I will be the first to admit that I don’t know how a newsroom works. I don’t know how story ideas are created, vetted, and assigned. I don’t know the process of writing a news article. I don’t know the pressures of a deadline.
And I also don’t know how letters to the editor are selected for publication. I assume that not all such letters are published. I assume that, if some wacko writes an absurd letter, the “editor” to whom the letter is directed would exercise some editorial discretion and refuse publication.
Perhaps these are unreasonable assumptions. Submitted for your consideration, the following “Letter to the Editor,” by Rich Nolan of Downers Grove, was published last week by the Chicago Tribune.
I’m prepared to save the Chicago Cubs from yet another season of failure. Think about this: Chicago White Sox: world champions. Chicago Blackhawks: world champions. Chicago Bulls: world champions. Those are powerful names.
And then we have the Chicago Cubs, or, worse, the Cubbies. A cub is a baby bear. Babies don’t win anything. They smile and coo, and just when you give them your heart, they start bawling and load their diapers! A professional sports team has no chance of winning a world championship with a baby name like Cubs. In fact, these babies expect to lose.
I have it on good authority that when the infamous Steve Bartman interfered with a play a few years ago, several Cubs were heard to whine, “See, we have no chance to win,” at which point these Cubbies burst into tears and loaded their pants.
I never thought I’d see the day that the Tribune would publish the phrase “loaded their pants.”
But seriously, just read those inflammatory paragraphs and let it sink in. Not only is this guy actually espousing this absurd garbage, but the Tribune affirmatively selected this letter for publication. Look, I understand and appreciate the concept of page views as well as anyone, but this is beyond the pale. It reads like something you’d find on Bleacher Report – but, you know, with commas and correctly spelled words.
It gets less incendiary, but more ridiculous.
We’ve all heard some version of the idea that “if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Well, it’s high time the Cubs organization did something different. I suggest the Chicago Tribune sponsor a “Rename the Cubs” contest. Just to get the ball rolling, here are a few suggestions: The Chicago Dominators, the Chicago Annihilators, the Chicago Eviscerators .. well, Eviscerators might be just a bit over the top, but you get the idea. These baseball babies need a powerful, manly name that will surely propel them to a world championship.
How about the Chicago Face Punchers? The Chicago Dodo Crushers? Oh, I know. The Chicago NL Central Division Winners. The name will make it happen!
I know what you’re thinking. The guy writing this letter is actually just a clever satirist, and he’s kidding.
Oh, you think I’m kidding? Your alternative, loyal Cubs fans, is to stick with your baby name and face another century of losing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
He’s not kidding. He’s just not a Cubs fan. Or a person of moderate intelligence. But thanks for the warning just the same.
My beef isn’t really with Rich, though; it’s with the Tribune for publishing this tripe. The content is not only thoughtless, thin, and crude, but it’s probably a little bit harmful. Perhaps the fact that I’m here bitching about it – and you’re reading about it – is the point. After all, it got the Tribune some attention.
For all the reports of the old media’s demise, I cannot say that publications like the Tribune do not have my respect. They are a venerable institution, without whose reporting ability, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. But if I might offer some words of advice to the Tribune as it navigates its way into and through an evolving technological landscape: you may want to resist the temptation to publish this kind of race-to-the-bottom crap, lest you fade into memory – without anyone’s respect.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.