Thursday, August 2, 2007

Meeting Joe Posnanski, the best sports columnist in America

A cool story to share (because it's not like we have a baseball game to watch this evening): as IDWT readers know, I've long used the phrase "best sports columnist in America" as an appositive for mentions of Joe Posnanski, the best sports columnist in America. Well last night, I met him. The occasion was a Gelf Magazine Varsity Letters event in which Poz gave a knockout speech about The Soul of Baseball and Buck O'Neil. He recalled the red dress story, the Hall of Fame saga ("stunned" was a word repeated a couple times, along with "baffled") and his last encounter with Buck. My conversation with him was brief -- he was popular at the bar -- and I didn't think it was appropriate to mention this blog, but I got a book signed and chatted briefly about his blog. Also, from across the room, I heard him shriek, "It's Octavio Dotel!" I really couldn't tell you more about that, sadly.

It was sort of my Duane Kuiper moment. I began reading his work when I was 10, then picked up his columns semi-religiously through middle and high school. His work only got better over this period, each column one-upping the former. I remember, fairly vividly, his profiles on Roy Williams and Jacque Vaughn and the team that broke my heart; his story about Jake Porter of McDermott High -- the Jason McElwain story before Jason McElwain became J-Mac -- which eventually got picked up by ESPN (I think Tom Rinaldi); the profiles of Steve Palmero, Tony Pena, Priest Holmes and, relatively recently, Bo Jackson. He's been the Rick Reilly of Kansas City, only better, and more prolific. Did we mention better?

One of the questions he fielded from the audience was what it's like to work in a smaller market like Kansas City, as opposed to New York. He laughed at first, deflecting the implication that Kansas Citians are "smaller" than New Yorkers. Then he pointed out, among other things, that in Kansas City, his columns carry more weight than in New York. For instance, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post -- who was in attendance -- could write that A-Rod's a jerk ("Not that he'd do that"), and half a dozen other people will say the same thing, or the exact opposite, and no one voice will stand out. In Kansas City, however, if Posnanski wrote Zack Greinke was a jerk, Poz would be the most hated man in the city. "Even throwaway lines in the seventh or eighth paragraph will trigger a reaction," he said.

And now we come to the perfect example: this comment was posted to Poz's recent Buddy Bell column in the KC Star:

With all due respect to your fabulous writing, it is incorrect to refer to a record as "won-loss". It should be "won-lost".

You wouldn't say Buddy Bell won X-number of games and "loss" X-number of games. He "lost" X-number of games.

I'm surprised an editor didn't catch that mistake. Other than that, I love reading your column.

Only in Kansas City? I hope you're all as amused by this as I.

In conclusion, I met the best sports columnist in America.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like we have similar experiences with Posnanski's work. I come home at least once a week and gush about a Posnanski column or article on the blog. The boyfriend probably thinks I'm obsessed...So congrats on meeting him. I'm glad you had your "Kuiper moment."

    I began reading the Star religiously at age 10 or so. At 22, reading any other newspaper feels like cheating.