An Interview with Dave Krieger

An Interview with Dave Krieger

An Interview with Dave Krieger

“Unbelievably I saw Tim Kurkjian last night on ESPN arguing that he would vote for Mark McGwire for the Hall of Fame because there are not enough facts available to prove he had done steroids. This is coming from a person who didn’t want an investigation.”

“If you take the position that not enough facts are available, after you opposed an investigation, clearly you are not acting as a journalist. Maybe you’ve gone over to the other side – you’re acting as a promoter.”

“I view myself as a letter writer to my readers, who can’t go where I can go. I’m in here and this is what I see and hear and can figure out.”

“Fans want what the team wants – positive publicity – all the great stories you’re not seeing, all the wonderful human beings you’re not recognizing – and they want you to write about it…if you did it as a columnist you would suck and probably lose your column. Beat guys could get away with it because a lot of beat writers at the highest levels are homers.”

Dave Krieger: Interviewed on November 28, 2006

Position: Columnist, Rocky Mountain News

Born: 1954, New Haven, Connecticut

Education: Columbia, Amherst

Career: Claremont NH Eagle-Times, Burlington Free Press, Press Secretary for Sen. Patrick Leahy 1977-78; Cincinnati Enquirer 78-81, Rocky Mountain News 81 –

Personal: divorced, one son

Favorite restaurant (home): Sabor Latino, Denver “neighborhood Mexican-Caribbean-South American joint”

Favorite restaurant (away): Greens, SF “a veggie place – unbelievable what they do and I’m not a vegetarian”

Favorite hotel: Hotel Chelsea, NY, “former home to Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller and other writers – on the National Register of Historic Places – the clerk once asked me if I was a writer and I said yeah and he said we have writers here. I said I know because I saw the plaques. He said, “We still have some who are alive.”

Dave Krieger excerpted from the Rocky Mountain News, April 11, 2006:

Baseball’s steroid crisis has spilled over into the sports media in much the way the Iraq crisis spilled over into the news media, or at least onto Judith Miller’s desk.

In its wake, there’s been an uncommon amount of navel-gazing about the state of “sports journalism.”

Let me do what I can to clear this up:

Sports journalism is an oxymoron.

You might already be aware of this, but the outcome of a sporting event has precious little effect on anything, assuming there’s no riot. If we judged it by the usual journalistic standard – significance – we would run it in the back with the horoscope.

However, fans love sports and they want to read about their favorite teams. We satisfy this demand in the role of entertainment reporters.

We operate in a hazy neutral zone between journalism and promotion…

Q. Why is sports journalism an oxymoron?

A. I should say first that the use of that statement was a device at the top of the column to get a laugh. Clearly it was an exaggeration – sports journalism is not an oxymoron.

I was annoyed at the time. I had just seen Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), who is a former sportswriter and I assume he still calls himself a journalist, arguing on TV that there should be no investigation into the steroid mess. He said, “What’s the point – if you found out what would you do with it?”

My jaw dropped – I cannot imagine a journalist who would not want to know. Unbelievably I saw Tim Kurkjian last night on ESPN arguing that he would vote for Mark McGwire for the Hall of Fame because there are not enough facts available to prove he had done steroids. This is coming from a person who didn’t want an investigation.

Q. You find Kurkjian’s position ironic?

A. More than ironic. It is what an apologist or a p.r. person for Major League Baseball would do – block the investigation and then say there are no facts to prove anything. It’s what government p.r. people would do when they’re covering something up.

I came up as a news reporter. It’s inconceivable to me that a journalist wouldn’t want to know before passing judgment. I’m not picking on Kurkjian – I don’t know him – and I understand he was a fine baseball writer. I’ve run into a lot of baseball writers with that view. They’re so invested in that view that whether or not they’re acting as a journalist is an open question.

If you take the position that not enough facts are available, after you opposed an investigation, clearly you are not acting as a journalist. Maybe you’ve gone over to the other side – you’re acting as a promoter.

