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Friday (Not Really) Guest Column--Edge Style

If you're familiar with the old blog you'll know that one of the things we did was open up each Friday's post to a guest speaker.  The general theory was that not everyone wanted to start their own blog but everybody's got SOMETHING to say, so here's your chance.  It's something I'd like to continue here, either lifting from those of you who do diaries or accepting submissions by e-mail for those who don't want to bother with the diary.

Today, however, your guest poster  I make the claim, however tenuous, to this being a guest post because I'm going to take a departure from my usual style.  Almost every post I write is passionate because, well, that's how I feel about the team.  But though people have at times interpreted that passion as other emotions--anger, sadness, exuberance--in reality I try pretty hard to be as balanced and reasonable as possible when I post.  I'm always honest and pretty straightforward, but very, very seldom do I just let go.  Today I'm forgetting about being "Dave the Blogger" and just being "Dave". I'm letting go because I am totally exasperated with the ongoing war of words between the representatives of our media and our team.  I have posted about this before (here) and the follow up (here).  For a more reasonable approach and some background to the following thoughts please check them out.  For today, though, we're abandoning all of that.  You have been warned.

Let's recap.  So far this off-season we've had a peeking-through-blinds draft incident followed by a kicking-the-reporter-out overreaction.  We've seen the team adopt a petulant policy of taping and reprinting (almost) verbatim every interview its representatives give.  We've had a columnist repeatedly bring up stories of past personal affronts by players no longer with the team.  We've had the team's star pulled over for being a party to drag racing and watched the predictable brouhaha that followed.  And all of this comes after three or four solid years of the team trying to excuse or gloss over player misbehavior (by its quality players anyway) and the media seeming to glorify in the tabloid aspect of bringing it to the fore.  Then this week alone we've seen the following:

--The team's star player got embroiled in a sex scandal which may or may not have involved illegalities but certainly was salacious enough on the face of it to not only merit a call of poor judgment, but draw unflattering media attention.
--Local columnist John Canzano followed up with public musing in his blog about whether Randolph's name should have been publicized, all the while managing to further publicize his name and drop extra hints about the nature of the investigation along the way.
--The team refused comment since the incident was under investigation, which is perfectly proper but also rings hollow considering it's the same thing they always say, followed a few days later by, "The player understands his responsibility and will strive to make sure these things don't happen in the future" yet they always do.
--John Canzano printed a piece about how a few years ago players were advised of their rights and responsibilities regarding the police in an official meeting which may or may not have also created an adversarial relationship with the police in the minds of the players.  What this had to do with the investigation at hand is anyone's guess.
--The Trailblazers responded by printing a letter on their website from a woman who works building the relationship between youth and the police.  The Blazers have volunteered for some time with this organization.  What this had to do with Canzano's article about the meeting or the investigation at hand is anyone's guess.
--Finally, in an incident so unbelievable that it must be a prank of some sort, John Canzano reported in his blog that several dozen DONUTS were delivered to the POLICE with a note under which stood Trailblazer President Steve Patterson's name.  The note said he'd rather spend money giving treats to his friends than on the Oregonian.  Canzano did not say definitively that the doughnuts were actually from Patterson or the Blazers, but one of two things must be true:

  1.  It's not a hoax and this will go down as one of the more ludicrous public relations moves in history.  Or...
  2.  It is a hoax and Canzano bothering to report it, let alone implying that it's real, is ridiculous...a fact which will surely be put forth by the Blazers in an upcoming scathing rebuttal.  
Either way, I've had enough.  Enough letters, enough blogs, enough listing of past grievances and shortcomings, enough justifications and excuses, and most of all enough finger pointing and complaining like bored children in the back of the car on the family vacation. Seriously, would you blink one bit if the next exchange between the two entities looked like this?

Canzano's Blog:  He's touching me!
Blazer Website:  No I'm not, he's on my side of the seat!
Canzano's Blog:  Well he started it!
Blazer Website:  Nuh-uh!  He did!

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the level our leading professional print organization and our leading professional sports team, both multi-million-dollar entities, have devolved to.  And don't bother claiming it really was one or the other who started it.  The kids need a time-out.  Both of them.  And not the twenty-second kind either.

I don't understand how two obviously intelligent, professional men from two supposedly respectable, powerful institutions could let it sink to this level.  I don't understand how you get so wrapped up in something like this that the next move in the game really makes sense to you, and you really think it will solve something, and you really don't care that you're doing this in public.  

I do know that I respect almost everything John Canzano writes as a columnist (really, honestly, and I'm a Blazer fan).  But as each incident goes by I have less and less respect for John Canzano the blogger.  And I wonder more and more every day, as I stated in those earlier writings, whether media people should be allowed to blog...whether the temptation to blur the line between the professional and personal is too strong for any, even the best-intentioned, to overcome.  I understand that his blog will get more hits with something controversial about the Blazers, but I don't understand the need to do it at all.  He can't be making that much extra money off of it and eventually it's going to affect the credibility of his bread and butter, which is the newspaper column.

I also respect a lot of the things the Blazers are trying to do as an organization on the basketball side of things.  I don't know that they've shown enough that I trust their internal workings or commitment to discipline yet.  I very definitely know that they need to hire themselves an intern and give them one task:  any time a member of the organization is tempted to respond to, retort, or rebut something in the media, especially in the Oregonian, that intern is to come up behind that individual with a two-by-four and whack them solidly in the head.  You're not...helping...anything.  You're only making it worse.

As I've said many times before, I have no illusions about where I stand in the larger scheme of things.  If he bothers to read this blog I'm sure John Canzano considers me lower than a hack.  I'm sure Steve Patterson would think my ignorance is matched only by my presumption.  I'm just a fan, right?  That's right.  I am a fan.  That's all I am.  I have only one agenda:  to enjoy watching and talking about my team.  Some of that talk may be good, some critical, I may go through some ups and downs, but to enjoy that is all I ask.  And you guys are ruining my enjoyment.  And I suspect I'm not alone in that.

The Blazer fan community is graced by a couple of the most wonderful professional sports bloggers alive today.  I won't mention their names because I don't want to imply they'd agree in any way with what I'm saying here, but you know who they are.  I read them every day.  I also read Ian Furness' blog, Sean's blog, and Hyperbully's, and Dudley's, and a few others.  From the most sublime expert to the rankest amateur just starting out, all of them contribute something in their own way.  That the two entities which should be leading the way make a mockery of all that by polluting this online environment instead of nurturing it is inexcusable.

Hey fellas, in case you hadn't noticed this is important to some of us.  I know cyberspace is full of junk and some folks don't take it seriously, but look around you.  Our society is fractured compared to what it once was.  Most of us don't live close to family anymore.  Most of us develop friendships around interests rather than proximity.  And even if we are close to the people we care about most of them just plain don't want to talk about the Blazers with us anymore.  This is it.  This is all we have.  And now the fabric of that gets ripped apart because we have to spend at least half of every day talking not about the Blazers but about you and your own private little war?  Enough.

I am just one person.  This is just one blog.  But I have resolved from this time forward that I will not give the Canzano blog or the Blazer official website one more hit or page view.  I will still read John's columns.  I will still watch and love the games.  But I'm through with the online element of this soap opera, which is where most of it seems to be propagated.  If something important happens at either site, I'll just hope somebody tells me or I'll read about it in one of those other blogs I mentioned.  And by "important" I do not mean the next escalation of the "Donutgate" saga, I mean something really having to do with the team.

That, my friends, was my Friday Guest Spot rant.  Regular Dave will return tomorrow.

--Dave (