Monthly Archives: April 2010

Media’s fight never ends

I observed two separate incidents involving a journalist’s rights being taken away this week. It got me thinking about the ridiculous fact that a journalist’s fight to be heard and not be censored never ends.

The first case doesn’t necessarily involve censorship, but it involved a specific right being taken away that shouldn’t have. The second is a bit more alarming because it involves a professional publication and has a major impact on the future of the industry.

Anyway, I’m going to copy and paste the column I wrote for DENnews.com here, but if you want to see the story on the original website (yes, website. Not Web site. Thanks, AP Style) can can check it out here.

Title: Media’s fight never ends

By Collin Whitchurch/Managing Editor

Originally published in The Daily Eastern News on 4/23/10

The editor-in-chief of The Breeze, James Madison University’s student newspaper, was recently brought under fire when police officers stormed her office demanding she hand over photographs of a riot on JMU’s campus.

New York Newsday, a highly read professional daily newspaper in New York City, is being shot with criticism for censoring columnists on its sports page.
Just another day on the job.

Correct ethical practices and the law of the industry have been pounded into my skull time and time again during my two years at Eastern, allowing me to take notice when controversies such as the two aforementioned stories occur.

We are taught to critically think, to know when we are wronged and to fight against those who try to suppress us. So it’s amazing to hear that injustices such as these still occur.

In the JMU story, a student journalist, just days on the job, was caught in a whirlwind when her paper took photographs of a riot that occurred on campus.

According to an article by Rex Bowman in the Wednesday edition of the Roanoke Times, the editor, Katie Thisdell, was forced to hand over photographs to authorities when they threatened to seize everything inside her newsroom, delaying publication of, if not crippling, her twice-weekly publication.

The Newsday controversy is even more stunning in that it takes place in a professional environment.

James and Charles Dolan, Cablevision executives who also own New York’s Knicks and Rangers, recently purchased the paper.

Columnists for Newsday such as Wallace Matthews were having phrases edited out of their columns because of a new policy at the paper that called for a “softer tone” and “no name-calling,” according to an article by John Koblin in Tuesday’s New York Observer.

Absolutely absurd.

The unfair situations presented these journalists are not incredibly dissimilar to those many people may see in the workplace every day. It’s not uncommon to hear an employee with a qualm about being wronged by a boss or hurt by the conglomerate that presides over them.

The only difference in journalism is that it affects the world around them. In the James Madison case, the police broke the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, prohibiting police from taking material from a news gathering operation. The Rockingham prosecutor’s office bullied a young girl to aid its investigation.

What does this mean for the public? It means little, perhaps, in this individual case. But it opens up the possibility for more discussion on rights when it comes to the media and law enforcement.

In Newday’s case, it’s all about censorship. Instances such as this would have never if the owners were well-versed in journalism. But when public figures, who are often the most frequently criticized by a publication, become its owners, they will do everything in their power to avoid said criticism. Even break ethical practices they were likely never formally schooled in.

It deprives the public of the truth. Sure, for now it’s just stopping criticism of the head coach of the New York Jets or the first baseman of the New York Mets.

But where does it end? It has to end somewhere. The public deserves the undisturbed truth, and it’s our job to bring it to them no matter the consequences along the way.

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Timeline of Michael Jordan

This is another assignment for my multimedia journalism class. We had to create a timeline of anything we wanted using the website Dipity.com. So here it is. Nothing too special. Just click on my name below.

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Reversing Sports Hate

How could you NOT hate this?

Sports hate is a funny thing.

I touched on it a bit in my post about fantasy sports hate, but sports hate is something only true sports fans understand.

Sports hate is when you absolutely, positively loathe someone for everything they do on the field/court/rink. Every time you see a highlight, photo, newspaper clip, Internet article or game where that individual performs well, you cringe with anger that anything remotely positive could happen to that person.

The reason it’s called SPORTS hate, though, is because that’s as far as your hatred goes. In most instances, you’ve never met the person individually and, being the rational human being you presumably are, don’t wish any legitimate ill will toward the person.

There’s lots of sports hate from a lot of people. I don’t know many football fans these days who don’t sports hate Brett Favre. Barry Bonds was the epitome of sports hate when he was playing, and you’d be hard pressed to find a non-Yankees fan who doesn’t sports hate Alex Rodriguez.

The reason I bring this up because, as I sit here watching game two of the Chicago Bulls-Cleveland Cavaliers playoff series, I can’t believe how much my feelings toward Joakim Noah have turned around.

