SI writer recalls run-in with Billy Morris

There’s a great deal of grief expended over newspapers being run by corporate types who take no active interest in the day-to-day operations of their publications.

While an involved manager is generally better than a disinterested leader whose only interest is the bottom line, sometimes having the head honcho closely involved can be a bit disquieting.

Joe Posnanski, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and longtime sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, recalled the time early in his career when, as a sports columnist at the Augusta Chronicle, his bosses came up with the idea that he would pick football games over the weekend and readers would write in their own predictions. If the readers beat him, they would get a T-shirt.

“They were called the ‘I Pounded Pos’ T-shirts, and they had a picture of me getting booted through a goal post,” Posnanski told Slate magazine. “I said, ‘I’ll be happy to do this, but you should know, I’m not very good at picking games.’ They said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you’ll be fine.'”

Posnanski proved adept at predicting his inability to predict winners.

Well, the first week, I think we got, I don’t know, maybe 1,300 or 1,400 people writing in. I had a terrible week, and literally a thousand of them won. So of course the next week we got 5,000 in, because people were realizing it was really easy to get free T-shirts. The publisher of the newspaper, Billy Morris, who I’d never talked to — he ran not just our paper but the whole chain — I ran into him and he says, ‘You’re the guy who’s picking those game, right?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘You might want to start picking better.’ That was the most direct response I’ve ever gotten to being wrong.

Posnanski said that nearly 20 years later he still get letters from people about how they have five “I Pounded Pos” T-shirts in their house.

“I remember I got a photo from a guy who had clothed his entire family in these shirts,” he told Slate.

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