Pat Caputo is the best sports writer – best sports radio talk show host – best commentator on sports news in the greater Detroit Metropolitan area.
Including Windsor, which Caputo himself proclaimed to be “South Detroit” by way of expressing his displeasure for a specific Journey rock song played at the Joe Louis arena during Red Wing games.
Pat’s a personality to be sure.
He’s “The Book On Sports” – or simply “The Book” for short.
A character indeed.
He is a character of high character, in my personal and as always humble opinion.
I started following Caputo after hearing him on the radio, now broadcast on FM 97.1 The Ticket – Pat has been a mainstay on the radio waves keeping listeners involved in Detroit sports teams.
I’m a baseball fan myself.
Nobody in this town talks baseball like Pat Caputo.
Pat reminds me a lot – an awful lot – of my favorite sports columnist from The Atlanta Constitution and Journal – Lewis Grizzard. Grizzard was a masterful story teller who told you the story of the game as though you were sitting and talking to him. And he was deeply proud of growing up and being a Southerner – telling wonderful stories of growing up in his hometown Moreland, Georgia.
He loved and defended the area he grew up in – defending southerners against the often belittling Northerners who stereotyped all Southerners as … well … dumb.
That just plain ain’t true.
And Grizzard was also cited on several cases for being a racist – once being sued by a reporter who worked for Grizzard when he was the editor of a Chicago newspaper – a case Lewis won – although it didn’t matter much because once a stigma like being a racists is put in the minds of the masses – it sticks.
But Grizzard wrote exactly as he spoke. Charming, witty, and poignant.
And that is where most of all I draw the comparison between Pat Caputo and Lewis Grizzard. Both writers have been nationally celebrated and honored. Both writing with the same ease and manner in which they speak. Both personalities transcending the newspapers they wrote for to become easily recognized celebrities in their regions.
One a northerner who will stand up for the aching sorrows that Detroit has been through the last four decades; as the city tries so desperately to pull itself back up by its bootstraps to recover to the truly beautiful place it once was and in many ways still is at the corner of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie – sitting in the middle of the mighty Detroit River.
The other a southern gentleman who stands up against the wrongfully projected stereotypes of what Georgia was by telling stories of his parents who divorced, and the local neighborhood population of Moreland.
Both do so with humor, with honesty, with some humility and with a little extra … panache.
But the days that Caputo writes and talks about are much different today than those of Lewis Grizzard some twenty years ago.
There’s more media today. And that media is interactive. There’s this whole Internet thing, you know.
The Book writes a blog online for the Oakland Press called “Open Book: A Sports Blog”. Caputo’s blog is the first I ever really followed – and is honestly the very reason I started headstuffing. Pat even helped me out here and there along the way.
Similarly it was Lewis Grizzard who inspired me to pick Journalism as a freshman in Georgia.
You couldn't really comment on a newspaper column in the old days - except by writing a letter to the editor. And lot's of such letters were written regarding one column or another of Lewis Grizzards. Sometimes Grizzard even wrote columns about the letters to the editor of readers despising him for one reason or the others.
I comment on Caputo's Open Book blog quite frequently. The collection of usual suspects that loyally comment are an eclectic bunch who really know their stuff and often expand the commentary from a single line of thought to a conversation that is held over weeks.
I’m the dumbest one in that eclectic crowd.
Conversations about who should hit second in the Tiger’s line up, and what’s really wrong with the bull pen and who could the Tiger’s get to play second base and who could the Tiger’s give up, and … well, you know … the usual sports blog / call in radio show kind of stuff.
But on the Open Book, we all kind of know each other – and we all kind of know the Book. And he kind of knows us too.
I liken it best to stopping into my favorite pub on my way home from work to sit and talk about the topics of the day with all the other guys like me who stop in the same pub – for a quick pop, but more so for the great conversation that is omnipresent.
But – as on any other blog – even including my own – are the anonymous commentators who insult and belittle the author – in stealth mode most often – not leaving a name behind their insults and put-downs.
Caputo publishes all these comments – wanting sincerely I believe to be transparent and allow his naysayers to have their say.
A lot of them are very rude. And Pat answers them with dignity – and usually with the response that everyone is entitled to an opinion. And the Book On Sports allows all opinions to be expressed.
I admire Pat for that.
I wonder – would Lewis Grizzard – should he still be alive today – would he have had a blog? I bet he would have – albeit he hated newfangled gadgetry like word processors – preferring the clicks of a typewriter and the ring of the carriage at the end of sentence flying back to begin the first word of the next paragraph.
And I wonder how Lewis Grizzard would have responded to such insulting comments posted about him on his own blog. I’m certain that he would have published them. But unlike Caputo – Grizzard would have cherished the opportunity to rip into each one just to hone his ability to craft the best retort.
Grizzard’s retorts would have been simple, sharp, and plainly stated in the tone of a true Southern gentleman:
“... And you sir are libelous scoundrel”.