Yesterday afternoon, the news went live; now it's just a matter of waiting for the fallout.
The sports gossip website Deadspin.com broke the story, like it has so many major sports stories over the past 12 months: Deadspin brought us news of Brett Favre's penis and photos of Brett Favre's penis and video of people looking at photos of Brett Favre's penis. Deadspin brought us Jets coach Rex Ryan's foot fetish video, and it brought us former ESPN analyst Sean Salisbury's penis.
And now, again it's cracked the case, though this is not about a penis. This time, it's about Oddibe McDowell, a retired journeyman pro baseball player who now resides in South Florida. Deadspin is now reporting that McDowell's
water bill is $88.61 this month. That's more than 45 dollars for sewage and more than 35 bucks for water.
Deadspin, which was first decried as the death of civilized sports journalism and more recently has been covered extensively by civilized journalistic enterprises such as GQ magazine and HBO's Real Sports, was able to get this kind of information only because of its vast network of deputized informants. (The Brett Favre story reportedly got 5 million page views.) It reportedly receives more than 200 email tips a day. (It's also been known to pay sources.)
And so it was through one of these tips that the site discovered Oddibe McDowell's water bill. (It's not known at this point whether the tipster received "bounty money.") It goes to show the power of mass appeal and of interactive media. And it shows the strange Dadaism modernity has slipped into.
Here's how it happened:
Apparently Oddibe McDowell -- or someone staying on his property -- used about $90 worth of water and waste services between January 18 and February 15 of this year. Then, it seems the utility company notified McDowell of the use in the form of a bill, which is also public information available on the county's site. At some point, at least one Deadspin tipster found the public information and sent the information to Deadspin's Barry Petchesky. Petchesky finally published the news yesterday at 2:30 p.m, posting it in the category "This is so stupid." The post has 40 comments so far.
People will certainly feel a variety of ways about this, and it's not clear if McDowell's family even knows yet. It's stories like this, really, that remind us that professional athletes, even the ones who retire to South Florida, are human beings too, prone to the same human emotions, susceptible to same human pratfalls.
The bill was $88.61. At least now we know.
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Update: Deadspin's 14-month coverage of Oddibe McDowell's water bill appears to be at an end. Broward's Waste and Wastewater Services department has new password protection on customer accounts, the site reports, making it impossible to continue to track the former ballplayer's utility bill. Deadspin notes that the coverage earned it "countless awards" and this article, which it calls "the most sarcastic writeup Deadspin has ever received."
Considering the vast annals of sarcastic responses to Deadspin, that's indeed high praise.
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