It has been announced that Ron Borges is retiring from the Globe.
It's interesting, that word "retiring". He hasn't "resigned." He hasn't "stepped down". He's "retiring."
This makes me think his departure may actually have little to do with the plagiarism incident, as it's fairly common knowledge that the Globe is going through another round of buyouts. Ironically, what is being interpreted as a mea culpa of sorts might have been planned all along.
But the bottom line is that Borges is finally leaving the Globe, which in my opinion can only be a good thing for Patriots fans.
The Globe finds itself in an awkward position, however, since it's only been the advent of the Internet in very recent years that has exposed the weaknesses of dinosaurs like Shaughnessy and Borges. Now that you can look up the facts for yourself, now that you can watch replays on any number of Web-based video services, now that you can discuss and rehash the issues on your own with other fans, the way Shaughnessy twists facts sticks out like a sore thumb. It was also the Internet that brought down Borges, at least when it came to the plagiarism issue. Without the Internet to cross-reference between publications, as well as to get the word out about the eerie similarities between Borges' fateful football notes column and another one by another sportswriter, we'd never have been the wiser.
My opinion is that guys like Shaughnessy and Borges have always been the way they are. It's only been in recent years that their true colors have been exposed. From the Globe's position, this must be awkward indeed. Note their pointed reference to Borges as "an award-winning journalist with the Globe for 24 years." Even if he is retiring for less than joyful reasons, the Globe certainly isn't going to be the one to tell us.
The thing that dismays me about it is the fact that even as the changing times have not exactly covered Shaughnessy and Borges in glory, it has not tarnished the reputations of several of the Globe's other prize journalists--Bob Ryan remains a respectable figure (if annoying on TV). Jackie MacMullan continues to deserve our admiration and attention whenever she writes. I can't possibly say enough about Mike Reiss. There is no shortage of writers doing good work for the Globe when it comes to the Patriots.
There's also no shortage of young, up and coming writers doing good work when it comes to the Patriots, and the Red Sox for that matter, some of whom the Globe has shown the good sense to hire, from Chris Snow to Amalie Benjamin. The Globe has even shown shrewd judgment, in my opinion, in buying out Boston Dirt Dogs, after that site scooped them on Nomar back in the day. They've shown they're not too proud to change their ways, get in some fresh blood. Someone over there clearly "gets" the whole Internet thing.
So why cling to Borges? Why cling to the charade that he was anything other than a charlatan? Why not realize that at the pinnacle of the Patriots history, the dedicated columist for the paper of record in the team's home city was too busy grinding an inexplicable axe against the coach than recording the events for posterity--and cut their losses? Not just this fan base but this team in its finest era deserves the factual analysis of Reiss and the carefully investigated insights of MacMullan, not the kind of yellow journalism Borges splashed across the page week after week.
Where to begin with his track record? Consistently picking against the Patriots at what turned out to be the height of their power, and not simply out of a desire to be "edgy" or contrary, but as a result of an embarrassingly clear personal vendetta against Bill Belichick. Whether or not Belichick is someone I'd like to have dinner with, he is still New England's answer to Vince Lombardi. Denigrating his team because you don't like him is missing the point. Borges missed the point.
Journalism is a cutthroat world, even approaching the cutthroat nature of professional sports themselves. Just as there's always a slavering horde of minor-leaguers waiting for a pro ballplayer to falter, when it comes to a position like Borges's, there are always up-and-comers who'd be more than happy to work harder, to get the better story, to write the deeper column in that job. For less pay.
In a position like that one, it behooves the columnist, then, to stay ahead. Keep working that much harder. Keep demonstrating his or her qualifications for a priveleged position. Borges, meanwhile, revealed himself as a lazy journalist who let his personal issues hamper his coverage of the team. He should have been forced out long ago.
Instead, incredibly, he seems to be leaving only after years of his employer looking the other way, and under his own power rather than at the insistence of said employer. It's sad that those are the circumstances, but if it means that the Globe can now draw from the same well where it got Mike Reiss, that can only be good news for Patriots fans.