Can soccer announcer Andres Cantor make any sport exciting? Don’t get me wrong; everybody is innocent of criminal charges until they are proven guilty. After all, I took loads of crap for defending Ben Roethlisberger against criminal charges, but there was no way I wouldn’t say the guy is a douchebag. After all, Big Ben had given us plenty of reasons to believe that before last spring’s rape allegations. Honestly, the same rules apply to Jay Mariotti. For those of you who may not be familiar, Jay Mariotti is a professional media hack who through his work on FanHouse.com and ESPN’s Around The Horn as made enemies throughout the sports world through his sheer need to be a contrarian asshole. Now, those same people who despise him are piling on in the wake of his arrest Saturday for felony domestic abuse. Again, I find myself saying the man is innocent of the criminal charges until the courts find otherwise, but we have a long list of reasons to dislike Jay Mariotti before this incident. The details from USA Today
LOS ANGELES (AP) — ESPN personality and AOL sports columnist Jay Mariotti has been arrested on a felony charge in Los Angeles. Officer Norma Eisenman says the 51-year-old Mariotti was arrested early Saturday in the police department’s Pacific Division following a “domestic incident.” Eisenman declined to provide further details. The Sheriff’s Department website confirms Mariotti was booked on an undisclosed felony charge at 5:45 a.m. He was released on $50,000 bail just after noon Saturday. Mariotti lives in Los Angeles. He is a panelist on the ESPN show Around the Horn and writes a regular column for the sports website Fanhouse.com, which is owned by AOL. ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys told USA TODAY that “we are not commenting until this gets sorted out.” Said FanHouse editor Scott Ridge: “We are in the process of gathering the facts and have no further comment.”
Meanwhile the folks at ESPN couldn’t ignore the widespread criticism that has been directed at Mariotti from fans, athletes and other media members. When asked about it, the show’s panelists explained why it was largely to be expected. .
- “He chose to be America’s ultimate contrarian,” said panelist Bob Ryan. “He’s going to have to start rethinking how he goes about his business.”
- Panelist Kevin Blackistone noted Mariotti was a “polarizing figure” and “provocateur” who “told people how they should run their lives.”
- Panelist Woody Paige noted “sometimes the critics become criticized. We’ve moved into glass houses.”
- ESPN has not said if Mariotti will ever be back on the show, whose cast is scheduled on a week-to-week basis.
Naturally, those who also make their living in the media stayed away from harshly criticizing Mariotti. The same can’t be said of the commentary of Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of both the Chicago Bulls and White Sox. Reinsdorf often found himself as the target of Mariotti’s butter-knife sharp wit when Mariotti wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times. During a panel event at a downtown Chicago restaurant Reinsdorf was asked about his former media nemesis
“Jay Mariotti was and is a pissant. A lot of the people who were laughing here probably have no idea what that means. You can look it up in the dictionary; it has a very definite meaning. I couldn’t be bothered by him. If he weren’t ripping me he was ripping someone else. He was incredibly inconsistent. I remember one year he ripped (former Cubs president) Andy MacPhail for acquiring Rondell White. The next day he ripped (former White Sox GM) Ron Schueler for not making any deals and referred to the fact that Andy MacPhail had made the heist of the century in getting Rondell White the day before. Nobody ever cared what he said.”
People don’t like Jay Mariotti. I don’t like Jay Mariotti. I’m not the only blogger who doesn’t like him, which is exactly why news of his arrest this past weekend is spreading throughout the blogosphere with a certain unassailable glee. My personal favorite so far comes from Bullish Thoughts. The Quote du Jour:
But here’s the point: Mariotti is everything we should dislike about sports journalism. His opinion exists in it of itself, if that makes sense. It’s meritless and trivial, only hoping to irritate than actually conjure thought…I wrote this long piece because I felt guys like Mariotti, Skip Bayless, Jim Rome and Stephen A. Smith have blurred the lines between journalist and performer for ages and have unfortunately made fortunes off of it. I suppose it’s made me bitter about how we reward mediocrity—constantly. When I talk to non-media, they often pull those names first when referring to media figures. It’s sad, but true.
I can’t improve on that description; I won’t try. I will leave you with the fact that regardless of what Mariotti’s travels through the justice system bring, there is a big smack coming to him from the wheel of karma for what he has done to destroy sports journalism.