A coda to the Ibanez-Morris-Baker business

While posting was a bit slower the last couple of days, a lot of that had to do with the epic Geoff Baker thread. It certainly captured my reading and thinking attention and, at least for a while this morning and early afternoon, writing attention. At the risk of hyperbole, I think the comments in the thread represent the absolute best the blogosphere has to offer: unrushed, intelligent discussion by intelligent people eager to persuade and willing to be persuaded. I can only laugh when I hear the old cliches which hold that bloggers and their commenters are bomb-throwing sensationalists and that the mainstream media represents the height of professionalism. Read the Baker thread and then watch “Around the Horn” and tell me who the real attention whores are. Great job ShysterBall readers, and thank you very much for stopping by Geoff. I’m really proud of the conversation that went down.

Anyway, I figure I’ll close for the week with a link — furnished by Sara K — that sheds a lot of light on the whole Ibanez affair. Here it is. It’s about tennis. Rafael Nadal to be precise, and it’s a blog post written by FanHouse’s Michael David Smith last year. The upshot: An L.A. Times columnist wrote a bit about Rafael Nadal and steroids that went way, way beyond anything that Jeord Morris did. Smith, who is so damn good and so damn prolific that he makes me look like a dilettante, calls him out on it. As far as I can tell, the matter died there. Neither Ken Rosenthal nor his tennis equivalent read the riot act to the guy from the Times. Neither Geoff Baker nor his tennis equivalent were inspired to turn the episode into an ethics class. It sat there. It died. People moved on, as they probably should have.

When I read that kind of thing — or any of the many, many articles that end with “unfortunately, such suspicion is inevitable these days” — I can only conclude one thing, and that’s that the Morris-Ibanez thing wasn’t about steroids and it wasn’t about ethics. At least not blogger ethics. It was an effort to breathe life into a tired blog vs. MSM turf war and old-fashioned media sensationalism. A couple of years ago that observation might have made me angry and might have inspired me to unleash a screed or two. As I sit here this evening, however, I can only shake my head and smile.

Mencken said that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. It seems to me that the sporting press in the mainstream media is giving it the old college try. For my part, I’d be lying if I said that I thought idiocy and sensationalism would one day be gone from journalism entirely. But I am optimistic, based on what I’ve seen here and what I’ve seen on many other blogs in the wake of the Ibanez stuff, that the idiocy will constitute a less prominent place in journalism as time goes on.

Thanks everyone. Have a nice weekend.


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  1. Michael said...

    Thank YOU, Craig. I had a thought to comment to Baker on his own turf, but there were about 100 “regulars” battling it out to see who could make the most witty/cutting remark and I thought better of it.

    This offloads the discussion to somewhere more rational, and I’d rather give THT the traffic.

  2. Sara K said...

    Glad to be part of the scene.  Thanks for giving us a place to indulge in a bit of meta now and then! grin

  3. TC said...

    “…idiocy will constitute a less prominent place in journalism as time goes on.”

    I suspect it’s more likely that with the huge and increasing number of sources for every sort of news, it’s possible that, as time goes on, people will be able to get all the kinds of news their interested in the format and tone that they desire.

    If they want serious discussion, they shall have it somewhere.  If they want passion and fervor, and, yes, perhaps sensationalism and idiocy, they’ll find that somewhere, too.  And there is room for everything else, too.  It’s like the internet is trying to become everything America was supposed to be.

  4. Jack Marshall said...

    As I was thinking about this after the trumpets, and particularly about how the armies lined up, it became clear to me (and perhaps this was obvious to everyone else from the getgo…if so, sorry for stating the obvious) that a lot of the sympathy for Morris arose out of the fact that he was singled out by the big boys for doing something that happens thousands of times in various ways all over the web (I’ll stipulate that we agree to disagree over what exactly he did) in nooks and crannies every day. In that it is a cautionary tale for everyone who writes on the web, that as the internet squeezes the traditional media, they are shifting tactics, no longer ignoring “the guys in pajamas” but going after them on substance and using their kleig lights as a weapon. At least until they come after me, I think it’s a positive developmentand should have the effect of raising standards and practices for those who write on the web. The high grass was nice, but they have the lawnmowers running…be careful…and professional… out there.

  5. Kelly said...

    Thank you, Craig, as always.  You’re my favorite blogger and I obviously have no reason to suck up.  grin

  6. Michael said...

    Also, all in this discussion should really read Jeff Jarvis: he’s an ex-big-media guy who maintains a running commentary on how the old news media are hurting themselves by trying to close ranks on the new media.


  7. Nick Whitman said...

    I loved reading the comments as they unfolded.  Cheers to Craig for creating such a great blog and accumulating a fantastic group of readers.  This blog really gets the taste of the usual internet comment threads out.

  8. Jay said...

    I won’t get into a rant – but for Ibanez to get criticized for his historic (look it up) performance through the first half – without any proof of performance enhancing substance use (and I mean any proof – forget about innuendo) – all should be ashamed who insinuate that he is using.  He is the consummate professional, a player who has toiled at the bottom of the salary arbitration system and who rose to better things – and simply happens to be having a career year – guess what – every player has a career year.

  9. Bill B. said...

    Agreed, Craig. As I wrote at the time:

    “What this is, really, is the MSM seeing a door slightly ajar and busting it wide open — one of few opportunities they have ever had to really criticize bloggers for what they do (and oftentimes do better than their paid counterparts). This is the mainstream media fighting over territory it’s already lost and will continue to lose. It is not about wrongfully accusing Ibanez of any wrongdoing.”

  10. Beanster said...

    “And there is room for everything else, too.  It’s like the internet is trying to become everything America was supposed to be.”

    Well said.  And thanks, Craig, for drawing out the big picture in addition to blogging insightfully (and often hilariously) about the all-important details.

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