I've been noticing a trend lately: More and more, the Portland sports media have become the kings of trauma-drama.
You know what trauma-drama is. It's that girlfriend or coworker we've all had who routinely turns the smallest non-event into a crisis.
You know, her best friend doesn't call her back, and she has to call every other person she knows asking why her best friend hates her. Or your employer decides to stop buying coffee for the break room, and your co-worker starts telling everyone that layoffs are coming.
These people are never happier than when everything around them is chaotic.
The Portland sports media, as a whole, has become that character. Or maybe it's always been that way, and I'm just noticing it now because the old "Jailblazers" used to give sportswriter types all the trauma and drama they needed. The new, squeaky-clean, boringly good Blazers make that kind of dirt much harder to find.
At least, they make it much easier to spot when the local sports media is drumming up controversy for its own sake.
It’s amazing to me how local sportswriters, talk show hosts, and bloggers micro-analyze every little piece of information on the Blazers in a seemingly endless quest for potential catastrophe. Here are some examples of threads, discussions, and topics generated by professional journalists in the Portland area:
- Darius Miles signing with the Grizzlies last year is proof that other GMs dislike Kevin Pritchard.
- Larry Miller’s email to other teams was a big faux pas by Pritchard.
- Greg Oden’s body language is concerning. He must be pouting. He’s a bust.
- The Blazers are winning big because of their newfound toughness.
- The Blazers lost to the Rockets because they are too soft.
- Rudy Fernandez is unhappy in Portland based on unconfirmed reports from Spain. Does this make him an ungrateful jerk?
- Rudy wasn’t really unhappy, but getting rid of Sergio might make him unhappy.
- The Hedo Turkoglu fiasco is proof free agents don’t like Portland.
- The fact that Brandon Roy wasn’t given an extension on the first day of free-agent signing was a slap in the face to Brandon, and signals possible trouble ahead. (Repeat until Roy is signed.)
- The fact that LaMarcus Aldridge took so long to sign an extension was a slap in the face, and signals possible trouble ahead. (Repeat until Aldridge is signed.)
- Joel Przybilla might be unhappy with Nate McMillan.
- Jerryd Bayless might be unhappy with Nate McMillan.
- Nate McMillan might be unhappy with Kevin Pritchard.
- Kevin Pritchard might be unhappy with Paul Allen.
- Paul Allen might be unhappy with the city of Portland.
- Rudy never liked Sergio anyway.
- Andre Miller’s body language is concerning. He must be pouting. He’s aloof.
- Andre Miller is a jerk for making such a big deal out of not starting, and this signals possible trouble ahead.
- Andre Miller should be starting, and Roy is selfish for advocating that Steve Blake start.
- Roy’s body language is concerning. He must be pouting. He’s a jerk.
It’s gotten to the point of being ridiculous. When legitimate sports journalists are questioning Roy's commitment to the team and wondering if he is selfish, something is wrong in Portland. And it isn't Brandon Roy.
I remember the days before blogs and sports-talk radio. Sportswriters back then didn’t catastrophize about every little thing. Back then, they just wrote stories about the games and how the team was playing. Occasionally, a columnist like Dwight Jaynes or Kenny Vance would throw in a controversial subject or two, but that was like twice a month. It wasn’t every other day.
Nowadays, a guy like Jason Quick not only has an article to write, he has a blog, a Twitter page, and an almost daily radio spot to fill. Gone are the days when he could just write that practice today went well and give an injury update.
Now, he feels the need to comment on Greg Oden’s mindset and Roy’s body language. He’s become a journalist, psychic, detective, columnist, and amateur psychologist, all rolled up in a package called "beat writer."
I remember the days when Kevin Duckworth was practically having a nervous breakdown before our eyes, and all the sportswriters back then would say is, "Kevin is a sensitive guy."
Now, Brandon scowls a couple of times and he has an attitude problem. He's being selfish. He's showing his lack of leadership.
I don't ask for the fans to have perspective on these matters. I would hope they do, but you can't expect it. They're fans.
It's always been the role of legitimate sports journalists to provide a counter for the kind of emotional over-attachment demonstrated by fans. It's something guys like Jaynes, Eggers, Kahn, Cowherd, and Vance used to do. Nowadays, the so-called "legitimate" journalists are fanning the flames of myopic fandom.
The lines have blurred. Welcome to the wonderful new world of journ-opinion.