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"Chronicle Groupie"
Hyperion June 13, 2007

I find myself needing to follow one of Hyperion's Fundamental Rules: "Always admit when you're wrong." Yesterday I wrote about USA Today's Top 25 Sports Moments of the past 25 years. While agreeing with some of the selections (and maybe I didn't do a good enough job praising what was right), I roundly criticized many glaring omissions, as well as the placement of other stories, such as calling the Boston Red Sox's 2004 World Series win #1.

However, it was the inclusion of #14, the US Women's team winning the World Cup, that really got my ire. I blasted this with all I had, and particularly picked on the author, Miss Rachel Shuster, and made general aspersions about Women and Sports. Well, one of you (and when I find out who there will be a paddlin'!) informed Miss Shuster about my tirade, causing her to come read it herself and comment. This is what she said:

Hi. Thanks for devoting so much space to our Top 25 Sports Stories list.

In hindsight, we should have put that this list WAS THE RESULT OF VOTING BY THE USA TODAY SPORTS NEWSROOM.

I am a former sportswriter and sports columnist. My expertise in sports reporting was used to write up the items.

I disagree and voted differently about many of the items. But I did not let that impact how I wrote up the list AS VOTED BY USA TODAY.

Again, thanks for devoting all the space.

Don't you just hate it when much of your righteous anger is stolen? I guess I should have seen it coming. Even USA Today wouldn't just assign one person to make an entire list. I went back and reread the blurbs for each item, and Miss Shuster does a credible job, I guess, but even then, couldn't she have disassociated herself from the World Cup selection. Here is what she wrote:

14 U.S. women win '99 World Cup

Before 90,185 at the Rose Bowl, the largest crowd to witness a women's sporting event, Brandi Chastain beats China goalkeeper Gao Hong for a 5-4 edge in penalty kicks to break the overtime tie and give the USA the soccer title after two hours of play under a broiling sun. Chastain flings off her white uniform jersey, sparkling confetti envelops the field, U.S. players hug and dance and the Chinese graciously applaud the victors. TV ratings were 2 points higher than for the '99 NBA Finals.

By the way, I'd like to point out that the '99 Finals were the worst in NBA history. Coming off Jordan's retirement (his second, if you're scoring at home), and more importantly, that horrible strike, the finals featured a #8 seed New York Knicks team that had no business being there. It was a truly ugly 5 games to watch. Makes me nauseous just thinking about it, and for Rachel Shuster to not point that out….

Sigh. My heart's not in it. USA Today—and I've become more of a fan recently—is not exactly known for in-depth nuanced coverage, right? I guess I really do owe Miss Rachel Shuster an apology.


Dear Miss Shuster,

I'm sorry the USA Today Sports Editorial Staff—who clearly have been hitting the "funny brownies" at the USA Today buffet table—forced you to write up that horrible list. I'm even sorrier that you couldn't find the courage to distance yourself from the #14 pick, even if it was subliminally. Furthermore, I'm sorry I couldn't find much more about you to tell my readers. Exhaustive research was able to determine that you may or may not be an obsessed Days of Our Lives fan, and you may or may not have witnessed 129 mph serves while playing Division III Tennis in college. (And I'm not making a CLUELESS joke here at your expense, because I'm all about the chivalry.)

Please forgive me and please don't cross me off any USA Today Christmas Card lists. After all, if I sell my soul I might one day be working for them too.

(Just kidding. At this point I'd even work for the NY Times. Well, maybe not them, but I'd definitely work for you guys. Perhaps if I'd been there "Wrestlemania III" would have made the list.)

Best Friends Forever,


PS Be honest: you make up those pie charts on the left side of the page just to stir things up, right?

PPS My favorite part of the newspaper is the section where they print one random wacky item from each state. I always check the places I've lived (Oregon, California, Ohio, Georgia) to see if anything has happened close to where I live. Do you do that too? Anyway, tell whoever heads up that section that it's really cool.

And don't ever tell me I don't know how to do the right thing!
See you tomorrow.


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