Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Disappearing Turf Writer

Last week as I was reading the unfolding Magna Bankruptcy Hoopla, a little blurb in the Star-Telegram caught my attention:
The Star-Telegram is reducing its work force by about 12 percent

Fearful that the layoffs would include my mentor and Turf Writer Extraordinaire, Gary West, I sent him an email. He confirmed the disappointing news that he’s included in the cutbacks; his last day is to be March 20. "I've sometimes wondered which would last longer, horse racing or me," he wrote. "I'm actually glad to see it's going to be horse racing."

Layoffs, cutbacks, downsize, smartsize, workforce optimization – whatever fancy terminology you wrap around job loss – is painful and disheartening, to put it mildly. Included in this particular instance is the poor timing.

Lone Star Park begins live racing in 30 days. Gary West has covered the meet extensively over the years, providing great insights, handicapping, and anecdotes in his column. During racing season, it’s common to observe the railfolk milling about, referring to the Star-Telegram racing page prior to each race. Who knows what will happen to horse racing coverage in the paper, if it will even be covered at all save a small photo of the Kentucky Derby winner and a snippet from the AP wire buried on page 5D.

Speaking of the Derby, we are also in the midst of Kentucky Derby preps and Triple Crown hysteria. One time, Gary informed me that he begins compiling notes on 2-year-olds beginning in July, and by the new year, he has at least two large notebooks containing comments and impressions of roughly 300 prospects. "I was, I think, the first to put together a list of early prospects more than 20 years ago, and now everybody does it, largely borrowing from each other," he told me.

Oh, of course we have a plethora of other news that he’d be handy to dispense to the masses: MEC bankruptcy filing and the impending slot legislation in Texas.

I’ll miss reading Gary’s column in my local paper. And it will probably only be a matter of time before I miss my local paper – I suspect that horse racing will outlast the newspaper industry.

And a personal note to Gary: You have an open invitation to be my Guest Blogger whenever you like. The pay is lousy but there’s an abundance of liquid refreshments. Plus Post Parade could stand some credibility!

13 comments:

Wind Gatherer said...

Hey, at least your not as bad as that Gathering the Wind blowhard. You got that going for you...

Jessica said...

What terrible news. No one else writes about scallywags and flapdoodle and racehorses like West.

Superfecta said...

Very unfortunate news indeed - and just at the time of year I start to look for his columns!

Jimbo said...

It's hard to imagine a Lone Star season without Gary's coverage. He spent more hours at the track than anybody and it came through in his writing, which has always been second to none. Now they'll probably just send someone out to cover a few big days, and that person will likely have to ask for directions to the winner's circle.

applebys traveler said...

So the Star Telegram is saving money by firing their writers. Sort of like a restaurant saving money by getting rid of the wait staff.

Tweetin Tony said...

He should sell pot at the racetrack-he would make a ton of money. than he can just set up his own blog. come on Gary-get on board and stop whining!

John said...

Bad news indeed, I too will miss his erudite commentary.

sid fernando said...

i don't know gary personally, but i've always admired his prose; his contribution to turf coverage transcended the nuts and bolts because his gift for writing is beyond usual scope of the genre.

Anonymous said...

No Gary West flapping his jaws in retaliation for MEC firing him for cause???? A blessing. Thank God. The only loser here is Marvin Carter whom Gary has taken as his protege. I will miss his yearly banter about how poor Marvin gets the lousiest stable at LSP.

Anonymous said...

Gary is the very first writer I ever emailed to comment on an article they wrote. Gary was both kind and prompt in his reply. We ended up exchanging a couple more emails back and forth - I can't say we had a relationship, but I have always thought very highly of him since that time a couple years ago.

Here's the kicker: his article was about Magna and Frank Stronach and our emails were discussing our agreement that he was an idiot who would eventually ruin this sport. Prophetic.

Gary is a very talented writer. I know he won't even need us to wish him luck, as he will certainly land on his feet. The Srar Telegram is the loser here.

Bill Christine said...

Gary got a reprieve--he told me his sports editor called today and said he would not be laid off.

suebroux said...

Bill:

Thanks for posting the notice of Gary's reprieve.

I also received an email from Gary just this afternoon with the same news; "It has been a strange few days," he wrote. He was shocked to say the least, but very pleased.

And this blogger who enjoys many blissful days at Lone Star Park, perusing West's musings, is exceptionally happy!

And to Anon 8:12,
You must have Gary West mistaken with someone else as he told me he has never worked for MEC nor has he written about Marvin Carter ...Hash it out with West (he still works for the Star-Telegram!)

Chuck U. Farley said...

Ah, good, Gary West has been spared! Maybe he can have another near apoplectic seizure if trainer Rick Dutrow wins the Derby again this year. West's several anti-Dutrow diatribes last year starting around this time amounted to some of the worst and most biased horse racing journalism I've ever witnessed.

You guys all love him? You must be easily pleased. In a sport that is starving for attention from the general public, I'm not surprised.