4. Do You Achieve Subtlely, or Directness?
RCS: In our interview with Doyel, we asked him if there was a place for subtlety in sports writing. To which he responded, “There's definitely a place in this business for subtlety, but only if the writer is talented enough to pull it off. And the bar is awfully high on that. Joe Posnanski clears that bar. Me, I trip over the thing. It hits me in the groin. I don't have that sort of literary talent, but what I do have is the guts to write what I'm thinking, and to write it in the most direct way possible.” In describing your own writing, you’ve said, “I come at things from a totally different perspective from most columnists. I throw heat, and I throw a knuckleball.”
On your journey -- by sometimes throwing heat, sometimes knuckleballs -- would you say that you’ve tried to achieve both subtlety and directness in your body of work, or perhaps something else entirely?
Whitlock: There are many different ways to be direct. You can be direct with humor and sarcasm. You can be direct by doing a shitload of reporting and writing a 5,000-word opinion piece damning America's incarceration rate. You can be direct by asking the right questions at the right time. I prefer directness. It matches my personality. Every pitch I throw I'm trying to get it over the plate so that people can understand exactly what I'm saying. I throw different pitches in hopes that my column remains compelling.