Q. Does sports journalism tend to be promotional?

A. Yes. It’s very different than being a city side reporter – it’s more akin to entertainment, rock, and movies. From a traditional journalism standpoint in which one judges the value of news based on its significance to society at large – who wins these games couldn’t matter less. Yes, the ancillary economic factors are important – who wins doesn’t matter. It’s entertainment and we give it more space and attention than it should get because people are so into it. We’re serving a market function but it’s not a traditional function of journalism. It’s the same thing as people writing endlessly about Jennifer Aniston – it’s nonsense from a news point of view.

When you get guys approaching sports from a hard news point of view that’s revolutionary. It’s not coincidental that the two (SF) Chronicle reporters (Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada) were not sports beat guys. It takes an outsider’s perspective. If you talk to the beat guys you’ll find they’re much closer to the teams they cover than to their newsrooms. As an NBA writer I was never in my newsroom but I was around the coaches and players constantly. You have a tendency to identify more with your sport than with your paper.

Q. How do you approach it?

A. I understand it’s entertainment. I’m writing a column today about the Broncos that has very little journalistic value but huge entertainment value – the Broncos get huge attention in this marketplace. If I see myself that way – as an entertainer – then what I write doesn’t have to have significance. That’s fine – that’s what I’m being paid to produce because there’s a market for it. But when big issues like steroids come in, then we have trouble finding our footing because we’re in a different role than the traditional journalist.

Q. You wrote a column recently about a Colorado solider stationed in Iraq finding comfort in watching the Broncos game on TV. Wasn’t that a case where sport was significant in a broader sense?

A. It is a consolation to me that sports has a role greater than the purely self-indulgent entertainment that most of us get out of it. You get those heart-warming stories about soldiers overseas or sick kids in the U.S. to whom sports means a great deal – people for whom everything else is pretty bleak and for whom it’s great to have something exciting and fun to focus attention on. Sport has that role in the real world.

In that case it’s news – you are acting as a journalist. You’re writing about how sport affects fans in the real world – not just for fans looking to escape – but for people who need it. The more of those stories we do the more in touch we will be with our basic roles.

I don’t have an objection to sports being escapist, and I don’t dispute that most of our work is done in that escapist realm. But as journalists it would be nice if we touched base with reality just often enough so that when a hard news story came along we recognized it. So that when a steroid story comes along we don’t view it as an attack on our turf. A lot of sportswriters objected to a steroids investigation as though outsiders were coming in and messing up their sport. We have to keep in mind that we are the outsiders – or are supposed to be.

Q. What do you write most often?

A. I’ve been here 25 years – I’m the local guy. Our other columnist – Bernie Lincicome – came in 2000 and he gives us more of a national perspective. I tend to focus on local teams – I do a ton of Broncos columns because they’re the state religion here. Later on I’ll focus on Avs hockey and Nuggets basketball. I do as much baseball as I can but with the Rockies it’s not easy to do. Occasionally I’ll do the national stuff.

Q. Which recent Broncos column got the most public reaction?

A. Plummer-Cutler columns are all the rage here – we have a quarterback controversy. It’s a classic sports controversy that doesn’t matter to anybody but football fans. The quarterback of the Broncos is probably the leading public figure in Colorado – more than the governor or mayor. I wrote a column a week ago today in which I said – predicted might be too strong a word – that if Plummer didn’t play well in Kansas City he would be replaced by Cutler. It was an educated guess and I laid out my reasons. That was last Tuesday. On Thursday NFL Network breaks a story attributed to sources that Cutler will replace Plummer. NFL.com wrote it and claimed they broke it. Then ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said he broke it. Every news outlet outside of Al Jazeera claimed to have broken it.

Q. What did you make of the breast beating?

A. It was a modern statement about our business. It’s more important for each outlet to claim they had it first than it was to deliver the information. I’ve never seen a story broken that many times. Finally the Broncos had a press conference, with the usual media cluster fuck, and announced it yesterday.