As I type this, Noah is playing a great game and keeping the Bulls within reach of the Cavs. He has 19 points, six rebounds and is outplaying Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the Cavs’ post players entering the fourth quarter.

I practically have forgotten how much I hated Noah when he was leading the Florida Gators to back-to-back NCAA National Championships a few years back. There was nothing remotely likable about the guy. I remember watching him do his horrible, decrepit dance (seen above) after the Gators won the SEC Tournament and thinking “What an idiot,” in so many words.

Of course, when my favorite NBA team decided to draft him, I didn’t know what to think. I was appalled, but at the same time apathetic, thinking he wouldn’t last but a few years and probably spend the duration of his time with the team at the end of the bench.

Boy, was I wrong.

The turning point for Noah came during last year’s historic playoff series against the Boston Celtics. His signature dunk against Paul Pierce is engrained in Bulls fans’ memories forever, and the tenacious attitude he displayed that we (or at least I) hated about Noah was now loved.

I’m sure there are many examples of fans loving players they once hated, with the most obvious example being the way Minnesota Vikings fans feel toward Favre. But even in Favre’s case, I don’t know if fans love him so much as they tolerate his antics in knowing he’s A) Giving them a helluva shot at winning a Super Bowl, and B) Not Tarvaris Jackson.

Before Noah, the closest example I can find is A.J. Pierzynski. The Chicago White Sox catcher was hated by White Sox fans during his time in Minnesota. He wasn’t known so much for his antics then as he is now, but he was still hated because of the mere fact that he was a Twin and he absolutely killed the White Sox every time they played each other.

White Sox fans used to hate this man. Now, it's a whole different story.

Two years after leaving Minnesota, Pierzynski became the starting catcher for a World Series Champion White Sox team and the rest is history. He’s not, arguably, the most popular player on the team and someone White Sox fans will forever have a positive memory of. We’ve completely erased from our memories his time in Minnesota and only know him as the lovable head case with a knack for getting in the heads of opponents.

So the question I have for anyone who happens to read this is, do you have any other examples? I know there are plenty of Bulls fans who might read this. Do you have the same feelings as I toward Noah? Vikings fans (Erik): How about your feelings toward Favre? Or is  there any glaring omission to this?

Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.

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What could be worse?

Ricky Romero almost no-hit my beloved White Sox.

Last night, I was scared to death.

I use that in the sports sense, of course. There was no point in time where I literally feared for my life, but when Ricky Romero of the Toronto Blue Jays was mowing down hitter after hitter en route to a masterful performance against the White Sox, it was the first time I sat up and thought to myself “Crap, we’re going to get no-hit.”

I was at work when it started, sitting at my desk in The Daily Eastern News newsroom. I didn’t really have work to do, but stayed in the newsroom to watch the game because I no longer have cable at my house. I wasn’t paying a good deal of attention, but turned around at one point to see Romero’s line and it looked like this: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K.

Alright. Time to pay attention. The only problem was that i had to leave. I went home and sat at my computer, following the game on ESPN’s fantasycast. As every hitter got out, I couldn’t help but think it was going to happen. The White Sox were going to get no-hit. I was on Twitter at the time, following White Sox beat reporters such as Joe Cowley and Mark Gonzales as they kept updating each White Sox player getting retired.

After the seventh inning, when Romero had 12 strikeouts and still only one walk, I realized that, as much as it pained me to watch it, I had to witness the no-hitter in person. I also needed an excuse to go work out, so I figured I’d go to the Rec and watch the rest of the game there. But I also knew that as soon as Romero’s no-hitter was complete, my Facebook and Twitter would be full of insults from the Cubs fans I regularly belittle, so I posted a message resigned to my fate and left.

I didn’t even get to the Rec before it ended. As I walked in, I got a text message update alerting me that Alex Rios had broken the no-hitter and the shutout with a two-run homer. The White Sox were safe from embarrassment yet again.

But that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that last night’s almost no-hitter got me thinking about possible “worst case scenarios” for sports fans, and having your team get no-hit (or worse, have a perfect game thrown against them) has to be the worst.

Now, I’m not talking about big picture stuff like blowing a 3-0 lead in the World Series or losing the Super Bowl on a Hail Mary pass, I’m talking singular moments in which a game with seemingly little meaning turns downright embarrassing.

Getting no-hit has to be on the top of the list, right?

White Sox fans such as myself have been lucky the past couple of years. Not only have we gotten to witness a World Series Title, but one of our beloved pitchers, Mark Buehrle, has thrown two no-hitters over the past couple of seasons (one a perfect game).

