Sunday, June 14, 2009

This 'n That

-- I've been meaning to mention this all week but Mike Harrington talking about it in his Inside Baseball column this morning made me think of it again. First a little background: Blogger Jerod Morris writes a post about Raul Ibanez and steroids, reporter reads blog post and runs to Ibanez for a quote, Ibanez gets pissed, the mainstream media goes crazy about bloggers and how irresponsible they are.

Here's the thing. I think the original post is perfectly fine and this guy is getting lambasted for no reason. Considering how much outrage I'd heard about it, once I read it I was surprised to find it pretty thoughtful and even-handed and if I'd read it in a newspaper, I wouldn't have given it a second thought. Morris did a fair amount of statistical analysis which addressed a couple of issues, including Harrington's suggestion that Ibanez moving from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park is responsible for the hot start. The whole post was in fact a response to speculation from a buddy of his. Morris started out defending Ibanez, mildly mentions that certainly PEDs are a possibility and says he'll wait until there's an entire season of numbers before making any kind of final judgment. His main point is that considering the climate of the league today, when a 37-year-old player is having the best season of his career, people are going to question what's going on.

I just don't get that this post was any different than what Howard Bryant did here or Bill Simmons did here. (And yes, Simmons is more or less a fan writing but he's getting paid for it and doing it for the biggest sports source in the world.) How may times a day do the talking heads on ESPN say things like "Players have lost the benefit of the doubt" and "I don't know who to believe anymore" without even thinking? How many baseball writers have written columns or blogs about how they're not voting for Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds for the Hall of Fame because of the suspicion that they were on steroids even though none of them ever failed a MLB test?

I'd be very curious to know how many of the people criticizing Morris - including Harrington - went to the trouble of clicking over and reading the original blog post in entirety. I completely understand why Ibanez got defensive when confronted by the reporter in question. I'm glad he did respond so forcefully and I hope he is clean. But to use this post to vilify blogging is ridiculous. I've read things in the newspaper and heard speculations on TV that are more irresponsible.

Which brings us back to Harrington. Either he jumped on the MSM bandwagon and criticized Morris without reading the blog post or he read the blog post and misrepresented it by suggesting it didn't address something it actually did address. Either way, I'm disappointed, especially considering how blog friendly Mike has always been.

Then again, I'm just speculating here which I, as a blogger, am not allowed to do because I should be held to much higher standards than the real journalists of the world. My deepest apologies.

-- I know he's become the whipping boy for a lot of fans but I'm really happy for Sidney Crosby. He came into the NHL at 18 with just ridiculous amounts of pressure on him to save the Penguins and rejuvenate the league. I think he's lived and played under a brighter, more critical glare than anyone else including Alexander Ovechkin. There was a really great shot of him on the bench as the final seconds of Game 7 ticked away, getting ready to spring over the boards with a huge smile on his face, a smile very unlike what we've seen out of him most days because it was genuine and child-like. I'm hoping maybe having that first Cup will help him relax and just be himself a little more. He's certainly earned that. I don't have anything against the Red Wings at all but I think it's always pretty fun to watch a bunch of kids win their first Cup.

-- Mark and I went to Allentown yesterday and as always, really enjoyed ourselves. Between the two of us, our final food tally was onion rings, hand-cut potato chips, fried dough with chocolate sauce, and the most gigantic shaved ice I've ever seen. And then we topped that all off with the first stop on the summer-long pizza crawl, Casa di Pizza. (If you wanna know what we thought, you'll have to stay tuned.) And in the midst of all that, we did actually look at art.

My favorite booth by far was Yardbirds' junkyard sculptures. The guy takes all kinds of metal scraps - screws, sockets, nails, forks, pots, pans, pretty much anything you can think of - and turns them into various animal sculptures. I was in awe at how creative they were and how much personality each piece had. It just amazes me that someone can look at all those scraps and make something so delightful and charming from them.

I really liked this elephant the best but even the smallest one was out of my price range for the day. (I will get one though, oh yes, I will.)

I also really liked the hanging monkeys but I could not for the life of me think of a good place in the house or yard to hang it. I'll have to ponder that and buy one next year.

I ended up taking home this cute little froggy. Despite not being my first choice, it's still totally adorable.

They don't seem to have an official website but I found a lot of examples here if you want to see more. The dogs are especially cute, I think.