Q. Do outlets benefit from being first?

A. No. I don’t think anybody cares. It’s all inside baseball and one-upmanship among ourselves. It’s a feather in our cap as a reporter to break a story – everybody wants credit for that whether or not they actually broke it. My column did not claim to be based on sources. Once the NFL Network did it everybody after that had the story in front of them and just had to confirm it – that’s not the same thing as breaking it. It makes us look bad in the eyes of viewers. I don’t think anybody cares who broke it – they just want to know what the information is.

Q. As a columnist do you do much reporting?

A. Quite a bit in my column, in contrast to Bernie, who is more of a craftsman. He’s a great writer – and since Bill Lyons retired – maybe the best in our business. He tends to take the big picture.

I was a beat reporter for years. I tend to get more quotes in my columns and pursue people more. I approach it analytically – why is this happening – and I try to find someone to explain. I view myself as a letter writer to my readers, who can’t go where I can go. I’m in here and this is what I see and hear and can figure out.

Q. Is access an advantage?

A. Less and less. When I covered the Nuggets in the late 80s they flew on commercial flights and stayed in hotels that didn’t charge $400. I was around them all the time – sitting in airports and coffee shops. Doug Moe would hold court in coffee shops – the media and hangers on would come down and sit for hours and hours. All of that is gone now. The teams are on charters and they stay in places we can’t afford. I sat next to Dikembe Mutombo when he was a rookie – we were on a 747 and he didn’t get one of the eight first-class seats – and this 7-1 guy was assigned a middle seat in coach. I was next to him – his knees were almost in his mouth – and he was good-natured about it. There’s nothing like that to get to know somebody. Now I can go in a lockerroom after a game all season long and never develop that kind of rapport.

The reality is that access means less and less. They moved us off the floor this year – all over the country. They really don’t care anymore. I asked an NBA official, “Don’t you want us to communicate the sights and sounds?” He said, “We can do that ourselves now.” Access is limited and formulaic. There’s so much on TV – there will come a point where we won’t have any more access than the fans. The business model of NBA TV and nba.com and NFL TV and nfl.com is to eliminate the middle man – we are the middle man – and to provide access directly to fans.

Q. Is traditional print media going the way of the blacksmith?

A. I think that’s right. NBA TV came in last fall to cover the Nuggets training camp – it was going live on-air from camp. Nuggets practices have been closed to reporters for nine years – if I went to practice as a reporter I would sit outside the door until 15 minutes remained and they would let us in. If I stayed home and watched on NBA TV I could watch the whole thing – fans had more access than reporters – that’s the way it’s going. We will eventually be in the role of a blogger. We’ll do analysis and commentary but in terms of information we won’t have more.

Q. Who will get credentialed in the future?

A. Great question. It will be up to them – already they are credentialing themselves. Mlb.com is in every pressbox, mlb.com writers are covering every team for the mlb.com website. They’re covering themselves. It seems clear to me that over the last 10 or 15 years it dawned on them that they need us less and less. The owner of the basketball and hockey teams in Denver – Stan Kronke – also has started his own TV sports network which carries the games of both teams. As you can imagine, the coverage is pretty positive. That’s where you have to go to watch the games – announced by announcers his company approves. How long they’ll tolerate outside media – that is critical and not only positive – is not clear to me.

Q. Don’t teams owe the public more? Aren’t teams quasi-public entitites?

A. Probably, but that’s a qualitative judgment. Does one require another? Do tax breaks for arenas or donation of land or a public subsidy mean you will do this and this – is anything written down? No. It’s really up to the organization. Some teams are better about it than others. (Nuggets and Avs owner) Stan Kroenke doesn’t talk to the press – he doesn’t feel he has to.

