Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mariotti=Less than Smart

I was forwarded this titillating article by one of our readers. He was trying to put The Fear in us here at YSSW. It failed.

I am one of the fortunate ones. Twelve months a year, I'm paid to dispense information and opinions on a major Web site read by millions, not to mention a major TV network watched by millions. I don't have to STRRRRRETTTTCCH THE TRUTH or make something up to be noticed as a columnist.

Wait a second. Jay still has a job? That is a shame. I thought everyone caught on that he was a shit-bag when the Sun-Times and Ozzie found out. What the fuck is with that 'stretch' line that he uses? Is it a dig at Hawk for calling Jay a hiney bird?

But in this changing media sphere, where everybody and his pet tarantula has a blog,

How did he decide upon pet tarantula? Who owns a pet tarantula? Does the hiney bird own one? Seriously, what kind of super intelligent pet tarantula can offer up witty comments like they are crabs at a whore house? (Forced analogy, check!)

And in the sports end of that sphere, the easiest path is to take liberties with the steroids crisis and randomly drop names of so-called users based on nothing more than unfounded speculation, whim and guesswork.

I think the large number of players that have tested positive for steroids, and the amount of former greats accusing players of substance abuse validates the speculation of the current statistical aberrations and possible steroid users. While it is guess work, why is it a heinous crime to accuse a player that increased their current production 150%.

the sports writing business is rife with too many reckless idiots who don't hesitate to publish or post a name without the slightest bit of corroboration.

I believe the sports writing world needs more skeptical journalism. I'm sick of writers that decide to kiss the ass of their home town teams because they don't want to ruffle any feathers. Which is probably why newspapers are failing, while online bloggers are seeing tremendous success.

Yes, given the staggering bulk of guilty names and relentless flurry of new information, we all wonder to ourselves if every major leaguer who has played since 1995 used steroids. But that doesn't mean anyone has the right, legally or ethically, to start speculating for public consumption just because he has a functioning computer, a miniscule niche in cyberspace or a column in the dying newspaper industry.

How is it unethical to speculate on potential steroid users. If a player has obscene numbers one season, and mediocre numbers for their career, why is it a crime to point that out? Shouldn't the public have the right to have these aberrations pointed out, so they do not falsely look to these players as heroes?

If you know an athlete who uses steroids, convince us that it's true with corroborated material.

Like with, ummm, statistical trends? I think that is what the author of the article he is speaking about did.

The irresponsibility began three years ago when blogger Will Leitch wrote on a Web site that he had "80 percent'' faith in a source who said a Kansas City-based strength and conditioning coach was one of the redacted names in the Jason Grimsley report. "Does (the trainer's) name sound familiar?'' Leitch wrote. "If it doesn't, he -- and we assure you, this gives us no pleasure to write this -- has been Albert Pujols' personal trainer since before Pujols was drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 draft.'' A photo of Pujols was included in the blog item.

I am one that believes Pujols was most likely on steroids. He is great friends with Bonds, increased his girth quite a bit from his rookie season to his third season, but he has consistently put up out of this world numbers. So is he just a phenominal player with a growth spurt, or a steroid user? I don't think we will indulge my hypothesis further because Cooly enjoys kneeling for Pujols and would never let me bring ill light on him.

I think we learn in our 11th-grade journalism class, if not out of the womb, that it's irresponsible to tell a potentially damaging story if you're not entirely certain it's true. Eighty percent may as well be zero percent. The mess was exacerbated by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who ran with the story and caused a national feeding frenzy, and not until Pujols threatened legal action did a shamed, humiliated Leitch emerge with a correction titled, "A Deeply Regrettable Wrong,'' apologizing to the trainer in the process.

Olbermann must have missed that 11th-grade lecture.

He profited from his fraudulence by writing a book read by a few of his blogging buddies.

Is there anyone in the world that would read Jay's book? I think I see Jay gleaming with jealousy.

What he did was open the door to the Jerod Morrises of the world. A few weeks ago, Morris speculated on his obscure baseball blog that Raul Ibanez, who is enjoying a career season with the Philadelphia Phillies, might be on steroids.

Hmmm, this seems like something we do here at YSSW. We should hire Jerod (nice spelling). Though we have 0 collective dollars between all of our writers to pay him.

Morris proceeds to do what he suggests himself is unfair and indicts Ibanez. "Any aging hitter who puts up numbers this much better than his career averages is going to immediately generate suspicion that the numbers aren't natural, that perhaps he is under the influence of some sort of performance enhancer ...,'' he wrote. "Maybe the 37-year-old Ibanez trained differently this offseason with the pressure of joining the Phillies' great lineup and is in the best shape he's ever been in. And maybe that training included ... Well, you know where that one was going, but I'd prefer to leave it as unstated speculation."

That seems pretty legitimate. I like where Jerod is going. He is not saying that Ibanez is on steroiids. He is saying it is peculiar that he is playing so well, which it is.

Unstated? No, Jerod, you left nothing for conjecture. Predictably, another blog -- Hugging Harold Reynolds, if you can believe it -- linked the piece to its Twitter feed,

HHR is a phenominal website. I suggest you go look at it. Do it. NOW.

All Morris had was two-plus months of Ibanez numbers -- .312 batting average, 22 home runs and 59 RBI until he went on the disabled list for a strained left groin -- that obviously trump his career power averages of 23 homers and 95 RBI.

