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Old 05-06-2004, 06:32 PM   #1
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Default [Sports Central Newsletter] #112 - Why I Hate SI's Peter King

The Sports Central Newsletter
May 2004 - Issue #112

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- The O-Files: "The Grass is Greener"
- What's New at Sports Central?
- Shots From the Lip: Rant: Why I Hate SI's Peter King!



Hello folks,

Michelle Wie is one of the brightest young figures in sports, but we need to take a step back and think about things. Why is she jumping to the PGA when she has yet to win a single LPGA event? Let's not jump from point A to M here, argues this issue's O-Files, and let Wie compete against the likes of Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb before Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods.

In closing, it's a vast understatement to say if our Mike Round and SI columnist Peter King are ever together, you'd need a a police squad to break up the two. Why does Peter King infuriate so many people, including our own Mike Round? The answer is revealed below in "Shots From the Lip."

As always, we love to hear your feedback. Do you share the same hatred for King, or do you wish to defend him? Let us know!

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]


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|-- THE O-FILES -- |

"The Grass is Greener"

By Brad Oremland

Michelle Wie stepped into the national spotlight -- around the same time Annika Sorenstam played the Colonial and Martha Burke tried to organize a massive boycott of the Masters -- by announcing that she intends to compete on the PGA Tour. Wie has already competed, and finished respectably, in a PGA event, and last month famed CBS news program "60 Minutes" opened with a piece on the 14-year-old golfing sensation.

Wie's ambition has generated some controversy, and some of it comes from surprising places. John Hawkins, a senior writer for Golf World Magazine, asked to compare Wie to Tiger Woods at the same age, says that Wie is "ahead of Tiger". So it's somewhat surprising that Hawkins dislikes the idea of Wie competing regularly on the PGA Tour:

"Michelle's a great player, but she's 14, and she's female ... I mean, shouldn't they have a rule? What are we here? Are we a sports league or is this, you know, a reality TV show?"

His opposition to seeing Wie compete against men is intriguing. Why would someone who has just acknowledged her as a sensational talent turn around and say she shouldn't compete against the best players in the world? There are a few reasons.

One is the LPGA. "Talk about a league, a tour that needs help," says Hawkins. With no household names other than Sorenstam, who dominates the tour, the LPGA could benefit immensely if Wie were to compete regularly at its events. It might actually be a bigger step for women's equality in the world of athletics if Wie becomes a force on the LPGA Tour -- true competition for Annika -- than if she becomes a regular on the PGA Tour. Elevating a whole tour -- the LPGA gets less publicity in the United States than MLS -- would likely accomplish more than simply establishing herself as a great golfer.

Another reason Wie might want to stay off the men's links is for her own good. It was about a decade ago that tennis phenom Jennifer Capriati went too far, too fast and flamed out for years before making an improbable comeback.

Hawkins puts it well: "How about winning three or four majors on the LPGA Tour like Annika Sorenstam's done? You know, why are we jumping point A to point M here?" The fact is that Wie has never won an LPGA event. She can be competitive on the PGA Tour, and she's proven that, but it's unlikely that she can be consistently competitive.

It would seem to make sense for her to hone her game on the LPGA Tour before making the leap to competing against the best golfers in the world. She's 14. What's the rush? She could play LPGA events as an amateur for four years -- she'll be done with high school then -- and if it's working out, she could still join the PGA at 18.

That's where Hawkins and I cease to share opinions. He seems to be of the opinion that women shouldn't be permitted to compete in PGA events ("I mean, shouldn't they have a rule?"), even that their presence would constitute a shameful mockery of the game ("Is this ... a reality TV show?).

One of the wonderful things about the global nature of sports today is that it allows the best in the world to compete against the best in the world. It would be a shame if we had to guess how someone like Yao Ming would do in the NBA, or Ichiro in MLB. Isn't the NHL a better league now that it has such a strong presence from outside North America? We'd be seeing an inferior product if not all the best players in the world competed in the league.

