Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Off-topic: Rick Reilly on ESPN is disappointing

What happened to Rick Reilly, the great writer that was a fixture with Sports Illustrated? He came to ESPN with great fanfare (and wads of cash) and before my eyes has totally mailed it in. He's submitting this Page2 knockoffs that are supposed to be quasi-funny, snarky (think Jim Caple less the anti-Yanks tone) but they just read like total crap. I guess I expected more. Like when I now buy a box of cereal and it's 90% the size it used to be but costs a little more.

Here's a sampling of Reilly's latest. You tell me, am I too harsh?

It's so sad when bad anthems happen to good countries. America, for one. Ours goes up and down so many octaves only certain German shepherds can hear all of it. Still, I've covered eight Olympics, and our anthem doesn't come close to these:

. This anthem is played each day at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. It declares, "Every inch of Thailand belongs to the Thais." Odd. Was anyone under the impression it belonged to Diddy?

. Someone must have written this one in a hurry, or bought it at a discount anthem store, because it contains this verse: "A land resplendent with brilliant suns, becoming another sky, or almost a sky." I would've loved to be inside the mind of the guy who wrote that. Let's see. We have so many suns it's like a whole 'nother sky. No, wait. Nobody's going to believe that. I'll just add, "or almost a sky." Hell, what do they expect for $9.95?

. "We have taken the noise of gunpowder as our rhythm and the sound of machine guns as our melody." This is why no one invites your band anywhere.

. Here is a national anthem that has almost nothing to do with the country it honors. It's mostly about the Nordic way of life. Swedes are like that. Once, at an Olympic soccer game, I listened to Swedish fans chanting and singing. Finally, I asked one what they were urging their players to do. "The players?" she said. "We simply chant: 'We are from Sweden, we have come a long way and we are drunk!'"
Damn shame, really. I used to look forward to that last page in every SI issue to read something good by Reilly. Now, not so much. Who says money makes you soft?

Rick, if, by some strange chance, you read this, please note that I thought you were a great storyteller. Leave the whimsy, quips, insults, snark, smarminess, etc. to the others at ESPN.com and blogs like this. Elevate your craft again. Give me something to strive for, something to try to learn from and emulate.

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