I’ve made that argument – that the teams are quasi-public institutions – that this is not like owning a Wal-Mart shopping center. People care and want to know. My arguments have been unpersuasive to date.

Q. Do fans – like voters – get what they deserve?

A. Most fans just care about the team – they would choose the owner over the media. We’re not in a strong position in regard to fans – most fans want a fan magazine instead of a traditional journalism. They want as much information as possible about the players they cheer for. The more positive it is the more they like it. If it comes down the way it’s looking like – with the middle man being forced out – I don’t think we’ll have a lot of allies protesting on our behalf.

Q. What do the hard-core fans want?

A. Fans want what the team wants – positive publicity – all the great stories you’re not seeing, all the wonderful human beings you’re not recognizing – and they want you to write about it.

My job is not to be a fan magazine – but they want more fan magazine stuff. They do not want the people they admire and cheer for and love to be criticized. They don’t want criticism – they don’t much care if it’s well-founded or not. If the team is really bad the fans will turn on them because they want change – that’s when they’ll read what’s wrong with them.

When I criticized University of Colorado for its sex-recruiting scandal I never got hate mail like that. Let’s face it – the program is not Nebraska or Oklahoma – and yet there’s a core there that absolutely takes its personally if you criticize the team.

Q. If you wrote uncritically how boring would your job be?

A. You’d be a bad beat writer and if you did it as a columnist you would suck and probably lose your column. Beat guys could get away with it because a lot of beat writers at the highest levels are homers. I’m not going to generalize and say all beat writers are homers – a lot of them maintain independence and develop respect from both sides. Some editors believe beat reporters should be switched off after a certain amount of time – that’s a tough one for me because certain people who have been on the beat forever are legendary – and wouldn’t have been if they hadn’t stayed on it.

Tracy Ringolsby (Rocky Mountain News) just went into the baseball Hall of Fame based on 30 years plus of terrific baseball coverage. If he had been transferred to football after seven years he wouldn’t have had the opportunity. I’m not with that, but if I was a sports editor I would watch out for that phenomenon. The culture of the team has a tendency to overwhelm the culture of journalism you initially brought to the beat – I would be watchful for that if I was an editor.

Q. How often do you write?

A. Four a week. That’s a bit of a stretch but most columnists have to. We look up to columnists who write only three times a week. Some write two – that would be wonderful – you would have more time to research and interview.

Q. Your newspaper background?

A. I came to the News as a City Hall reporter in 1981 and I moved over to sports in 84. I covered the Broncos in 84-85, special projects in 86-87, and the Nuggets from 88 to 2000. I started the column in 2000.

Q. Why did you leave news?

After I covered the mayoral race in 83 I had run out of things to do – there was no place to go on news side.

Funny thing. Mike Littwin came here a sports columnist hoping to get back to news, which he had done at the Baltimore Sun. He had grown up in sports and gotten tired of it – he wanted to write more significant things. My journey was the opposite – I started in news and got frustrated with that. I got bored – sitting through meetings was harder than sitting through ball games. I was also thinking, “What difference does any of this make?” – which is what sportswriters think. I came over to sports knowing it was fantasyland and that was okay with me. I am able to compartmentalize – once I’m at a ballgame it doesn’t matter if its meaningless – I can still enjoy the game.

Q. Did your news reporting skills transfer?

A. I felt they did – but I’m not sure the people I covered felt that way. They felt I was too hard and too aggressive. Half the coaches in American believe it’s your obligation to support the team – particularly college coaches. It’s a completely different mindset if you bring a hard news attitude. I’ve had very difficult relationships in this business with people I’ve covered. People who grow up as sportswriters tend to be more friendly than I was. If you bring a traditional city-side adversarial “I’ve got questions” attitude you’re going to alienate people. I certainly did.

Q. Who?

A. Dan Issel – the coach and GM of the Nuggets. Our relationship was not great. What happens on competitive beats – at that time the Post and the News were owned by separate companies and were very competitive – is that one side will become the confidante of the coach and the other side will be the opposite. The Denver Post was on Issel’s side – he would share information with them – and because I had chosen an adversarial stance I was on the outside. I had to get information from agents and G.M.s around the league.