Wie has the potential to be one of the best golfers in the world. Fans would be missing something if she were barred from PGA events. In fact, it seems that fans want to see Wie and Sorenstam compete against men: when Annika played at the PGA's Colonial event last May, it produced record ratings for the USA Network. Even casual fans would make it a point to tune in if Wie competes in a major on the PGA Tour.

And if Wie wants to test herself against the world's best players, why shouldn't that be an option? She's been playing against her father for years now, and it's logical that she'd see nothing unusual about playing against men. I'd like to see her beat Annika and Karrie Webb a few times before she tries to beat Vijay Singh, but the best should compete against the best. And if Wie fits that description, she belongs on the PGA Tour.


Brad welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)



A look back at the new articles from the week of 04/26/04 - 05/02/04:


COLUMN: Jester's Quart: An unprovoked attack on ESPN's announcing crew
By Greg Wyshynski

SC's Greg Wyshynski updates one of the most popular "JQs" of all-time: his classic announcer-by-announcer humiliation of the ESPN hockey broadcasters. You'll never be able to watch another hockey game on cable again!



NFL: Keep the NFL playoffs the same
By Mike Guenther

Often times, rookies are not serious factors in fantasy football. But they can have a profound effect on the rest of their team. SC's Mike Guenther looks at how the recent NFL draft will affect the fantasy football value of NFL veterans.



COLUMN: Amico Report: Those growlin' Grizzlies
By Sam Amico

There won't be a better story in the NBA this season than the Memphis Grizzlies. Not the next world champions, not the league MVP, not LeBron James. If you truly love the NBA, seasons like the one had by the Grizzlies are the biggest reasons why.



COLUMN: Slant Pattern: Feeling for Monty
By Kevin Beane

SC's Kevin Beane does not wish to make his column into a scandal sheet, but how can you resist the touching plight of Colin Montgomerie unfolding before our eyes? Read on for much more in the latest Slant Pattern!



TENNIS: Apathy is killing women's tennis
By Tom Kosinski

SC's Tom Kosinski takes a look at the current state of the WTA Tour. With the rash of illnesses and no-shows recently, is there an epidemic sweeping the women's tour?



MLB: Why stats can't measure Bonds' true worth
By Piet Van Leer

As of this Monday, Barry Bonds has absurdly reached base safely in 36 of his last 44 plate appearances. Bonds has hit more homeruns this season than he has swung and missed. It's statistics like that which make it unfair to compare Bonds with anyone else.



GOLF: The PGA train needs some coal
By Ryan Ballengee

The PGA Tour has had a string of exciting, close finishes in recent weeks. Even though another one is ensured this week in Houston, it seems like the PGA Tour may be quickly deflating. What's the cause and the cure for this problem?




"Rant: Why I Hate SI's Peter King!"

By Mike Round

Occasionally, a person comes along that really gets under your skin. They stand for everything you despise, their every action makes the hairs on your arms and neck stand on end, as if you're back at school and the teacher is scrapping his nails down the blackboard. The world of sports and entertainment is full of loathsome cretins, but no one moves me to such pure hatred as Peter King, celebrated Sports Illustrated NFL writer and TV analyst.


I started reading Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column many years ago. It was an interesting column back then, full of little insights behind the scenes that the ordinary fan had no hope of being party to. It was written in a witty style, with a few strategically placed anecdotes about the writer's home life and other interests.

Peter King got some TV work, too, and I quite enjoyed his pieces, firstly on CNN, then on HBO. He patently knew the NFL and wasn't prone to outrageous hype or delivering his message with a megaphone. He didn't have Paul Zimmerman's dry wit or cynical outlook, but in a sport short of decent writers, he was must-read.

I started to notice a change in King's columns during the rise of the St. Louis Rams' to prominence. He quite obviously admired Mike Martz, then offensive coordinator to Dick Vermeil, and took every opportunity to heap fulsome praise on his revolutionary thinking. Nothing wrong in that per se; almost every NFL writer was doing the same, but Peter King often crosses the line between praise and sycophancy, something he has consistently done with Martz since 1999.

