Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Going to Start Swearing

I don't like Michael Rosenberg. Although we attended the University of Michigan at the same time, I can't say that I've ever met him, so this isn't based on any personal interaction. I can't say that he smells bad, he has a weak handshake, or he kicks homeless people when they're sleeping. What I can say is that I don't like his written product at all. For evidence, I give you this piece on John Calipari.

Before reading the piece, keep in mind that Rosenberg authored a ludicrously unfair attack on Rich Rodriguez's Michigan program in August, a piece that willfully obscured the distinction between countable and non-countable hours. A piece that preyed on unsuspecting freshmen in a manner that would make Urban Meyer purple. A piece that a proper Michigan grad/journalist referred to as "journalistic malpractice."

If Rosenberg wants to cast himself as a defender of purity in college athletics, then that's one thing. He can rant and rave about cheating coaches until the cows come home. I can disagree with him and chastise him for writing unfair articles, but at least Rosenberg would have a consistent worldview for his readers to accept or reject. However, it's quite another thing to write pieces as if Rodriguez is the devil and then write the following about John Calipari:

REFUSE TO LOSE. It sounds like such a simple, inspirational phrase for a team -- and it can be. But it also describes the man. He's a scrapper, and will weigh all of his options besides losing.

Calipari has done the most remarkable coaching job of this season, and nobody is close. Think about it: He convinced John Wall, Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins to come to Memphis, inserted clauses into their letters of intent so they could go somewhere else if Calipari left, convinced Memphis to keep its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA quiet for three months, took the Kentucky job before anybody knew about that notice, then convinced Wall and Cousins to join him in Lexington. That is refusing to lose.

(Rosenberg is factually wrong in a number of respects in this paragraph, starting with the fact that Wall never verballed to Memphis, let alone signed a letter of intent, but what else did we expect from Rosenberg? To paraphrase Francisco Scaramanga, facts never were his strong suit.)

Or this:

Calipari just keeps rolling. Since he first arrived on the national stage, Calipari has changed offenses, stars and schools. He has gone from the hot new coach that everybody loved too much to the crafty veteran that people hate too much.

When people attack him, he fights back. Refuse to lose. But he'll open his home to fans and his program to anybody who can help him win.

There are plenty of people in college basketball who think it will all come crashing down around Calipari -- that we will witness the professional death of a salesman. I don't know. We won't know for years. All I know is that I filled out my bracket the other day. I'm picking Kentucky.

Sorry, Mom, but I'm about to swear. Are you fucking kidding me? Rich Rodriguez is a dirty bastard because your investigation uncovered the fact that Michigan was practicing five hours on certain days instead of four and quality control assistants were watching some summer skeleton drills. John Calipari is an inspiring fighter even though he has left both UMass and Memphis on probation and came within a whisker of winning a national title with multiple players who apparently cheated on their SATs. If you're going to be a moralist, then be a moralist. Don't pick on one guy for running a stop sign and laud an arsonist because the arsonist is a smooth salesman and and the bad driver isn't. Your credibility as a writer sorta depends on whether readers think that your opinions are based on something other than completely subjective judgments about people.

An unrelated note: Rosenberg unintentionally does a great job of illustrating why the NCAA Tournament has killed college basketball with this paragraph in his paean to the Big Dance:

The NCAA tournament is never overhyped because from November to March, most of the country doesn't pay attention to college basketball. You might watch your team. You might watch your conference. But the college basketball season starts during the baseball playoffs, stays underwater for the NFL playoffs and finally comes up for air at the end of the regular season. I mean, Baylor, West Virginia and Kansas State are all top-three seeds in this tournament, and I have yet to hear anybody say they have been inundated with Baylor, Kansas State and West Virginia basketball talk for four months and they're sick of it.

Yes, the Tournament is great because we no longer know anything about the teams playing! We have destroyed the village to save it!


Anonymous said...

Will have to take your word for it as to what the Calipari article says, because I don't read Rosendouche's "work" any more. I have yet to make the necessary peace with myself to burn his "War As They Knew It" book, but there may come a day.

Andy said...

As someone who did know Michael Rosenberg while we were at Michigan, you probably would have liked him had you met him. He's smart, funny and generally a good guy. He's also an excellent writer.

That said, I completely agree with post.

Matt Mitchell said...

I was going to yell at you for linking to the freep/rosenberg, but on SI i'll allow it.

Michael said...

Anon, your "War As They Knew It" quandary sounds like my Vick jersey quandary.

Andy, stop being reasonable and indulge my hatred. Tell me that he was a total prick who tried to make you eat raw beef.

Anon, I also have the "no clicking on the Freep" policy. It's hard for me to make an SI boycott when it arrives in my mailbox every week.

Anonymous said...

I knew Rosenberg and he was a jerk who liked to take candy from babies just to see them cry.

Trevor said...

Rosenberg cheered Michael Irvin's neck injury in Philadelphia and can frequently be heard making 9-11 jokes.

Anonymous said...

he's "an excellent writer?" you have to be f***** kidding me...

Anonymous said...

Maybe all of this is sarcasm and he's just too witty for us to understand. Over our heads?

nahhh... total fucking douchebag.

and Andy probably went to MSU... troll