Ode to Geoff Baker

Inspired by this article. You should probably read that first, or this won't make much sense. Yes, I know Geoff Baker wrote it. Sorry. I do not own the rights to Geoff Baker's blog, or to much of anything, really, which is a shame. Anyways... begin!

Reading what the commentariat had to say on the Seattle Times Mariners blog after Geoff Baker put up last night's game recap, it was hard to resist not using a weird triple negative to disagree with them. Yes, Geoff's article had potential, since it began by questioning a statement made by an authority figure. If you disagree with that statement, I don't know what to tell you. Any article that begins by questioning authority has potential.

But no, I'm not giving Geoff a free pass, because that article fucking blew. That article shouldn't have "had potential". It should have been over by the 200-word mark. Because the last remotely new thing he had to say was 200 words into a 2000 word article.

And that, my friends, brings us to the crux of Baker's 2012 work. Remember back when Geoff wrote two major articles in a row without mentioning the Mariners’ payroll? Neither do I.

Yeah, that's not the formula for sustained quality writing.

Not when other blogs covering the same team show up and have actual new things to say.

To be fair, Geoff changed things up a bit in his dedicated assault on a Blue Jays team that effectively kicked him out of Toronto for being shit at writing. Baker, in those three articles, didn't say much of substance but at least did a lot of hilariously passive-aggressive bitching about his former team.

But since the Toronto diversion, Geoff either starts an article talking about the game and finishes it with a payroll rant or tacks on only somewhat interesting discussion of the game when the payroll rant at the beginning of the article’s already bored readers to sleep. It’s the same old formula that made his writing dull prior to the All-Star break. Last night, he made a “dramatic opening” by disagreeing with a guy who is required by clubhouse politics not to say what he thinks, then wrote about Mariners ownership’s unwillingness to spend money for the rest of the article.

When compared to articles by good writers, yours will look bad almost every time when you stretch one point into the last 1,250 words. A couple of days ago, Geoff wrote an article about ERA, FIP and the Cy Young Award that I thought was more interesting than what some Fangraphs writers had to say on the subject. Now, after this past week, you can see what a fluke that was.

So, here we are. We’ve got a sportswriter feeling his way. Learning his way. The comments said that the article was close. And yeah, I can see that. Baker should have kept his train of thought in the article last night, as well as in the one about the Mariners’ 8-7 loss to the Orioles. Do that, and he’d have had three interesting articles in his last seven instead of only one, and we’d be talking about how he’s “surviving” a road trip, which I’ll grant is an exceedingly hard thing for most sportswriters to do.

But he’s not. The articles are terrible. Because he’s not ready to write interesting things. Geoff was “taking ownership to task” in 2009 and again in 2010 and 2011 and now in 2012. And he’ll keep doing it until the Mariners are a competitive team, and he’s forced to write about how the front office has succeeded instead. In other words: like a creepy stalker, he’ll keep asking ownership out, complaining about “friend-zoning” until they finally cave and go out with him.

Keep throwing out copy-pasted articles, and you’ll get copy-pasted results. I’m not going to do the Times’ dirty work and describe this as “the right way” to cover a sports team, when clearly, there are blogs like Lookout Landing which are producing more content and making interesting points at the same time. Geoff’s way is the lazy way to write. Disagree? Dude, look at the size of the comments sections and stop flapping your gums, it’s super creepy when you do that. It’s like they aren’t even attached to your teeth! Baker has some interesting skills, like a strong voice, fast typing and ridiculous determination. But the voice was a non-factor last night, the typing messed him up big-time on the grammar and the determination has been more harm than help this year.

And Geoff isn’t nearly as promising as Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing, who wrote a hilarious and touching recap after last night’s depressing game. That alone is a warning sign. No writer should be able to make me laugh that hard after a loss to the fucking Angels.

What to do next? Stop accepting mediocrity. No, that won’t change anything, so I don’t know why I’m telling you to do it. But it’s mind-blowing to keep reading the same stuff from folks who insist this is the “right way” to cover sports, but who now don’t use Jon Morosi as their prime example of what “the right way” means. Why not? Because the dude is fucking annoying, seriously.

So, if Geoff is striving to be Morosi, which I just said no one said he’s doing, what does that mean? That he’ll get one scoop in a season? Seriously? That’s what these years of complaining about ownership have been about? Some will now pretend they never cited Morosi as the model. They’ll say Heyman is the choice. Hate to tell you, but Baker is hardly Morosi or Heyman. Baker is a journalist with a decent writing style who doesn’t just parrot what he hears from other journalists’ twitter feeds.

Wake up, Seattle.

