Jay Mariotti is probably the most polarizing man in the history of Chicago sports media and quite possibly the most hated in all of the national sports media. He comes off especially pompous on his Twitter account, where he follows nobody. He’s like the Eminem of sports media- he’s had a feud with everyone. Mariotti has had a tiff with former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, his former employer the Chicago Sun-Times, King of all sports blogs Deadspin, and many others.
The Sun-Times move of partnering with new upstart website ChicagoSide has rekindled the war of words between Mariotti and the second city’s second newspaper.
The Sun-Times on Mondays will run two pages of ChicagoSide content. The website is run by two extremely connected individuals, one of which is former Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Eig. Mariotti contributes to ChicagoSide.
“The funny thing would be if the Sun-Times picks up a Mariotti column or two!” writes the person who tipped me off to the Sun-Times/ChicagoSide partnership.
De Luca is now Sun-Times sports editor. I asked him yesterday if there’s any chance he’ll pick up Mariotti’s columns. His response:
“Zero chance of that happening.”
In the early 1990s, Jay came to the Sun-Times and the paper unveiled a new slogan for the sports dept. ATTITUDE. It was built around Jay.
Fast forward to the early 2000s, Jay was hired by ESPN to do the insipid gas bags on parade talk show “Around the Horn” on ESPN and a mini studio was built in the middle of the Sun-Times newsroom, when they were located on Wabash. He was pretty much given carte blanche to do whatever he wanted as he had rock star status at the time. He continued his show when they moved into the building on Orleans.
But then S-T beat writers complained that Jay wouldn’t go into the locker room after games and that he was poaching quotes from other writers.
He always fought with management and the desk but it was just “Jay Being Jay” like “Manny being Manny.” He threatened to quit a few times, but things came to a head when he got back from China in 2008, after the Olympics. More beat writers were bitching that he never went into locker rooms, and that he would watch Cubs and Sox games from the media cafeteria at Wrigley and U.S. Cellular Field.
A source tells me of a memory of both a sportswriter and Michael Cook, the former editor in chief, breaking up a fight between Jay and Neil Steinberg right there in the newsroom. Although Steinberg claims to have gotten to know Mariotti better and gets along with him now.
So when Mariotti got back from Beijing, things came to a head, the source continued. Mariotti quit again after so many times “quitting” and always coming back.
But then it was confirmed that he threatened to quit and Stu Courtney (the sports editor) and Michael Cook finally called his bluff and said, “Fine, then good bye.” Greg Couch, who left shortly thereafter, tried to talk him out of it, but it didn’t take.
The S-T website then ran this and the print edition ran a huge double truck the next day with a column from DeLuca ripping Mariotti a new one. The next morning after his departure, Jay went on 670 The Score and gave “internet killing newspapers” boilerplate.
“The Sun-Times, when I worked there, was a politically conflicted disgrace of a newspaper. The bosses cut deals and curried favor with people I had to cover as a Chicago sports columnist. They also failed to improve the Web site, a promise they made when I signed a contract extension in July 2008. I resigned in a cordial letter to the publisher two months later, after returning from the Beijing Olympics, and I handed back almost $1 million in wages. I don’t miss the place a bit.
“I’ve written for Jon Eig as a way of helping his fun, new site and staying sharp as a writer. He asked me to contribute columns when the mood strikes me, and, if he wants, I’ll continue to do so on occasion for his site. I’m doing documentary work and writing books in L.A., and I’ve been meeting with major networks and sites about returning to the national sports media. My first book, “The System,” is available on Amazon.com.
“Also, never forget this: ESPN has broken hundreds of major stories legitimately. Deadspin has lied and been reckless and wrong too often to count. It’s like comparing a long-successful professional to an aimless hipster who stumbles onto something for his 15 minutes of whatever.”
Romenesko then emailed Deadspin Editor-in-Chief Tommy Craggs for a response to this, and he simply referred to this must-read Deadspin piece.
After he heard from me, Mariotti let Chicago sports blogger Ed Sherman know I was working on a Sun-Times/ChicagoSide post.
Ed put it up yesterday — he says he was told by Mariotti that “Romenesko and other people” were working on stories — but I didn’t see the post until this morning. I wasn’t happy and emailed Mariotti: “You tipped off others that I was working on it. Roger Ebert apparently is right — you *are* a rat.”
And you thought Joe Cowley has offended people/made enemies in this town. He seems downright warm and cuddly compared to Jay.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar, published author and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.