Patrick Reusse, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune sports writer whom we (and a great many others in the Big Blue Nation, apparently) have taken to task for taking journalistic license with the term "verbal commitment," issued a correction Christmas Eve. Although a sarcastic correction, to be sure, it was nonetheless just that. When writers in the mainstream sports media make factual errors, the corrections rarely made and just as rarely noted, and I think it is high time we noted it. But actually, Reusse's correction is more of an explanation, and an appeal to what he sees as a hyper-literal application of the term "verbal commitment" by the Big Blue Nation.
Well. Does this remind anyone of a certain very important public figure arguing over what "the definition of 'is' is?" Ultimately, Reusse owns up to his error, and that is to be commended. Of course, I am about to take him to task for the rest of his article, but that does not diminish the fact that he recognizes his error, even if he attempts to trivialize it into nonexistence.
Lest he be forced into actual contrition for his error, Reusse decides to deride the Faithful for even caring when a sportswriter so far away plays fast and loose with facts that are subsequently used to impugn Kentucky fans. Attempting to add a layer of insult to injury, he summons the past in the form of the "FedEx envelopes sent to southern California," complete with the obligatory twisted contortion required to make it relevant to his piece. Of course, Kentucky fans know that it was an Emery Worldwide Express envelope, a fact that is surely easy to check on the Internet. But really -- can we honestly be surprised that a sportswriter who conflates high recruiting interest with a verbal commitment to know that Federal Express isn't the only commercial document express carrier, even in so distant a past as the late 1980's?
Don't bother correcting this one, Mr. Reusse, we already understand that you don't really know what you are talking about.
Reusse finishes by assuring us of the following:
In fact, Billy G. should bring his anticipated endless supply of four-star recruits up here to see us in our old Barn one of these next Decembers. Tubby will show his successor the proper etiquette for stool-sitting on our historic elevated floor, and we'll all have a good old time.
This paragraph is literally pregnant with opportunities for Big Blue derision, and I shall avail myself of a couple of them, because it is Christmas and because I feel a particular determination not to let any jibes out of Minnesota go unanswered.
First, Mr. Reusse, I'd like to note that Gillispie will be having an endless supply of five star recruits, not four star. Yes, we will get some four stars, but for the most part, I think Gillispie will magnanimously leave the four stars and below for other coaches. Smith has a fondness for four stars and below, so all in all, I expect this will work out rather well for both men. Second, as far Kentucky visiting Minnesota and being "show[n]" anything related to basketball, even in your own gym, I rather fancy this is very much like Kentucky challenging Minnesota to bring their hockey team down here so we can "show" them a few things. Kind of discordant, don't you think? Given the history of the Kentucky athletic director's relationship with Tubby Smith, I doubt Mitch Barnhart is going to be inclined to do a "home and home" with UM anytime soon. I am also confident, as classy as Coach Smith is, that he wouldn't be interested in pushing the issue.
But anyway, we here at A Sea of Blue hope Mr. Reusse had a very merry Christmas, and will even do him the favor of suggesting a few things to ponder for his New Years resolutions:
- When you are talking about something you know little about, resolve to take the time to verify historical events. In the news business, this is often known as "fact checking," I'm told. Also, you may want to buy your editor a gift and thank him for exposing you, twice in a row, to having bloggers point out your factual errors. It's bad enough to have to issue a correction -- even worse when your correction contains additional factual errors.
- When discussing a sport with which you have (understandably) limited familiarity, it is usually wise to acquaint yourself with it's vernacular, such as "verbal commitment."
- When discussing fans with whom you are probably only familiar via media reports hostile to same, it is usually wise to research them a bit before attempting to skewer them. That way, your barbs may actually hit the target, instead of your own credibility.
- Most of the Big Blue Nation likes Tubby Smith. If you had done your research, per 3 above, instead of just reading a few diatribes on message boards, you would know this.
- Most of the Big Blue Nation shares your happiness that Tubby Smith is in Minnesota, and wish both him and the Golden Gophers well. Collectively, we think it is a match made in heaven.
- A fan base is not defined by it's extreme elements, just as a political party or foreign country is not defined by theirs. While you have a lot of company in the mainstream media generally in applying this fallacy, resolving to stop doing so would do wonders for your reliability.
Kudos to Ken Howlett for noting Reusse's correction in the comments of the news post below. I had already written my article before I saw his comment, but "good eye" to Ken, anyway.
PJS has their take on the correction.