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By Scott Jacobs

mariotti

This time technology has gone too far.

With the Cubs not slated to start their playoff game in Phoenix until 9 PM (CST), the Sun-Times has announced they’ll have columnist Jay Mariotti send me a wake-up call with the results.

Isn’t that like programming Smash Mouth as your ringtone or putting “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here” on your welcome mat?

It’s bad enough that we might fall asleep dreading what will happen to the Cubs in Arizona. Now we have to wake up to hear Jay Mariotti’s version of the outcome. Spare me. I’ll take it from Rick Telander, Greg Couch, even Sox-loving Richard Roeper. But Mariotti? How do we know he’s even going to be at the game? How do we know he hasn’t already written the column and is just waiting until it ends to fill in the score?

Looking for an account of the actual game in a Jay Mariotti column is like looking for a fact in a Rush Limbaugh commentary. Sort of somewhere it’s in there someplace, usually when he needs it to prove his point, which is that he is always right.

“MARIOTTI WILL WAKE YOU UP!” the Sun-Times trumpeted on its front page. Can’t stay up for the game? Go to Snoozester.com to sign up for Jay’s instant analysis. “Mariotti will watch the Cubs while you sleep”, they promise, and give you a wake-up call (at the time of your choosing) on your cell phone telling you what happened.

Why, I wonder, if I’m too tired to watch a game that ends at midnight or too anxious to wait until my morning newspaper hits my doorstep at 6 AM, do I need Jay Mariotti to call me in between to say who won?

The Sun-Times would have us believe this is another public service from a forward-thinking management taking the newspaper into the digital age. But it reminds me of the early days of 976 telephone numbers back in the Eighties when, for $1.98, you could call 976-WAKE and program in a telephone number and time for a wake-up call.

Snoozester charges nothing for its wake-up call. (It is unaffiliated with the Sun-Times except for that nefarious exchange of cash/promotion that goes by the name of co-branding.) But, of course, you have to sign-up for the service. And that is no easy matter.

If you don’t already have an account at Snoozester (and who does?) you have to “Snoozersize” yourself. An email address and password are mandatory. Plus selection of a time zone. Unless you want Snoozester promos to spam you everyday, uncheck the promo box. Then agree to the terms of service (i.e. we can do anything with the information you provide us).

But, of course, before your account can be activated, you have to go back to your email to confirm the authentication email; click to return to Snoozester; verify your account information; decline its invitation to receive 10 free promotional offers; figure out what button to hit next (HINT: don’t hit the obvious one: SNOOZESTER GOLD); program in the time you want to wake-up; confirm your telephone number and the time you want to be awakened; and then. . . . I never got to “and then.”

I presume if I did, Jay Mariotti’s report on who won the Cubs game would be among the selections – for the next three days.

But who has the patience for this nonsense? Snoozester? An Internet wake-up call on your cell phone with programmable Cubs results? The sign-up process took more than an inning and, in the middle of signing up, I was more interested in the game than whether this sham wake-up service works.

I know and you know newspaper readership is declining – and Jay Mariotti is not entirely at fault. But these bogus newspaper-internet hook-ups are another marketing ploy cooked up by the advertising department. We’ll promote your start-up service on our front page as if you were an extension of our product — and you’ll make us look hip.

You tell me how many people signed up on Snoozester for a wake-up call from Jay Mariotti between midnight and 6 AM last night. My guess is less than 10. But the Sun-Times, which says it is heavily invested in investigative journalism, can tell us by reporting on its own statistics. So what gives?

Is content killing the Internet or is it absurd promises from people trying to take advantage of marketing partnerships that treat us as fools?

When you use Jay Mariotti as a wake-up call on your cell phone, you have the worst of both worlds.


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