This image likely gives Tampa Bay Rays fans nightmares.

I remember in both instances thinking through my euphoria what it must be like to be a fan of one of those teams (Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays). Are fans of teams who get no-hit gracious and accepting of the incredible feat that just took place, or are they bitter and angry?

I’d have to say I would be the latter. I was thinking last night that, if Romero had completed his no-hitter, I would have been furious. I wouldn’t have spoken to anyone for hours. Even worse, what if you experience something like that in person?

In 2006 I attended a White Sox-Angels game when the Sox were playing miserably and Ervin Santana was throwing a gem. Well, it was a gem by Santana’s standards. He had something like seven walks, but found himself with a no-hitter through six innings. I was sitting in the dead-quiet stands on the edge of my seat, horrified that I might see the White Sox get no-hit in person. It would have tortured me as a sports fan.

Luckily, it didn’t happen that night and it didn’t happen last night. But I’m curious, if anyone reads this post, if anyone has insight into this? If you’re a fan of a team that has been no-hit in your lifetime, what was your feeling? How did you react? How long did it take you to get over it? Were you proud that you witnessed a special moment in baseball, or did you not care because it happened against your favorite team?

Anyway, that’s all for today. Just thought I’d share my horror story from last night.

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Fantasy sports make me hate athletes

Fantasy baseball has made me like Placido Polanco far more than any White Sox fan should.

I was sitting on my computer today following the Phillies-Nationals game and my fantasy team when Placido Polanco scored a run in front of a Chase Utley home run. It made me realize something.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. A) What the heck were you doing following a Phillies Nationals game? And B) What on Earth could Placido Polanco have triggered a thought of?

It makes sense. Trust me.

The reason Polanco made me think is because when he scored, I got excited about another run scored for my fantasy team. Polanco has been a staple on my fantasy baseball team for years. He always goes way later than he should and always hits somewhere between .300 and .320 with a decent amount of runs scored.

He’s a cheap, efficient middle infielder who gets the job done and so I always make sure he’s on my team.

But today, there was only one thing. He wasn’t on my team. While I was baffled at my omission of Polanco on my roster, it made me think about how fantasy baseball can affect your feelings toward a particular athlete.

Placido Polanco has helped me achieve success several times over the course of my fantasy baseball career. And because of this, I root for Polanco. Now, there’s no reason I should have any vested interest in Polanco. He’s a decent middle infielder who’s never played for a team I give a crap about. But because of fantasy baseball, I have found myself unknowingly rooting for Polanco to succeed, even though he’s not on my team anymore.

It’s silly, I know. But it’s something I realized I do with all fantasy athletes. There are specific athletes in all sports that I really like, or really hate, all because of fantasy sports.

And while fantasy baseball makes me like Polanco, it makes me hate athletes far more often than it makes me like them, so here’s a list of some other athletes who I have changed my opinion of based solely on their fantasy production.

Donovan McNabb – Hate. There was a several year period in fantasy football where I wound up with McNabb as my starting quarterback. Unfortunately, that period was when he was breaking down every year and putting up the worst numbers of his career. I always bought into the “McNabb’s back and better than ever!” headlines, only to be disappointed later on.

Laurence Maroney – Hate. This one is sort of obscure, but there was one, specific year, Maroney’s

Laurence Maroney - First Round Bust

second season in the league, where I had the 12th pick in my football league and was set on Maroney being “the man” in New England. How foolish of me to believe a Bill Belichick running back could actually be a fantasy stud. He was a stupid, horrible first round bust.

Vernon Wells – Hate. I had Wells in my AL-only Auction Keeper League the first year I joined the league and his contract was $2.70 ($27, for those of you in standard leagues). If you don’t know anything about auction leagues, that contract is WAY too expensive for a player like Wells, who, has floundered in Toronto ever since earning a mammoth contract. I ended up trading him halfway through the season for Michael Cuddyer and a minor leaguer.

Dustin Pedroia – Love. In that same league and the same year, I was down to my final pick and needed a second baseman. I drafted the Red Sox’s rookie second baseman for a dime, the cheapest you can get a player for. I’ve had Pedroia ever since at that tiny price and he rewarded me with an American League MVP Award. I’m not able to draft Pedroia in every league, every year. But I try to get him, and he holds a special place in my heart.

Josh Hamilton – Love. Two years ago I drafted Josh Hamilton in the very last round of my yearly ESPN league. That, of course, was the year Hamilton blew up in his first year in Texas and emerged as an MVP candidate. He was the last player on my team, and easily the best player on it that year.

