That question infiltrated my thoughts and then meandered in my brain while hearing Jason Whitlock’s call on Wednesday to 610 Sports’ Danny Parkins. Because there was some truth sprinkled into his words, I wanted to listen to what he had to say. Because there was some advice, well-intended or not, I found myself nodding in agreement at times. Because he admitted he had not listened to much more than about the last 90 minutes of programming before calling, I realized I was ready to dismiss the same pointed words I found myself agreeing with a few minutes before.
And, after the call was over, I didn’t think about him much, if at all.
Having mulled over that realization, I’m left wondering if I’m the only one. Am I alone in feeling like the Whitlock appearance meant next to nothing other than some quick, cheap entertainment? Does Kansas City still hang on his every word like it did a decade ago? I ask because we tend to do that here.
When someone we at one time accepted as a local goes national, we wait fervently for them to “remember where they came from,” and to bring some of that national experience back in some form in order to share it with us. Their words and actions become lifelines for our city’s hopes of being nationally relevant; or, at least not forgotten and dismissed as a fly-over. As it happens with Hollywood actors, local high school athletes, and the Kansas City Royals and free agents, it happened with Whitlock, of course, and through him, we’ve shown we’re willing to take what we can get.
Gas and torch in hand, he blazed the trail behind him. He was ready to go, ready to prove he didn’t need Kansas City (or his then-bosses, anyways) anymore. How’s that going for him? I can only speak for myself, but I don’t search out his national columns like I did his Kansas City Star work. And, once I quit following his Twitter feed, I’ve largely forgotten where and how to find him unless I see it through a retweet like the incredibly ridiculous Jeremy Lin fiasco. Even then, I never feel I’m missing something if I fail to read his work.
I’ve heard it all from him before.
So, during his unannounced phone call to Parkins, I wondered if Whitlock has become even a caricature of the character? Has he transformed again, this time from local-guy-gone-national to national-guy-trying-to-sound-relevant-but-isn’t-as-much-now? By the end of the call, the old “jumping the shark” phrase came to mind, especially since he had called the same station before and delivered much of the same message to Nick Wright, if not in more spectacular fashion the first time around.
It’s just… I don’t know if Whitlock is the one jumping here, or is it us as consumers? We’ve seen/heard this all before, but here I am discussing him again. Is it time for me to stop thinking of him as having relevance?
I don’t know.
I’d love to hear your comments. What does Whitlock mean to you these days? Do his takes still matter?