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NY Post
New York Post
15 Apr 2023

NextImg:Ranking best portrayals of sportswriters in film

Trent Krimm is the latest in a long line of attempts to make sportswriters look, well, like sportswriters.

The fictional sporting scribe for London’s Independent newspapers, portrayed on “Ted Lasso” by James Lance, hits a few right notes, hits on a few tired old tropes and generally reminds you what sportswriters as a whole don’t often make compelling sports characters. 

But Hollywood has tried. 

And it’s funny: In the same way it’s impossible to watch a TV show about a hospital or a law firm with a doctor or a lawyer and not hear the litany of what’s wrong with their portrayal … well, it’s the same with sportswriters and sportswriters.

Mostly we serve as comic relief, with the occasional spasm of moral indignation.

It hasn’t often been kind. 

Here are my personal favorites, for any number of reasons. 

If he wasn’t ever going to win any good housekeeping awards, I believe the awards you’d occasionally see in his office were earned.

Klugman’s Oscar gets the nod over Walter Matthau’s only because we were around Klugman longer.

Tells you something that Klugman went from Oscar to Quincy — an M.E., for crying out loud — and became more likeable. 

James Lance plays Trent Krimm on Ted Lasso.
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I genuinely believe that a sportswriter would’ve come up with the funniest line of the movie — when he finally realizes that “F.U.” is shorthand for his roommate, Felix Unger , and not something else — and his anger at missing the triple play … yeah, I’ve seen that for real in press boxes. 

Sportswriter as a full-blown heel turn.

Everyone on earth is rooting for Roy Hobbs to succeed except the jaded columnist/cartoonist.

Hobbs gets his, though. “You read my mind Hobbs,” Mercy says, then Hobbs cuts him off at his kneecaps: “That takes all of three seconds.” 

Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall plays Max Mercy in the iconic The Natural.
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This portrayal has thrown more sportswriters into spasm than any other because we almost never see Ray writing his Newsday column outside his basement.

But as we learned during the pandemic … we make do where we can. Turns out Ray was ahead of the curve. 

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He’s been at the gig a little too long and confesses to his buddy, Reggie Dunlap (Paul Newman), that he’s been known to “capture the spirit of the thing” in trying to describe the Chiefs in the morning paper, rather than piling on how mediocre they are.

Dirty sportswriting secret: We all have out favorites.

Reggie Dunlap is a good one to have. 

Proof that even the greatest of all time don’t have to pigeonhole themselves to playing Othello or Hamlet, but can have a go at sportswriting, too.

Describing a washed-out boxer’s strengths, Bogey says, “He’s got an iron jaw and a cast-iron stomach. Not a man alive can hurt him.” 

Maybe the quintessential sportswriter in that P.J. starts out as a reporter but has eyes on being a columnist, and there’s an ambition that has been inherent in every sportswriter, male or female, going back to the beginning of time. 

Worth remembering because he said a line that every sportswriter ever born has uttered at one time or another to a colleague: “Beefing up those frequent-flyer miles, is that it?”

All he needed to do was add Marriott points and he’d be the patron saint. 

Maybe the most pugnacious sportswriter ever portrayed, since he’ll stop at nothing to dig up dirt on Pete Bell’s Western University hoops team.

And, of course, there is plenty of dirt to dig up. 

Ed O'Neill

Ed O’Neill plays Ed Axley in Blue Chips.
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Give it up for Sam: He IDs Lou Gehrig as a player long before anyone else does.

And he gets to deliver the money quote: “Let me tell you about heroes, Hank. I’ve covered a lot of ’em, and I’m saying Gehrig is the best of ’em.

No front-page scandals, no daffy excitements, no horn-piping in the spotlight …”

It’s been a rare treat for me to be able to share this column space the past two years with Ian O’Connor, who started out many moons ago as a mentor, then became a friend and these past 24 months a terrific colleague.

He deserves all the good stuff. 

When Clemenza tells Michael in “The Godfather,” “These things gotta happen every [few years]. Helps get rid of the bad blood,” I just assume he was referring to a Devils-Rangers playoff series. 

Funny the things you catch when you’re channel surfing: ex-Miracle Met Ron Swoboda doing Tulane baseball games on ESPN+. 

Ron Swoboda

Ron Swoboda
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Let’s put it this way: “Air” is so good that if there had been another showing in the theater where I saw it immediately after, I would definitely have sat through it again. 

Gary Siegel: Was I the only one thinking, after the Islanders gave up a shorthanded goal in the clinching win to Montreal, that because of their anemic power play, they should see if they can decline penalties a la football? May work out better for them. 

Vac: I think every Islanders fan was thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time. 

Joe Abs: Since you’ve been on a “Hoosiers” run in your column of late: If DaQuan Jeffries makes the game-winning free throw, can we get an “Ollie” reference? Too much? 

Vac: Too much is never too much when it comes to “Hoosiers,” Joe. 

@brian41852471: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nets beat the 76ers. They probably won’t, but it could go six or seven games. 

@MikeVacc: Beating James Harden, and winning to spite Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving? I could get behind that plan. 

Rob Pasqua: Heard that Hobie Landrith passed away. Didn’t realize he was the original Met. Ninety-three years young. Catcher on opening day in 1962. Hit .289 in just 23 games before being traded later in the season. 

Vac: And owner of one of the great names in team history!