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Rick Forgets That He Writes a Sports Column for a Sports Website

June 26, 2009


Such Helpful Reminders as The Dodger Jersey, Wisonsin Hat, Tennis Pictures, and Czech Hockey Sweatshirt(??) are unfortunately all out of sight, as Rick tries to remember what his job is.

Such Helpful Reminders as The Dodger Jersey, Wisonsin Hat, Tennis Pictures, and Czech Hockey Sweatshirt(??) are unfortunately all out of sight, as Rick tries to remember what his job is.

On April 22, 2009, Rick forgot what his job was (or did he?…more on that later), and wrote this column. Now, we all know that Mr. Reilly is a particularly awful sports writer, but still…he could at least try to do his job. Instead, he graced us with this little number:

I believe I have discovered the world’s hardest way to make 10 cents—aside from sewing baseballs in Haiti.

Answering questions for ChaCha.

ChaCha, as most people under 103 know, is the highly addictive mobile answer service that responds to any query you send (text “ChaCha” or “242242″) with a real answer from a real person, usually within three minutes, for free. Is this a great world or what?

This is a great world, but it can improve as long as you’re still writing. But, hey! This ChaCha deal sounds great. I’m so glad I surfed on over to Business Weekly‘s website today! Wait, Business Weekly? I thought I was on ESPN. What the…Why is Rick Reilly writing for BW? This is odd. Oh. This is ESPN. I thought this was a sports website. It is? OK. Well, I trust you, Rick…lay some sports news/knowledge/commentary on me!

ChaCha gets about 600,000 questions daily, mostly from me. See, I like bars. And I like bar arguments. And I like ChaCha to settle them. I’ve asked ChaCha everything from how many golfers with a “z” in their name have won majors (nine) to which president had the most kids (John Tyler, 15).

 One day my son, Jake, started answering questions for ChaCha to earn a little extra cash while in college. He said all you needed was a laptop and an IQ higher than a mealworm’s. It pays only a dime an answer, but he could knock out a bunch in a hurry, and besides, it’s fun. He said the most hilarious question he’d gotten so far was: Would it be possible to borrow your portable defibrillator? It’s really quite urgent.

All of this is very interesting indeed, but what does it have to do with sports?

Also, it seems that your son unfortunately has inherited your sense of humor. That question was not funny.

My first proud, parental thought was: This sounds like a very easy column! I decided to try it myself. I started by going to, where thousands of Q’s and A’s are logged.

Ah Hah! There you have it. “A very easy column!” This infuriates me. Reilly writes ONE column a week and it’s usually about 1,000 words. THIS column on ChaCha? 776. That’s it. 776 Words. That’s nothing. And yet he feels the need to write an article that is not about sports because it’s really easy, and then admits this to his readers. And somehow this man still has a job.

Let’s say I went into my job one day and decided to make a different kind of widget, one that was entirely different from my company’s specialty. Then, on my lunch break, I posted a sign in the shop informing everyone that I had decided to make different widgets because they were easier to make, and then continued on merry way. Surely, I would be fired. Probably before the day was over.

And yet Reilly somehow still has a job. Let’s move on. Maybe this is all leading somewhere.

A few favorites:

 Q: What was the fake name Plaxico Burress checked into the hospital [under] after he shot himself? A: Harris Smith.

Hey, that’s kind of about sports! But only kind of.

 Q: Can fat people skydive? A: If you’re asking [about] tandem skydiving, yes, the limit is [usually] 225-235 pounds.

Physics. Not Sports.

 Q: How many ShamWows would it take to absorb an Olympic-size pool? A: The ShamWow absorbs about three cups of water. An Olympic pool holds 2.5 million liters. It would take 1,466,813 ShamWows.

Also physics. Also not sports.

 Q: How do I pick my nose? A: You can’t pick it. You have to live with the one you have.

Whoa Ho! Zing!              Not about sports.

 But there were some clangers, too:

 Q: Is John Daly in the Masters this year? A: John Daly, along with actor Samuel L. Jackson, is in the Masters. (Uh, no to both.)

OK. I guess that’s good to know. And if you’re keeping track, fully half of this article so far is from ChaCha. This certainly is turning out to be an easy column, isn’t it Ricky boy?

 Q: Who is the smallest MLB player to win a home run title? A: Eddie Gaedel. (Wrong. Gaedel, a dwarf, walked in his only plate appearance.)

Allll right. Still not really about sports, and if Rick had at all wanted to try to earn his paycheck, he could have at least supplied the real answer. It took me 2 seconds to find the answer. Hack Wilson. 5′ 6″. He led the league in home runs 4 times. He also holds the all-time record for RBI in one season: 191. See what I did there, Rick? I did a bit of research, and wrote about sports.

 Ah, well. When you have more than 50,000 “guides” answering questions, you’re going to get some mealworms.

 After half a day of watching online training videos, I was ready. I logged in and clicked “available” on my guide home page and waited. Nothing. More nothing. Finally: What time do the Sox play tonight? The questioner was from Batavia, Ill. I figured he meant the White Sox. I sent back: “7:11 p.m.”

