Monthly Archives: August 2009

Pitino: a good lesson for all

If you’ve been on the Internet tonight, surely the Rick Pitino story has slapped you across the face and punched you in the gut.

If not, here’s the news as reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal. It’s about sex and cheating and deceit and abortion payments. It’s a great strip-across-the-front-on-1A kind of story.

It’s also a little bit sickening.

This story doesn’t mention that Pitino is married – and was married at the time of this encounter in a restaurant bathroom in 2003* – but he is. And he was. And that’s probably going to be a problem, now that Pitino has admitted to having consensual sex with the woman mentioned in the article and that he gave her $3,000 for an abortion. Not a problem for me, because, frankly, whatever happens between Pitino and his wife should stay between Pitino and his wife. But it might be a problem for his spouse of 32 years.

*The Digital Underground would be proud.

About a month ago Foxsports.com columnist Jason Whitlock wrote this article about why athletes should not get married. I didn’t disagree with it then. I agree with it a little more strongly today. The first three paragraphs from Whitlock:

I’ve never understood why a college or professional athlete would get married.

They enter into the institution of lying/marriage with as much chance of remaining sexually faithful as I do entering a Wendy’s and adhering to my diet.

Their constant travel, discretionary income, peer-pressure influence and celebrity status expose them to women eager to please, adept at sleaze and scarred by emotional, mental and physical disease.

That last graf refers perfectly to Pitino. Constant travel: he’s all over the place during the season with his basketball team and all over the place in the offseason recruiting for said basketball team. Discretionary income: Yes, he’s very rich. Peer-pressure influence: I know plenty of coaches and athletes who perhaps aren’t the most faithful guys out there. It’s not like these guys aren’t talking with each other about their road beef conquests. Maybe not peer pressure in the, “Chug, chug, chug” variety. But the atmosphere out there doesn’t discourage it. Celebrity status: He might have some competition from University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, but name another figure in the state who carries as much fame as Pitino. Mitch McConnell, you say? Ha, I say.

And with Pitino also comes this: the good looks, the charm, the expensive and tailor-made suits, the success.

Plenty of women, I’m sure, would want a piece of him. Whether he’s married or not.

This story makes me a little sad. Not for Pitino or his reputation. Not for the Louisville program and its supporters. But for his wife and five kids who now have to read this in the newspaper and on the Internet, words on a computer screen that will burn forever in their brains and online for all the world to see.

The lesson, as far as I can see it, is simple. It’s what Dan Gallagher learned and Dewey Cox learned and what Mark Sanford learned.

Sleeping with a woman who’s not your wife is never a good way to go.

Three questions

(9:12 a.m.): Well, here’s the day for which many of you have longed. The opening of fall camp, the beginning of a new season, the possibilities of another Big East championship, the hope for the program’s first-ever national title, the excitement of a Tony Pike-led offense, the wonderment of a defense that must replace 10 starters.

And the release of Bearcats Rising – the No. 1 selling college football book on Amazon.com (for at least two hours on Monday, anyway).

Since the Bearcats first practice begins at 3:15 p.m. today, I’ve come up with three questions to ask (one for each phase of the game) before UC heads to Piscataway, N.J., on Sept. 7 to face Rutgers in the season-opener.

Read the rest here.

This is kind of cool

Got a call from my buddy C. Trent the other day.

“Have you been to Joseph-Beth?” he asked.

“Nope. Why?

“Because your book is all over the place.”

Then, he was kind enough to send me photos. Here they are for your enjoyment.

jo-beth1

jo-beth2

jo-beth3

And, then there was this. Unbelievable as long as it lasts.

No. 1

Thoughts on Hal … and the newspaper industry

This is going to read like an obit, and that’s probably appropriate. In some ways, everybody who knows, reads and loves Hal McCoy will die a little bit at the end of the season.

Another tiny portion of this quickly-collapsing business stopped breathing Thursday. Hal McCoy – famed Cincinnati Reds beat writer for the Dayton Daily News, a mainstay in press boxes across the country since the early 1970s – will retire at the end of this season. He’s not retiring because he’s tired of the business and ready to leave (though he’s been talking about retiring ever since I’ve known him). He’s not retiring because his eyesight continues to worsen (McCoy is legally blind). He’s retiring because the newspaper will not be covering the Reds next year. Too expensive, so the upper management has said his services are no longer needed. The big-wigs don’t care about the readership; they care about the bottom line. This, of course, is nothing new or surprising.

A sampling of what some of Hal’s colleagues have said the past two days:

C. Trent Rosecrans: “Hal has been more than a mentor to me, he’s been a friend.”

Jeff Wallner: “As a know-nothing rookie roughly 10 years ago, I benefited greatly from Hal’s guidance, most of which was provided without my prompting.”

Bill Koch: “I knew this day was coming but it’s still sad to see him go out this way because I always assumed the DDN would let him leave on his own terms. He deserved that.”

This business is funny* like that. You love it all your life, you sacrifice the hours and days you could be spending with your family (I know this was a regret of Hal’s), you work all hours of the day and night. But it doesn’t love you back. It doesn’t care about your sacrifices. Spend 37 years on a beat, bringing daily joy to a community’s life, and this is how you’re treated at the end.

*Not funny ha-ha. Funny like the Holocaust**.

