Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stanford: Ousted From Omaha

It's probably too much of a reach to say that Georgia's 10-8 victory over Stanford which eliminated the Cardinal from the CWS was payback for what transpired on the football field almost 30 years ago, isn't it?

New Year's Eve '78 ... Georgia blew that 22-0 lead (wayyy back when the Cardinal was "Cardinals: plural") in the Bluebonnet Bowl (wayyyy back when the "Astro-" had been recently dropped from the title of "Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl") ... and coach Bill Walsh and QB Steve Dils led the comeback ... resulting in a 25-22 victory.

Those were some glorious days (pre-Turk Schonert, pre-T.C. Ostrander).

But, now it's over for the team which plays at Sunken Diamond ... courtesy of the Dawgs' Big-P Factor -- Ryan Peisel and Rich Poythress, the big guns for coach Dave Perno.

We don't know if the Junkyard Dawgs possess enough poise to bring a third consecutive World Series title to the state of Georgia (the Little Leaguers from Columbus, GA and Warner Robins, GA -- the latter, birthplace of strikeout god, Russell Branyan -- have brought LLWS titles home to the Peach State the previous two summers ), but ya gotta like any team which has somebody named "Poythress" on it.

Poythress ... what is that?
Norwegian? Bulgarian? Serbo-Croat?

Stanford TRIED to hang with Georgia in the name game, as was demonstrated the other night when, in their final AB, Toby Gerhart was hit by a pitch and Wande Olabisi came in to pinch-run.

When Aaron Yount drew a walk, J.J. Jelmini was brought in to pinch-run for Yount.

Sadly, the game ended with a DP grounder ... and most of us hate it when a game ends with classic baseball names such as Olabisi and Jelmini dying on the basepaths.

Uh-oh ... better not let Keeth Peeters or Rik I-Mur see that previous sentence with the distasteful metaphor.

Not because they'll condemn it; but because they'll steal it ...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Keith Kicked Kathy

When Sean McDonough broke the news early in Game 1 of the College World Series that Stanford's baseball administrator for the past two decades, Kathy Wolff, had died suddenly a few days ago, the news was like a punch to the stomach for a lot of people.

From coast to coast.

As a result, a game between Stanford and Florida State which, at the time, was serving as little more than TV background noise for those of us with loose ties to the Stanford baseball community suddenly had meaning.

Yet, for those of us who made the mistake of doing a Google search to obtain some details of Kathy Wolff's passing and happened upon info from something they call "Palo Alto Online Sports" ... well, talk about a hard kick to the crotch.

It's one thing when one of your ex-colleagues is reporting on a Girls Private School League water polo match which 17 people/readers slightly care about.

It's another matter entirely when that ex-colleague attempts to report something which truly matters.

Such as the death of somebody with far-reaching charisma.

As we came to learn, Kathy Wolff died in her sleep sometime early Wednesday morning. Three days later, somebody they call Kieth Peeters (sic) was providing more questions than answers:

Uploaded: Thursday, June 12, 2008, 8:50 PM
When the Stanford baseball team takes on Florida State on Saturday in the opening round of the College World Series, it will be with heavy hearts following the death of one of the most beloved members of the program.
Kathy Wolff, who worked in the Stanford athletic department for 23 years, including the last 21 as an administrative associate to the baseball and women's volleyball programs, passed away unexpectedly in her sleep on Wednesday.
"She was Stanford baseball," said Stanford coach Mark Marquess. "The team is taking the loss of Kathy Wolff hard. All the players were really close to her, and she worked for me for a very long time. We'll be thinking of her as we play in the College World Series."
Stanford players wore "CW" patches on their sleeves Saturday when they took on Florida State in the CWS. Wolff's picture was shown during the ESPN telecast and commentators talked about her contributions to the program as well as what she meant to individual players.
"She was the glue to this program," Stanford junior Cord Phelps was quoted.
Wolff's association with Stanford dated to 1976, when she worked in the Tresidder Student Union in various capacities until 1981. She returned to Stanford in 1985 when she was hired as an administrative assistant in the marketing department, a position she held until 1987 when she began working with the baseball program. She later added adminstrative duties with the women's volleyball program.
"Everyone in the Stanford family is deeply saddened by Kathy's passing," said Stanford Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby. "She was an integral part of the Stanford family and our condolences go out to her family, friends, colleagues and the student-athletes whose lives she touched. She will be deeply missed."
Wolff was still working on final details for the College World Series at the time of her death. Funeral or memorial services are pending.
-- Keith Peters

What makes this story particularly confusing is a time-element which seems askew.

