Support my attention-whoring ways by following us on twitter!

Get the SKOdcast imported directly into your brain!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Read

We've all spoken at length about the tendency of reporters to fill the preseason with empty conjecture and pointless speculation. I've done more than my fair share of mockery of exactly those things. But let's be honest: that's just the way it has to be. They can't not report on team happenings, but nothing really worth talking about is guaranteed to happen. So sometimes they have to dig pretty deep to even find something they can write an article about. 

I'll mock them for doing it poorly, but I get it. You've gotta report on something, but there's nothing really to report on.

Then there's this. On Tuesday, as everyone in Illinois knows, we got our monthly test of the tornado siren system. I don't know if it's the same way in every state and I can't be bothered to look, but this is something that has happened in Illinois literally every first Tuesday of every month I've been alive. 

Enter Tom Musick, a man who somehow wound up working under Hub Arkush. In terms of sportswriter career progression, this is pretty much the version of giving a defeated sigh and agreeing to do an Uwe Boll movie. I used to wonder how Hub even got these guys to come work for him, in fact I believe there is audio evidence of me wondering that exact thing in episode 11 of the SKOdcast.

But after today, I know exactly how. This piece is called "Siren Fails to Slow Down Bears." And it is literally the dumbest thing, Bears-related or otherwise, that I have ever read. In it, Musick marvels at the fact that a routine test of the state's tornado warning sirens did not cause the Bears practice to break down into a screaming orgy of confused violence.

I just... I don't even know where to begin. I'm sorry, Italics, but you must bear the burden of his words.

This is a test. This is only a test.

The article? A test of what? Judging by its content, the ability of a third-grader to simulate sports journalism.

If this were a real emergency, the Bears would have been running and screaming and praying to God (or is it Ditka?)... 

1) It's God. Have you ever heard a professional athlete speak? One in every like... six words out of these guys' mouths is about God. Even the ones who kill people. Especially the ones who kill people.

2) No, only the media still seems to think Ditka is some sort of deity in Chicago. Most of the people I've actually spoken to know him for what he is: a good player, a good coach, and a friendly restaurant owner who spends his off hours playing a caricature of himself on television for millions of dollars.

... (trick question!) to have mercy on their souls.

3) Fuck you.

An overcast sky and a slight breeze greeted the Bears on Tuesday when they arrived to the practice field at Olivet Nazarene University. 

Hopefully with a jaunty musical number about the value of teamwork.

One hour later, at 10 a.m. on the nose tackle, something else greeted them.

A surprise visit from a manic, unshowered, visibly confused Amobi Okoye trying desperately to figure out whether he still is or is not a Bear?

It was a tornado siren.

Oh no, something much stupider than what I suggested.


I have heard a tornado siren a lot of times. I've heard police sirens, ambulance sirens, firetruck sirens, literal sirens beckoning me to join them in the frozen depths... and never, ever, have I heard one make a sound that I would imitate with the word "whirr."

Hut, hut, hike!

Fun fact: I've also never heard anyone who wasn't playing football with a gaggle of underprivileged teens in a movie about friendship say "Hut, hut hike" before snapping the ball.


"Check out this cool sound I can make! Mom! Mom are you listening!? Whirr-WHIRRRR!"

“That’s the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve heard the sirens go off,” veteran running back Michael Bush said with a smile. “But it didn’t alarm me or anything.”

I can just imagine the look of surprise on Michael's face when Tom whipped out his recorder and notepad to scribble furiously upon asking that question. "I thought you were just bullshitting man, are you really planning to write a whole story based on small talk about the weather?"

Oh Michael. Of course he is.

Possibly, this is because Bush is a human wrecking ball at 6-foot-1 and 245 pounds. 
Or the fact that there was no wind, lightning, rain, or adverse weather conditions of any kind within 50 miles of where he was standing.

Alternatively, this is because Bush and his teammates were warned ahead of time that the nearby siren would blare at 10 a.m. as part of a regularly scheduled test.

Oh, that makes a lot more sense. Now presumably, seeing as this is a Chicago news outlet talking about a Chicago sports team, the majority of people reading it are from Illinois. Which means that almost every single reader heard the exact same sirens at 10 a.m. Tuesday. And I'm willing to bet that not one of them thought "Oh God, how will the Bears react?"

By 10:03 a.m., the siren sputtered to its final note.

I've also never heard anyone describe a siren as "sputtering." Your onomatopoeia needs some serious work, Tom.

At 10:05 a.m., the siren awoke for a second round of testing.

So "final note" was just an outright lie, then. 

At 10:08 a.m., silence. At least, as close as Bears practice ever comes to silence.

"And by 10:09, I had posted my story for the day! Boy, journalism sure is hard."

Through the noise, Bush ran for several gains down the right side of the field, fellow running back Michael Ford lumbered up the middle of the field once or twice, and Eric Weems slapped his hands in frustration after letting a ball hit the ground.

