Anyone who has served on a jury knows that the experience is made up of hours of boredom punctuated by moments of tedium. So it came as little surprise last week in Washington, D.C., amid the droning arguments of the Roger Clemens federal perjury trial, that three jurors fell asleep. The judge, Reggie Walton of the U.S. district court, sent two of the nappers to the metaphorical showers but kept the third in the box mostly because, like a manager in an extra-inning All-Star Game, he had nobody left in the bullpen.
Embarrassing as this epidemic of drowsiness was in the annals of American jurisprudence, the dozing three still deserve the customary salute for fulfilling their civic obligation: We thank you for your service! And in their slumber they should also receive credit for providing a wake-up call to those of us who cover sports. Too often, in performing what we consider our journalistic duty, we risk putting readers and viewers to sleep.
This is particularly true of legal stories, which can grind on for years, only to end anticlimactically (precedent: USA v. Barry Bonds). True, the stakes in these matters are high, especially to those involved, so there is some justification for delivering blow-by-blow accounts. But before doing so, it would be wise to heed the admonitions issued from the bench in almost every episode of Law & Order and The Good Wife: "Where are you going with this, counselor?" and "Get on with it!"
Which stories and tropes these days contain as much potential for snooze as news? Consider this a docket for the grand jury. (Concerning several, we plead guilty to misdemeanor overcoverage.)
May 28, 2012
The Pacquiao-Mayweather "fight." Or, as it's also known, The Five-Year Engagement. Manny and Floyd have been circling (and circling, and circling) each other without agreeing to step into the ring, resulting in a breathless retelling of every rumor, feint, catcall, charge and countercharge. How about a news blackout until the deal is done and the antagonists are in training camp?
How's Tiger doing today? Enough with these reports and crawls that begin, "At the Duplex Triplex Pro-Am Open, Tiger Woods (one-over par 73) is in 57th place, nine shots behind." Yes, he's Tiger Woods, and yes, he'll have his weeks. But when he's not in the hunt, bury him in agate type.
Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. ever win another Cup race? Yes. No. Maybe. End of story.
Why the designated hitter should be dumped. Or not. As with the Democrats and the Republicans, you're on one side or the other. No chapter and verse on the pros and cons will change your position.
Will Los Angeles get another NFL team? Let's see, the Raiders and the Rams skipped town after the 1994 season, and since then L.A. has been linked with more NFL franchises than Jennifer Aniston has had boyfriends. Two weeks ago Minnesota passed a stadium initiative (a process that outside the Twin Cities gave Ambien a challenge as a sleep aid), so the Vikings won't be heading west. Is there any point to the endless speculation about what will be the next targeted team and where a stadium might be built? (For the exact right amount of coverage of this issue, see page 38.)
The "deaths" of boxing and horse racing. Like Hyman Roth in Godfather II, these sports have been dying of the same heart attack for the last 20—make that 50—years.
Hints of trouble in Sochi and Rio. Did you know that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia could be imperiled by lack of snow ... and that labor unrest might threaten the 2016 Games in Brazil? Are you in a daily state of panic? Thought so. Speaking of distant early warnings....
Projecting the 2013 NBA and NFL drafts and 2013 college signing days. Fun academic exercises, undoubtedly. But shouldn't the prospective draftees and signees first be permitted to play their 2012 seasons?
Ozzie Guillen's consciousness stream and Charles Barkley's golf swing. These are harmless staples of slow news days, but the mouthy Marlins manager last week took a step toward stopping the madness by shutting down his Twitter feed. And as for Sir Charles's position at impact: turrible, turrible. Finis!
In summation, your honors, heretofore in deciding whether to proceed on such stories, we will adhere to the legal precedent heroically set by the slumbering Clemens Three. We'll sleep on it.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
A 12-year-old San Antonio boy received a one-day suspension from middle school after he had a portrait of Spurs forward Matt Bonner—a fellow redhead and his favorite NBA player—shaved into the back of his head; the school declared the haircut a distraction and a violation of the dress code.