By: T.R. Slyder, TRSlyder@yahoo.com
This is a great example, courtesy of ESPN's wind-bag-in-residence, Rick Reilly.
Let's take it from the top.
Problem 1: The title is, "The Greatest Horse in the World Will get to Stretch her legs in the Preakness"
The Problem: No one thinks she is the greatest horse in the world. She may not even be the best female horse in America. Zenyatta, who is 9-for-9 and blew the doors off the competition in last year's Breeder's Cup Ladies Classic, the most prestigious female race in North America, is still in training. Rick either decided to irrationally leave her out, or has no idea she exists. I'll go with the latter- and that's just the females. No one has ever alleged she could or would beat the likes of Einstein or Commentator, or even fellow three year-olds I Want Revenge or Quality Road, for that matter.
Problem 2: Sentence #1 starts with "If you love to see a strong female take on the boys, if you think fillies should be given every chance to compete with studs..."
The Problem: The word "studs". Studs mean horses that have sired children. Horses in training (i.e. still racing) are forbidden from being sires. She will never race against a stud in her life, nor will any other horse. Studs do not race.
Problem 3: The third paragraph is one (erroneous) sentence long: "In fact, she's the fastest racehorse in the world"
The Problem: That is not a fact at all. Reilly may have been tempted to anoint her as such because he saw her visually stunning Kentucky Oaks victory which resulted in a Beyer Speed figure of 108. However, fellow three-year old I Want Revenge ran a 113 in the Gotham Stakes on March 7th. In the Florida Derby on March 28th, Dunkirk ran a 108 and Quality Road ran a 111. And those are just other three-year olds.
Furthermore, "fastest" implies she is a sprinter, which she is not.
That assertion is akin to saying that the man who runs the fastest mile is the fatest man in the world. That's cool, I'll take Usain Bolt. As much as I enjoy Rachel Alexandra, she would be no match in a sprint versus horses like Fabulous Strike, Kodiak Kowboy or Commentator.
Problem 4: First sentence, 9th paragraph, "That left Rachel Alexandra to race in the biggest fillies race in America—the Kentucky Oaks—the day before the Derby."
The Problem: The Kentucky Oaks, though a very prestigious race for fillies is certainly not the biggest monetarily or in terms of prestige. With the Oaks's purse of $500k, the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga is bigger at $600k. But that's not the only one. In 2008, the purse for the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies was $2 million, four times larger than that of the KY Oaks.
Problem 5: The ninth-to-last paragraph where Rick implies that fillies are more likely to die in races versus boys.
The Problem: He ignored two well-documented racing facts. One is that, for whatever reason, match races, like the one that ended Ruffian's life-as Reilly mentions, are historically much more likely to cause a horse to break down. And, two, Eight Belles did not die because she raced against boys, she died due to multiple breeding links to notoriously feeble-boned sire Native Dancer, a breeding pattern that herself up for that fall.
And do you know where I learned #2? From an article on Reilly's own ESPN.com. It was written by an actual horse racing journalist, Bill Nack- who was portrayed in a prominent role in the ESPN movie about Ruffian. So it appears that Rick Rielly saw the movie about Ruffian, then decided to throw in a reference to her in an attempt to seem familiar with the history of horse racing. It's too bad he didn't consult his ESPN.com colleague who could have informed him of his feeble writing about horses.
Ordinarily, I am excited to see any mainstream media outlet cover horse racing- the more exposure for this ailing sport, the better. I even give passes to authors when they are extremely topical and don't offer any incite into racing, just the publicity alone is enough for me. Despite Reilly's feeble allusion to past legend Ruffian, and his gavel-pounding declaration about Rachel Alexandra's current global domination of all things equine, it's obvious that he knows very little about the sport and this column was woefully under-researched.