This is the only actual football-related information in the column. Why he didn't just go the whole hog and talk about what the grounds crew was doing during the tornado sirens instead, I'll never know.

Fortunately, like the siren system, the Bears’ practice represented another test run. 

Oh shit, they were practicing? I thought they'd been playing real games for weeks now. I wondered where the pads went! I just thought the no-contact rule was some new player safety thing. Thanks, Tom, that's a load off my mind.

Thirty-two days remain before the real deal takes place Sept. 8 at Soldier Field, where the Bears will host the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular season opener.

Oh my God they'll have to deal with another tornado siren! After this ordeal, who can say it won't snap their already fragile mental states and send them screaming into their old-timey storm cellar?

“Coach was telling us not to be alarmed with everything,” said defensive end Corey Wootton, quite possibly the most laid-back player on the team. 

Why Trestman even though he needed to say anything is beyond me. But what criteria, other than the fact that he made it through a routine storm warning system test without soiling himself, do you have qualifying him as the most laid-back player on the team?

“Actually, it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be louder.”

This man has nerves of steel.

Fair enough.

Keep in mind that Wootton’s workplace often includes 60,000-plus screaming strangers. Some of them paint their faces. Many of them lose their voices.

"Remember, this thing is totally not a big deal at all. That's why I wrote a column about it!"

So, yeah, a tornado siren is kind of ho-hum by comparison.

"Look, Hub hired me to make him look good by comparison, and he'll whip me if he even finds out I talked to you about... shit! He's coming!"

Bush knew all about rowdy fans from his four-year stint with the Oakland Raiders. But he never had to practice with a tornado siren wailing across Northern California.

I would argue that I'd rather take my chances with a tornado than spend an hour around Raiders fans, but that's neither here nor there.

“Nah,” Bush said. “No tornadoes. You’ve got to worry about earthquakes. That’s about it.”

I think the players just treat Tom like you treat your younger cousins at Christmastime. Throw him a little small talk, hand him an unplugged controller and tell him he can "play the bad guys." 

That’s about it?

That's what he said. You wrote it on the paper! 

That’s a pretty huge it. 

That third-grader thing I said earlier is really holding up pretty well. This guy is just fascinated by routine, albeit destructive, natural phenomena. There is at least one lighting bolt doodle per page in his notebook, which I assume is a Trapper-Keeper

But the Raiders never bothered with team earthquake drills.

Because that would be fucking stupid. You know what you do if you're outside during an earthquake? Move away from any solid structures, stand still and wait for it to stop. If only the Raiders had some sort of large, empty area, maybe a field, in which to do so.

“In Oakland, when you get earthquakes, you’re sitting at the house or something,” Bush said. “And you’re nervous.”

Are we seriously still asking him about this? I'm guessing that in Tom's mind, an earthquake is exactly like the ones you see in movies where a chasm 100 feet wide opens up and an entire city falls into the abyss. The ground shakes, Tom. Sometimes shit falls over, and if you're under it you might get hurt. 

And you’re shaking. But not because you’re nervous.

Jesus Christ, this guy's puns are worse than Telander's.

One earthquake in particular caught Bush’s attention in a hurry.

Presumably because it was an earthquake.

“It shook the TV real good,” Bush said. “It shook me. But then it was over with real quick.”

Would that I could describe this article the same way.

Wootton doesn’t know much about earthquakes. He’s from New Jersey.

"I asked him a whole buncha times, but he didn't know anything about where earthquakes are or how big the biggest one was or what happens to all the people who fall down in the crack? Does it just go all the way down and there's lava in the bottom? Lava is so cool. I wonder what lava tastes like."

“Sandy was the biggest thing, and that was a rarity going through Sandy,” Wootton said. “Usually, when a hurricane comes, it usually stops around North Carolina or something. It doesn’t go all the way up to New Jersey.”

Tom Musick is so, so disappointed that Corey Wootton's life wasn't ravaged by hurricanes.

Hurricanes never make it to Illinois. Neither do sharknadoes.

Is that... was this whole column just a setup to make a Sharknado joke? And then fuck it up by not even actually telling a joke? Or did he just want us to know that he is aware of Sharknado, like a bad stand-up comic?

But tornadoes do happen, unfortunately, and the Bears need to be ready.

Luckily, I'm assuming that the 53 adult human men working for an organization the size of a small-ish city will somehow figure out to go in the basement should the need arise.

Veteran guard Matt Slauson grew up in Oregon but now considers Nebraska home. He was confident that his new teammates on the Bears would be prepared for a twister.

Because of course they are. Are we operating based on the assumption that there's anyone in America who isn't at least vaguely aware of what to do in the event of a tornado? I'll probably never see a hurricane in my life, but I know what you're supposed to do during one.

"Absolutely,” Slauson said. “Just as long as we don’t think it’s a test.”

Oh, don't encourage him, Matt!

No comments: