NOTE: Some of what follows might be a little blogging inside baseball to some, but I beg you to stick with it and read all the way through. If you are like most critically thinking sports fans, you'll enjoy the fact that this post highlights the takedown of a lazy columnist. No, it's not a Twin Cities bloviator, but that doesn't make it less enjoyable. Also, because I got to create the image you see above...
For me, blogging is about extending my relationship with the teams I love. I don't do it for the money. I don't do it for the fame (see my pseudonym). I do it because I enjoy it and because I think The Daily Gopher offers myself, the rest of the masthead, and our readers a community where we can share our love of the Minnesota Gophers and talk Gopher Sports 24/7/365.
But some days it's about standing up (figuratively, the ceiling in my mom's basement is too low to do it for real) and calling out the sheer stupidity of the HOT TAKES driven columntariat. The fine folks at Pension Plan Puppets (SBN's Toronto Maple Leafs blog) seem to enjoy this last part as well.
So without further delay I present to you their story:
Phil Kessel & The Magic Hot Dog
For those that aren't aware, former Gophers Hockey standout Phil Kessel was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Phil has always been an interesting character and this trade immediately brought with it anticipation that someone in the Toronto media would pen a shoddy hit piece about the departing winger.
Get your popco(u)rn, hockey fans. It's time for the Toronto media to show the Boston media how you assassinate a character.— Ben Dawson (@BenjaminJDawson) July 1, 2015
Ok, I've got "Locker room cancer", "Not a leader", "Overpaid", and "Didn't fit in the Toronto culture" on my bingo card #Mittenstringers— Ben Dawson (@BenjaminJDawson) July 1, 2015
Hockey fans everywhere were in for a real treat thanks to Toronto
Star Sun columnist Steve Simmons. His trade "analysis" column wasn't just chock full of the expected "PHIL KESSEL WAS AN EVIL PERSON WHO DESTROYED THE LEAFS AND WE'RE ALL BETTER OFF WITH HIM GONE" drivel. It opens with what is probably a manufactured anecdote. The bit in question?
The hot dog vendor who parks daily at Front and John Sts. just lost his most reliable customer. Almost every afternoon at 2:30 p.m., often wearing a toque, Phil Kessel would wander from his neighbourhood condominium to consume his daily snack. - Toronto Sun
The insinuation is that Phil is fat and out of shape and generally a bad lazy person and thus a terrible teammate and team cancer. Trust me on the fact that the rest of the piece continues to pull on that thread...don't give them the clicks. It's a stupid way to open a column and a lazy lead in to other poorly thought out and poorly defended arguments. It's a "Seizures = Big Ten Wins" level fat joke. It would be easy to leave it at that, but Chemmy of Pension Plan Puppets is no ordinary blogger:
Let's be frank: the problem with calling someone out using facts is that facts can be verified. On Thursday night a birdie whispered in my ear that he didn't think Phil Kessel lived near Front and John. He thought Phil Kessel lived near Bay and College.
We verified Kessel's address the hard way, then found an easier way (which we're declining to share right now because it's hard to do without saying exactly where he lives), and then found something hilarious. Let's start.
1. The Hard Way
On HBO's 24/7 They show Phil Kessel's condo. It has lovely floor to ceiling windows which means we could watch the scene, see what buildings were around, and get a rough idea of where Phil Kessel lives.
This made us decide that he lived near College and Bay, as per the rumor.
2. The Easiest Way
Phil Kessel is literally in the phone book in Toronto:
The phone book seems like a reasonable way to verify a story, Toronto Sun.
My hat is off to Chemmy. Because while it's easy to dismiss bloviating like this, sometimes it's more fun (and even easier) to debunk it and make fun of it.
TL;DR: Solid take-downs of really bad columnists are a lot of fun to write and to read. Also, Phil Kessel may look fat but he's actually a very fast and extremely talented hockey player. Lastly, eating hot dogs does not mean you are a team cancer.