A few things are sure to change in light of the recent charges brought against industry pariah Jay Mariotti. Earlier this week, Brady called the situation “one of the most celebrated cases of felony domestic abuse ever.” But while there are plenty of writers out there who are riding high on the tailspin of their former nemesis, there is one very scary fallout-possibility that keeps me up at night: that Bill Plaschke could become a permanent fixture on my beloved Around the Horn. As it is, I already get more of the guy than I can stand.
For all the criticism we’ve heard of Mariotti haughtily pointing his finger at athletes and colleagues alike (it’s hard to tell the difference from way up on that high horse), there’s one thing you’ve got to admit: we’ve always eaten it up. And it’s the same reason we’re eating up the alleged fall from grace. Because it’s damn entertaining.
He’s a cartoon caricature, of course, no more representative of the entire industry than Terrell Owens is representative of his.
I for one, have always welcomed that cartoon on my TV set at 5:00 pm EST – coupled, of course, with the goofy yin to Mariotti’s contemptuous yang that is Woody Paige. Every good bit of drama needs a character to plays the heel: the guy Tony Montana knows we need so we can point and say “there’s the bad guy.” And the sports world is no different. But there’s another AtH panelist that loves to go around telling players (and fans!) how they ought to act, and that’s Plaschke. The problem is he does it in a completely non-compelling way; with less (actual, physical) finger-pointing arrogance and much, MUCH more spittle-laden stammering through bad puns like referring to Manny Ramirez as “Badly being Badly.” Try as he may to stir up controversy, nobody seems to care.
If Mariotti is the pundit we love to hate, Plaschke is the one we can’t be bothered with. He’s simply not a good enough villain. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze to Heath Ledger’s Joker. So please, almighty Worldwide Leader, PLEASE don’t give Plaschke the permanent spot that Jay has vacated. As far as bad guys go, we deserve a better one.