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'The Wire' should've explored Baltimore sports

Because it's such an odd grouping of names, I listened to Jason Whitlock interview David Simon on "The Jim Rome Show" yesterday. I was hoping Phyllis Diller or Don Rickles might stop by to give it that VH1 Surreal Life-feel.

You know David Simon, right? Used to the work for the Sun. Now makes a lot more money annually than the Sun does. I'm not the only writer in the Toy Department who regards The Wire as the truth, which is why you'll see occasional references to the show around here.

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Much of the interview was a rehash of things we'd heard before in other forums. (Quick recap: Baltimore's tough, our leaders fail us, reading the Sun makes Simon cry in his Cheerios each morning.)

Simon also reiterated that there would be no movie based on The Wire. While I respect that as an artistic decision, as a consumer, it does make me sad. Not just movie prospects. But my life would be so much better if there was a Season 6 of The Wire airing right now.

Simon felt like they had their run, that the show had examined an American city from every angle and illustrated its cracks and its holes. But not Baltimore. An important part of Baltimore is its sports – always has been -- and I really think a sixth season could've examined the city's relationship with its team, its heroes and also illustrated how its fans are let down from time to time.

Lester could follow the money and find out what the Orioles are doing with their gobs of cash.

Bubbles could befriend Michael Phelps and the two could share in their recovery from Fells Point's bar scene.

McNulty could follow Gary Williams on the recruiting trail, watch some hoops, unearth some blue-chippers and explore small-town night life on the road.

Cutty could expand his gym, start to coach basketball instead of boxing, and run an AAU team that steers local players to Syracuse and Connecticut for a small fee.
Bunk and McNulty could take Sidney Ponson out for a taste when the Royals come to town, and then race to get him to the ballpark on time the next day when he passes out at the station in exchange for a tip about the Aruban drug runners infiltrating the port.
The Greek could advise Nick Markakis as he negotiates his next contract. Business, Nick. Always business.
Nicky Sobatka could have been one of the thousands of drunken fans booing Mark Teixeira this past week.

Kima could use some CI to make sure Ray Lewis was taking care of his body so that he'll be 100 percent until his contract expires.

Omar could come back from the dead and pitch every fifth day for the Orioles.

* * *

I'm sure we'll give some more thought to this topic later, but I also wanted to pass along some highlights and lowlights from the Simon interview. I'll let you decide which are the highs and which are the lows:

Simon on the recent plight of newspapers: "That's a sad thing. That makes me unhappy. … This is bad for the industry, this bad for communities, this is bad for the republic. And nobody's figured it out, have they?"

On his Sun newsroom: "The guys running the paper when I was there were looking outward and building resumes."

"…Did the Baltimore Sun learn to cover its community better, make it more essential? No, they dealt with the one statistic that matters in journalism: winning Pulitzers."

On Season 5: "It was about a newspaper that was missing every significant story because it was no longer connected to its community."

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On how he sees himself: "I guess I'm a gadfly… a newspaperman without a newspaper."

On saving newspapers: "The only thing I think can save newspapers is something I don't think they have the stomach to do, which is to charge for content."

"…That sounds insane because it's been free for so many years now; they've left the barn door open. I remind you television was free for the first 50 years of existence… The problem is they've gutted the product. They've thrown out the baby."

On how Baltimore feels about his work: "I think if you go down to the grunts, the people who are on the streets, be they cops, school teachers or reporters covering a beat, they don't have much problem with me. It's usually people who have a vested interest in saying things are fine. It's usually upper management. There's probably a police commissioner here, a mayor there, an executive editor of newspaper -- they probably wish I'd shut up and go away. But I'm not writing for them; that's not my target audience."

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