Do you read the online edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, eager, nay, hungry for any news about the negotiations between the team and Albert Pujols? Are you like me? Do you read the headline, gasp a little, and then read the byline of the story and grunt in visible disgust?
I do, when the byline is of the execrable Joe Strauss.
In Friday’s online edition, in an article headlined “Deadline nears for deal with Pujols,” Strauss engages in speculation, guess-work, pot-stirring, non-sequitors, excogitation, supposition and lays out enough red herrings to populate a seaside fish market. True enough, the media — which includes bloggers — and fans have had little substantial accurate reporting of the inner workings of the negotiations. We’re all just waiting for an announcement, whether Albert signs an eight-, nine-, 10- or whatever-year contract of upwards of a quarter of a billion dollars, or Mozeliak comes out in his Harry Potter outfit again to wish perhaps the greatest player to don the Birds on the Bat well in his free agent pursuit.
And we’ve been patiently waiting for real news all winter.
But that’s not good enough for Joe Strauss.
You know, we understand that a newspaper reporter/columnist/shit-stirrer has to fill so many column inches in the dead tree edition, and has to provide new content for the web site. But if there’s nothing new to report on the Pujols front, do we really need another ill-informed “take” from a hack who thinks he’s an insider, but is probably just as much an outsider as a dirt farmer in Mongolia?
By now you’re wondering why the vendetta against an ordinary sportswriter in a Midwest city. And you’re fine to wonder about that; but if you read what the guy horks forth on Twitter (just do yourself a favor and don’t become one of his followers) you’ll quickly understand that his “work” isn’t designed so much to inform as it is to provide aid and comfort to the ego of Joe Strauss.
For a reporter, Joe Strauss is beyond merely ill-informed. If he were but that, he wouldn’t be that much different than many other sports reporters and columnists. But what galls a dedicated reader of Cardinals news is that he compounds that with lazy and complacent writing. He’s short-sighted and closed-minded, and it comes through with the drivel he produces. It’s not as if I’m the only one who has noticed. His weekly chats, “Joe Strauss Live!” on the P-D web site each Wednesday allow fans to ask a writer supposedly in the know, yet the answers fans receive are often bullying, impatient belches from his self-imposed throne atop his self-proclaimed insider’s world.
So, I’m going to play Joe Strauss here. I’m going to engage in armchair psychology, analysis devoid of fact, opinion lacking perspective … in short, I’m going to write something that could have come from Strauss’ finger-mashing on a poor keyboard in a dimly-lit newsroom redolent faintly of failed athletic and journalistic dreams.
Joe Strauss used to work for the Baltimore Sun before St. Louis was blessed with his reporting efforts. Now, if you’re familiar with the baseball environment in Charm City, you know the once-proud Orioles are run by a wart in human form named Peter Angelos. Angelos is the type of owner who thinks he knows everything — and why not? He’s an ambulance-chaser who made his nut in asbestos litigation. You know those slicked-back overtanned mooks on late-night and daytime TV selling their services to get YOU money? Yeah, Angelos is one of them. Okay, so Angelos thinks he knows everything, obviously. And, like so many people who think they know everything, Angelos is the type of owner who leaks “stories” to the media to undermine his manager, his players, other owners, the city of Baltimore, Cal Ripken Jr., whoever. Angelos isn’t afraid to take a reporter around the shoulder to whisper something that could be turned into a scoop, or poke a reporter in the chest with a stubby finger to make a point. It’s just what he does.
And Joe Strauss was marinated in this manufactured intrigue at a very formative stage in his professional career.
I think Joe Strauss now in St. Louis fancies himself a Julian Assange, jealously guarding his “secret sources,” uploading his wholly-invented “take” on the intrigue surrounding a decision to move Skip Schumaker to second base, a trade of some hot prospect to whatever team, or the negotiations around the franchise’s star. He’s attempting to import the situation he enjoyed in Baltimore to St. Louis for one reason.
In Baltimore, Joe Strauss was Important. He was The Man Who Uncovered Scoops. He wasn’t a hack repeating rumors fed to him by someone who single-handedly ran the Orioles into the ground; no, he was covering Important Stories.
That’s Joe Strauss. In his mind, he’s still covering Important Stories.