Did Jay just prove Jerod's point? Ibanez has as many home runs in 2 months than he typically has in one season. I know, he moved into the extremely hitter friendly Citizens Bank Park, but thanks for the support Jay.

When asked if he has used steroids, Ibanez flatly said no. "You can have my urine, my hair, my blood, my stool -- anything you can test," he said. "I'll give you back every dime I've ever made (if a test is positive). I'll put that up against the jobs of anyone who writes this stuff. Make them accountable. There should be more credibility than some 42-year-old blogger typing in his mother's basement. It demeans everything you've done with one stroke of the pen. Nobody is above the testing policy. We've seen that.

Yes, one mothers basebment comment. I actually live in my mothers attic, thank you very much. And I would like a sample of your stool. For personal reasons.

"It's unfair because this should be about how hard work, determination and desire trumps chemicals and shortcuts.

If all your mates that came before you didn't do massive amounts of steroids, then it would be about these things. However, baseball players have tarnished their credibility. I have a difficult time believing any of them, sorry.

Predictably, Morris made a fool of himself during a panel discussion on ESPN's Outside The Lines.

Unlike big time sports writers who always conduct themselves with grace and dignity.

Like many bloggers, he came off as someone who hasn't been properly trained to grasp libel law.

I have 0 grasp of the libel law. I am an engineer who happens to be a baseball fan, with a dumb sense of humor.

"Ten years ago there was not a chance that any newspaper or magazine or any other entity would have printed such a thing,'' FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal said on OTL. "It's wrong. It's irresponsible, it's unfair, and it needs to stop."

"It's not fair to make assumptions like that,'' ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said. "It's a shame anyone is questioning (Ibanez) without proof.''

"It is unfortunate that we have an Internet circumstance where people can be inflammatory with everything they say,'' co-host Tony Kornheiser said on ESPN's 'Pardon The Interruption.'

Jay cites many old white people who hate bloggers. Probably because all of their writer friends have lost their jobs to blogging (sorry Dave).

I've seen plenty of good ones who apply the principles that will win them credibility for years. I've also seen plenty of bad ones who have no conscience and don't belong anywhere near a keyboard

We would be a bad one.

Recently, an ancient columnist named Rick Telander suggested in the Chicago Sun-Times that Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot's early power burst should send up red flags. "Sorry, Ryan Theriot, you're a suspect,'' he opened his column. "Forget Manny Ramirez and Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi and Mark McGwire and all the other hulking, accused performance-enhancing drug users. You, sir, all 5-11, 175 pounds of you, are doing devious things.''

Basically, Telander was no different than blogging boy Jerod Morris -- speculating based on numbers, not facts. And if he was being sarcastic, he picked the wrong topic; this one is way too sensitive. My guess is, Telander was trying too hard to get attention in a death-warmed-over newspaper.

Nice shot at Jay's old newspaper. Also, Jay, why are you a credible journalist, and Rick Telander isn't? What is the difference between you two? Telander is speculating about relevant subjects, while you are bitching about libel laws and protecting cheaters?

And what was Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times thinking when he wrote, "Thanks to Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, etc., fans outside St. Louis must wonder, 'Do we celebrate Albert Pujols or suspect him?' ... Pujols has batted four times with the bases loaded this season and three times has hit grand slams ... In his only other at-bat with the bases loaded, the St. Louis Cardinals slugger delivered a two-run single ... Sadly, it makes you wonder.''

I agree completely with Crowe. It does suck that we have to speculate on every baseball icon that comes to the plate. But it isn't the fans fault for speculating. It is the massive amount of superstars that have taken steroids, and vanquished our faith in the every day athlete that we love watching.

Sure, we wonder. Know how many names have been leaked to me through the years? But as writers, we should not release our wonderment for public consumption unless we have full evidence of wrongdoing,

As a writer, what is your job then? To write consistently horrible columns that pain readers to read. The boredom of these columns force readers to search for inquisitive writing.

If Pujols and Ibanez were guilty, we'd probably find out in due time

Mysterious "due time" powers will unveil all evil doers!

That's why I was so angry a few years back when I was framed by the Sun-Times. The agent for Scott Skiles, then coach of the Chicago Bulls, had given our basketball beat writer the financial figures for Skiles' new contract. They slightly differed from the numbers run by the rival Tribune, as supplied by Bulls management. Team owner Jerry Reinsdorf, no fan of mine, ridiculously marched his lawyers into the office and demanded a correction in my column -- even though the numbers had been approved by editors and were supplied to me by an editor. (Reinsdorf actually was mad that I had been criticizing him for being a cheapskate and not signing Skiles earlier.) The paper buckled and ran multiple corrections for my column only -- but not for its own news story that published the same numbers -- which should tell you how corrupt the place was.

Jay Mariotti, accusing possible juiced up baseball players making millions is wrong, but accusing former employers of framing him is completely just. Just remember, it is ok to accuse one entity of wrong doing if they demean you, but if they are just tarnishing a beautiful game you must not speak ill of anyone.

So it bothers me when a writer just drops a name and doesn't face any repercussions.

Kind of like what you just did?

I'm definitely seeing an erosion in the accuracy game. We're down to, oh, about 80 percent now.

If not much lower.

Where using stats to highlight abberations is an erosion in accuracy. Congratulations Jay, you are a hiney bird.

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