Rogin doesn’t pull any punches:
Unawed by reputation, Mr. Rogin assesses sportswriters with cool objectivity. “Frank Deford was very good, but not as great as he thought he was,” he said of the 1999 National Magazine Award winner, a fixture on NPR. “You’d ask for 3,000 words and get 5,000, all of them, according to Frank, ‘imperishable.’ In profiles, he’d pick out a psychological trait and use it like a magic brick to build a house. His stories were well thought out, but artificial.”
Mr. Rogin’s favorite sportswriter was George Plimpton, whose breezy copy required no editing. He also enjoyed Jimmy Breslin. He once bellied up to a bar with the tabloid fabulist after a prizefight in Las Vegas, and Mr. Breslin showed him his account of the match. Mr. Rogin scanned the first paragraph and said, “Jimmy, this never happened.” Mr. Breslin said nothing.
Mr. Rogin scanned the second graph and said, “Jimmy, this never happened, either.”
Mr. Breslin stared at him wearily and said, “Yeah, but how does it read?”