366 Days: May 20 (aka Where have you been?)

Sunday, May 20 — On the first day when all the games are finished and it was time to relax, it rained. It rained enough to keep the lawn mower in the garage, the trip to the miniature golf center on hold and a touch of ‘stir-crazy’ to settle in after being on the job for the past two-plus weeks.

Home-made Philly Cheese streaks were consumed for dinner and it was nice to just sit and enjoy the family. We watched a few movies, found that the little girl can sing along with songs she’s heard maybe once or twice before and balloons are fun for cats.

Once the rest of the family went to bed, I kept Netflix on and watched Jamie Kennedy’s “Heckler,” his documentary on hecklers and critics, why they do what they do and how other comedians/entertainers/producers handle the criticism. If you think your job is tough, try taking your creative work out to the public for their enjoyment/derision, especially if you are a stand-up comedian or an actor or a singer or, well, anything in entertainment today.

To a certain degree, there is criticism of the media from the public. I’ve heard my share of “Are you guys in need of a copy editor or a spell checker?” and “You don’t cover this, so you must be biased or hate this or that…” comments over the years. Also, we get the e-mail that usually tells you that you, in a word, suck.

I saved one of them from this past school year and well, this person was at least kind enough to put their name at the bottom of it. (Editor’s note: It has been edited to protect those named in it, including the person who wrote it. No need to give the letter writer any bit of notoriety.)

One of your comments in (the paper) regarding the (soccer) game vs (a league rival) apparently shows your lack of knowledge of what a good pass is in Soccer.   On the only score for (the local team), (a player) made a beautiful crossing pass to (a teammate). … The announcer even commented on the nice assist.    Your comment of a missplaced pass in (the paper) was uncalled for and showed little support for our local high school sports team.

OK. So, according to this person, I have no knowledge of a good pass in soccer and the announcer knows more than I do. Underlining assist, as if that was the most important aspect of the entire play, was classic. Not the goal or the team lost the game, but the assist. Most important — assist. All of that equates to a complete lack of support for the local team. The one comment negated the front-page photos, the 19-inch story on the game and the continued coverage that the paper delivers for not just that team, but for that school.

After re-reading what I wrote, I pretty much came to this conclusion — the letter writer was upset that their player wasn’t named in the story. How I described it was what happened, even going back over notes that I kept from the contest, confirms that.

I have no problem making a mistake. That’s what a correction and a kind response e-mail back when alerted is for. However, to be told that I have “(a) lack of knowledge of what a good pass is in Soccer” is a bit much. Is it true? To this person, yes. In reality? Hell no. Did it affect how I covered the next game of that team? No. Unfortunately, it still bugs me even today and it has been several months since I received it and that particular game was played.

Why does it bug me? Because if I make a mistake, that makes me look bad and is a kink in my armor as a writer. There is something there that I missed/screwed up on and, therefore, it is fixable. If I am told I made a mistake and I didn’t, then that’s just bitching and moaning because I didn’t write how that person thought/believed/imagined it should have been written. And, honestly, that makes it damn near impossible to defend. You can’t reason with crazy/looney and you can’t fix crazy, especially when you aren’t the one who is crazy.

“Heckler” also touched upon the notion that everyone is a critic and everyone has an opinion. Well, yeah. The difference is how it is communicated. Just go through Twitter and you’ll get your fill on criticism/bitching/moaning/wise-cracking. I’ve done it myself a few times, usually during award shows. Pro sports have a pretty good niché in critical mayhem and that enters fan-dom and “what have you done for me lately” territory. It isn’t pretty. In some ways, it isn’t fair either, but it is an outlet for fans to vent frustrations. Again, it is how it is communicated.

Acceptable: Tweet — Damn, I can’t believe he missed that shot.

Unacceptable: Tweet — @(Player’s name) Fuck you, you suck. My grandmother can make that shot. Go die in a plane crash you waste of human space.

The movie was a very interesting trip through Kennedy’s eyes on hecklers, critics and opinions. Many of the comedians featured in it had their run-ins with hecklers and how they’ve handled them. In the end, all the “heckler/critic” wants is attention. Not giving attention to them works sometimes in some ways, but not in face-to-face/public meetings.

I never responded to this e-mail and I haven’t responded to others as well. We’ve even received e-mails from people about us to other newspapers. Those were just flat-out laughable. I noted this one, because it really stuck in me as petty and crazy. So this is my response. Way too late, but a response. Congrats. I’ve now deleted your e-mail.

The past two-plus weeks — The experiment is stil on, because I still enjoy doing this. When I have something to write about or something to say, this is a damn good outlet.

Work pretty much dominated my life once the sun came out and the games were piled up, ready to be played in a rapid-fire series. Western Washington is known for its rain, but this spring was crazy. For some schools, their teams literally completed a full 10-week regular season in 2 1/2 weeks. It was nuts trying to get everything down and covered.

This week, there is a trip to Yakima for state softball. This is a good trip to finish the high school season on. The sun is out and the weather is gorgeous. The travel is a bit of a pain, but 4 days out of the office is nothing to take lightly. I had 4 days out of the office this past week, but I had to drive back to the office to write everything up. It is a bit different knowing that you have days away and your hotel room or your beach chair on the grass is your office.

This was my seat for most of the four days at Borst Park in Centralia for district softball:

A good seat down the third-base line at Borst Park in Centralia, site of several district softball tournaments this past week. Beware of foul balls, however, because they seem to find you down this stretch of land in between two fields. (Photo: RobRVR)

I’m not normally that far away from the action, but the bleachers were packed and there isn’t much space inside the fenced-in areas to put down a seat and work. Also, there’s fewer distractions down the line and you can watch more than one game if you need to. And with several teams in each district tournament, that was pivotal.

Overall, this was a fun couple of weeks. When you are a sports writer, this is one of the good times of the year. The games are close, the circumstances are dire (win or go home) and the stories are filled with drama. You also get to see which players step up in the pressure and which ones melt down. It is a microcosm of sports and life, all played out on a small patch of dirt and grass with a ball, a bat and nine fielders.

Coming up… Road trip to Central Washington, maybe a rant or two beforehand.


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