Thank you, Drew Brees, for finding Robert Meachem in the end zone so many times.

Robert Meachem – Love. This one’s very recent. I was left for dead in my fantasy football league this past season and took a flyer on Meachem halfway through the season because my wide receivers sucked and Drew Brees was throwing a ton of touchdown passes. Meachem went nuts for the Saints down the stretch, ending up as the team leader in touchdown catches and leading me to a five-game winning streak down the stretch.

Yao Ming – Hate. I don’t play a ton of fantasy basketball. I’ve tried several times but am just no good and have a hard time paying attention for an entire season. But one thing I can say with certainty is that Yao Ming is an injury waiting to happen. I drafted him in the first or second round a handful of times and he never panned out.

Ryan Franklin – Love. There have been two separate years where Franklin entered the season as a middle reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals and two separate years where he grabbed the closers role at the beginning of the season and thrived. In both instances, I grabbed Franklin with a free agent move and in both instances, I did not regret it. Particularly last year was he good, but there was a time a few years ago when Jason Isringhausen went down and Franklin was a save waiting to happen that time as well.

So, that’s basically it. There’s no way I would ever care about the success or failure of the aforementioned players if it weren’t for fantasy sports. But because of what they have done, they are forever engrained in my memory either in a positive way or negatively.

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Stadiums I’ve Attended

I've been to U.S. Cellular Field (or Comiskey Park) more than any other venue. I lost count, but it's upward of 50 times.

For my multimedia class I had to create a Google Map, so I decided to do one of sports stadiums I’ve been to.

It should be known that I’ve also been to the old Yankee Stadium, old Busch Stadium and the old Milwaukee County Stadium, but I did not put them on the map. Also, most of these are in Chicago so if you’re looking at the map zoomed out to the whole United States it’s tough to see the individual points on the map from Chicago.

Anyway, here it is.

http://www.zeemaps.com/154823

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Lefty is the Man

Seeing Phil Mickelson win is always fun.

It was a story so perfect that nobody saw it coming.

Not to sound like I know anything about anything, but on Thursday I Tweeted that I thought Phil Mickelson would come out and win the Masters.

That’s not necessarily a stretch of a prediction by any means, but the setting for a Lefty victory was too perfect.

All the pressure was on Tiger Woods. All the media attention, all the hoopla and all the hysteria was surrounding the world’s greatest golfer, making his comeback several months and several tabloid covers older.

Everyone forgot about Phil. Everyone forgot that the man who has easily been the world’s No. 2 player for the past five years, the man who has come as close as anyone to being Woods’ rival, oh yeah… he’s playing in the Masters too.

Mickelson’s been known throughout his career as the guy who chokes under pressure. That’s why this weekend was so perfect for him. With all eyes on Tiger, Mickelson could work his way methodically through Augusta and dominate. It wasn’t until Tiger began to fade on Sunday that the attention shifted to Lefty.

His story is as compelling as any. And call me a blasphemer, but I’ll the “family man who’s battled through a year of seeing both his wife and mother diagnosed with breast cancer breaking through to win a major” story over the “embattled star who had sex with one floozie too many comes back after time off to win a major” story.

And that’s exactly what happened.

I’ve always been a Mickelson fan. I never knew a ton about golf growing up and I’m still not the biggest fan in the world, but I always watch the majors. And growing up, I needed a golfer to become a fan of. Tiger was too obvious, so I went with the lefty. Why? Because I’m left-handed, of course.

I remember seeing him lose the U.S. Open to Payne Stewart and being heartbroken for him. I remember seeing him lose tournament after tournament and gaining the “best player to never win a major” label he wore for so many years. And I remember seeing him finally break through at Augusta in 2004.

Much has been written about Mickelson’s “every man” persona, but it really cannot be overstated.

It’s fun to watch him play golf. You can see how much he enjoys high-fiving fans. How stoked he gets when he hits an awesome shot. There’s no fake-ness in his attitude. It’s all pure and that’s pretty darn cool.

So when Mickelson was walking up the 18th fairway toward the green Sunday afternoon, I thought two things. 1) I felt old because I realized he won his first green jacket in 2004 and I remember it was just last year. 2) I felt nostalgic. It’s not like if the White Sox won the World Series or if the Illini or Marquette win the National Championship. It’s different because I’m not a die-hard golf fan.

I was just genuinely happy for a guy who has been through so much and is the epitome of the anti-Tiger getting to win when you could see how much it meant to him.

Way to go, Lefty.

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