Mike Martz should have been fired by Georgia Frontiere years ago and many Rams fans feel the same. He inherited the most talented team in the NFL from Dick Vermeil and has failed consistently to harness that talent. Sure, he reached a Super Bowl, but was comprehensively out coached by Bill Belichick.

Yet King has constantly tooted Martzs' horn, describing him in increasingly glowing terms as the pressure in St. Louis mounted. Martz leaves starters on the field in pointless situations, he over-uses Marshall Faulk, his drafts are mediocre, and his man management skills are dubious. King ignores all those failings and you can't help but think it's because the man is his friend.

Phil Simms is also King's friend -- you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to work that out. In the close, macho boys club atmosphere of the NFL, it's hardly surprising that a New Jersey-based NFL writer would be close to the ex-Giants QB, now media analyst at CBS. King must have known Chris Simms, son of Phil, since he was knee-high.

Hardly any serious NFL analyst, let alone Texas Longhorn fan, considers Chris Simms a potential NFL-caliber QB, yet Peter King led a long campaign to boost Chris Simms's draft stock way before the 2003 draft, where Simms went in the third-round to Tampa Bay.

During his prominent college career, Simms could never completely beat out the less-talented, but gutsy Major Applewhite. When he did, especially in big games, Simms fluffed his chance, showing a panicky nature and poor decision-making. Yet, even after the draft and into camp, King was using his MMQB column to promote Simms as the QB of the future in Tampa, with absolutely no evidence to back it up, except of course his long friendship with his father.

Martz, the love-in with Bill Parcells, the shameless plugging of Chris Simms, the general sycophancy towards obvious NFL buddies, the complete failure to even remotely criticize Ray Lewis, the coffee drivel, the general self-importance -- it was all starting to bug me by this time last year. Then I exploded into total rage during his column on March 31st, 2003.

King was in Arizona for the owners meetings at the time and gleefully recounted a story about the time he spent watching the A's play the Diamondbacks in spring training. To cut a long story short, a Miguel Tejada foul ball off Randy Johnson disappeared into an off-limits area of the stadium. King and a 7-year-old boy went to retrieve the ball, King using his status and imagined celebrity to persuade the guard to let him through the gate. The boy just winged it.

King knew which of the balls in that area was the actual foul ball Tejada hit. Instead of just tossing the ball to a young kid, the bloated, pompous, Norm Peterson lookalike used his 95 IQ to steer the kid to a different foul ball, thus pocketing the actual one, which must have a street value of at least $5. He finished the piece by thanking his new security guard buddy, now known as Matt, and concluding smugly, "And now you know why I have the best job on earth."

I had to read this section of his article twice, such was my state of bewilderment. How could a semi-famous sportswriter be so classless and selfish? He could get a signed baseball from any player in the game just by picking up the phone. And the sheer nerve of proudly recalling the whole tawdry incident to make the vast proletariat realize that we were in the presence of a lucky and important man.

Needless to say, King was inundated with irate letters. He didn't print mine, which didn't surprise me as I had exhausted my extensive vocabulary of Anglo-Saxon expletives. His explanation of the event and self-justification only served to enrage the readership more. I'll reprint his self-serving reasoning verbatim so as you can make the call:

"Wow. The anger. The rage. I introduced myself to a guard and asked if I could get a foul ball. I walked to get the foul ball. A 7-year-old boy passed through the same gate, without permission, as the guard called after him to come back. I picked up the ball I thought was hit by Miguel Tejada. The kid picked up the ball he thought was hit by Tejada. I'm supposed to convince this kid who snuck through the gate that he doesn't have the right ball and give him mine? I had permission to get the ball I got. The 7-year-old boy stole his. And I "cheated" him out of the ball? I can see how you'd be offended that I tried to make the kid feel good by telling him he had the real ball, because I told what I believed to be a lie, even though it was not a malicious one. Maybe that's wrong. But is it right to be somewhere you shouldn't be and, technically, to possess stolen property?"