**OK, that might be a bit much.

I think we’re all taking this pretty personally, because Hal was always very good to us. When I was at the Cincinnati Post, I spent parts of three spring trainings in Sarasota, Fla., helping cover the Reds and providing relief for the main beat writer. Since the Post was Hal’s designated driver these past few years because of his deteriorating eye site***, I played Hal’s chauffeur for home and away games. He was always good for a gag and a laugh, always good with a story, always good for helping out another scribe in need. And don’t even think about pulling out your wallet for gas or a meal. Hal seriously would get pissed. He was going to pay, and there wasn’t a damn thing you could do about it.

***You should see that guy’s computer, by the way. The screen on that thing is absolutely ri-freakin-diculously huge.

Four ideas strike me about Hal when I think about him:

1. He has a goofy way of laughing. His shoulders actually shake and his face gets really scrunched up and animated and he laughs the hell out of a good joke.

2. He loves shoes. This is a passion we share. I’d show him my new Johnston & Murphy’s. He’d show me his new Cole-Haan’s. I’d show him my new Calvin Klein’s. He’d show me his new Ecco’s.

3. The man could hold a grudge. The famous story was that, for whatever reason, Hal and Joe Morgan had some sort of disagreement in the late 1970s, and they decided they wouldn’t ever speak to each other again. They’ve been in the same elevator and haven’t uttered a single syllable. They’ve played against each other in a tennis double’s match, and they didn’t share a single word. They’ve been within inches of each other, and yet, they don’t acknowledge the other’s existence. How great is that?

4. I never saw him big-time anybody. Hal, you have to understand, is usually the most-loved guy in the press box. He’s been around for so damn long and he’s so damn nice that everybody goes out of their way to say hello. And for all that popularity, for all that love, he never let his head swell. Sure, he has an ego, but he’d act the same way to a New York Times writer as he would to a community weekly reporter. In my eyes, that might be his greatest attribute.

Now that he’s leaving, Dayton journalism won’t be the same. Now, the Daily News will use the Cincinnati Enquirer for much of its Reds and Bengals coverage, which is a shame. I’m not saying the Enquirer isn’t more than capable, because it is. But Dayton readers aren’t well-served by this cost-cutting idea. The less voices available, the less news that’s broken, the less commentary given, the less eyeballs that are around to serve watch is not good.

People, I think, know this. Watch what happens. The Dayton Daily News will lose subscriptions because of this. The web site will lose hits. The advertising revenue will drop. The Dayton Daily News will be worse off.

I feel bad for the readers. I feel bad for DDN sports editor Brian Kollars, a good man in a tough spot. I feel bad, most of all, for Hal.

Sometimes, it seems that the Internet isn’t going to kill newspapers. It won’t be the declining ad revenue or the loss of classified ads. It won’t be the lost interest of the newest generations, the bad-for-the-times news cycle schedule, the failure to understand how to make money online. Sometimes, it seems that the people who manage the newspapers, they’re the culprits. They’re the heels. They’re the ones who are slowly driving the newspapers into extinction.

It’s like Hal said the other day. The hammer fell. And it hurts like hell.

The challenge of “Hard Knocks”

I’ve been entrenched in Bengals camp the past six days (or is it seven or eight days? It is not easy to keep track of anything when you’re in this isolation booth), and I’ve spent some of my time watching the Hard Knocks crew put together the TV program you’ll watch on HBO later this month.

Coming into camp, I had an impression: a bunch of overzealot cameramen and producers and sound guys and boom operators who were going to run roughshod over everybody in an attempt to get the juiciest soundbite or the coolest-looking video. Like pests. How could they not, I thought? If you’ve watched the show in the past, the cameras seem to be everywhere, in the meeting rooms, in players’ dorm rooms, in everybody’s face, gathering every little piece of information. How could the crew and its cameras not be maddening for everybody – the players, the coaches and the rest of the media? How could they not be locusts?

Instead, you don’t really notice them – which is a pleasant surprise. Yeah, when Bengals strong safety Chinedum Ndukwe hurt his hand Wednesday morning and saw a camera zoom in nearly as close as the trainer examining his fingers, he seemed a little startled by that. But overall, the crew has been very respectful and unobtrusive. In fact, a couple times a few scribes were interviewing players, and Hard Knocks just sneaked up behind us and quietly listened in with their tall boom mikes over our heads. We didn’t know they were there until a few questions into the process.

So far, it seems to be a good experience for everybody involved.

That said, I don’t know how in the hell the Hard Knocks will put together a riveting program based on the practices I’ve seen. I guess, they’ll throw in some stirring music, and, let’s face it, a few slow-motion shots can make anything seem more exciting. As practices go, though, it’s awfully monotonous. Apparently, Hard Knocks gathers 200 hours of footage to make a single one-hour show. I’m actually really interested to see how this is done, because this side of the sausage-making is less than thrilling.

On the plus side, one of the boom operators that I see every day is sporting a mustache similar to this*. So, we’ve got that going for us.

*How this guy blows his nose or eats ice cream is beyond me.

  • Quick public service announcement: I’ll be on Ken Broo’s Sunday morning show at about 10:30 a.m. on 700-WLW.

    Also, a few new book signings to announce:

    Sat. Sept. 19, 1 p.m. – Waldenbooks on Glenway Ave.
    Sat. Sept. 26 – Follett book store, UC campus