Trashing the Jazz 

The Tribune says the Utah Jazz should rebuild. The Trib should rebuild, instead.

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As a Utah Jazz fan who also reads The Salt Lake Tribune—well, some of it—I was astonished to learn this past Monday morning that the Jazz season had already ended. By my reckoning, the Jazz were scheduled to play Game 4 of their second-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night. However, right there above a Jazz sports column by Ross Siler was this headline: “All Hope Is Lost.” Headlines like that are usually reserved for running on the 10th day after a mine explosion.

I take it that Siler, or whoever wrote the headline, has never heard of Yogi Berra. As the legendary New York Yankee famously said about playing with gusto to the very end, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Yogi has a fistful of American League pennants and World Series rings to go along with his baseball Hall of Fame credentials, so I trust that Yogi isn’t a quitter. I trust that the members of the Utah Jazz aren’t quitters, either—or their coaches or the team ownership.

The headline was one more pronounced nail in the coffin of what passes as a sports section at The Salt Lake Tribune. Yup—all hope is lost that The Salt Lake Tribune will ever see another John Mooney on its pages. Mooney was a lovable curmudgeon who spent 50 years writing for the Tribune doing what all great sportswriters do—telling tales with epic flourishes that evoke tears in strong men and create spines in the weak.

I’ve read enough bipolar columns by Gordon Monson to know that he’s a seriously tired and lazy writer. Why’s that? Because it takes one to know one. He tries so hard to be macho, hip and cool, but he comes off like a virginal water boy, one fond of peeing in the Gatorade to get even with the big boys. I’ve also read enough of Kurt Kragthorpe to believe that on any given day, he’d rather be golfing. I know that, too, because I golfed with him once. He’s a very nice guy who likes golf more than most golfers. Great—then he should cover golf more often.

The common theme on the Tribune sports pages for this entire Jazz season (on every other day, that is; it’s never consistent) has been that the Jazz should rebuild. Nah, the Tribune should rebuild.

If it were me, I’d keep the workhorse Steve Luhm, and Siler, too—if he’s not writing headlines. I’d give Michael Lewis and Lya Wodraska prominent columns. Jay Drew can stick to the Cougs. Give Marty Renzhofer the Utes. But do something, for chrissakes! The only thing worse than the end of this Utah Jazz season was the bitter exclamation point the Tribune put on it. The writers remind me of Casey Stengel’s New York Mets of whom he asked, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” Can’t anybody there write?

The Tribune sports writers are even pathetic at snarkiness, yet down the hall, they have a true snark professional in Glen Warchol. Glen could school them. Glen is at least interesting when he’s snarky.

City Weekly’s former editor— now Trib reporter—Ben Fulton would be a fine sports writer if he cared anything about sports. If anyone there could make the Tribune sports pages come alive— poetically or lyrically at least— it would be Ben. Ben has read every piece of great literature known to man, but unfortunately probably doesn’t know who Rick Reilly or Frank Deford are, or who Grantland Rice was. Ben could give meaning to Carlos Boozer’s folding tent via the perfect Shakespearean line or find a biblical passage that defines why undrafted Wesley Matthews is destined for greatness.

Or, if the Tribune really wanted to get it right, they could try to hire Brad Rock—Salt Lake City’s best sports columnist—away from the Deseret News.

Rock doesn’t do this.
He doesn’t write one-line paragraphs.
Monson does.
Because he’s lazy and killing space.
And when he does, he usually says dumb shit.
Fore!

The Utah Jazz lost May 10, by the way. But I wasn’t bothered by them losing this time as much as in years past. They aren’t quitters. In tough circumstances, they exuded hope, not hopelessness, and the Tribune missed that. A great sports writer could have performed a word symphony with the drama of the past few weeks. However, the Tribune’s best are hopeless second fiddles with no conductor in sight.

John Saltas:


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