Jeff Pearlman

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Tasteless II

Big props to BrianS for pointing out John Steigerwald’s follow-up to his ridiculously horrible column on the Giants fan who got his ass kicked at Dodger Stadium.

No props to John Steigerwald for writing it.

Let’s just be blunt here: We’re dealing with a fucking dolt.

Anyone who visits this blog with some form of regularity knows I apologize. A lot. I write things, I sometimes regret them. This often comes after a lengthy with a relative or friend, along with the words, “What the hell were you thinking?”

The point is, writers should not be immune to admitting they make mistakes. Words are powerful, and they don’t usually vanish. You write something, it lasts. Especially nowadays.

Clearly, John Steigerwald screwed up. Literally, he wrote a column blaming the victim of a crime for being the victim of a crime. That’s awful judgement—both by the author and his editors. If John Steigerwald takes any pride in drawing an unusually large number of readers to his newspaper’s website/his blog, he shouldn’t. They’re coming because you’re a tool. Plain and simple.

What irked me most about John Steigerwald’s follow-up is the arrogance. An apology reads, “I’m sorry. I missed this one.” John Steigerwald didn’t apologize. He apologizes to “the Stow family if this nonsense has reached them and in any way added to their pain.” By nonsense, John Steigerwald doesn’t mean his original take. He means—and this is beyond galling—the reaction we’ve had to his original take. In the world of John Steigerwald, readers don’t get what he’s saying—and that’s on us. Which shows, beyond other things, that John Steigerwald doesn’t fully understand the power of the written word.

A writer owns what he writes. The words are his; the sentiment is his. There’s a reason great writers spend hours slaving over sentences and paragraphs. They want them just right; want to words to convey and precise idea. That’s how greatness is found—not by slopping down shit on a page, but by searching and digging and scrambling for something perfect.

John Steigerwald doesn’t write this way. He writes for reaction. He writes off of some mentally impaired impulse to shock. Even though he’s been around forever, the man is perfectly designed for the age of Twitter, when content matters less than the number of followers.

John Steigerwald has probably gained a lot of followers.

But he’s still a tool.

PS: Don’t try the pictures stunt at home.

PPS: I love this—two reasons. (a) “So hot even Rush Limbaugh ordered two copies!” (b) “The line to sign copies was out the door!” (Eh, I count three people).

  • Jim

    To be clear, this paper isn’t really “middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania,” as you said in your previous post. Washington, PA is right outside of Pittsburgh.

    This tool and his brother have been fairly prominent on the Pittsburgh sports media scene for 30 years. If you live anywhere near Pittsburgh you know the Steigerwalds all too well.

    This guy’s shtick is that everything that has happened in the last 50 years is bad. It’s a recurring theme in his work. The good ‘ol days, the good ‘ol days…blah, blah, blah.

    To be clear, I think the man’s column is 98% full of shit. But isn’t there a grain of truth in here somewhere? I’ve always wondered about people who go to, say, Fenway Park wearing a Yankees jersey. Obviously, that doesn’t mean you deserve a beatdown. Nor does it mean you are an overgrown child, like Steigerwald implies. But aren’t you increasing your odds of having an unpleasant experience? Especially in stadiums known for obnoxious fan behavior?

  • http://earnyourdonuts.blogspot.com BrianS

    I debated whether I wanted to say anything in response to the earlier post and decided against it, but here goes:

    I think the issue is more than “people need to grow up.” I think sports have taken on too much significance in a lot of people’s sense of identity and/or community, leading to the “us vs. them” mentality that contributes to incidents like the one at Dodger Stadium.

    There’s sadly a grain of truth that you’re opening yourself up for abuse when you walk into a sporting arena in the opposing team’s jersey. But Steigerwald’s missing the point that it shouldn’t be that way, as well as the important questions, such as “why is it that way?” and “how do we fix it?”

  • DG

    If anything happens to Steigerwald as a result of all this, I guess he was asking for it.

  • John
  • david

    As for the picture, I did that stunt in college as my impersonation of the unknown comic (gong show, I believe). Almost got kicked out of college for it, but my mates loved it.

  • StringerBell

    If you want to comment on his blog, they first need to be approved. If you notice what comments are being approved, a lot of them are ones telling this asshat what a great point he made.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life