A story which begins with a quasi-future tense (Thursday the 12th) is then thrust into the present tense with an update -- the paragraph highlighted in blue (which appears as though it was hastily plugged into the existing test).

We say "hastily" because, holy smokes ... we'd just seen the KW patches which McDonough had talked about ... so the CW reference is "unclear," to say the least.

In summary: Keeth Peeters (sic) didn't kill Cathy Wolfe (sic).

He merely killed his credibility -- proving, once again, that the InterWeb works best when it functions as it was designed to ... with sports stories which are incompete and inaccurate "uploaded" and with photos of naked, 14-year-old girls on MySpace and Facebook which are "downloaded" by 42-year-old pastors, janitors and regional managers, be they married or not.

For a 30-some-odd-year vet of quote-unquote "traditional journalism," Keeth Peeters (sic) did his readers (all 52 of 'em) a disservice by violating some of the cardinal rules of Journalism 101.
The sad part is that it's the children who suffer ... children who once believed in newspapers, the newspaper industry and top-notch journalism in general.

Those children might never know what the difference is between "a writer" and "a reporter."

For those of us who play watchdog to such matters, this isn't the first time that Keeth Peeter (sic) mishandled a Stanford-related death. During the massive overhaul/renovation of the football stadium a few years ago, a worker fell from a beam and died.

In the lengthy feature story which followed soon after the completion of the renovation, that dead worker was never I.D.'ed. Maybe "the dead worker with no name" was humanized in subsequent stories, but the point is: HIS NAME SHOULD BE IN EVERY STORY (just as Keith's name appears on 98 percent of his copy).

Are these minor oversights (innocent mistakes?) -- or a failure to adhere to the tenets of accuracy and integrity, not to mention sensitivity.

Nowhere did we learn if Kathy Wolff was 87 years old when she died ... or if she was 32 ... or if she was 63 ... or 45.

Personal nitpick: The phrase "Wolff's picture was shown during ESPN's telecast ... " might suggest that Kathy Wolff had drawn a picture with charcoal or crayons -- but when it's worded as "a photo of Wolff was shown," there is no ambiguity ...

Anyway, journalism which is incomplete and amateurish isn't journalism at all.
It's beyond "slipshod."
It's freakin' B.S. -- a description which works better when it's allowed to blossom into full, profane bloom.

Effin' bullsh*t.

It's why some of us walked away from that profession almost exactly 14 years ago ... when some of us jokingly referred to the pre-Palo Alto Online entity as "the Shallow Alto Weakling."

If the six or seven or eight stages of grief in this Kathy Wolff memorial is rage, it seems as though Rick Eymer's stab at competent sportswriting provided quality material (to mock):

Uploaded: Saturday, June 14, 2008, 7:30 PM
Ratliff ... delivered the death blow, driving in two with a single. The rest of the inning seemed like overkill ... Milleville delivered Florida State's eulogy ... The Seminoles aren't quite dead just yet ..."

In the span of six sentences, Eymer pushed the envelope of tacky, uncouth references all over the place.

Then again, it's tough when nobody cares enough to edit the copy which will, in turn, be glossed over by readers who don't care about the copy.

Apparently, the hackneyed cliches in Eymer's glossary which didn't make the cut were: a lifeless body on a cold slab at the morgue downtown ... FSU's toe tag ... shovelfuls of dirt tossed on the coffin ...

While this "journalistic" treatment is not surprising, it is disappointing in the sense that Peters and Eymer have evolved so very little since the days of the early '90s when they were the middle-of-the-pack, general-sports assignment reporters at the Peninsula Times Tribune and the San Mateo Times.

Their improvement is negligible ... their reporting negligent.

For those of us who are are married to somebody who was buddies with Kathy Wolff in the early '90s, it became abundantly clear that the reporters best-suited to handle the story departed that local news-gathering entity 15 years ago -- which only goes to show that ya get what ya pay for.

Hence, when half-assed, quasi-professional "journalists" are called upon, the result tends to be something half-assed and quasi-professional.

Kathy Wolff probably deserved better.
Which MAYBE the ex-Weakling will furnish in the days ahead (if the motivation is there to be the Alpha dog in local news rather than a press-release, re-write specialist).