There’s a great advantage being on the outside – you can write anything you know. The guys on the inside can’t because they get their information from the inside. I prefer that guerilla role.

We more than held our own. We kicked ass on trade stories – the team would never want that out but if I could get it from other G.M.s or agents and we could run it. Stuff within the organization we would get our ass kicked because we were the last people they would tell. On balance we held our own.

Q. Who do you read?

A. Bill Lyon (Philadelphia Inquirer) is retired but still writing – he was the most under-rated writer of our time – close to a poet. TJ Simers (LA Times) is very funny. Ray Ratto (SF Chronicle). Both guys in Kansas City (Jason Whitlock and Joe Posnanski) are terrific. Rick Morrissey (Chicago Tribune). Richard Justice (Houston Chronicle). Shaun Powell (Newsday). Mike Bianchi (Orlando). The whole Washington Post crew: Tom Boswell, Mike Wilbon, Sally Jenkins, Mike Wise. Years ago when I worked on the Hill I loved to read Dave Kindred and Ken Denlinger.

Q. What New Media do you read?

A. I read Deadspin. Occasionally I look at blogs by local bloggers – like the bulletin boards for the college teams – but generally they’re so partisan I don’t find them helpful – they tend you toward writing things that ardent fans like, which is not your job.

(SMG thanks Dave Krieger for his cooperation)

Sure. Home is 303-458-7288. Cell is 303-619-4283. You’ll probably have to leave a message. Let me know when it would be convenient for me to get back to you and I will.

Krieger: It’s not our job to help cover up scandals

April 11, 2006

Baseball’s steroid crisis has spilled over into the sports media in much the way the Iraq crisis spilled over into the news media, or at least onto Judith Miller’s desk.

In its wake, there’s been an uncommon amount of navel-gazing about the state of “sports journalism.”

Let me do what I can to clear this up:

Sports journalism is an oxymoron.

You might already be aware of this, but the outcome of a sporting event has precious little effect on anything, assuming there’s no riot. If we judged it by the usual journalistic standard – significance – we would run it in the back with the horoscope.

However, fans love sports and they want to read about their favorite teams. We satisfy this demand in the role of entertainment reporters.

We operate in a hazy neutral zone between journalism and promotion, and it’s not just us. Do you notice the change in tone on 60 Minutes when the subject switches to sports?

Suddenly, Ed Bradley is fawning over Tiger Woods. Michelle Wie is charming Steve Kroft.

If this is how TV’s most distinguished news program covers sports, what do you expect out of the wretches who do it every day?

Nevertheless, there’s been a lot of concern about “sports journalism” lately, most of it in relation to steroids. (Not that we’re on them. No one’s saying that.)

This is a pretty adept PR job by Major League Baseball, which has managed to make the question, “If the press didn’t know, how were we supposed to know?” Too bad Enron didn’t think of that.

In fact, two reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle forced baseball to act, but critics point out these were not sportswriters but news-side guys.

As Mark Jurkowitz of The Phoenix in Boston wrote last week, sports have become a big seller for newspapers and other media, which are looking for sales drivers in a big way.

According to Jurkowitz, Buster Olney, formerly of The New York Times and now of ESPN, wrote this in The Times 10 days ago: “I had a role in baseball’s institutional failure during what will be forever known as the Steroid Era.”

This self-flagellation is more evidence of baseball’s extraordinary influence over the people who cover it. Players, trainers and “nutritional gurus” were making the case throughout baseball’s Steroid Era that you could bulk up the way Mark McGwire did, the way Sammy Sosa did, the way Barry Bonds did, by a combination of protein shakes, South American herbs and serious weightlifting.

