It is very tempting to claim Sports Illustrated’s venerable Tom Verducci has forgotten more about baseball than Deadspin’s Will Leitch will ever learn. That, however, is probably a gross exaggeration. It might be more to the point to say that I’ve forgotten more about George Plimpton than Leitch has learned about Verducci, but either way, let’s review Will’s comments regarding Tom.
In ’05, Verducci participated in Toronto’s spring training in Dunedin, FL. Last Monday, Verducci played right field for the Blue Jays during their Cooperstown, NY exhibition against the Orioles.
Were I a paying customer that afternoon, I might’ve been somewhat dismayed at Toronto denying playing time to another member of the organization in favor of the SI scribe. And while I don’t know Will Leitch’s whereabouts that day, he seems to take unusual umbrage for an altogether different reason.
We understand Verducci’s instinct; playing baseball was one of the most pleasurable things we’ve ever done, and we miss it, pretty much every day. But after a while, it really does just become a vanity project; yes, yes, Tom, we understand that you are in better shape than just about everybody else who covers baseball. But it might be time to let it go.
We understand the notion; believe us, Tom, we do. But it’s probably time to move on now. Every athlete scoffs that all sports reporters are just frustrated athletes. You’re not doing much to prove them wrong. We know it hurts. We know. But time to put the spikes away.
I guess I missed the part of Verducci’s article where he announced he’d be doing this annually. But just the same, he might do well to take Will’s advice and stick to far more dignified journalistic pursuits — like taking batting practice against John Rocker.