The Unhappiest Man in the World

I’ll get the juvenalia out of the way:

Wallace Matthews is a penis.

I’m convinced there isn’t a more sour, hopeless writer in America, regardless of medium. Perhaps in the history of the world. He makes Franz Kafka look like Mr. Rogers.

If you’ve never had the displeasure of reading him, let me darken your doorway for a moment. Wallace Matthews is a sportswriter for Newsday, and he hates everything. There isn’t an ounce of joy in the man’s heart for any human endeavor. If he was in Paris during the Liberation, he would have complained there was too much confetti in the air.

This was going to be the part where I rattled off sportswriters who I think are good, but sadly, there are very few sportswriters in traditional media that I actually enjoy (this discounts various bloggers and sabermetric geeks like Baseball Prospectus). Tim Marchman of the little-read NY Sun is one baseball writer that I really like, and I’d be hard pressed to think of too many more.

After Marchman, it’s simply a question of degrees of douche-osity. There are self-promoting douches like Mike Lupica and Tony Kornheiser. There are self-righteous douches like Phil Mushnick. There are cranky Luddite douches like Murray Chass and Bill Plaschke. There’s the plethora of middle-of-the-road douches whose names barely register because their writing is all the same shade of pale vanilla.

Matthews is a whole different class of douche. In fact, douche doesn’t even come close to capturing his loathsomeness. It was once said that Willie Mays only played in the majors because there was no higher league. Someone needs to invent a new word to describe the
depths of Matthews’ ugh-itude.

Witness his column of May 22, wherein he picks up his poisoned pen and treats Tim Wakefield like a war criminal. Why? Because he’s forty years old and throws a knuckleball. And he works too slowly for Matthews’ taste. Incensed that this monster still walks the streets, Matthews wastes almost 750 words of the English language in a rambling screed that’s as batshit insane as it is unprovoked.

If it was anyone other than Matthews writing, you would think that the author found Wakefield in bed with his wife. But history has shown that Matthews needs little provocation to unleash his vitriol. Also, any woman married to Matthews would have eaten a glock years ago.

I won’t go through the Wakefield piece (as in Piece Of Shit) blow-by-blow, because Fire Joe Morgan has already done an excellent job of that. But I will tell you that it has all the elements of a typical Wallace Matthews Literary Abortion:

(1) It digs up anger and controversy where there is none. I don’t know of anyone angered by the presence of Wakefield in the Major Leagues, but Matthews acts as if the man is as hated as Barry Bonds And Terrell Owens Squared.

(2) It tries to connect its main thesis to something else happening in the news and fails miserably. In this case, Matthews places Wakefield alongside The Steroid Question, hoping that the two issues will meld by osmosis. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

(3) It contains not a single shred of fact. Not a single quote from any person connected with the game, not even anonymous “sources close to the team”. And yet, it speaks with the self righteous tone of a street corner preacher, as if he and he alone had access to Divine Truth.

(4) It is so full of baseless hate that no light can escape it.

I’m convinced that Wallace Matthews is actually trapped in his own Sisyphean hell. Because of some unspeakable crime committed in a previous life, he’s been condemned to write about baseball, even though he hates the sport. He must crank out several columns a week on a subject he despises. His only recourse: try to drain every last drop of joy from America’s Pastime.

Also trapped in this baseball version of No Exit: Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. That’s the only explanation for how terrible they are.

There is no consistency to Matthews’ negativity. He isn’t anti- or pro-anything in particular. He is neither a traditionalist nor a progressive. He is not a partisan for any particular team. He simply looks at the news each morning and wonders, “How can I use this story to kill the human spirit today?”

In January, Matthews wrote one of the absolute worst columns I’ve ever read, on any subject. He was angry at the Mets for not signing Willie Randolph to a contract extension. He accused the Mets of being cheap, saying they blamed Willie for the team’s loss in the NLCS, and that they’d rather spend their money on “aging players while hanging the
manager out to dry”.

Those are some pretty serious accusations, so you’d think someone lobbing them would have sources or evidence to support such statements. You’d be wrong. It was all intimation posing as fact, without one iota of actual reportage or inside sources.

It was the kind of writing that, had it appeared anywhere else in a newspaper–even in
some bullshit Page 6-type gossip column–would have gotten its author and editor fired, because it presumed knowledge of a situation where there clearly was none. It was, in short, libel.

The only good thing about this column is that within hours–literally–the Mets signed Willie Randolph to a new contract. So Matthews looked like the out-of-touch sour fuck that he is.

What made the whole incident even more amazing is that Matthews’ strange defense of Willie came on the heels of a season during which he took shot after shot at the manager. Following the Mets’ win in game one of the NLDS, he wrote a ridiculous piece about how the team won “despite” his “micro-managing”.

Time out. Game one of last year’s NLDS was awesome. From the double play at the plate to Delgado’s homer to Wagner striking out Nomar to end it, it’s definitely in my Top Five Games I’ve Ever Been To.

And Matthews’ first thought on this fantastic game? The Mets could have lost it. Only Matthews could take a game that was an utter joy to watch and describe it like Chernobyl.

I don’t hate the man. I save hatred for truly evil people, and as far as I know, Wallace Matthews’ crappy, crabby writing has never killed anyone.

I’m puzzled by him. I’m saddened by him. You’re paid to write about baseball for a living, a job I’d give my right arm for, and yet all of your work reads like it was written by Captain Bitch of the S.S. Hopeless. For love of Jebus, find another vocation, something that’ll make you happy. Kicking puppies, maybe.