Mitch Albom is beloved by millions for his heartwarming, if not cheesy, stories like Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five Peeps You Meet in Heaven. He’s also a smug little man who makes up news stories and panders to his audience. So I’m going to spend the rest of this post making fun of him.
When Mitch Albom isn’t spending his Tuesdays soaking in fortune cookie philosophy from dying old geezers or imagining ecumenical heavens so bland as to make one long for an afterlife in Dante’s eighth circle smeared with excrement and burned by boiling pitch, he writes as a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press and occasionally Sports Illustrated, while often appearing on ESPN’s Sunday morning round table “The Sports Reporters,” the most boring (and pretentious) show ever invented. In 2010, Mitch won the Red Smith award, the top honor in sports journalism, and proceeded to give a condescending speech urging his fellow writers to live up to journalistic standards of accuracy and fairness.
The haughty homunculus could have been speaking to himself. In 2005, Albom wrote a column about Michigan State’s appearance in the Final Four. With heartwarming touch, he mentioned how NBA players (and former MSU Trojans) Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson came to the game to cheer their alma mater on. Funny thing is Cleaves and Richardson didn’t go to the game. Albom heard in advance that the two former stars were planning on attending, so he wrote his Sunday column on a Friday. This way he could relax and just watch the game on Final Four Saturday. But what does journalistic integrity matter when you’ve touched the heart of every grandma in the nursing home with sappy books that become made-for-TV movies?
Who knows? Maybe I’m living in a fantasy world if I expect a millionaire munchkin to not make shit up. And if this is true, then Albom wouldn’t like me either, because he hates anything fantasy, especially fantasy sports. On April 18, 2010, in (of course!) Parade Magazine, Albom wrote a preening essay titled “Take in a Real Game,” where he identified fantasy baseball as the big bad enemy of Real Baseball. And, again, I’m not the first person to mock little Mitch for this article (Ken Tremendous and at least 80 million other sports blogs have done so), but I feel I can’t help but add my thoughts.
Here are some snippets from this turd nugget of a column:
“Spring is here, and throughout the land, baseball fans don their caps and root, root, root in the glowing warmth of…their computers?”
Yes, that is his opening sentence. And this man wins writing awards.
“On any given day, far more people check their fantasy league statistics than sit in the stands watching Major League action.”
“Fantasy folks have their own teams and standings in a shadow world of make believe games often played on a computer, games that never see a ball or hear a cheer.”
“The real outcome doesn’t matter. Every other player can whiff, as long as the one guy on your fantasy team has a good day.”
“This is where sports dies and statistics take over. In the real game, a player may bunt the ball to help his team win. He’s a hero. But in the fantasy world, he’s a zero.”
Has mini-Mitch ever considered that maybe playing fantasy baseball, ya know, enhances the fan experience? Believe it or not, people can follow their fantasy players and still root for a favorite team. Some even leave their computers and go to a real game once in awhile. Fantasy players can be both happy that their fantasy guy hit a home run and sad that their real favorite team lost. Oh, and anyone who sacrifice bunts really is a zero. Giving away an out is a stupid stupid play. But I would bet that Mitch knows all this. As Ken Tremendous says in Deadspin, Albom’s just a preening little man who likes to play the faux populist game and he’ll write anything if he thinks it will please his imagined audience.
Sportswriters like Mitch Albom are becoming irrelevant dinosaurs. They whine about fantasy baseball, playing the game The Right Way™, and the internet with its legions of non-credentialed writers, without realizing that most younger sports fans play fantasy sports, aren’t bothered if their favorite player sometimes jogs out a ground ball, and like to get away from the stuffy main stream media by reading entertaining (and irreverent) sports blogs like Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber and (the sadly retired) Fire Joe Morgan. But Mitch Albom will never get it. In Mitch’s make believe shadow world, he’s cool. But in the real world, he’s a tool.