We had in fact just had a half hour phone conversation the previous day where the topic had been how much we enjoyed Joe's writing. A quick jump on Twitter crushed that hope. Joe had posted a heart felt farewell to us his readers.
I loved Joe Walljasper's work. I know love is a strong word but it is not hyperbole. As a Mizzou fan nothing was better than a cup of coffee and a Walljasper column. Joe always answered all the questions floating in a Mizzou fan's mind and he did it in an entertaining way. Joe's style was beautifully unique. His pieces always had humor, occasionally snark, and were delivered with self-deprecation that most journalists are too insecure to attempt.
Regardless of the topic, Joe always found a way to make me chuckle. Even more impressive was his stuff always put a wry smile on my face while I shook my head in silent agreement with his take. He made me feel like I was in the know. Maybe the most impressive thing is that he did this as a beat reporter before becoming the sports editor at the Tribune. In a world full of beat reporters who write like automaton robots spitting out information without any flavor, Joe delivered the info and did it with perspective and humor. He pulled no punches but even with his humorous style, he was never cruel, inflammatory or anything but an absolute professional. I wish I was half the writer Joe is so I could effectively articulate just how unfortunate this loss is for Mizzou fans.
We as Mizzou fans need to appreciate what we had with Joe. This guy was as good as anyone. We were like the Oklahoma City Thunder with Kevin Durant, or the Miami Marlins with Jean Carlos Stanton. Our little burg had a great right here in our hometown paper. If you spend any time reading articles like I do, it was easy to see Joe was different and quite frankly better than anyone else covering our Tigers. I'm sure the conglomerate media group now running the Trib doesn't know anything about Joe or his gift. He was just a salary on a page working for one of the commodities in their portfolio.
What I know and you know is these guys just cut their best player. They are the '99 Rams and just released Kurt Warner, all because they didn't know what they had. All this praise would no doubt make Joe Walljasper very uncomfortable but it's important that you know how good this guy is. If he doesn't already, Joe should know and come to terms with the reality he's not just good. He's one of the best in the country.
I'm going to miss Joe Walljasper. I'm going to pray he catches on somewhere local and I'm going to hope that he realizes how much we Mizzou fans appreciate the time he gave us.