Sportswriters, as you may have observed, do not tend to be weightlifters. By and large, we bought it. Now, Turk Wendell says no one can put on 30 pounds of muscle in a single off-season without pharmaceutical assistance. In all honesty, most of us had no idea if you could or not.

So call us naive, but that is not the same as sharing the blame with baseball for baseball’s internal dysfunction. Jose Canseco wrote in his book Juiced that he taught team trainers to administer steroids. Those are club employees. That’s baseball’s problem.

But some media types went above and beyond the role of oblivious spectator. Some actively argued against an investigation of the Steroid Era, a probe baseball launched only after the two Chronicle reporters published their book. One prominent example was Tim Kurkjian, also of ESPN.

Kurkjian argued there was no point to an investigation. This is a television analyst and former sportswriter who does not want to know.

Nor was he alone. Any number of commentators fretted at how difficult such an investigation would be. How could it ever succeed? How broad should it be? What could possibly come of it? Better to let it drop.

The underlying rationale, of course, is it would be better for baseball to let it drop. A commentator who takes this position has crossed the line from journalist to baseball guy. A journalist always wants to know as much as possible. He certainly doesn’t throw up his hands in despair before an investigation even starts.

Perhaps it is worth mentioning here that ESPN is in business with baseball to present and promote its games. It has built a stable of experts – some of them former journalists – to support this enterprise with studio shows, analysis and the like.

But “analysis” to a business partner is not the same as “analysis” to an outsider. A business partner wants to know as much as possible about tonight’s starters but would rather avoid the unpleasantness of the steroid scandal. It is no coincidence that ESPN also airs Bonds’ reality show, Bonds on Bonds, over which Bonds has editorial control.

It’s not our job in the sports media to run baseball, and it’s a good thing because the evidence suggests we wouldn’t do it much better than baseball does.

It’s also not our job to help baseball cover up its scandals. Even if there’s just a small slice of journalism left in what we do, it should be enough to tell us that.

rts

Broncos games serve as a link to home

Dave Krieger, Rocky Mountain News

939 words

17 October 2006

Rocky Mountain News

FINAL

2C

English

© 2006 Denver Publishing Company, Rocky Mountain News. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights reserved.

So you think Broncos games are a nice break for you?

Imagine for a moment you’re Senior Airman James Demoney of the Air Force in your second deployment to the Middle East.

By Middle East, I do not mean Ohio.

“Big picture: We are responsible for ensuring our C-130s are mission ready in order to ferry troops and supplies in/out of Iraq,” Demoney wrote to me recently by e-mail.

“We also have a lot of aero-medical evac that comes in and out of here, along with human remains missions, but I shall opt not to get into detail about that at all. I’m sure you understand.”

Whatever you think about the mission in Iraq, the American servicemen and women in the desert are doing what their country asked in circumstances most of us cannot imagine. Sports on television serve the same function they serve for us, times 10.

Demoney, who was born in Aurora, is an avid Broncos and Avs fan, which is how our correspondence got started.

“Football for us is more or less time for us to take our minds off the mission for a while and have a piece of home for a little bit,” he explained.

“I know that when I watch football, it’s all I think about, aside from being at home with a beer or 10 while I watch. It’s fun to sit with a group of people who you’ve seen around base but don’t really know and just talk smack back and forth and watch a game.

“No one gets violent or anything like they would at a sports bar. It’s all good fun. Though it seems every time I go to the recreation center (the “Flex”) to watch the Broncos, it’s always just Bronco fans. I’ve made friends with this guy from Pope AFB, N.C., who is always up there watching the games. I don’t even know his name, but we always watch the games together. He’s from Wyoming, though. I do know that.”

Apparently, the Broncos fan experience is universal no matter where you are. Demoney offered this account of the Sunday night game in New England a couple of weeks back:

“I work from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., which is 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time. The game came on here at the scheduled kickoff time, but I missed the first four minutes because I was training the new guy and the TV was on the wrong channel.

