There are two reasons I believe Tony Kornheiser should start writing again.
1) Columnettes aside, I still enjoyed his later pieces for The Washington Post. Many of you make snarky comments about these pieces, and that’s fine, but he was doing something for the sports section that no one has been able to do since.
2) Every time I mention his name in a blog item, it gets great traffic. So obviously people are still willing to click on his name.
And thus, a follow up to Wednesday’s item in which Bill Simmons confirmed he is attempting to recruit Kornheiser to write for ESPN.com. Kornheiser had Simmons on his ESPN 980 show on Thursday, and he publicly promised that he would try.
“I promised you I would try,” Kornheiser said. “I promised you I would try. And I will try.”
“And I believe you,” Simmons said. “By the way, you don’t have to be just constricted to sports. You could write about the Killing if you want.”
“Love The Killing, but I’m a bad writer,” Kornheiser said. “And I’m not as smart as I used to be.”
“Stop it,” Simmons instructed, and the segment soon ended. So there you have it. They gave each other a pledge — Unheard of, absurd. They gave each other a pledge? Unthinkable.
Anyhow, earlier in the segment, Simmons discussed his attempts to recruit the writer William Goldman, and then played supportive therapist to Kornheiser’s neurotic patient.
Simmons: “You’re a much bigger issue, because when you sit in front of your computer and stare at an empty Word document, you actually break out in a cold sweat.”
Kornheiser: “That’s right.”
Simmons: “So I have to rehabilitate your confidence and keep talking you up, because I know you have stuff to say still.”
Kornheiser: “I don’t know. I mean, these fingers don’t type....”
Simmons: “You are a good writer. You’re a great writer.”
Kornheiser: “I was good. I’m no longer any good.”
Simmons: “Well listen. Your e-mails are entertaining, so it can’t be like you totally lost it.”
Kornheiser: “No, but I will happily send you e-mails and happily chat with you, but writing....You know, Tony LaRussa gets shingles. That could happen to me.”
Simmons: “Here’s my theory, and I think you and Goldman have the same issue. I think you both think you still can write, but there’s like a 20 percent thing inside you that’s saying ‘No, I’m gonna start typing, and nothing’s gonna be there, and then I’ll know definitively that I’m not a writer any more.’ So you don’t even want to try. So in your head, it’s like ‘I can still secretly write, but I don’t want to.’ ”
Kornheiser: “I watched this happen with people I respect. I watched it happen with two people, and I will mention their names. Roger Kahn and Gay Talese. Gay Talese was about the greatest newspaper and magazine writer I ever saw, and then I read stuff when he hadn’t written in while, I read some stuff that wasn’t quite as good as it used to be. The same was true with Roger Kahn. And I was faking people for years. I mean, I know I stink. I just don’t want to go out there and let everybody see it.”
Simmons: “But you still have, like, five or six things per year that I think you could write that would be original and interesting and be something that only you could write.”
Kornheiser: “Well, the only thing that I could write definitely that nobody else can say is ‘My name is Tony Kornheiser.’ And other than that....I don’t know. I don’t know, Bill.”