Good topic, dreadful column, Rick Reilly.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
How to Maintain Your Title as a Past-Your-Prime, Trite, Self-Engrandizing Asshole "Journalist". By: Rick Reilly
T.R. Slyder, TRSlyder@yahoo.com (P)Rick Reilly
Dear Little People Whom I Talk Down To, But Whose Patronage I Rely Upon, Ironically,
I guess you know by now, I'm an asshole. Since I've always sucked as a writer, I was always swept under the journalist rug and relegated to the puff pieces that were 500 words or less (or crap like the video that appears below). I was jealous of journalists who had something to say and were actually intelligent, news-breaking wordsmiths. My self-defense mechanism for being relegated to puff-pieces was to try and convince people that the work I did was the cool, hip, work and I was the standard-bearer of awesomeness. I told the real writers that everyone else was merely a practitioner of "your great-grandaddy's journalism" I was to cool to stoop to that level. But obviously I wanted to be them. It's like how when the youngest kid in a family of three half-heartedly shouts on the way to their parents car, "I call the middle seat in the back!".
It's also true that I wasn't making as much money being a puff-piece-producer, so I cranked out some lame-ass golf books to remedy that, that way I could drive a Benz like the big-boy journalists. Why golf? Because golfer's wives have disposable income and will buy my book for their husbands because it says the word "golf" on the cover! Did any of my books matter to anyone? Of course not. But do I care? Hell no, I got paid. I drive a Benz!!!
You know the hot chick in your high school class that was always a total bitch to everyone, and never gave any good guys the time of day because they weren't on the football team? Then 10 years later she wouldn't give good guys the time of day because he wasn't pulling down 100k a year? But then after her second kid out of wedlock, she realized that guys who did make that much money didn't date girls like her anyway? Then at age 35 she realized that she's not even hot enough to rely on her old shtick of being hot, then she's hit with the reality that her life has just passed her by so she just becomes a bitter, old crusty bitch, at an early age?
I'm that bitch.
Back when I was hip and off-beat, I was like the bloggers of today- a little different, a fresh voice not doing what everyone else was doing. Only now I'm not quite as cool, hip or necessary. As a young
journalist writer, I told established writers they were lame. I told anyone who'd listen that I was hip and doing something different, even if my work was the literary equivalent of a Big Mac. While real journalists were busy unearthing poignant stories and actually making news, I was two-steps behind commenting on those stories in snarky 500 piece essays. I wasn't George Will. I was Perez Hilton. But now I'm the high school bitch whose looks left her world when her third kid out of wedlock entered it. I'm not even today's Perez Hilton anymore. I'm Perez Hilton at age 60. Sure I'm bitter about it. You would be too if decades of shallowness just hit you in the face.
Since I have no journalistic credibility, and I can no longer play the "Trust me I'm cooler, just get out of my way" card, I decided to talk down to the younger, newer generation that Darwinism dictates will replace me. I'll glibly say out of the side of my mouth that if they were real writers, they'd write for actual publications, like I have. Then I'd tell them how I was the Bob Dylan of my era, knowing full well that I was more like Phil Collins. So when the young bloggers ask "Who the hell is Phil Collins?" I say "Exactly! if you're not old or hip enough to know who Phil Collins is, how can you be more hip than me??!" I'm just witty like that. But what's awesome is when the bloggers come back with "Hey even Sir-Mix-A-Lot understands that people nowadays would rather listen to Lil Wayne than him." I say, "For shizzle." To prove that I am still relevant and hip(!!!).
So I'm still not a journalist, and I'm definitely not the coolest kid on the block anymore. So how do I make a living? I do utter crap like this:
How sweet was that video, Dog (or is it Dogg?)?? I did my own YouTube video (but on text messages
they we say "u2ube")! Not only that, but I re-re-re-re-re-re-re-hashed how the Cubs haven't had much success in the post season!! How tight is that, Broseph? Did you see what I did there? I took a team that hasn't won a championship in 100 years, as all of America knows, and I somehow managed to articulate that it appears they haven't been lucky!! Dude, Grantland Rice- WHAT?? Bill Nack, Peter Gammons, and Will McDonough- You can hate me now (to quote brothers Nas and Puff Daddy)! Never mind that I mispronounced Kosuke Fukudome's firstname (allegedly it's pronounced "Kose K" and not "Ko-Soo-K". whateva4eva!) I did that vid in a t-shirt!! On the YouTube!
G(eezer)s Up Bloggers Down,
Rick Reilly, IDriveABenzAndBloggerzDont@aol.com