Until then, long live the blogsphere and message boards.

And, hearty condolences to anyone who spends more than three minutes with the Palo Alto Online jigsaw puzzle.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Key Tips For CUP Engraving

That's right ... it's two (2) T's and one (1) R after the first syllable in VALTTERI -- and it's two (2) P's and one (1) L after the first syllable in FILPPULA.

That's so much easier to remember than the last name of the regional manager of Dunder-Mifflin's Utica branch ... "Filippelli," whose letter arrangement is something like one (1) L, two (2) P's, then two (2) more L's.

But, it doesn't matter if we can't remember the spelling of Filippelli, for it is Filppula's name which is goin' on the Cup, not Filippelli's.

Funny thing is, the rebound which Filppula (not Filippelli) tucked between Fleury's pads (for Goal No. 2) was acres more artistic than the Wings' first goal or their final goal.

Those were queer.

Rafalski wristing one (a shot? a pass?) off of Hal Gill's leg and then ... jeez, what the hell was goin' on when Fleury plopped down on his arse and pooped the puck across the goal line?

Talk about two bizarre images to commemorate this series -- Fleury farting the disc into the cage ... before The Unloved Ozzie (who is beloved by the fans who spend a lot of time jumping on and off -- and then on and off again -- the Ozzie bandwagon) gloving but not holding onto Cindy Crosby's last-second, backhand knuckleball, which led to Ozzie sprawling and flailing and flopping and poking and jabbing and stabbing at the puck ... enough to mess up Marian Hosebag's desperate tap-in attempt.

So, one puck crawled into the net -- and the other scooted along the goalmouth and obeyed the make-believe Do Not Enter sign (fascinating imagery captured by the overhead camera, but not by the Coke Zero Goal-Cam).

It's been a 6-year drought -- yet, it doesn't diminish the statement: Four Cups in 11 seasons for Hockeytown ... each one gratifying for different reasons (note: the cancellation of the entire '04-'05 season is not TOTALLY invalidated with this Detroit victory ... and none of us is sure if that lockout accomplished its goals since Detroit found its way back to the top while the other five traditional outposts of the Original Six -- Montreal, Toronto, Boston, Chicago and New York -- continue to, for lack of a better term, "languish").

Ironically, more-popular sports employ the popular practice of "lowering the bar" (it's disguised as -- say it together -- "parity"), but the Red Wings keep the bar high with shrewd moves and prudent acquisitions.

Not surprisingly, two of the NHL's legends which were keys to the previous three Cups (Steve Yzerman and Scotty Bowman) still have their hands/hearts/minds in the Hockeytown mix.

Which might be disappointing to Mullethead Melrose and Don Cherry (whose tailor used your grandma's old drapes as the material for that latest sportcoat).

Memo to Melrose: Anaheim ISN'T the best team ... and San Jose DOESN'T have the best talent -- because if that were the case, then THEY'D be hoisting the Cup.

Alas, they're not ... because the best team finds a way to win during crunch time.

The best talent finds a way to mesh at this time of the season.

In case Melrose can't do the math, Evgeny Nabakov has as many Stanley Cups as Ron Tugnutt and Darcy Wakaluk (zero).

As long as the discussion has turned to the guys who wear the fancy, customized masks w/ the protective cages, Ozzie continues to wear the plain version.

Solid red ... no mini-murals of a bear busting through a wall and devouring a dragon.

And, while everybody else is growing their scraggly playoff beards, Ozzie shows up clean-shaven every night.

For those of us who never jumped off the Ozzie bandwagon, we take great pride in pointing out that Ozzie's name is on the Cup three times when they're saying that he's not the best goalie, this-n'-that, blah blah blah ...

Suck on that, fans of Hart Trophy heartthrob Jose Theodore.

Oh, and as per the Red Wings winning the clincher in Pittsburgh when they were 35 seconds from hoisting the Cup at home two nights ago, well ... that's tough sh*t for anybody who was there that night in '94 when the Ozzie The Rookie and his teammates were booed off the ice following the Game 7 shocker vs. San Jose.

To those front-runners, your anger needs to be channeled in a constructive manner.

Such as egging Bob Essensa's house.

It's true: Revenge is a dish best served cold.

And, justice sometimes gets served frozen ...