So here we have a fat, smug, wealthy, self-satisfied sportswriter -- a man used to the finest things in life -- attempting to portray a 7-year-old boy as a delinquent who "steals" private property. All because Matt, his newly acquired "friend," arbitrarily decided that King, not the non-celebrity boy, could have the ball. I wrote to King, asking him if he planned to invite his new buddy Matt the Security Guard to his Montclair, New Jersey home. I await a reply.

By now, King had descended into blustery self-importance, a man far removed from his days as a plain old beat writer. He started criticizing fellow passengers on airlines, taking one family to task for daring to travel from the West Coast to the East after 8 PM and inconveniencing him with their "noisy" children. Again, he was deluged with complaints, with readers pointing out that families have numerous reasons for travelling at all times, including emergencies, family deaths, and plain old expense.

In September, we got this from King. "I, as well as most of my flying companions on an American flight from Newark to St. Louis last Thursday, would like to thank the graying 307-pound gentleman in 5B for drinking two red wines while waiting for takeoff, then sucking down a double rum right after takeoff, then inhaling the turkey-on-croissant, then snoring for the final 60 minutes of the trip, emitting a guttural sound, and the foulest drunk's breath on earth. We're hoping you had quite a nice headache when you got to work, or home, that afternoon. One question: what kind of life, or job, do you have, to be drinking heavily at noon on a weekday?"

Ignoring the fact that King looks way over 250 lb. himself and no doubt his breath isn't always Colgate-fresh, how on earth does King work out that this guy was drunk on two glasses of red wine and a double rum? The guy weighs 300 lb.! At that weight, you can drink a brewery and hardly notice it -- I know I've tried! How does King know the guy hadn't been working all night? What gives him the right to call this guy out on a prominent media behemoth like CNN?

One day, I pray I'm on a flight next to the bloated King, his vast butt shoehorned into an aisle seat while I get the window view. I swear I'd eat the entire contents of the trolley, emitting disgusting noises from every orifice for the duration, accidentally spilling my red wine onto his expensive laptop, whilst talking loudly to anyone who would listen about my hatred for his beloved Boston Red Sox. Of course, I'd need a lot of bathroom breaks, too.

Peter King has always used his columns to recount stories from his home life. We sympathized when he lost his dog and his mother -- separately, of course, the dog wasn't his mother. The man is rightly proud of his daughters, both of whom seem to live normal suburban lives. Gradually, the family tales took up more and more space, particularly Mary Beth's sporting career. This self-indulgence took on a whole new dimension last May when his MMQB column included 2006 words on Mary Beth's latest softball game. Yes, that's two thousand, not two hundred and six.

Credit King for printing his detractor's mail. From King-country, Boston, Brian wrote, "For the past six months, every one of your columns oozes self-importance, name-dropping, and narcissistic tendencies as epitomized by you vicariously living through your daughter. What I read from you now is an astonishing chronicle of a man who has thoroughly outgrown his britches, whose ego knows no bounds, who desperately seeks to become the story instead of covering it. Your blustery arrogance is totally despicable. When did you start hating fans?"

I couldn't have put it better myself, Brian. But Peter King is too far-gone to learn from his critics. At the draft combine, he took great delight in naming the poor sap that wet himself in fear or through sheer nerves. Again, a deluge of complaints at his lack of discretion and apparent delight in humiliating some poor college kid.

Hot on the heels of this faux pas came the thoroughly Anglo-Saxon King ridiculing Willie and Debra Jackson for naming their son D'Qwell. Having named your own daughter Mary Beth, you would probably keep quiet on the subject of naming kids, but not King. Even though his own daughter sounds like she should be a Walton, King blasted the Jackson's in by now his normal arrogant style, prompting another round of abuse from readers.

King's columns are still somehow fixating, but like a road accident for entirely the wrong reasons. I don't read for his insights any longer -- if I want information allied to humor, the ever-excellent Dr. Z is the man. King is there to raise the blood pressure, to spark another round of bile and vitriol. I've never hated a public figure more than I hate Peter King. I don't think I think that -- I know I think that.


Mike welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=SFTL
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)


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