Houston, We Have a Problem
William Houston goes off the deep end this morning with a post that for no apparent reason blasts James Mirtle, former blogger and now Maple Leaf beat writer at the Globe and Mail. I understand why Houston resents James because I suspect Mirtle got the job after senior people – like Houston – were forced into retirement when the Globe reorganized the sports department to save money. Out with the old expensive guys and in with the cheap young bucks.
That is not Mirtle’s problem, and that’s still no excuse for grinding his axe like this:
The biggest joke of 2009-10, unfortunately, was the spectacle of James Mirtle attempting to function as a Globe and Mail hockey writer. A statistics wonk with limited journalistic skills, poor James struggled, to say the least. Consider his gruesome effort on April 12, in which he “reports” on Leaf coach Ron Wilson’s assessment of the season.
Mirtle wanted us to know that some ex-Leafs felt the players in the room had given up playing for Wilson. He wrote, “And while at least one of those traded has quietly told friends around the league that the Leafs coach had ‘lost the room,’ it’s now crystal clear Burke came down on the side of Wilson, shuttling out nearly 40 per cent of his roster in a span of five weeks in a bid to clear out the malcontents.”
Okay, so who’s the player quietly telling “friends around the league” that Wilson lost the room? Either James didn’t know, or he didn’t have the guts to report his name. It was just cheap gossip and a cowardly bit of work. And didn’t you love his term “crystal clear”? My god, that hackneyed piece of twaddle was worn out and over-used decades ago.
He’s the biggest joke of 2009-10 for doing what every other hockey writer does? Like Houston has never used an anonymous source or a hackneyed phrase! Furthermore, Mirtle was almost certainly right because even when he wins, Ron Wilson has enemies among the players. When he is losing, he is insufferable. That’s Ron Wilson. It is also “crystal clear” that Brian Burke is standing behind his coach if only because at this stage in the rebuilding process, he’s still getting rid of players with the ones who are unhappy with Wilson at the top of his list.
For the record, I think Mirtle has done a decent job for the Globe which is about the highest grade I’d give to a beat writer. Its difficult – perhaps impossible – to deliver up interesting and original copy about a game or interview that most fans saw on television. Getting the job at the Globe was a great career move for Mirtle – and I was happy for him – but it wasn’t great for hockey fans.
We used to be able to ignore guys like William Houston at the Globe and read interesting, original and independent thought on Mirtle’s blog. They’ve traded platforms and we’re all the loser for it.