October 21, 2008

Calling Mr. Torre…

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Sometimes, when I’ve had way too many jumbo diet Red Bulls (a practice fondly referred to by sports department disciples as “riding the bull”), and far too few hours of sleep, I sit in my chair in front of the one remaining sports-designated computer that doesn’t periodically erase the work you’ve been doing for the past hour and fantasize about what it must be like to be a real-life, honest to God, sports reporter. Ah, that Holy Land of the wannabe journalist, an oasis of steady (though pathetic) paychecks, adrenaline-filled Friday nights and weekly interviews with Jimmy Rollins and Allen Iverson. Yes, I am a Philly fan, nice of you to notice.
Back to the point, my insomnia-filled reveries often float off into a hypothetical comparison between my job with the Sun and if, say, I was working for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Now, there would be some obvious differences (read: comp tickets to watch the Phillies kick some wet, floppy Devil Rays butt this week). I would sit in a press box and make snarky comments about the “journalist” from USA Today, scribbling down stats for whatever pie chart his editors would be running next to his “story.” Ooh, zing, USA Today. (I was just kidding, guys, really. Please except my internship application.) But would my interviews really be any different? This is my biggest query. Sure, the athletes would be a teeny bit more, how do I say this tactfully, famous. And yes, less mass text messaging would be involved. Hello, Sports Team X. I kno it’s 11 p.m., but I REALLY need a few quotes bout the weeknd’s tourney. Awesome. XOXO LOVE U. But what I really want to know is, would the coaches be the same in the Big Leagues?
Interviewing coaches at Cornell can be a really interesting and, dare I say it, fun, experience for a collegiate sports reporter. For one thing, they have to talk to you. True story — the Athletics Department pretty much forces them to grant us interviews. I can only imagine that at some point, this gets old. The last straw probably comes somewhere around the tenth time that same reporter has called you, at home, at 10:30 at night, to pester you about the weekend’s tournament. (And if you are reading this right now, Deitre, please know, I really feel bad every time this happens. How inconsiderate of whoever it is that covers that volleybal beat!) Somehow, I don’t think Joe Torre would be quite so obliging.
Um, hello, Mrs. Torre, this is Meredith from the Inquirer. Is Joe around by any chance? No? Are you sure, because I am pretty sure he just yelled something at the TV?… O.K., wait, that wasn’t the television, was it? You have a nice night, now, ma’am.
Wonderful. The other thing I have a feeling I would miss after making the quantum leap from State Street to Main Street would be the priceless quotes some coaches dish out, if you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
Rob Koll, head coach of our nationally-ranked wrestling program could just rest on his laurels as an excellent coach. But resting on laurels is a pasttime for sissies — and Rob Koll is most definitely not a sissy. Coach Koll’s “Kollisms” have made him one of the most colorful characters at Cornell, and the displays of love he inspires around the sports department are, well, walking a fine line between outright hero worship and downright indecency. What would Sarah Palin think! Well,what can we say? The man knows how to formulate a blockbuster quote. Great quotes can make o­­­r break a story, not to mention inspire a season’s worth of catchphrases. I’d list a few here, but instead I think I’ll just insert a shameless plug and recommend you read the Sun’s winter sports coverage. Ha! I can do that, because this is my column, which means I get to be as self-centered and patronizing as I want to be, right Arts section?
Wow, what has gotten into me today? So bitter. Bitter without a cause.
Of course, we can’t all be the Kollmeister. And for every brilliantly descriptive metaphor th e man invents, there is 45 minutes worth of interviews sprinkled liberally with such clichéd gems as “110 percent” and “a rebuilding year.” Granted, there are times when a team really is going through a rebuilding process, but eventually the house just needs to get built. And let’s get one thing absolutely clear: there is no such thing as going more than 100 percent. Nope, can’t happen. Period. If you are going over your full capacity, you are about to die. End of story. Now imagine that every time some well meaning coach wishes his team would just go that extra 10 percent.
Useless idioms aside, though, I’m starting to think this whole “professional journalist” thing isn’t such a good idea. I wonder if the Sun would hire me on as a full-time staffer. Or would that be too weird? Interesting. I think it’s time for another beverage run, I feel like I’m starting to slip off again.