-- Now that the hockey season is officially over and we can start talking about things like completely dismantling the current Sabres roster, I'm hoping to start blogging on a more regular basis again. That said, this week will probably be a quiet one as I hunker down for the final stretch run of the school year. There are some posts in progress however so keep checking back.


LeeAndrew said...

Towards the end Morris does seem to be leaning towards PED's but he doesn't actually come out and say Ibanez is using. All he does is bring up the possibility. Is that so bad? If nobody ever brings up the question then does it ever get answered? If Canseco never brings up steroids does anybody even find out that Bonds, Clemens, etc used steroids? For just about every news story there has to be somebody to ask the question before anybody starts the investigation. I doubt there are many reporters or journalists just wandering down the street hoping a news story hits them in the face. Maybe he shouldn't have asked the question on a blog that a lot of people were going to see but I don't think what he did was as bad as people are making it.

I saw one person say this isn't real journalism. Real journalism would be to shut your mouth, find out the truth and then if you find there is something to your story then you say something.

Okay, maybe that's a fair point, but as you pointed out there are people being far more irresponsible. Max Kellerman practically listed people he thinks were on PED's, including MY BOY Mike Piazza. Why didn't Max Kellerman have to get proof (other than "he's a catcher that hits! unbelievable!") before throwing Piazza under the bus? It's a lot more irresponsible when you consider that A) Kellerman is probably heard by more people than Morris and B) Kellerman works for ESPN and probably actually has the resources to find out more than Morris does. Simmons does the same thing. Dan Patrick does the same thing.

As for Ibanez, I could give a long list of reasons why his stats could be improved this year that aren't PED's but I'll just say this. Anybody that thinks Ibanez is on PED's because of his numbers aren't just presuming he used PED's this season but they are presuming he just started this season. Why would he start using PED's at the age of 37? If you think that he's a cheater wouldn't you think he's always been cheating? And if he's always been cheating then he still had an increase in numbers that wasn't because of PED's.

On a side note I think the "we have to assume everybody did it" attitude is one of the most pessimistic, sad and stupid attitudes I've ever heard. Because we know 100 people failed the drug test we're going to take the leap that 750 people did? Seriously? It's not possible that only 1 out of 7 guys cheated? It's not even possible that 1 out of 7 guys are clean? 100% of the columnists that appear on Around the Horn are assclowns but you don't see me saying that all columnists are assclowns.

Trivia: Do you know what age Hank Aaron was when he hit his career high 47 home runs?

LeeAndrew said...

One other thing, the Phillies have already played four series against the Nationals (on pace for a 42 - 120 season). Shouldn't ALL the Phillies have 21 home runs by now?

Heather B. said...

I can't really get into theories about Ibanez because I'm not familiar enough with him and his career to do that. I'm definitely not making a ruling on whether he's using PEDs or not. I'm just saying the brouhaha around this one post is stupid. How is this any more irresponsible or damaging than Woody Paige saying in a split screen on ESPN that a situation with a certain player looks suspicious. It's not different at all. At least Morris went to the trouble of thinking through an argument and looking at numbers and avoiding the personal outrage that many professionals use when even approaching the steroids issue.

I didn't even touch on the other thing that bothers me here. The very pious MSM are the ones who turned this into a firestorm. If the story was really that irresponsible then walk away from it. But someone wanted a money quote from Ibanez and someone wanted a story and they seized on something they claim was awful and got both. And not only did they get both, they got to use a lowly blogger as a buffer. It's much more convenient to say, "This blogger wrote that you're on steroids, what's your response?" than it is to just ask, "Are you on steroids?"

My primary point remains this: hold your MSM cohorts to the same standards you're trying to hold bloggers to. Until then, don't lecture me about the power of the written word.

Because we know 100 people failed the drug test we're going to take the leap that 750 people did? Seriously?

Silly Lee. All baseball players are on drugs and all bloggers are morons writing from their mother's basement. Some things are just fact.

I agree that the pessimistic "Everyone is doing it!" take is sad. But I also understand how someone might have gotten to that point. The numbers are definitely still in favor of more players NOT using but it does get discouraging to watch the big ones fall one by one. And as nice a guy as Raul Ibanez seems to be, every player who didn't push for testing years ago bears a little bit of blame for that.

I give up, how old was Hank Aaron when he hit 47 home runs? I'm gonna guess... 41.

