI gig to fulfill a childhood fantasy. Now that the days of everbody reading the newspaper were behind him, it was time to move on.
And since Joe knows there’s nothing left here, it was time to move to a larger market, get a fresh start.
*** Which brings us back to why he may have left the Star.
Clearly Joe was highly paid by Star standards. Probably less than Whitlock, but like Jason, Joe had played the free agent game card and forced the paper to match or beat offers from out-of-towners in order to retain him.
Joe even touches on that in the farewell column.
"Every now and again, someone would call and ask me to consider moving to another place," he writes. "A few times I took the interview. Why not? A couple times I even considered moving."
Indeed. That’s a polite way of saying that he pyramided those job overatures into a six-figure paycheck. And trust me, even back then, paychecks of that magnitude were few and far between among Star writers.
He was a funny guy. And like Whitlock, he seldom hung out much around the Star. In my 16 years, I can count on less than two hands the number of times I saw either of the two at the paper. And I was all over that place, day and night, seven days a week.
To see Joe in his natural habitat, he was a massively geeky guy. Not exactly a fashion plate or center-of-attention type. Joe was introverted and slinky in a serial killer kinda way. Like he said in his farewell, people either loved him or hated him. However the cards are eventually cut, he went out on his own terms.
What’s not to like about that?