Veteran sportswriter Pat Jordan, who worked for Sports Illustrated back in the good old days when every athlete would grovel and tap dance for a chance to appear in that magazine, has a long piece in Slate today detailing exactly why his job was way better back then than it is now. To sum it up: athletes today know they can control the media, whereas back then they were basically underpaid rubes grateful for any press coverage that might land them some endorsements to enhance their meager salaries. Jordan also notes that Jose Canseco is a jerk, old-timey players weren't afraid to ogle girls in front of a reporter, and Deadspin.com is the future of sports journalism. Suck on that, Buzz Bissinger!:
Red Sox ace pitcher Josh Beckett recently turned down Jordan's request for an interview for New York Times Magazine story. But even big stars in the 70s wouldn't dream of such a thing. Here's how he got a story on (now Hall of Famer) Catfish Hunter of the Oakland A's:
I checked into the A's hotel and went right down to the pool. I watched as Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Rollie Fingers, and Rick Monday eyeballed the chicks laying by the water. I asked one of the players which one was Catfish Hunter. He pointed to a shy, North Carolina country boy barely into his 20s with a chew of tobacco puffing out his cheek. I introduced myself to Catfish and said, "I'm here to write a story about you for Sports Illustrated." He nodded. I said, "Can I drive you to the park?" He nodded again.
Another current Hall of Fame pitcher, Tom Seaver, wasn't any harder to get:
I called the Mets, told them I was an SI writer, and asked for Seaver's home number. They gave it to me, gratefully. I called Tom, told him what I was doing, and he invited me to his home in Greenwich for lunch. We ate in the afternoon on the porch of Tom's farmhouse. He barbecued a huge T-bone steak, cutting out the filet for me and the sirloin for himself. Then I drove him to Shea Stadium in a rainstorm in my old Corvette with the T-top that leaked. Water dripped on Tom's forehead. He looked up and said, "Why don't you buy a Porsche?" I said, "Because I'm not Tom Seaver." Water dripped on his head. He laughed. "That's a fucking fact."
But today, even jerks like steroid fan Jose Canseco screw with him!:
Jose was, well, Jose, reneging on our arrangement only after I'd flown to L.A. at his request. Why should he have wanted to talk to me? He had by then written his second magnum opus and was scheduled to appear on David Letterman and Howard Stern.
So he wrote a story about what a jerk Canseco was, and Will Leitch ran it on Deadspin. Blogs win!