LeeAndrew said...

Hank Aaron was 37, the same age Ibanez is now, when he had his best home run total. Also, Willie Stargell won his only MVP at the age of 38 and Nolan Ryan pitched his 7th no hitter at the age of 44. Granted those guys are Hall of Fame players, but it's not like nobody has ever been good at the age of 37.

I guess it would be discouraging for fans to see their baseball idols fall one by one but none of MY favorite players have been proved to do anything. Maybe people should choose their favorite players better. Maybe when it is revealed one of my favorite players used steroids I'll have a different opinion. I mean, if Bip Roberts or Delino Deshields used steroids I'll be devastated.

Also, I'll defend Ibanez against the PED accusers but I did think his blogger in the mom's basement comment was uncool. Two wrongs don't make a right, man! Wait, I'm just being silly again.

Has Curt Schilling butted in with his thoughts on his blog yet? If so was the title of the post "Sue him Raul! Sue him!"

amy said...

all bloggers are morons writing from their mother's basement.

I'm writing from my mother's couch, so technically I'm not a moron. Heh.

The media coverage of the Pens out and about in Pittsburgh is really showing me another side of Sid and I like it. He looks like a normal 21-year-old dude instead of a 21-year-old corporate drone who feels the weight of the world on him. I'm not saying he needs to go all out and whore it up, but he should keep up the relaxed facade. It might even make him a better player.

Vanek's Hair said...

Thanks for linking to the initial blog about Ibanez. I hadn't read it. I don't see anything wrong with the blog post. It is actually, quite fair, and a full analysis of Ibanez' career and seems to actually take pains to give him the benefit of the doubt. Ibanez came out quite strongly in his own defense. I guess there are two ways to look at that. One, he is so clear and strong in his denial that it is believable. Two, "Doth protest too much" I don't know. Whatever it is, I am glad he is taking advantage of a better lineup around him, a more hitter friendly park and bad NL pitching. Or I am glad he is taking PEDs. He came to Philly and replaced a long time favorite player of mine (Pat Burrell) so whatever it takes, he better produce. I think I have said here before, I couldn't care less about PED use in baseball. So what. If I was in the league during that time period, and based on my age I would have been, I would have, almost certainly used them. No way I was going to watch all my contemporaries fly by me. Sadly, I do apply a presumption of guilt to most everyone in the league. Remember, the Mitchell Report was based almost exclusively on the information from one clubhouse attendant and tons of names generated from that. Sammy the Bull provided a lot of info on the mob, but in reality, he only scratched the surface. And the drug test that apparently got A-Rod and one hundred or so others was a called shot. Everyone knew the test was coming and they could have prepared accordingly. I am also very cynical by nature.

Katebits said...

I just skimmed the blog post in question (baseball stats make me want to stab myself in the eye), but the fact that the MSM is freaking out about that post is laughable. I understand why Ibanez reacted the way that he did, but reporters? AAAAHAHAHA!

1. That blog post showed about 1000000000x more thought and intelligence than anything I've ever seen in a Bucky column. (Hey, when are we getting Biron for Connolly, TBN? Also, please tell me again how Lindy Ruff is such a great coach and we could never ever ever ever ever find someone to replace him!)

2. If bloggers are so disreputable, maybe reporters shouldn't be using them AS A SOURCE. The most outrageous thing about the whole story is that a member of the MSM sauntered up to a baseball player, was all, "A blogger says you're on steroids!" and then when the player got angry, the MSM member is all, "Bloggers are EVIL!"

The real story here is that the reporter is lazy and cowardly.

LeeAndrew said...

Jayson Stark totally stole my "players can be good at the age of 37" point. I actually wrote a full article about it at Associated Content but since it takes a week for them to publish it Stark's is going to be out first and mine will just look like copying him. Booo!

ElmaGolf said...

Late coming to the conversation, but I think Harrington showed a great deal of MSM-bias with that comment.

Never mind that he changed parks?? (paraphrasing MH).

That comment alone seems to me that the extent of Harrington's research was to read the article on the blog posting (which skewed the original post entirely).

The original post investigated all the "objective" statistics in an attempt to disprove PED usgae and then made the pretty iron-clad objective statement that MLB fans have a basis to be wary of everything nowadays. It's a sad statement, but objectively valid.