Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It's Time For Your Morning Plaschke Rip

Sit down, get your coffee, and feast your eyes on the latest offering from LA Times column-inch addict, Bill Plaschke:

Bob Schaefer sits in a quiet dugout on one of those glorious baseball afternoons in Chavez Ravine, staring out at a gleaming stadium slowly filling with the clatter of dirt-caked groundskeepers, smiling peanut hawkers and grim security toughs.

"I've done that," he says.

Which part?

He smiles and shrugs.

"All of it," he says.

The Dodgers bench coach has been more than just the guy with the fungo bat and stopwatch and sweaty sleeve from throwing a basket of balls.

He has been the guy mowing the grass, spreading the lime, working the hose; the guy with the rake, the shovel, the strain.

He has been the guy taking tickets, selling snacks, peddling advertisements, sweeping the floor, guarding the door.

Bob Schaefer has spent a dozen years as a manager -- of a high school team.

He has been selected manager of the year -- in Class A of the minor leagues.

He is in the Hall of Fame -- of the collegiate Cape Cod League.

A guy who has spent two seasons helping guide the Dodgers to the top of major league baseball has spent exactly zero days playing major league baseball.

Thirteen paragraphs into this story, you might still be saying, "Who?"

No, 13 paragraphs into this story, I'm asking myself why 13 sentences take 13 frickin' distinct paragraphs. Is it because Plaschke can't string together consecutive coherent thoughts? Is it because Plaschke is paid by the column inch rather than the word? (I'm also wondering why he needs spaces before and after his em-dashes, but that's for another rant.)

Couldn't one combine "paragraphs" two through five?

And six through eight?

Nine through eleven?

Couldn't one make his points of parallel construction without offsetting each item with a separate indent?

A unique carriage return?

A differentiated sectional arrangement?

It's too bad, too, as it's a pretty nice valentine piece (you know, the ones Plashcke has to write about the Dodgers to compensate for all of his other critical Dodgers-targeted blather) about Bob Schaefer, asssitant and confidant to Joe Torre. I've wondered who he was as well, although it was more interesting to me to read about the role he plays today rather than his resume of odd jobs (including grave digging). But it's worth a read.

That is, if you don't mind hitting the "Page Down" key incessantly.


Paul said...

I clicked on the link to post a comment.

The whole process seemed oddly familiar.

Then I noticed I might be the first.

An initiator you might say in a innocuous game.

Then five paragraphs later I couldn't remember what I wanted to type.

Oh yeah Plaschke sucks.

MR.F said...

Happy Beatles Day! After 2 weeks of Seattle and SoCal, I'm finally Back in the U.S.S.R.!

Jimbo said...

It's not just Plaschke's column. Most, if not all, newspapers feature one sentence paragraphs. Industry standard, from what I was told in my journalism class ages ago.

It also doesn't help that newspapers are edited to read at a 7th grade reading level, the average reading level of newspaper readers.

For once, Plaschke didn't do something douchebaggy! Though he is still a douchebag.

Greg Zakwin said...

What's wrong with spaces after dashes?

I guess I agree with Plaschke on something, though I use only 1 dash, not 2.

rbnlaw said...

I think Plaschke has a Scratchy Lincecum.

Steve Sax said...

@KempKershaw: I'm not sure. AP Style Online has some questions that address this issue, including:

Q. In this example, should the hyphen be flush against the dates or have spaces? "Jan. 24, 2009-May 3, 2009" or "Jan. 24, 2009 - May 3, 2009" Thanks. – from Washington, D.C. on Fri, Aug 22, 2008

A. Jan. 24, 2009, to May 3, 2009, ... or, Jan. 24-May 3 in 2009.

I tend to use em-dashes (which AP doesn't officially recognize anyway) without spaces on either end. SoSG Orel uses a real em-dash (an elongated hyphen, rather than two back-to-back hyphens), but also doesn't add spaces on either end (I believe).

In Plaschke's case, it seems to me that it's yet another technique to stretch out the vertical length of his columns as far as possible.

Kyle Baker said...

Plaschke writes on the 7th grade level.

He is and always will be a douche of the highest order.

And he is fat.

Greg Zakwin said...

Steve Sax- I just put in spaces because I feel it improves the look and makes it easier to read. If I knew how to use the elongated one though, I probably wouldn't use the spaces.

And to think Plaschke has won awards. Christ, there's hope yet for you or I or anyone else who posts here to win a Pulitzer!

Then it's off to universities to speak and such.

Steve Sax said...

@KempKershaw: ...of cabbages and kings.

Greg Zakwin said...

Steve Sax- Of important prose and vital causes.