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Flashes

Look, Ma, No Hands!
Provoked by a heady blend of overwhelming demand and genetic tendencies toward shameless self-promotion, the Flash is pleased to turn this weekly column space over to excerpts from the "Daily Flash: A Reader's Guide to the Arizona Republic." The Daily Flash appears exclusively at www.phoenixnewtimes.com

Tuesday (June 15)
Doug Carroll still can't get laid.
Republic writer Carroll, who is divorced, wrote a big piece for the "Arts & Ideas" section in February, announcing that in order to set a good example for his 9-year-old son, he would forgo sex out of wedlock.

It sounded like a pledge of convenience--i.e., "As long as I'm not getting any, I might as well do something noble."

Doug continues to inflict his own lonely brand of self-therapy on Republic readers today, with his piece in the "Life" section titled "Another midlife crisis/Mature singles bring new attitude to dating ritual."

The Flash's brief synopsis: If you are a mature person, casual sex sucks.
Doug's internal monologue: I was noble before and I'm still pretty sure I'm noble now. See? Other people agree with me. I must be noble. Of course, I'm as horny as a billygoat, but writing helps me work it all out. Keeps my hands busy. I'm kinda beginning to worry about what this airing of my clean, freshly starched laundry might do to my kid.

What Doug and his editors fail to realize is that the chronicling of his libidinous angst is lowering him to the journalistic equivalent of masturbation.

Intimacy is to relationships what reporting is to journalism.
Doug apparently hasn't experienced either lately.
Feelings, nothing more than feelings. . . .

Pro Pitchmen
Monday (June 14)
The Arizona Diamondbank organization loves to congratulate itself and enthuse about three young pitching prospects who were drafted out of high school in 1996. TV and radio broadcasters wax ecstatic about the D-Banks' future pitching fortunes.

Since the Arizona Republic owns a stake in the D-Banks, it's only natural (in a Republican nature) that the newspaper adopts the company line whenever possible--and sometimes even when it's not possible.

Such is the case today with the big Sports Page blowout on the three minor league pitching "phenoms"--Brad Penny, John Patterson and Nick Bierbrodt. All three are 21 years old and all three are playing for the D-Banks' AA affiliate, the El Paso Diablos.

The author of today's piece, Richard Obert, refers to them as "Young Guns."
A reader easily infers that the three hurlers are right on schedule in their development, that the D-Banks are pleased with their progress and are in no rush to try to promote them to the AAA or major league teams.

In any case, they're "phenoms."
After about 25 inches of effusion, Obert gets around to mentioning that Patterson started the season 0-3 with a 9.68 ERA. But not to worry. "He has since gone 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 4.43," he reports.

The story itself never mentions that Penny has a 2-4 record with an ERA of 4.26--that's relegated to a stat box on the jump page.

The third "phenom," Bierbrodt, "won his first two starts but is now 4-5 with a 4.81 ERA and has yet to get out of the seventh inning. Still, he has a herky-jerky delivery that makes his pitches sneaky."

Not as sneaky as Obert's puff ball.
Note to Richard over a stadium-quality PA system: None of the "phenoms" has a winning record.

A more objective publication might have taken a completely different approach with this piece--that the "phenoms" are rather disappointing.

An examination of stats reveals that in this season's ERA pecking order of El Paso Diablo pitchers, Penny, Patterson and Bierbrodt rank sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively. Patterson has given up nine dingers in 69 innings. Bierbrodt is walking a man every other inning; he has 32 walks and 45 strikeouts.

Meanwhile, a couple of Diablo pitchers who actually deserve some accolades are ignored. Another 21-year-old, Ben Norris, has appeared in four games and is 4-0 with an ERA of 2.96.

And 22-year-old reliever Martin Sanchez is 2-0 with three saves and an ERA of 3.34 in 35 innings. Sanchez has appeared in 22 games.

These guys are not "phenoms" or "Young Guns."
They're just good.
Perhaps the three "Young Guns" will actually be great major league pitchers someday. The Flash certainly hopes so, given the dubious buildup they're getting from the D-Bank/Republic image manufacturers.

Can't Get Their Phil
Friday (June 11)
The Republic continues its rehabilitation of Sheriff Joke Arpaio today with friendly overtures to Maricopa County's biggest embarrassment.

With its usual impeccable timing--FBI agents are circling, the office has more whistle-blowers than Union Pacific, Joke is a raging laughingstock among law enforcers and has adopted a bunker mentality, rats are rapidly exiting--the Republic deftly reboards the Jokester's bandwagon.

What a turnaround. Just months ago the Republic had finally seemed to get it. After participating in the yearslong media lapdog leghump that helped create Arpaio's persona as a crimefighter, the Republic seemed finally to figure out the truth about the Jokester. In 1998 and earlier this year, the daily went after Arpaio with a vengeance, playing catch-up after giving the dubious lawman a pass for so long. No longer was the paper willing to publicize the Sher's staged "Joe Shows" to announce another crime-busting "innovation" that would end up, after its usefulness in getting press, to be just another costly diversion to throw on the junk heap. (Remember sporks? Canine videos? Charging inmates a dollar a day? Posse men busting drug dealers? The Pussy Patrols on Van Buren? Notice there's no follow-up on these "innovations," which all ended up being failures?)

After an $8.25 million settlement in the Norberg death and more high-dollar cases working their way through the courts, with federal indictments looming in multiple investigations of inmate deaths and gestapolike treatment of deputies, the sheriff's office is in a near meltdown. Deputies are in revolt as Arpaio and Director Dave Hendershott arrange flimsy internal affairs pogroms to oust deputies who dare speak of the real problems at the sheriff's office. Heard any of this in the Republic lately?

No, you haven't. The Republic printed a mildly critical piece by Mike McCloy this weekend about how the Joke is overcharging inmates by making them pay $1.65 for collect calls, then using the money in questionable ways. And even that article was negated today by the paper's own editorial staff in a piece that could have been headlined: "Sorry, McCloy. Nice Try."

(Subliminal news strobe: Arpaio's son-in-law, Phil Boas, recently was hired as an editorial writer at the Arizona Republic.)

The unsigned editorial is told in the new Keven Willey-led turnip-truck-naivete style. Here's a sample: "Sheriff Jo[k]e Arpaio has preached till he's red in the face about creating an environment so inmates won't want to return."

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Now there's some hot news. Has the Republic forgotten that Arpaio's red-faced bluster has already been proved ineffective? In 1997, the Joke paid for an ASU study which showed that all of his no-frills, liability-laden ideas hadn't reduced inmate recidivism at all. But, hey, pointing that out would just ruin a praiseful editorial.

"And what of that demeaning pink underwear, those degrading chain gangs and the ubiquitous Tent City?"

Who wrote this editorial, the Tooth Fairy? Can a real journalist who knows something about the sheriff's office--Dennis Wagner, maybe, or Jerry Kammer--clue in the editorial board to the realities of jail? Inmates awaiting trials to put them away for years demeaned by the color of their underwear? Inmates facing years of incarceration degraded by spending time outdoors cleaning gutters? Does anyone with a shred of knowledge about the county jails really believe that pink underwear and chain gangs serve any purpose other than bringing gullible journalists to town?

(Subliminal news strobe: Arpaio's son-in-law, Phil Boas, recently was hired as an editorial writer at the Arizona Republic.)

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