The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

Archive for March 2011

Open Letter to ESPN.com’s Rick Reilly

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Rick,

Why do you hate on BYU so much?

I admit I’m a BYU fan, a Mormon, and believe it or not, a Rick Reilly fan.  So obviously and without apology my viewpoint is a tad skewed toward BYU, but what is your excuse as a journalist supposedly trained to be the objective observer.  You sound more like a Ute fan in the Tribune comment section.

I’ve read your columns for years and every time I read one where BYU is mentioned the negatives drown the positives.  You’ve said nice things about BYU while in the same breath added a slap.  How many times have you talked about BYU’s football program only to focus on the “age” of the players and the “advantage” it gives them over “the kids” on those other teams?  Of course you never seem to mention the age thing when BYU goes 6-6.

But this time around your keyboard is busy pinging college basketball and Jimmer Fredette.  It appears you’ve noticed the storybook season BYU has had with its star player Jimmer Fredette. But unlike your peers you decide to pick the star player apart and make his and BYU’s accomplishments this season appear insignificant.

It is obvious after reading your piece that you haven’t seen Jimmer Fredette or BYU play basketball much this season.  In fact you lead me to believe you hadn’t seen BYU play at all this year until the Florida game. Really? A sports columnist who only discovered Jimmermania the 3rd game into the NCAA tournament?

If his last game against Florida was the only game you’ve personally watched you’ve missed out on one of the most amazing and fun to watch players in college basketball this year.  He admittedly didn’t have a good game but still managed to put more than 30 on Florida in the face of very good defensive pressure to carry BYU to within one missed free throw of the Elite 8, though you chose to focus on the lopsided overtime period.

If you’ve never had a chance to interview or talk to Jimmer in person you’ve missed experiencing the infectious personality and great character of this young man.

Instead, you decided to join the bandwagon of message board morons slamming Fredette for not playing defense, being a ball hog, and a selfish player.  But if you talked to his coach and teammates you’d know how ridiculous and untrue those accusations are.  Did it ever occur to you that his coach has asked him not to play hard nosed defense because his offense is too valuable to risk foul trouble?  Its called asset protection Rick.  I’m sure you understand that concept.

He IS the Pete Maravich of our day.  Your comparison between Jimmer and Pete obviously wasn’t researched and was simply meant to “turn a clever phrase”, as one blogger put it, in hopes anyone reading it wouldn’t be paying close attention.

If you want to see some stats that might embarrass you and your comparison, go here.

Your attitude toward BYU and in this case Jimmer Fredette, seems almost bitter.  Sour grapes. I don’t know what to call it or how to explain it.  I just wonder why?

The fact that you seemingly consciously chose not to follow this phenom or attempt to watch any BYU games this season leads one to consider that you have a personal reason.  Or maybe you just don’t care about a basketball team out of Provo.  The latter seems odd since the rest of the nation, including your peers,  has had a laser focused on Provo and Fredette since mid-season.  Or perhaps it goes deeper than that and follows a pattern shown by other sports columnists out of that Mecca of “free thinkers” unfettered by religion, in Boulder, Colorado.  Dick Harmon of the Deseret News discusses that theory in a recent column.

If you do have a personal bias toward BYU no one will ever know but you, however your historically consistent negativity toward the Cougars leaves your audience wondering why.  When everyone else in your profession is giving praise and showing such great respect to BYU and Jimmer Fredette, you choose to criticize.

As a former broadcast journalist and news anchor for 15 years I can recognize a hatchet job when I see one.

You’ve written many incredible and inspiring columns over the years Mr. Reilly, but this is not one of them.  This was, as one local sports blogger put it  “a lazy, churlish bit of writing by a guy well past his prime.”  I’m not necessarily in agreement with the “past his prime” bit, but lazy and churlish?

Yeah.

Still, it does occur to me that going against the grain and coming out on the opposite side of the fence in this case has certainly grabbed people’s attention for better or worse and probably given this column more readers than it would have had with a “me too” piece.

Hmmmm, a tactic to create controversy, help pump up readership, and waylay the “past his prime” talk?

Nah.  If you were truly past your prime no one would care.

Just Rick being consistent in his apparent “enmity” for BYU.

Written by DCL

March 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

It’s Peanut Butter Jimmer Time

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I guess it’s time to weigh in on the phenomenon known in the great state of Utah and more or less around the country as “Jimmer Mania”.

Jimmer Fredette is a talented basketball player on the BYU Cougars basketball team. Jimmer’s story is really quite amazing and has been told in media outlets around the globe in recent months and the media in general can’t get enough of Jimmer. It’s that story of a small town kid out of New York state who dreamed of being something bigger than he should ever dream and having the dedication and persistence to actually make that dream come true.  It’s the stuff of fairy tales and bedtime stories.

From dribbling down a dark LDS church house hallway as a pre-teen while his older brother and friends would jump out of the darkness and try to knock the ball away from him to playing in a local prison yard and dropping 40 points on the inmate’s team as an 18 year-old, Jimmer has methodically done everything needed to excel at the game of basketball and now he’s leading his BYU Cougars to a top 10 ranking and probably #2 seed in the NCAA tournament come mid-March.