“I don’t remember the first half much, except I do remember thinking to myself how good Denver’s run defense looked, and immediately after I thought that (Laurence) Maroney had a good run. At least, I think it was a run. I saw him running.

“I am finding it hard to have confidence in Plummer after watching the first two games and after watching him throw a couple of passes into double and triple coverage and have a couple of passes go right through the hands of New England defenders. In the first half, I thought for sure this was another ‘bad Jake’ game, but that pass to Walker on third-and-1 into the end zone was PERFECT – great throw, awesome catch, fantasy football points.”

From 7,000 miles away, Demoney’s wish list sounds like my mail from Arvada:

“I would like to see Tatum keep getting 20 carries or more, would like to see Javon keep getting the balls when it counts, and would definitely like to see Shanny let Jake open it up more.”

Last week, Demoney was back in front of the TV for the Monday night game against the Ravens.

“For me, the biggest highlight of the game was Tater Bell carrying Ray Lewis on his back across the first-down line. I cannot stand Ray Lewis. And, of course, the icing on the cake, that was the TD pass. Jake still makes me angry, though.”

I’m no military expert, so I’ll let Demoney describe what he does the rest of the time.

“Our unit (386th Air Expeditionary Wing) is the most tasked C- 130 unit in the AOR (area of responsibility). We generate more sorties (missions) out of here than any other C-130 unit in the AOR, which includes the C-130 unit in Qatar (Guard and Reserve) and the C- 130 unit in Balad, Iraq (active duty from Little Rock, Ark.).

“Our mission motto here, so to speak, is, ‘Boots on the ground.’ The base attached to this one where the Army and Marines are is one of two staging areas for them going up country (to Iraq), so we are constantly flying Army and Marines personnel in and out of this base, as well as their support equipment. Hence, the motto.”

Airman Demoney turned 22 last month. He lives in Abilene, Texas, with his wife, Nicole, who is expecting their first child in January. He hopes to be home by then.

He was headed for Qatar during the weekend, so I don’t know if he caught the Raiders game. Before he left, I asked him to name the hardest and best things about being where he is.

“Hardest part – being away from my wife and being away from everything that is familiar to me,” he wrote.

“Best part – taking pride in what I do, taking pride in being here and contributing to something greater than myself.”

kriegerd@RockyMountainNews.com COLUMN

kriegerd@RockyMountainNews.com

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Copyright 2006, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

ports

Giving thanks for things great and small

Dave Krieger, Rocky Mountain News

920 words

23 November 2006

Rocky Mountain News

FINAL

2C

English

© 2006 Denver Publishing Company, Rocky Mountain News. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights reserved.

So many things to be thankful for and so little space. As always, The Dude’s thanks follow mine in a cynical ploy to attract a younger audience. I will also be inserting the expression “I’m down” at random intervals. If any of The Dude’s thanks puzzle you, keep in mind he is playing fantasy football this year.

Without further Adu (who is the same age as The Dude and has only 11 more career MLS goals) . . .

I am thankful for Terrell Owens’ new children’s book, Little T Learns To Share. A heartwarming tale just in time for Christmas.

Also available on TerrellOwens.com – an adjustable locker room towel.

I am thankful for the global NFL, which keeps moving Broncos games from day to night so Broncomaniacs in Shanghai can watch them over breakfast.

I am thankful for Bob Knight, who is about to become the winningest coach in college basketball history and whose little slap of a player last week was totally overblown by the mainstream media. He chokes guys harder than that.

I am thankful for Barry Bonds, who is about to become baseball’s career home run champion, possibly as a designated hitter for the A’s.

Coincidentally, Oakland pharmacies report they are out of human growth hormone until further notice.

I am thankful for former NFL lineman Kevin Gogan, who made an instructional video on how to deliver a cheap shot without getting caught to help out players like Tennessee’s Albert Haynesworth and Oakland’s Tyler Brayton, who were a little too obvious. Gogan recommends three soft-tissue targets: the groin, solar plexus and throat.

