Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cooking the Books: Feschuk, Grange lampooning Leafs

Mike Myers failed to wring great mirth from the Toronto Maple Leafs' 40 years in the hockey desert, but Toronto sportswriters Michael Grange and Dave Feschuk are going to try.

Hockey Book Reviews has the low-down on their joint effort, which will be published at the start of the 2009-10 NHL season:
Leafs AbomiNation: The dismayed fans' handbook to why the Leafs stink and how they can rise again - Dave Feschuk and Michael Grange have an interesting book coming. It looks like it could almost comical - the listed price: $19.67.
This could be a big seller in Ottawa, especially at that price.

It is the first book for the Star's Feschuk and The Globe & Mail's Grange, if memory serves. Each of them, as you know, usually has the basketball beat at their papers, so they probably should bring a fresh take on MLSE's hockey operation.

Their vigour and willingness to take this all the way should be saluted. It beats becoming passive-aggressive about the Leafs, or having to pretend not to care about Canada's dominant sports franchise, save for occasionally being prolix about the permanent stain of Harold Ballard or the legacies of Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour.

Incidentally, on the sports publishing front, you should check out the excerpt from Jeff Pearlman's The Rocket Who Fell To Earth, his biography of Roger Clemens. All efforts are being exhausted to secure a review copy.


eyebleaf said...

It makes a ton of sense that two of the towns basketball writers are having a crack at the Leafs.

I'm sure they had a jolly good time doing it. Especially Feschuk.

And, talk about being original on the price. A 1967 joke! Man, I'm just, you know, blown away. What creativity. What brilliance.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

No kidding Eyebeleaf. What a surprise that two guys that cover a team that no one cares about have decided to cover the most popular team in Canada.

Feschuk's history of covering the Leafs is just a string of drive-by, poorly researched, hatchet jobs on the Maple Leafs in between calling Bosh a deadbeat bad and covering the Raptors poorly.

I have hope for Grange since I am not that familiar with his work. Hopefully he overpowered Feschuk.

Their vigour and willingness to take this all the way should be saluted.

Ummm yeah congrats on writing about a topic that at least one of you has no clue about but that is much more financially lucrative than your own current job. I look forward to painters being vigourous and willing enough to become doctors.

It beats becoming passive-aggressive about the Leafs

That's true. Feschuk is just plain aggressive.

so they probably should bring a fresh take on MLSE's hockey operation.

Ummm Feschuk is just taking Cox's schtick to an even further extreme.

sager said...

Oh, sarcasm is just lost on you guys. The proof will be in the reading (but if it's being sold for $19.67 right off the hop, it might not be another Searching For Bobby Orr).

rosco said...

Feschuk is a hack lacking any semblance of subtlety; he actually makes Steve Simmons a sympathetic figure when he fills in on TSN's The Reporters. Grange hasn't written anything that wasn't written better by Doug Smith. I am not surprised that both of these clowns took this route.

What a wonderful time to be a fan of Toronto sports teams when those that cover the teams can only muster up such a cynical and mean-spirited response. I like the Leafs, dislike their fans, and hate the media that cover them.

sager said...

I just put my applications to the Star and Globe through the shredder, or might as well have. C'mon, guys.

rosco said...

i'm not sure what response you want, Neate.

the book isn't out yet so i can only comment on the topic and the authors. yes, i'm judging a book by its cover. piling on the Leafs is nothing new, so the topic is kinda boring. these two writers rarely offer views that i find to be informed, unique, or entertaining, and often confuse criticism for cynicism.

do not mistake this as an indictment of their respective employers and their sports sections - there are great voices published in those papers.

if anything this book appears to be another sound in the echo camber of negative voices that tends to resonate louder and more frequently in hockey journalism. i can't get all that jazzed about another "here are the problems with hockey and i'm going to write about them with only the appearance of objectivity because this is 'commentary'" book. bah. i think my reasoning for not looking forward to it is justifiable and shouldn't discourage your career path. after all, in the marketplace of ideas, i chose you, Neate.

that said, the Pearlman book you linked to looks really interesting. i have enjoyed his past writing - his books on the Mets and the Cowboys are great reads, informative, thorough, and often funny - and will probably pick up a copy.

sager said...

I'm just goofing around ... and the best of the Pearlman books is probably the Bonds book, at least it's the most meticulously researched and was the best at telling me stuff I didn't know about the subject. Granted, the '86 Mets and the '90s Cowboys were so thoroughly covered, even in the pre-Internet days.

What I like about Pearlman is that he makes time for everyone; the backup long snapper is just as important to him as Troy Aikman. He did a really good piece a while ago about the close family members of a ballplayer who was lost at sea in the early 1980s. It came out the same day as Posnanski's SI cover story on Pujols, but it was like, man, who would have thought to pursue that story?

rosco said...

goofing around, gotcha. when i thought you were a feschuk apologist, i was worried about you for a second.

sager said...

Actually, I owe you kids a more serious answer.

With something like this it's more about accepting how they make the hot dog (and paraphrasing what you're saying, if you don't like it, there are other hot dogs, or blogs).

I remember years ago when Thomas Frank came to my university to give a talk. I missed the talk, but got to talk to him afterward (in the bar). This was when he would have been working on What's The Matter With Kansas? and I asked, well, if smart writers know a lot of this neocon bafflegag is complete BS, why do they write it? He said, because it was profitable to write right-wing polemics.

Now, I'm not saying this is one and the same, but it gets to the heart of why I'm not ruffled. A book about why the Leafs stink, written by two sportswriters from the country's two biggest papers, would be a good seller. It's not a big risk for the publisher either, if they promote it well. It's like Posnanski says, he's got some great book ideas, but he knows they would only sell about 12 copies.

eyebleaf said...

I love Grange's work. I'm not a fan of Feschuk's work.

But don't you think the price is just a slap in the face?

Don't you think that two writers from the country's two biggest papers might want to come across a bit more seriously?

Andrew Bucholtz said...

I quite like Grange, so I think this has potential, and it may be an advantage for it to be written by guys who aren't on the Leafs' beat; they'll bring a different perspective. Let's just hope there aren't any stories about Mats Sundin being a deadbeat dad. On the price; don't necessarily lay that at the feet of the writers. It could easily be a publicity gimmick thought up by the publisher.

eyebleaf said...

Andrew, I appreciate where you're coming from, but the price has Feschuk ALL OVER IT.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

Neate - Sorry if we don't know your history with the guys. Thank God you're being sarcastic but it doesn't translate well to the written word when you aren't sure ;)

Anyway, great anecdote about Frank. I just read his book on the conservatives anti-government culture and have been meaning to read What's The Matter With Kansas.

It's like Posnanski says, he's got some great book ideas, but he knows they would only sell about 12 copies.

Isn't that like a hardcore rapper deciding to do musicals because it's more commercially viable? Isn't that a bit cynical?

Andrew - I agree with Eyebeleaf. It's all Feschuk.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

Fair enough, guys; I don't read the Star all that regularly, so you have a much better sense of Feschuk's writing than I do. Used to enjoy Scott Feschuk's pieces in the National Post, but I haven't read too much from Dave, so I'll take your word for that one.