Oh dear. On Labor Day, the Orange County Register published a column by Mark Whicker that I fear is the odds-on favorite to be the Worst Newspaper Column of 2009. Holy crap, but this is awful. Eye-searingly, soul-hurtingly awful. It's one of those timeless pieces that takes a recent news event, and infuses it with memories of the past. That, in and of itself, is not so bad! But what if I told you that the "recent news event" was the rescue of Jaycee Dugard from her kidnapper and rapist, Phillip Garrido, after twenty years of isolation and confinement, and that the past memories were those of all the great sporting events she missed while she was in captivity, being raped?
This is all totally real.
It doesn't sound as if Jaycee Dugard got to see a sports page.
Box scores were not available to her from June 10, 1991 until Aug. 31 of this year.
She never saw a highlight. Never got to the ballpark for Beach Towel Night. Probably hasn't high-fived in a while.
She was not allowed to spike a volleyball. Or pitch a softball. Or smack a forehand down the line. Or run in a 5-footer for double bogey.
Now, that's deprivation.
Yes. That's right. Only one columnist had the guts to ask, "Is Jaycee Dugard getting enough high-fives?"
What is INSANE about this column is that the bulk of it is nothing but a goddamned LISTICLE of sports news from the past two decades, which was probably just pulled right off the top of this columnist's head to fill out whatever word-count requirement the OC Register enforces. Here are some extremely cringe-worthy examples:
•Mike Tyson now makes fun of himself in movies.
•The Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in '07. Yeah, a hockey team came to Anaheim. Yeah, they built an arena in Anaheim.
•I know you've had trouble digesting all this so far, but they also built a basketball arena at USC. Honest to God.
•A guy from East L.A. named Oscar De La Hoya now makes boxing contenders rich and famous. Just as he did when he was boxing.
•The Angels won a World Series. When you learn who they beat, you'll understand why.
Seriously! Just how hard can one Huffington Post media critic pound out the letters "WTF" on his keyboard? I JUST FOUND OUT THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION.
Outside of perhaps, that last example, there's no attempt to view a specific sports memory through the prism of Dugard's experience, or vice-versa. PERHAPS THIS IS FOR THE BEST. Nevertheless, it's still the worst column I have read, in MANY A MOON.
Here's how Whicker ends this: "Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard."
German linguists really need to come up with a 43-letter polysyllabic word to describe the precise feeling you experience, reading this awfulness.
Update: Whicker responds with regret over Dugard column:
For Tuesday's Register, I wrote a column that clearly offended and outraged large portions of our readership. It was not my intention to do so. But it's obvious that I miscalculated the effect the column on Jaycee Dugard, and the events that she might have missed during her captivity, had on those who read, buy and advertise in our newspaper.