If that were the end of the story it would be a good one, but this one is a real page turner.  Last week after BYU beat San Diego State for the second time, in front of a national TV audience on CBS, and then moving from #7 in the polls to #3, with talk of a #1 seed in the big dance, the unthinkable happened.  Brandon Davies, a 6’9″ center/power forward and leading rebounder on the Cougar squad was suspended for the remainder of the season for an Honor Code violation.  The BYU honor code is something every BYU student must sign to attend the school.  I signed it as a 30 year old sophomore, married with 3 kids when I went back to school.  It’s clear what is expected and if you break the rules there will be consequences.  Some parts of the honor code carry more severe consequences and unfortunately Brandon broke one of the biggies.

The following Wednesday BYU lost at home to New Mexico by 18 points and it looked like the wheels were going to come off the wagon.  Media from every corner began to lament and scream the demise of the once presumed final four bound BYU Cougars.  But really what did people expect?  Here’s a group of 18 to 24 year olds who just lost a friend, team mate, and important part of their winning ways.  The emotions of hearing that news on Tuesday and then having to play a big game against a team that had beaten you earlier in the season was simply overwhelming in my opinion and the Cougars played like it.  Jimmer still had 32 points but the rest of the team could only manage 34.

The cool thing about all this drama is how the world has responded.  Fans on message boards posting in anonymity were typically rude, crude, and derogatory in their statements about BYU, the honor code, Jimmer, Brandon, and the LDS Church, but the responses from media outlets around the globe were incredibly supportive of BYU and it’s willingness to stand for what it believes in regardless of the consequences for its basketball team and the fame and money that would come to the school had it gone to the final four and beyond.  Chalk one up for the good guys who stand for something and don’t back down because it isn’t the popular thing to do.  But that’s BYU.  It always has been and always will be.

So the saga continues as the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament begins tomorrow with BYU playing TCU at 1 pm.  It will be fun to see how BYU plays without their star center with the spotlight shining hot upon them while the country waits to see if they will stub their toe and falter going into March Madness.  I think BYU will be just fine and will surprise people.  But that story will be written in the coming days and weeks and I’ll be a faithful follower right to the last game!

GO COUGS!

Welcome to March in Utah

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Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day…. Seems like I hear that song from the Mamas and the Papas of the 60s in my head more and more as each Monday rolls around.  This Monday started like any other and was quite productive throughout until about 4 pm.  That’s when the rain outside started turning to big heavy slushy snowflakes.  The radio reports were saying heavier snow into the evening with accumulations by 5 or 6 pm, so with that news I packed up my laptop and hit the freeway to Salt Lake from Provo and try to beat the storm.

The drive home was no problem and about the time I hit 114th South to head east up the hill and home the snow had begun to stick.  I got home at about 5.  I had a meeting up at ASEA at 6 pm and began debating with myself whether to go.  I looked out the window at 5:15 and the snow was now covering the street.  It wasn’t snowing very hard so I figured I could go ahead and try to make the meeting.  So much for the debate.  Everything was going great until I hit I-215 and started heading east toward the mountain.  The foothills were getting much heavier snow than the valley and as I got off the exit only a few hundred yards from the ASEA offices up on the hill I knew I was in trouble.

My car, a 2003 Mercedes Benz E500, has a traction control feature that seems to neither control or allow traction…?  It doesn’t allow the wheels to spin if that’s what it means by traction control, but you don’t move either.  If it senses spinning it stops.  As I turned the corner and began to go up the slight incline I lost all momentum and quickly came to a stop.  I wasn’t going any farther.  The snow was about 3 inches deep on the road by now.  Heavy wet slushy snow that when compacted by other vehicles became and sheet of ice.  I babied it and made little progress.  Soon other cars were lining up behind me.  A nice lady got out and put some ice melt on the snow in front of my rear wheels.  That got me another 10 feet or so before I couldn’t go any farther.

There are few things that can make you feel more helpless than being stuck on the road in a snowstorm.  I continued to try to get some traction.  Every once in a while I’d go forward a few feet and then the wheels would stop.  15 minutes or so into this I saw a group of dark figures in my side-view mirror.  One came to my window.  I rolled it down and he said let’s see if we can get you going by pushing you. There were maybe 4 or 5 of them.  They began to push and I began to pray and push the gas peddle.  Slowly the car began to move forward.  It was an arduous process.  If I could have disabled the “traction control feature” I’m sure I would have taken off once we got started but that dang car didn’t want to spin the wheels so it would power up and power down.  I felt terrible for the poor folks pushing but grateful for them and their willingness to help out.

As I got to the top of the incline where it leveled out the wheels took hold and off I went.  All I could do was yell thanks out the window and honk.  I couldn’t stop or I would have been stuck again.

I rolled into the lane where the snow had been moved by the traffic and drove to an intersection where I made a U-turn and headed back home.  I was only a few hundred yards from the meeting but it was up a steep hill and there was no way I could get up there in that snow.  I had to find a new route home that didn’t include any inclines.  I managed to crawl home by about 7:30.  What a mess.

My heart was and is full of gratitude to those kind people, even if they did it just to get me out of their way!

Written by DCL

March 9, 2011 at 8:47 pm