“Hard to talk and breathe when your Adam’s apple is coming out of your ear,” he points out.

Hey, this is football. A delightful stocking stuffer.

I am thankful for Larry Coyer, even if he has a few things to correctify.

I am thankful for Nick Ferguson and sorry to see him out for the season. The Broncos locker room has no more engaging personality. And when he pipes his iPod through the sound system, it’s 1970 all over again.

I am thankful for the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and the Air Force Academy for reminding us that bad college football does not keep the sun from shining 300 days a year.

I am thankful for collegiate athletic teams that make you proud, like the CU ski and cross country teams, both national champs this year. Of the school’s 23 national championships, 22 are in these quintessentially Colorado sports. Unfortunately, these are not the teams that get noticed.

I am thankful for the Tribune Company, which ordered spending cuts at the Los Angeles Times while guaranteeing Alfonso Soriano $136 million to play center field for the Cubs. I’m down. At least they have their priorities straight.

I am thankful for Heidi Fleiss, who denied she hired Mike Tyson to be a gigolo at Heidi’s Stud Farm, a brothel for women she plans in Nevada. I assume this means the position is still open.

I am thankful for the Rockies, winner of the fourth annual Tommy Sheppard Media Relations Award, a metaphorical statue I will present metaphorically to owner Charlie Monfort when he pays off on our annual bet next month. These guys are the most popular punching bag in town, but they haven’t pulled a Silent Stanley yet. If you have a question for Charlie, send it to me at the e-mail address below.

No promises, but I’m down.

I am thankful for Andre Miller, the Nuggets guard who offered fitness tips to elementary school students this week. Tip No. 24: Don’t show up fat to training camp.

I am thankful for David Stern, who wants to punish players for swaying during the national anthem and Mark Cuban for being Mark Cuban. In a related story, Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein have expressed interest in the job, should Stern retire.

I am thankful for Al Davis, whose meager legal judgment against Oakland in one of his many imaginative lawsuits was overturned by an appellate court. In between bites of Cream of Wheat, Davis vowed to make Pete Rozelle pay.

I am thankful for the Nuggets, who sold the wretches’ floor seats to high rollers this year but thoughtfully put us much closer to the concessions.

I am thankful for Jose Theodore, who is the next Patrick Roy in the sense that Brad May is the next Claude Lemieux.

And now, thanks from The Dude, 17:

“I’m thankful for Chad Johnson’s late but explosive emergence into his role as the best receiver in the NFL.

“I’m thankful for the NFL Network. Whenever I turn ’em on, it’s always something interesting.

“I’m thankful for the Cubs getting Alfonso Soriano. I’m definitely down with that.

“I’m thankful that Allen Iverson is still throwing himself around like a rag doll, playing his heart out. His team’s not as good as it should be, but it’s getting better.

“I’m thankful for Frank Gore. He’s just a beast. He’s the foundation of the new Niners. They might just win the division this year.”

I asked if he needed to sit down.

“They’re 5-5 and Seattle’s 6-4,” he said. “It could happen.”

I’m down.

kriegerd@RockyMountainNews.com COLUMN

Q. What’s between Ringolsby and Michael Lewis (author of “Moneyball”)?

A. Tracy didn’t think much of his book. They have a feud going – Tracy’s viewpoint is legitimate – they both have their right to an opinion. A lot of veteran baseball writers look at Michael Lewis as someone who understood what Billy Beane was doing but didn’t know much about the game other than that – Lewis is not a baseball specialist. He immersed himself in the A’s and Beane and took Beane’s word for how revolutionary his approach was. The baseball writers thought it went overboard, and that Lewis over-simplified and over-dramatized.

I’m sort of in-between. I can see the arguments on both sides. I thought it was a useful contribution to the conversation but I can see where the baseball writers thought it was overblown.

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