I have written a short play. The two characters are Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Rick will play Holmes and I’ll play Watson.

Scene: Curtain rises on a modest, modern home office. Holmes is sitting in front of his computer, wearing his traditional garb of random sports apparel. Watson sits to Holmes’s left. He is dressed in shirt sleaves and a tie, because he has to work for a living and can’t stay in his “home office” all day.

Holmes is clicking the mouse intermittently in an effort to refresh the web page.

Holmes: Look here Watson! Finally, a bit of corrsepondence.

Watson: What does it say?

Holmes: What time do the Sox play tonight?

Watson: I think around 7pm, I was–

Holmes (cutting Watson off): Now, now my dear Watson. Let us not be too hasty, lest you forget that there is not one, but two professional baseball clubs that could be referred to as the Sox.

(Holmes clicks around a bit)

Holmes: A Hah! I’ve got it Watson! 7:11pm (He types in the time and clicks send).

Watson (sarcastically impressed): Well, Mr. Holmes, that certainly was an impressive display. How ever did you do it?

Holmes: Oh quite elementry, quite elementry, Dear Watson. It did seem to be an impossible case, but then I noticed a small detail. The question originated from Batavia, Illinois, and the White Sox play in Chicago, which is also in Illinois. Therefore, since the questionor was located in the same…

Watson (interrupts Holmes by bludgeoning him with a candle stick)


 Ten cents. A minute and a half. That’s $4/hour.

Reilly is apparently proficient at gradeschool math. Still not writing about sports.

 How’s Tiger doing? A snap, as I was watching the Masters. (Four under, seven behind.) One minute 15 seconds. That’s $4.80/hour!

 Then, as if someone had turned on a hose, the questions came flooding across my laptop, soaking my shoes. Where does Emmitt Smith live? (Dallas.) Why were the Montreal Expos called that? (Montreal hosted the ’67 World’s Fair, called Expo 67.) They came as fast as I could answer. I began to sweat. I was Lucy working the chocolate-factory conveyor belt. Questions fell to the floor as my mouth filled with unchewed answers. In a three-fingered bowling ball, which fingers go in the holes? (Jeez, people!) What’s the longest cricket game ever? (Couldn’t find it.) More sweat. Anyone got a ShamWow? I hit “abort.” Bad idea; black mark on my record. Five minutes, no dimes. $0/hour.

You know what? I actually kind of like the I Love Lucy analogy. But it doesn’t change the fact that this column is supposed to be about sports and it’s not.

 I hit “away” under the status bar so I could rest. Next to being Terrell Owens’ publicist, there can be no more stressful way to earn a living.

I’d like to contest this statement. Maybe to you, a $10 million “sportswriter,” this is hard, but answering dumb questions online is hardly stressful. I can think of 17 more stressful jobs off the top of my head.

Surgeon, Fighter Pilot, Bomb Squad member, President of the United States, Skyscraper builder, Field goal kicker, Jail Guard, CIA agent, Bus driver, Sniper, Armored Car driver, stockbroker, police officer, firefighter, EMT, newspaper editor, bodyguard.

And those are just obvious ones, I am actually willing to state that aside from Rick Reilly’s job, answering questions on ChaCha is the least stressful job there is.

 I wasn’t a very enthusiastic guide after that. I made $3.80 total and received a quality control rating of 70 percent. That’s a C-minus. They said I didn’t include time zones with games and gave the year the Bears won the Super Bowl but not whom they beat. They really didn’t like my sign-off: “Chatta go!” Mark Malseed, dean of ChaCha’s Search University, told me it didn’t sit well with the Quality Team. “It prefers no variants on the ‘ChaCha’ name,” he said.

Hey! At least you got an easy easy column out of your harrowing five minutes of work.

 So I’m the Eddie Gaedel of guides. At least I now know this: In 1939, South Africa and England played the longest cricket match ever, from March 3 until March 14.

The Eddie Gaedel of guides? You’re a dwarf? What the hell?

 That will be 10 cents.

Check’s in the mail, Rick.

This column deserves a little bit more analysis. How did he get away with this? I mean he wrote an incredibly short column (this post is already 1,000 longer than his column, and I’m not counting the excerpts I used from his article) that’s not even about sports. He gets paid an incredible amount of money and yet this is the work he did.

There are only two possible reasons for this tripe, and I think both are equally plausible:

1.) He spent all month pittering around on the internet, and then his editor called asking him for his column. Rick panicked, and turned this shit in. The editors just posted it on the site because it’s not worth dealing with Rick.

2.) Rick (and maybe ESPN, too) was paid by ChaCha to drum up some publicity. I put in a call and an e-mail to ChaCha asking if Rick Reilly was ever a paid spokesman or promoter for the company. They have yet to reply, so until they do (if they do), the mystery remains unsolved. But as much as I’d like to think of Rick Reilly as shilling for some stupid start-up company, it’s probably more likely that he’s just lazy.

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