You don't have to settle for mediocrity. Geoff Baker sure doesn’t: he’ll be raking in the blog hits when the Mariners are competitive again, though I don’t know how making money from interested fans has to do with mediocrity in any way shape or form and am thus unsure how this sentence is supposed to work. So, why are you now bending over backwards to accept this repetitive, redundant writing when anybody with a two eyes, a grammar checker and a thought process that does more than parrot a party line should know darned well that Geoff has the talent to do more?

I don't know. Maybe it's a Northwest thing. I'm not from the Northwest, so I feel like it’s OK for me to assume that you are naturally inferior and thus willing to deal with snobby writers who insult you in blog posts. Teach me.

But what I'm not going to do, in the interim, is blame the Mariners for being the subject of this tireless babble. The Mariners aren’t a good team, but they’re an interesting team. There’s so much weird shit going on with the Mariners this year that there’s gotta be more things to write about than their payroll. Munenori Kawasaki is on the Mariners, and he plays more often than Chone Figgins. Weird. The team is young, and bad in unusual ways, and there’s lots of stuff to write about. Find another coward to talk about how bad the Mariners are. I won’t do it. I’d rather subtly imply that I am braver than all other journalists because I bravely refuse to address things that they are willing to.

Yeah, you can make excuses. Geoff didn’t write a good article last night because he didn’t get his coffee fix, so he had to go back and copy-paste the back half of an old article, then crash. He wrote a bad article last night because his grammar check went on the fritz and his uploader deleted his original, better article.

Give me a break.

Just because Geoff can type at 99 MPH and post articles really fast doesn’t mean it’s OK for those articles to be concentrated ass. Just because that's the best he feels like offering up right now doesn't mean the Times should be paying him to write them. To me, for last night's game, Geoff writing a bad article did not surprise.

You can feel free to disagree. Throw all of your previous, Pulitzer-Prize winning experience at me. Your opinion means nothing because you are not a member of a select group of people that I am also not a member of. But my opinion matters. Wait, what was I saying again?

For me, I'll just stick to what I truly believe.

Baker is a lazy writer who’s going to write a lot of bad articles until someone holds him to a higher standard. He needs to stop saying the same damn thing over and over again, seriously god dammit at this point in his original article this was the fourth time he said the Mariners need to spend more money, I get it dude shut up.

But you have to know your audience. If your competitors are reaching thousands of readers and you’re writing about exactly one subject and claiming you’re trying to provide equally good coverage, you’re either someone who loves to face really bad odds, a little dense, or else you believe your readers lack the intelligence to know the difference. Regardless, I don’t care, and I’m not going to tell you why this sentence is here or what I’m supposed to be not caring about in this particular situation regardless of what. Look at the articles, folks. Looooook at them. They’re sooooo baaaaad.

The good news is, this won’t last forever. The Mariners are going to be seriously good in a couple of years. The bad news is, the Seattle Times will spend these next couple years offering you no coverage but Baker’s repetitive drivel instead of hiring a writer who will actually write about the multiple interesting aspects about the team.

Sports journalism is an unfair field. It’s all about using cheap gimmicks and bad puns to draw in readership, then raking in the cash once you’ve established brand loyalty. Sure, there’s the odd sportswriter like Rob Neyer who keeps the myth of good sportswriting alive and dares other writers to write interesting things too. None will, because sports journalists are by and large lazy assholes.

And yet, thanks to silly “editors” who perpetuate shitty writing for the masses without checking to see if a sentence actually contradicts the previous one before sticking “and yet” on the beginning of it, the myth will prevail. Once again, in case it didn’t sink in: Geoff Baker is not Jon Heyman, Jon Morosi, or any of the other millions of faceless, voiceless sportswriters named Jon. He’s determined, he’s a quick writer, and he has a strong voice in text. He doesn’t have to blankly repeat things he hears on Twitter in the constant search for trade deadline blog hits. But if Baker does actually gets what he wants and the Mariners spend more, he claims he’ll start asking “why did you spend now? Why did you give me what I’ve been bitching about for years now this time, instead of the first time I asked?” Which is fucked up, dude, seriously.

Watching Baker look a gift horse in the mouth, you’ll wonder whether this was really all about waiting for the Mariners to spend, or merely for the readers to notice that Geoff writes the same fucking thing in every fucking article. But at least you’ll be asking better questions than the questions you were asking before, which come to think of I didn’t actually mention you were asking. I don’t actually know what those questions were. Maybe they were good!

Good luck. Wake me up when Baker’s willing to write something new and interesting again.

(Man, using an imperative and a warning to end an article makes me sound like a badass. Sweet.)

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