Although I’ve got this whole WordPress thing mostly down, there are some elements I don’t understand. For example, when I check out the Comments section, occasionally there’ll be a link to a blog that mentioned my name. Not sure why, but I’m not all that bright. So, hey.
Anyhow, this morning in the Comments there was a link to metstoday.com, a mostly excellent blog about all things New York Mets. Specifically, it led to a post, MANNY RETIREMENT UNDERSCORES HYPOCRISY, written by someone named Matt Himelfarb. I’d never heard of Matt; certainly never mett Matt. Started reading the piece, which was very well written, and got to this dandy of a sentence: Take, for instance, Jeff Pearlman- who predicted that the Mets will finish in last place this season- and, in general, is a waste of his father’s semen.
Uh … what?
At the conclusion of the column, a yellow box identified the author as “a high school student in New Jersey and avid Mets fan. He occasionally updates his blog at: matthimelfarb.wordpress.com.” This is gonna sound sorta silly/dumb/whatever, but as soon as I read about the kid I found myself overcome by a certain sadness.
Back when I was a teen, all I wanted was to make it as a writer. I worked my ass off at my high school newspaper in Mahopac, N.Y., trying to break the big story about the prep cross country team’s upcoming meet at Brewster or football’s new starting quarterback. I studied old copies of SI (the ones my neighbor, Mr. Daley, left tied in bundles in front of his house), hoping the magical word choices of men Dan Jenkins and Frank Deford would somehow rub off on my work. Obviously, there were no blogs or Tweets; no snarky SportsCenter lines or quick hits. It was about the craft; about desperately wanting my writing to become art (that was the goal—and still is the goal. Maybe it’s unrealistic. But it’s what I strove for). The idea of ever, ever, ever, ever, ever calling someone “a wate of his father’s semen”—especially an adult in the business—would be ludicrous. A. It would never cross my mind; B. My dad and mom would make me find the person to apologize—then they’d disown me.
But, in 2011, this has become—to some—what the game is all about. Try and come up with the most graphic/crazy/wild insult possible, because it’ll jump off the page. And maybe, just maybe, the subject (in this case, me), will react. That’d be great!
The problem is, it’s not great. I don’t know Matt, but the kid can flat out write. I don’t agree with his Manny stance, but this sort of sentence (“The real tragedy is how MLB’s draconian drug policy, implemented under pressure from our wise overlords in Washington, has driven one of baseball’s most talented and entertaining individuals into early retirement.”) is way beyond most high school kids. Hell, I’d say it’s way beyond most college kids. Talent is talent, and Matt has it. But becoming a writer—especially nowadays—isn’t merely about talent. It’s about drive and determination and, mostly, judgement. Wanna fit in? Write blog posts that describe people as vomit faces and booger shits and wastes of semen. Wanna rise above? Argue with precision and logic (I’m willing to admit I sometimes fail here, for the record).
Potential employers will, with great certainty, Google an applicant’s name and see what comes up. Matt—gifted, skilled, young—has attached his reputation to “a waste of his father’s semen.”
Ignore the dark side, kid.